What’s required, however, is a keen eye, a good sense of judgement and plenty of patience – the slow-paced game, which has a history in the United Kingdom and its former colonies (and some say, the ancient Egyptians), can last between two to three hours depending on format.
There are singles, pairs, triples and fours, depending on how many friends you have.
The game itself is fairly simple: Players stand on a mat, bend low to the ground, and roll a ball, (known as a jack) toward one end of the lawn. The jack is now the target for a second, larger ball, called the bowl, which you aim to get as close to the jack as possible.
The trick is in accounting for the curve of the bowl, which is always made asymmetrical with indentations for better grip.
The bias of the bowl, coming in varying sizes and weights depending on brand, always goes toward the smaller ‘logo’, meaning it always curves in that direction (see picture below).
Accounting for varying target distances, depending on how far the first player rolled the jack, is part of the game too. Often, the motion of the arm is sufficient to propel the bowl to the target without applying any extra strength.
Overdoing it might send your ball out of the lane, or into a ditch. In both cases, that ball will be deemed out of play, which means zero points. Deciding whether to aim for the jack or to nudge your opponent’s bowl out of bounds is part of the strategy.
After every bowl, points are tallied based on the number of balls you have closer than your opponent.
You then walk to the other end of the turf, reset, and play again, until a certain number of points or rounds (known as ends) has been completed. (there are 21 points, 18 ends?)
Lion City Lawn Bowls Club member Joshua Tan, retired at 65, was one of the bowlers coaching the SilverStreakers. He opines that the sport is ideal for silvers due to several reasons.
Vice President of the Lawn Bowls Association for the Disabled (Singapore), lawyer Ganesh Ramanathan, 58, who was one of the coaches, concurs, “I picked up the sport of bowls at age 46. I was living a sedentary lifestyle with no consistent sporting activity for about a decade. I could not go back to playing active sports, due to a ligament tear and knee issues. I came across the low-impact sport of lawn bowls. It is slow paced but has sufficient body movements. With a game lasting two hours or more, it is good enough as a form of exercise and to sweat it out.
The sport is also suitable for players with mobility issues or visual disabilities. In the latter case, they will need a guide to help them zero in on the target.
There are accommodations for players with pre-existing ailments. Silvers with trouble bending over due to chronic back or knee issues can use a lifter to pick bowls off the floor, and a lawn bowling arm to help get the bowl close to the ground for rolling.
The main safety consideration for lawn bowls is in handling the bowl itself. As it gets slippery when wet, wiping it off with a dry cloth can make handling the bowl safer.
When it comes to stopping a bowl rolling toward you – “never use your hands, and be very careful with your feet,” says Joshua.
As a whole, the SilverStreakers had a ball of a time.
While you might’ve seen videos of lawn bowlers clad in stuffy all-white outfits, that is a relic from the sport’s days as a game for the gentry.
Now, anyone can play in any get-up – just wear something sensible for Singapore’s weather, and flat-soled shoes that won’t mess up the turf.
Otherwise, you can always join interest groups like the Lion City Lawn Bowling Club to find a like-minded community of lawn bowlers.