On the Bowling Green with Geoff Behrent

Many people who play bowls today are those who grew up around a bowling green, often dragged there, reluctantly in most cases I’m sure, like young people impressionable by their parents or their grandparents.

I knew very little about the jargon of the game when I first started playing because I never entered a pétanque club than when I was younger to attend some sort of function, like a wedding reception or a birthday party, but never as a player or as a child of a bowler parent or a grandchild of a player. In fact, Yours truly didn’t start playing the game until I was 55, but I always wished I had started much sooner!

But, let’s move on to other questions …

All sports have their jargon. Bowls are no exception. A certain terminology has remained; others have changed – often for good reason. Let’s explore that a bit.

• Woods

Bowls aren’t called “wood” anymore, just because, well, they’re not made of wood! Previously, they were carved and turned from a very hard wood called Lignum vitae which was only found on one island in the West Indies. Today, they are made from a synthetic resin and are much more durable, play more steadily, and are several times stronger than old wood work. And NO, they do not look like marbles in any size, shape or shape!

• Bias

It’s a simple term that means the bowl has a “tendency or bias to bend” in a certain way. The bending path that a bowl takes is not the result of weights inserted on one side of the bowl, it is obtained by having one side of the bowl “more rounded” (for lack of a better term) than the other. .

• Kitten

That little white or yellow ball (a little bigger than a pool ball) that we bowlers try to get as close as possible is supposed to be called a Jack these days – the term ‘Kitty’ is by the way. window. But that doesn’t stop the most creative bowlers from calling it a cat or even a yak just for the fun of it. But why kitty, cat, Jack? Who knows …? By the way, in the old days the jacks were made of porcelain and tended to break easily; whereas today they are made from the same tough synthetic resin as the bowls.

• Lawn

“You took too much (or too little) weed!” or “I cut my grass”. Sounds strange on its own, doesn’t it? But that just means you delivered your bowl too wide (or too narrow) to get as close to the Jack as you hoped.

• Heavy

“Oh my God, I’m too heavy! It also sounds a bit odd, especially when spoken by a petite young woman on the green. It just means that the bowl was delivered with a lot more force than needed to gently roll into the required position.

• Ice rink and jump and tag

The rink has nothing to do with ice skating. An ice rink is a division on the bowling green – there are usually six of them – which allows multiple games to be played on the same court simultaneously. But why do we call ourselves an ice rink? Again, a little mysterious …

Then there is the Skip. He / she is basically the captain of a team, hence the term “skipper’s skip”, as in skipper (captain) of a ship / boat. He or she isn’t supposed to jump on the ice – if some bowlers I know did, they would just collapse or have a heart attack, that’s for sure!

Etiquette plays a very important role in the game of bowls – as in most sports. This is what makes any game enjoyable for everyone who plays it. Bowls has all kinds of cool little touches that add to the fun. I’m not going to go into detail on that except to say that it’s in place for a good reason and that by sticking to it the game works well.

If you need more information, or would like to start or resume playing pétanque (our greens are open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons from 1:30 p.m.), please contact the President of Randfontein Town Bowling Club, Vera Pretorius on 082 779 5177 or Secretary, Bobby McNeill on 082 926 4895.


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About Tommy Dodd

Tommy Dodd

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