Lawn Bowls

Lawn Bowls
▪ 1998

      In the 1980s and '90s, the traditional game of lawn bowls was boosted in the British Isles by a switch in the winter months to carpeted indoor stadiums (by 1997 there were some 400 of them), which attracted large memberships. Television had embraced this indoor game by the creation of a single purpose-built rink (flanked by tiered seating), on which the annual world indoor championship was played. An adaptation of the outdoor game on similar lanes seemed likely with the formation in 1997 of the World Bowls Tour by the Professional Bowls Association, which attracted a worldwide membership.

      In 1997 Scotland's Hugh Duff won his second world indoor singles title (he had won in 1988). Six-time pairs winner (and 1996 outdoor singles champion) Tony Allcock of England returned to the winner's circle after four years, this time with a new partner, Mervyn King, while their teammate Norma Shaw captured her first singles title.

      At the women's third biennial Atlantic Rim tournament in August, the host nation, Wales, won the team championship as well as the triples event. England finished second with victories in the singles and pairs, and South Africa's win in the fours put it in third place overall. The World Bowls Board, the ruling body of international lawn bowls, reported a decline in membership in the 35 registered countries. In 1997 the board's total affiliated membership figure was 560,000, with Australia (230,000) at the top, followed by England (130,000) and Scotland (83,000).


▪ 1997

      The World Bowls Board, representing the interests of 35 countries, joined with the World Indoor Bowls Council and the newly formed Professional Bowls Association to launch the World Bowls Tour on Jan. 1, 1997. Its goal was to secure increased television coverage and sponsorship in order to produce more benefits for the game.

      In 1996 the world championships—contested every four years—were held. The men's events took place at Adelaide, Australia, in March, and the women's were held at Leamington Spa, Eng., in August. England's Tony Allcock retained his 1992 world singles title, defeating Jeff Rabkin (Israel) 25-15. The other men's gold medals were won by Ireland in the pairs, Scotland in the triples and England in the fours. Scotland won the team title.

      South Seas (Norfolk Island) competitor Carmen Anderson captured the women's singles, trouncing England's Wendy Line 25-9. The pairs was won by Ireland's Phillis Nolan and Margaret Johnston for a record third successive time. South Africa beat Australia in the triples, but this result was reversed in the fours.

      Scottish dominance was apparent at the world indoor championships at Preston, Eng., in February as David Gourlay, Jr., overcame fellow Scot Hugh Duff in the final. The pairs title went to Kelvin Kerkow and Ian Schuback of Australia, who defeated England's Gary Smith and Andy Thomson in a thrilling five-set encounter.


▪ 1996

      During 1995 lawn bowls continued to expand worldwide. The establishment of a World Bowls Council and increased representation at the world bowls outdoor championships at Adelaide, Australia, in March 1996 seemed certain to further this progress.

      Meanwhile, British players continued to dominate the sport. Andy Thomson, a Scot who had lived in and represented England since 1980, retained the world indoor singles championship at Preston, England, outbowling another Scotsman, Richard Corsie, in the final. Corsie, partnered by Alex Marshall, won the pairs title and a few weeks later had another notable success in Australia, winning the outdoor Mazda International Jack High singles competition in Sydney by defeating Australia's Cameron Curtis in the final.

      Scottish women players also excelled. Joyce Lindores captured the women's world indoor singles championship at Cumbernauld, Scotland, winning a best-of-five-sets encounter against Margaret Johnston, Ireland's world outdoor titleholder.

      Twelve countries took part in the Atlantic Rim Outdoor Women's Games at Durban, South Africa. The South Africans captured the gold medal in singles, pairs, and triples, but Scotland deprived them of a clean sweep by taking the fours. (DONALD J. NEWBY)

▪ 1995

      Scottish bowlers had an outstanding year in individual international events in 1994, both outdoors on lawns and in indoor carpet play. Richard Corsie of Scotland won the singles title in the Commonwealth Games at Victoria, B.C., in August, defeating world outdoor champion Tony Allcock in the final.

      Earlier, in March, Andy Thomson, who moved to England from Scotland in 1980, not only won the world indoor singles title played annually at Preston, England, but demonstrated his versatility in the Australian sunshine a few weeks later by outbowling Dave Stockham to win the Mazda International Jack High Tournament at Tweed Heads. Thomson just failed to complete a notably international triple triumph when he lost in the final of the Saga Open at Preston in September. He was outbowled by Mark McMahon, a Scot who had moved to Australia from Hong Kong, where he lived for some years. Yet another Scot, Jan Woodley, captured the women's world indoor title at Cumbernauld, Scotland, in April. At the Commonwealth Games, Scottish domination in the women's singles was halted by Margaret Johnston of Northern Ireland.

      Twenty-two countries competed in the Commonwealth Games, and in the team events men's gold medals were won by Australia's Cameron Curtis and Rex Johnston in the pairs and by a South African team in the fours. In the women's events Scotland again gained success with Sarah Gourlay and Frances Whyte in the pairs. South Africa took the fours. (DONALD J. NEWBY)

▪ 1994

      Though lawn bowls is played with skill by both sexes in all five continents and can produce champions from teenagers to septuagenarians, it was the young who were taking over at the top in 1993. Youthful muscles can produce a sensitivity of touch that more experienced players find difficult to match.

      In England in 1993 Amy Gowshall, aged 14, skipped her mother to a national pairs championship, and at the international level Richard Corsie of Scotland proved himself the bowler of the year when he won the Mazda International Jack High Tournament in Australia; about two months earlier he had become the world indoor champion for the third time in five years at Preston (England). The world indoor pairs title also went to younger players when David Bryant (now 62) and world outdoor champion Tony Allcock of England were beaten by the younger combination of fellow England internationals Gary Smith and Andy Thomson.

      In August, Cameron Curtis of Australia, just out of his teens, won in the singles and placed second in the pairs at the Pacific Games in Vancouver, B.C. Australia took the gold medal in the men's events and, despite a singles success for Carmen Anderson of Norfolk Island, New Zealand produced the best women's team. In other outdoor international matches during the year, South Africa celebrated its return to the world arena by defeating test teams of England's men and Scotland's women in April. In another test series, in New Zealand, the host team overcame Australia. (DONALD J. NEWBY)

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Universalium. 2010.

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