Lawn bowling club bids farewell to longtime green

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

As they so often do, members of the Williamsburg Inn Lawn Bowling Club, clad in white, launched bowls across the picturesque green behind Williamsburg Inn.

This day was different, though.

It was the club's last tournament on this green – the club's home for nearly 50 years, and the only regulation lawn bowling green in the state.

"It's the end of an era. It really is," said longtime member Susan Berg, while pausing between bowls during the May 7 tournament.

"We've enjoyed 50 years, and I think that's how we've got to try and look at it," Berg said.

Those years include many tournaments – last year, the club hosted the Northeast Division championships for Bowls USA – and club activities. In fact, club members would man the green every afternoon from April through October, available to instruct anyone interested in playing.

But the club's long-running stint on the green is but a fraction of the sport's history in the Historic Triangle. A sign planted near the green states the first English settlers brought the sport to Jamestown, and Williamsburg had its first public bowling green before 1721.

The Inn's green will soon be swallowed by expansion of the Gold Course of Colonial Williamsburg's Golden Horseshoe Golf Club.

"We hate to see this green depart, but it's not ours," said club president Jack Edwards.

"I understand why we're losing it," said member Toy Carpenter. Still, he found the final tournament to be bittersweet.

"I've enjoyed this, and it's just not going to ever be the same again apparently," Carpenter said.

The club will do its utmost to continue thriving. Edwards said the club is searching for a temporary location, to keep the club going, until it can find a full green. However, that does require funding and, what Edwards called, a willing institutional partner.

Some short-term options the club is exploring include Williamsburg Inn's nearby tennis courts, an indoor soccer field at Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex and a possible temporary green at Mid County Park.

"All those are in early stages," Edwards said.

The best thing the club can do, Edwards said, is just to continue looking at options, "and hope that we can find something that will be both feasible and good for us, in terms of bowling."

Sissy Hall's team, including her husband Pete and Mayor Clyde Haulman, won the final tournament.

Hall started lawn bowling around 15 years ago. She uses her parents' bowls, both of whom used to bowl in Pennsylvania. Hall said she usually comes to the green every Tuesday and Thursday to bowl with the club, driving from Gloucester to do so.

"I don't know when and where I'm going to bowl next, and that's just really strange," Hall said.

She enjoys the sport, the strategy and challenge involved, as well as the friendship among club members.

"I'm just hoping that we can find somewhere to keep our bowling and our friendship going," she said.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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