Guelph Lawn Bowling Club still attracts new players after 185 years

The Guelph Lawn Bowling Club is celebrating it's 185th anniversary this year. CBC News spoke to three players who were trying the sport for the first time.

'It's not very difficult. I think anyone can really play it,' newbie Jennifer Cutting says

Man puts two thumbs up as he lawn bowls
Sid Shinde plays lawn bowling with his daughter, Jennifer Cutting. (Trishla Parekh/CBC)

It didn't take long for Jennifer Cutting to figure out how to lawn bowl.

She tried the sport out for the first time this week with her father at the Guelph Lawn Bowling Club, which is marking its 185th year in operation.

"I'm expecting to have a lot of laughs, not to be an expert," she said as she prepared to try it out.

By just the second round, she seemed to have found her footing.

"I think I found a technique," she exclaimed. 

This caused heads to turn from the next row of players.

Adult woman and her father pose for a photo
Father-daughter, Sid Shinde and Jennifer Cutting at Guelph lawn bowling club. (Trishla Parekh/CBC)

"What is it? So I can use it too," another participant asked. 

"I can't tell you! It's competitive!" Cutting yelled back. 

CBC News visited the lawn bowling club to speak to three players who were trying the sport for the first time. The club, which was founded in 1838, celebrated their anniversary this month. 

"I have no idea how the game works. I'm assuming it's like regular bowling?" newbie lawn bowler Lindsay Dao said. "I don't know how many pins there are. Maybe just ten like usual."

Though the sport might just sound like traditional bowling but on grass, they're very different games.

In lawn bowling, the first player throws a small white ball into the field called a jack, which acts as a target. Each player will then compete to get their balls — called bowls — closest to it.

It's called a "bowl" because they are weighted heavier on one side, making them curve on the grass after they're thrown.

Picture of larger black balls surrounding a smaller white ball on grass
Picture of the field at Guelph Lawn Bowling Club. (Trishla Parekh/CBC)

A champion in the making? 

It was also Joe Cocca's first time playing, but he was already a "champion" in his teammates' eyes, as three of his bowls landed closest to the jack, giving him a total of 10 points.

Man lawn bowls, rolling large dark-coloured ball on grass
Joe Cocca trying his hand at lawn bowling for the first time (Trishla Parekh/CBC)

"It's exciting, though, it is difficult to get near the jack," he said.  

His secret: "Just throw the ball ... you never know. That was actually the first time I got close."

Cocca said he's hoping to bring his wife the next time he comes to the Guelph Lawn Bowling Club.

"I don't know if it's made me into a lifer but I'll definitely try it again," he said. "Practice makes perfect." 

At the end of the game, Cutting said she was happy to spend the day outside, bonding with her father and would introduce her children to it as well.

"It's not very difficult. I think anyone can really play it," she explained. 

A woman bends over to roll a ball, other players can be seen in background
Jennifer Cutting playing lawn bowling (Trishla Parekh/CBC)


Trishla Parekh is a 2023 CBC News Joan Donaldson Scholar. For story ideas, you can contact her at