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Lawn Bowling Helps Seniors Age Actively

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Stan Hishon limps across the damp, closely cropped grass surface. He bends to pick up an object of his sport and winces slightly.

Hishon’s hobbled gait is more the result of age than athletics. His sport--lawn bowling--serves as an elixir, an exercise which takes his mind off the pain of his second hip replacement.

“It’s beautiful. Marvelous,” Hishon said of lawn bowling.

Hishon, 73, is a relative whippersnapper in the ranks of the Glendale Lawn Bowling Club. Many of the club’s 42 members, who meet to bowl 3 times a week, are well into their 80s.

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Each outing resembles a scene from “Cocoon,” with elderly men and women, most wearing broad-rimmed hats, bending, crouching and hurling 3-pound elliptical “bowls.”

Lawn bowling is one of the world’s oldest games. A white ball, the “jack,” which is about the size of a cue ball, is dropped at one end of a 120-foot green. A bowler stands at the other end and rolls the bowl at the jack. An ideal shot, a “toucher,” rests against the jack.

The bowler who comes the closest to the jack scores 1 point, with the winner, in most cases, the first bowler to score 21.

The Glendale club competes in tournaments against other Southland clubs. The U. S. championships are held twice a year and there is a quadrennial World Bowls championship.

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Club members wear snappy white outfits in competition.

“Right now we look like a bunch of bums,” Glendale member Irv Rosenblum mused. “When we’re in white we’re still a bunch of bums, but we look better.”

One reason the Glendale club has difficulty attracting younger members is the green has no lights and therefore most games take place during work hours.

Rosenblum says flexibility gives the younger players an advantage.

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“We’ll take a young kid and he’ll try it a few times and he’s got the feel,” Rosenblum said. “Some of these old-timers have been bowling for 10 years and they never get onto the game.”

Scotty Miller gave up traditional bowling for lawn bowling 9 years ago.

“Why would you want to be in smoke-filled alleys when you can be out in the atmosphere?” asked Miller, 80. “I don’t think I’d miss a day unless I was out of town or sick.”

The sport has helped ease the pain of his arthritis, Miller adds.

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And don’t think that there is no heated competition on the greens. Commented one elderly passer-by: “These boys bowl like they’re from Tampa!”


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