Muskoka To-DAILY

Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club president bowled over by interest, support at grand opening

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com

BRACEBRIDGE — Sally Mills feels like she lives at the new Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club.

A fun celebrity bowl-off was part of the opening with Town Crier Bruce Kruger, left, Mayor Graydon Smith, MPP Norm Miller, OTF rep Richard Corcelli, District Chair John Klinck, club president Sally Mills and Ontario Bowls president Ken Simpson.

A fun celebrity bowl-off was part of the opening with Town Crier Bruce Kruger, left, Mayor Graydon Smith, MPP Norm Miller, OTF rep Richard Corcelli, District Chair John Klinck, club president Sally Mills and Ontario Bowls president Ken Simpson. (Photos by Allan McCleod)

Well, she kind of does; call it a second home away from home.

She’s been there every day since it officially opened last Saturday.

And for many, many days the past year before that.

But it’s a labour of love for the club president, who likens it to moving into a new home, she said Friday night, bowled over by the interest and support at the grand opening.

To save money, the club is doing all they can with sweat equity.

She and her husband and the gang of volunteers who made this dream come true at, the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links, say it’s all worth it.

They have 40 full members now who have all paid the $150 first-year fee; and another 80 in the learn to play course.

While there is no league play this first season, Mills says anyone who signs up can just drop in, play, have fun and teach the newbies.

There will be a few impromptu tournaments, just to satisfy the competitive sides of some keeners.

But for now, there’s a lot of little odd jobs that have to taken care of between bowls.

That’s where the president takes charge and either delegates tasks or does them herself.

Luckily there’s a ton of interest and plenty of hands will be dipping into honey-do jar.

And with all this rain lately, the “green” is — well — green.

Lawn bowling is not only for seniors, but competitve players and kids are all welcome.

Lawn bowling is not only for seniors, but competitve players and kids are all welcome, too. Drop by any time to try it out.

“It’s perfect,” said Mills.

And rightly so, after all the work that went into it and the culmination of which was celebrated last Saturday.

A large crowd enjoyed bowling under sunny skies at the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club’s grand opening.

Mills welcomed Norm Miller, MPP Parry Sound-Muskoka and Richard Corcelli, a volunteer from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant review team. They presented her with a plaque to commemorate the occasion.

The lawn bowling club received a $150,000 grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2016, which allowed the club to build the facility.

“I am very pleased to see the progress made here at the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club.  I want to commend all the people who worked so hard to bring this idea to fruition.  You have created a unique opportunity for Muskokans to learn and enjoy this sport right in their community”, said Miller.

John Klinck, District of Muskoka chair, and Graydon Smith, Mayor of the Town of Bracebridge, were also in attendance, and congratulated the club on all their efforts to bring lawn bowling to Muskoka.

Ken Simpson, president of the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association, was extremely pleased to attend the opening of a new lawn bowling club.  Simpson presented Mills with a commemorative plaque from Bowls Canada.

And he relayed a message from David Calam, president of Bowls Canada.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you and all of the members and volunteers of the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club on the grand opening of your new facility. The perseverance and passion you have all demonstrated over the last years to make this dream a reality is truly inspirational.”

Bagpiper John Bowser led a rousing parade from the clubhouse to the new green.  Bruce Kruger, Town Crier for Bracebridge was on hand to announce the rolling out of the first bowls, and a friendly competition amongst the speakers at the event.

It was evident from the crowd on hand that there is a lot of curiosity about Muskoka’s newest sport facility, and people were eager to learn about lawn bowling.

Coaches and officials from the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association participated in the opening ceremonies, and were on hand to offer instruction to new bowlers.

Mills is delighted that there are over 80 people registered for the Learn to Lawn Bowl classes that the club is offering from July 10 to 20th.  Details about classes, games schedule, and membership are on the club’s website at www.muskokabowls.ca.

Earlier this year, the lawn bowling club also received a $25,000 grant from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program. The funds allowed the club to purchase new bowling equipment, including specialized equipment for those with mobility or strength issues, and offer the Learn to Lawn Bowl classes.

As Calam noted, “Lawn bowls is an accessible, social and fun sport that positively contributes to a strengthened social network and overall sense of well-being within a community. I am confident that the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club will be a considerable asset for the Bracebridge community.”

July 8th was the first time the club was been able to bowl on the new green.  The area surrounding the green is still under construction.

MPP Norm Miller puts a good spin on the ball.

MPP Norm Miller puts a good spin on the ball.

“The weather has delayed a lot of the construction,” said Mills.

“We hope to finish the equipment shed, fence and landscaping in the next few weeks.”

It was obvious that the ongoing construction didn’t deter the enthusiastic crowd of bowlers at the opening.

Mills thanked the many sponsors and volunteers who have put countless hours into this new club.  “Without the assistance and support of my husband, Graydon Bell, the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links, other lawn bowling clubs, and so many generous volunteers and sponsors, this facility could not have opened.”

The green is 120 square feet with a 10-foot buffer around the edges for bowlers to walk around.

Mills also noted the benches surrounding it, built by students at St. Dominic’s Catholic High School.

They share a clubhouse with the golf club.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club offers members and guests the fun and challenge of a gentle sport and the opportunity to socialize with new friends.  This non-profit club, run by volunteers, is now open on the grounds of the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links on South Monck Drive in Bracebridge.

All equipment is provided.  All that is required is to wear flat-soled shoes.

Mills welcomes everyone to drop by and try their hand any day or night.

Muskoka Highlands is located just off Hwy. 118 on the road just 5 kms west out of Bracebridge toward Port Carling.

For details about the club, the schedule and their programs, visit www.muskokabowls.ca.

For more information, contact president Mills at 705-646-0086 or at office@muskokabowls.ca

 

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