Coach Ray Wakeman and the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club are looking for new members. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Coach Ray Wakeman and the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club are looking for new members. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge club looking for lawn bowlers

Games have been modified for safety during COVID-19

A sport that’s still running in Maple Ridge, despite COVID-19, is lawn bowling. And the local club is looking for members.

Along with a bowling calendar that begins with events this month, the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club is starting its annual drive for new members.

COVID-19 closed the club, and approximately cut in half its membership of 130 bowlers. Ray Wakeman is the club head coach, and he is hoping to reverse that trend.

He notes the club is following public health protocols, and the artificial turf at the club on 232nd Street has been divided into five playing rinks instead of the usual eight, to allow players to be socially distanced as they play. All of the action is outdoors, and players are not allowed to socialize inside the clubhouse at the moment. One of the safety rules right now is “No Loitering,” but in normal times enjoying a beverage after a game is half of the fun.

The sport is popular with seniors, and he said by next month the entire membership of the club is expected to have received their vaccinations.

It’s a game that’s not unlike bocce ball. A key difference is that a lawn bowl ball has a bias, and curves as it rolls.

Explaining the game is Wakeman’s forte.

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The club charges $130 for a season, which Wakeman asserts wouldn’t buy you much at a golf course. Lawn bowling is the best value for your sporting dollar, he contends. Still, as an incentive to new members, they can purchase five lessons, delivered by the head coach himself, at a total cost of $25. After the lessons, if you want to join, the annual fee will be a reduced $105.

The season is just starting, making it the optimum time to join, said Wakeman. It generally wraps up in October, but there are bowlers who play year-round.

“People come up here in December if it’s a nice day.”

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Players can be competitive, and attend tournaments in other cities, or they can play their weekly men’s, women’s or mixed events, and before COVID-19, they would stay at the clubhouse to socialize.

For information call Ray Wakeman at 604-477-9207.

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