Four Victoria lawn bowlers are the impetus for a first-ever Super League indoor lawn bowling tournament taking place in Qualicum Beach this weekend.
Dennis Verge and three friends are avid, competitive lawn bowlers living in the Gordon Head area of Victoria. “We play every provincial tournament and try and qualify for nationals,” he said. They don’t have an indoor green in the south Island, so practices in the winter are no fun.
“The opportunities to lawn bowl in Victoria in winter are to go out in freezing cold and on bumpy greens…it’s not really lawn bowling anymore, it’s chuck-a-ball.”
Some of the Victoria bowlers had been to Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club, which has an indoor green.
“Four of us decided we would come up regularly,” he said. They all pay an annual fee, they aren’t bumping any local teams off the greens and Verge said it’s worth it for the chance to play indoors. “It’s a lovely facility.”
Qualicum Beach is one of the only lawn bowling clubs in North America that has both an outdoor and an indoor green, explained club member Nita Jack. “We have eight greens outdoors and three regulation greens for indoor. This tournament will be using our indoor greens. This is a big deal.”
The QBLBC helped set up a Tuesday Super League with some of Qualicum Beach and Parksville’s more competitive players. Verge and the other Victoria players said they likely wouldn’t come up for a weekend of friendly play due to travel costs, but if there were some prize money attached to a competition, it would entice them. The QBLBC membership started talking about it and agreed to put on a more competitive Super League competition.
“Our club does focus on friendly play but pre-COVID we hosted regular competitions that were held outdoors for teams from around our district,” said QBLBC spokesperson George Opacic.
“As well, we hosted provincial and national events,” Opacic added.
They found some sponsorship and teams from the Lower Mainland and elsewhere on Vancouver Island, and a new tournament was born. There is space for 12 teams, and they are full. The tournament format will be two-bowl triples.
The Vivien Sears RE/MAX Super League Plus Tournament takes place this Saturday, Jan. 28 and Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club. Two teams from Victoria (Oak Bay and Parksville) will be here as well as others from Courtenay, Nanaimo, White Rock, Parksville, Cowichan and Qualicum.
Verge hasn’t given up on the idea of having an indoor green in Victoria. He said there used to be one at George Pearkes Recreation Centre, but dwindling interest forced its closure—and Qualicum Beach benefited by picking up the indoor mats. The sport has picked up in the last few years, and there are now 1,200 lawn bowlers in 11 clubs in Greater Victoria.
“The problem is the impetus right now is for pickleball,” Verge said.
Games start at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The final game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club is located at 665 Jones St. Spectators are welcome.
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