Golf and lawn bowling have a lot in common.  Both are centuries old recreations played on grass in the sunny outdoors.  But that’s where the common ground ends.

Lawn bowling is easy to learn and enjoy right away.  It is played on a manicured 120x120“ square of grass in the sunny outdoors.  It’s a game with teammate interaction and team challenges, personal accomplishments, and social enjoyment.  And, unlike golf, no one has ever lost a bowl on a bowling green. 

The sport is inexpensive.  The maximum cost of a set of lawn bowls is about one-third the minimum cost of a set of golf clubs. And a set of bowls lasts a lifetime.  The annual fee for lawn bowling at Roxbury Park is less than the total of a couple of rounds of golf at a public course.

Lawn bowling, the world’s oldest continuously played sport, virtually disappeared from United States soil following the American Revolution of 1776.  (Too British, you know.)  Yet, throughout the eastern seaboard, street names and local communities still carry the name:  "Bowling Green”, denoting the likely area where the local bowling facility once stood.  

Lawn bowling (or bowls) began its resurgence in the U.S. around 1900, and came to Beverly Hills in 1926.  The first green was built at the current site of the Wells Fargo Bank, at the corner of Camden Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard; it was built by Dr. Oscar Beasley, President of the Bank of Beverly Hills, next door to his depository.

Several years later, City fathers had a new public park on the drawing board at the site of a bean field fronted by Roxbury Drive and Olympic Boulevard, to be dedicated to local residents who had fallen in World War I.  Dr. Beasley and City councilman J.L. Kennedy proposed the installation of a bowling green at the new Roxbury Memorial Park to complement several tennis courts and a community clubhouse.  In October, 1929, the bowling green and clubhouse were dedicated, and the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club took its place as an historic Beverly Hills landmark.

As the number of participants mushroomed, a second bowling green was added in 1935, and the third opened in 1946.  The cost of both additional greens was underwritten by enthusiastic Beverly Hills bowlers.

During the era before major professional sports proliferated on the West Coast and recreational TV developed the ubiquitous couch potato, the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club was the hot local gathering spot.  No less than five city mayors held the club president’s seat, and a who’s who of Westside bigwigs and entertainment celebrities were roster members, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck’s best friend, Walt Disney.

After Walt’s passing, his Beverly Hills bowling buddies teamed with the Walt Disney & Company to organize an international tournament in the animation  creator’s name.  The Disney Company designed and produced an array of Disney Masters Tournament items for exclusive use of the event, which robustly continues today in its fourth decade.  The unique tournament memorabilia includes a remarkable four-foot trophy made of solid Brazilian redwood, with imbeds of Walt’s four personal lawn bowls, topped by a golden foot-high Mickey Mouse figurine.

Today, the game of bowls continues at Roxbury Memorial Park, but the realities of time have altered the user configuration.  The footprint of three bowling greens continues, but now reflects a contemporary recreational menu for active community participants.  One of the greens, the original “Beasley” green, remains a landmark dedicated to the game that has been a city activity since 1926.  Of the other two greens, one is dedicated to croquet and the other has been converted to two beach volleyball courts.

Lawn bowling is a social as well as competitive recreation.  Many who play the game enjoy it as much for the friendships they make as they do the sport.  It is an activity that men and women, skilled and unskilled, can partake side-by-side as teammates or opponents. 

Though played mostly by adults in the United States, it is a sport for all ages.  There are some 35 lawn bowling facilities in Southern California.  Men and women interested in the competitive side of sport will find a bountiful annual schedule of tournaments that runs almost year around.  Travelers, particularly those to the American Sunbelt and Commonwealth countries, always find the welcome mat out at bowling facilities worldwide.