New lawn bowling club opens in Minnesota

Brookview Golf and Lawn BowlingThursday, August 14, 2014 marks a significant day in the life of lawn bowls in the U.S. Noteworthy is a new bowling green that is opening in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a western suburb of Minneapolis. A year ago the city council approved the construction costs of $134,000 for the 8-rink green that has been built on the same premises as the city’s public golf course.

Take note all you nay-sayers who talk about the decline of the sport. Before a bowl has been rolled on the green in Golden Valley, twenty-four teams have signed up for league play that kicks off on August 14 Strong civic backing has been crucial to bring this project to realization. From the beginning the Golden Valley city council was supportive of the lawn bowling project. “This looks like a fabulous amenity,” Council member Paula Pentel reported to Gina Purcell with the Sun Post Newspaper. Mayor Shep Harris offered his support, “I think it’s a great idea, …this will be yet another option for those coming to Golden Valley.”

League play pits teams of four players in matches lasting just one hour for seven weeks and culminates in a Champions Cup Tournament. A variety of league options are available: family league, couples only, women only, and open league. Loch Lamond, Vale of Leven, and Druid’s Glen are among the league names that all pick up on the original home of the game.

The cost per team is $350. In response to a question about the fees, assistant manager Kim Straw said, “everyone thinks the fees are reasonable”. The new bowls club has signed up at least one corporate group of between 30-100 people for each day in August. Straw attributes this high level of interest to the social aspect of the game. “In golf you only have three other playing partners, but in lawn bowling you socialize with many more people.” Straw notes the game has a mysterious factor to it that is attractive to people who’ve never seen or heard of the game, and it is less intimidating than golf to play.

How does a new lawn bowls operation occur in the U.S.? It helps not to be burdened by a history of repeating the tired methods and strategies that don’t work anymore.

A larger-than-just-bowls strategy is required that ties lawn bowls in with complementary amenities. In Golden Valley, progressive city officials, and its parks and recreation departments headed by Rick Birno, view lawn bowling as a natural complement to the golf course. As Gina Purcell of the Sun Post reported, “Rick Birno explains that while golf is often played in the morning and afternoons, the lawn bowling leagues would start in the evenings as golfers are headed home.” “We’ve been looking for reasons not to bring this forward and we haven’t found any,” Birno said. “It will be a place the community will gather.”

Another sign of progressive thinking is that the city renamed its facilities the ‘Brookview Golf Course and Lawn Bowling’ that gives bowls equal billing and marketing potential. It cannot be underestimated that the green has complete food and beverage service at an adjacent grill area. Most U.S. greens are in public parks that face restrictions on food and beverage, limiting the social aspects that Golden Valley is touting.

The public can pay a rental fee of $20 per hour per rink. Bowls are provided at the green. If you are in the area, check out Brookview Golf Course and Lawn Bowling at 200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley, MN 55426. Website: http://www.brookviewgolf.com. While in Minneapolis, you can also stop by Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis at 1110 Nicollet Mall for a pint and to check out its unique bowling green atop a parking garage.

And I leave you with this: The two most recent lawn bowl greens to open in the U.S. are both in the Central Division – Golden Valley MN, and Mitchell SD that opened its new green in 2011. Go Green Central!

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