I thought that given my one year of lawn bowling this would be a great opportunity to gain some experience and meet other bowlers from other clubs and so I agreed to be part of the team. The other three members who wanted the same experience and joined the team were Sheri and Brent Perkins and Gail Cunningham. We were all set to take on the world.
Over the next few weeks we found out that not only were we the only team from Cobourg, but we were the only team entered from our district. This meant that we were going straight to the provincial level playoffs in Woodstock!
It now dawned on us as the date for Woodstock drew near that we had not played together as a team, let alone played the combo fours and Aussie pairs bowling formats that was required for Woodstock. Bill quickly assembled a team from our club to play against us in the combo fours and Aussie pairs format that would provide us some experience to play as a team. We also tried to play together as a team again before going to Woodstock but the weather and peoples schedules did not allow for it.
Soon, time flew by and next thing you know we are setting off for Woodstock for the weekend. I drove on ahead as I had some friends to meet (I used to live just south of Woodstock) leaving just after 11am on the Friday. After a quiet run all the way to Milton, things soon turned bad. The bowling gods had heard we were going to Woodstock and were trying to prevent us getting there! On the 401 at the turnoff to Kitchener there was a really bad accident that blocked the whole road and the only things moving were the police. After sitting in the car for nearly two hours I managed to get my car over to the inside lane thanks to two truck drivers who with lots of gesticulating and shouting gave me room to manoeuvre out so I could take the ramp to Kitchener.
Heading north to Kitchener I saw the signs for highway 7 west and Stratford and knew this would get me going in the right direction. Sixteen kilometres later and time to head south again. I soon picked up the 401 again which was now clear and moving well to Woodstock. Five minutes out from Woodstock and the 401 is again blocked with a bad accident. I can't believe how much trouble we are having trying to get to Woodstock! I took the industrial exit for Woodstock and ten minutes later I arrived at our hotel. Fortunately Sheri, Brent and Gail had a better run as they left later but that included a return trip to Cobourg after Brent realized he had forgotten his shoes!
At four o'clock we headed over to the Woodstock Bowling Club for a practice session. This was the first time we saw the larger greens. Their two greens are both about ten feet longer than our greens which was to really challenge us on Saturday and Sunday. We practised for about an hour and then headed into town for something to eat.
Up very early Saturday for a quick breakfast before getting to the club for the opening ceremony. We all marched as teams into the club and onto the greens following a Scottish bagpiper. There were fourteen teams from all across Ontario.
After a quick rest it was time to perform. Our first game was the combo fours and it soon became very evident that we were playing a very experienced team. Every time we were anywhere near the jack they quickly knocked our bowls out no matter how hard we tried. It was quite an experience to play against a team of their calibre which we of course lost.
After the combo fours we then played the men's and women's pairs games. Again we found ourselves playing against very experienced players and lost both games. We worked hard to keep the frustrations at bay and kept giving it our best and determined to have some fun. After a quick lunch we were back to playing another combo fours. Again, an experienced team who challenged us but with our best efforts we still ended up losing.
It was about now that I realized why I couldn't put the bowl where I wanted but kept ending up curling early and missing the spot I was aiming for. In our next set of pairs games, Brent was bowling towards me and I thought he was going far too wide and would miss where we wanted the bowl. Lo and behold his bowl curled in nicely and ended up up right by the jack. Now I realized that with the added distance of their greens, my usual sight lines I used to judge my release of the bowl were way too narrow. I widened my line and put the bowl right where I intended. From there on in we had a much better game and only just lost the men's pairs game by a point. The women, having learned the same problem had a better game also and managed to win their pairs game. Things are looking up.
So the net result from Saturday was we managed to win one out of six games. We were , now in a much better frame of mind and ready to face Sunday. We played the same format on Sunday in that we played two combo fours games and two sets of pairs games. We did manage to win both of our combo fours games but only just lost both of our sets of pairs games.
So overall we didn't come away with any medals having won three out of a total of twelve games but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the experience of playing on different greens and meeting some great bowlers. Everyone was very friendly, even the umpires, and we all look forward to taking on the challenge for 2023!
If you are a novice bowler I urge you to get involved next season and join any of the tournaments both at the club and district levels as it is very rewarding and very helpful to your game.
I want to share my experience of the Woodstock tournament. I have to say no matter how much practice we had before tournament nothing can prepare you for the experience you will have that weekend. Besides the long and busy highway the arrival at the club on Friday was surreal, the other teams were also practicing, some had coaches with them and setting up training activities for them others were like us trying to figure the greens out. The greens were fast and well maintained and longer then we were use to. Finding the line speed was not easy. I was like "omg what have we got yourselves into".
Saturday morning was early start we were excited to play. The parade with the piper was amazing the speeches were all the same we wanted to get going. The national anthem made it feel so much more important and we all got pins and banner which made us proud. We wanted to show other teams Cobourg was here to play.
Finally first game. We started ok and gave up just one in the first end. From there it was all down hill. We couldn't find the line and we were over shooting, nerves kicked doubt set in, we are playing a very good team. The pairs wasn't much different both the men and us lose badly. The plus side was we never got skunked. The afternoon still not the best but the games were better. We were getting better playing our game when we got the lead. We liked long jacks, other teams didn't. We were growing as a team . Last game of the day pairs again. The men did so much better and kept it closer then the rest of the day. The ladies, we somehow controlled the game. We kept long jacks from the first and we started to find the line. We won by 3. Sheri and I were excited, felt the long day was over but going out on a win picked the whole team up.
Sunday morning we started great in the fours and we won our first game, we found the line speed and we played well as team supporting each other. We relaxed and had some fun with the other team. The pairs we didn't win but we were so much better then Saturday, closer and we played well. The men lost but again not by much. Next fours game we won again. It was a close and very good game, both teams were matched well. We came out on top again. Team work was great we helped each other out Sheri did amazing and hit a her shots. Terry skipped great all weekend, he won few ends on last shot. Brent he was great always in the count. Me I placed the jack deep and placed my bowls in good places but never really got on role the team worked well together. The final pais games were much the same. Close but no win.
The experience working with the other players and learning together was my highlight of the tournament. The Woodstock club did a great job putting this tournament on. Great food and people. Congrats to all the winners and everyone involved. We didn't come last and we grow in experience. Novice players should try at least one tournament out of club to experience what goes on and meet new people and experience new greens.