Golden Gate Park is a hotspot for many different active pursuits – some of which you may not be as familiar with as others. Lawn bowling is a game much similar to bocce in Italy or boules in France, but basically involves rolling larger balls to see who comes closest to reaching a smaller target. Played on well-maintained greens, the Bowling Green Clubhouse is the meeting place for interested parties – many of which belong to the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club that dates back to 1901.
The St. Andrew’s Society organized a bowling club in San Francisco in October of 1901. The Superintendent of Golden Gate Park at the time, John McLaren, picked the west corner of the Recreation Grounds to lay out a green. A week and a half later, several members of the organizing group bowled their first game using bowls hailing from Scotland. In November of 1901, the San Francisco Scottish Bowling Club was born with McLaren serving as the Vice President.
The permanent green now called Green #1 was laid out and opened in 1902. The Lawn Bowling Club had the historic clubhouse constructed in 1915 – a one-story Edwardian style structure that blended well with the surrounding park scenery. The accompanying greens delivered ample room for play.
To this day, the organization is known as the oldest lawn bowling club in the United States.
Things to Do
If you are interested in joining the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club or wish to learn how to play the game, you will find information posted on the front of the Clubhouse. Free lessons are available every Wednesday at noon or through scheduled appointed with a designated club instructor. The game is considered an easy-to-learn activity that is still highly competitive for people of all ages (and levels of physical fitness). In the late spring and summer, additional lessons are given during the evenings. Once you get the hang of the game, you can try your hand at sharpening your tournament-level skills.
Visiting the inside of the clubhouse is also an experience. The sport has deep roots and you’ll discover a vast collection of history regarding bowling, including vintage photographs, awards, and other documents. Separate locker rooms for men and women are available. The clubhouse is also equipped with a meeting hall and kitchen.
The San Francisco Lawn Bowling Clubhouse is located close to Sharon Meadow and the Carousel.
Address: 310 Bowling Green Drive
Phone Number: (415) 487-8787 (for greens information)