Notes from a Novice
Thoughts from a lawn bowls novice - a periodic series from a relatively new bowler learning the sport.
District 11 Playdowns at Monora
July 17 by Bill McCollam Markham
I’ve only played in one other District Playdowns, and really enjoyed the experience. So I was quite interested in the opportunity to play a Mixed Pair format for District 11 recently. In considering whether to play, I noticed that the Playdowns were going to be held in a club I wasn’t familiar with - Monora. On the one hand, this made the opportunity even more interesting as I enjoy playing new clubs. On the other hand - it means that I had no familiarity at all with how the greens work.
I’m lucky in that my partner is also a great believer in preparation and was quite willing to join me in a drive up the 404 and along highway 9 to Orangeville. The club President, Brian Sparks, was very gracious and opened the club for us to practice as much as we wanted. Monora has a single green composed of 1,400 square feet of nylon synthetic fibers over a stone base. We knew it’d be fast, but we figured our experience on the carpet at Richmond Green would help us figure it out. Not exactly!
We showed up for practice on a very hot day in June (like pretty well all the days in June). Brian met us and helped us set up. It was challenging to say the least. I use Taylor Aces and my partner uses Taylor Internationals - both fairly wide bowls. When we play indoors, we are used to taking an aiming point into the adjoining rink - but at Monora we often had to aim into the rink two over! After a while we did manage to more-or-less figure the lines - but weight was still a problem, especially on short jacks. Before we left practice, I timed the green from tee to tee - 17.5 seconds from release to the bowl stopping!
On the day of the playdowns it was forecast to be hot again with chances of thunderstorms. Our game plan was to keep the jack short when we could and force our opponents (only one other entry in District 11) to adjust to the speed. Well, you know what they say about ‘best laid plans’... It was quite cool when we arrived for a 9:00 am start and the green was playing fairly slow (at least relative to our practices). The first game was very close highlighted by a tremendous trail of the jack on the opponents last bowl in a middle end for a 5. We lost that first game 13 - 15.
By the second game - it had really heated up. The greens were playing almost as quickly as in practice, and we were able to get our game plan going. By the end of 4 ends (with a short jack) we had a 10 point lead and held on to win handily.
Then the clouds opened…
Thirty minutes of torrential downpours during the break, and again shortly after we started the third game - left the green (and the players) in a sopping wet state. Every bowl would create a rooster tail of spray as all of us had to throw runners to reach the jack. It felt like bowling through treacle. Certainly not the conditions to match the super-delicate touch bowls my partner and I had practiced. However, our opponents took to it (like ducks to water?), and thoroughly trounced us.
Driving home, still hot, damp and cranky - I reflected that resiliency and adaptiveness are at least as important as preparation in competitive bowls.