Lawn bowls is a quintessential British sport, believed to go back 7000 years and is loved for its accessibility. Throw in some Sydney sunshine, the soft clacking of balls and a beer or two and you’ve got yourself the perfect Sunday afternoon. Whether you’re a seasoned bowler or a first-timer, here’s our pick of the best of the bowls in Sydney.
Clovelly Bowling and Recreation Club
Around the corner from Bondi and Bronte beaches, the Clovelly Bowling and Recreation Club looks out over the picturesque Clovelly cliffs. Established in 1947, the club offers three greens, a fully licensed bar and complimentary barbeque facilities. The casual game “barefoot bowling” is $15 per person, and bowls and basic coaching is provided for first-timers. Once you’ve upgraded your skills you can move onto social bowls ($8 per person) and maybe even competition bowls.
Bondi Bowling Club
The Bondi Bowling Club is headed by long-time Bondi locals Anthony “Kappa” Kaplan and Troy Barrott. As well as bowls, the club offers morning yoga and pilates classes, and live music on Thursdays. The regular menu is everything you need from a bowling club – steaks, fish of the day, salads and locally produced craft beer.
The Greens North Sydney
Established by the creators of the Grounds of Alexandra, Lilly and Nathan Fasan, The Greens is sunny and spacious, surrounded by palm trees and harbour views. If lawn bowls sounds a bit too strenuous, yoga on the green runs Friday to Sunday mornings. An impressive menu lists breakfasts of omelettes, porridge or hot-smoked trout, and Wagyu beef burgers and a lamb spit roast throughout the day. The jugs of cocktails serve four people comfortably.
Lane Cove Bowling and Recreation Club
When the Lane Cove Bowling and Recreation Club was first established in 1952 it was one of five bowling clubs in Lane Cove. Now the sole survivor in the area its recently refurbished clubhouse can cater functions for 150 people. Organised bowling is $10 a head and runs on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Petersham Bowling Club
The godfather of lawn bowls in Sydney, the Petersham Bowling Club – or more affectionately known as the PBC – was established in 1896. One of the oldest in the state, the club has had a recent brush with death – the local community fought hard against its demolition several years ago. General admission for lawn bowls is $10 for two hours of green time but bare in mind it’s cheaper when there’s a big group of you. Night bowling is also available from 7pm until 9pm. The club provides a reasonably priced pizza, a bistro menu and a lunch buffet for functions.
Waverton Bowling Club
At the Waverton Bowling Club the majestic view of Sydney Harbour is the real draw card. More than 100 can play at once across the club’s two huge greens, making this venue a great choice for parties, functions or weddings. Two hours on the green costs $12 and for $15 you can have a short lesson. The Waverton Club restaurant, Berry’s Bay Brasserie offers more upmarket food than your typical bowls club, with spinach-and-mushroom ravioli and a tender Moroccan lamb pot.
Marrickville Bowling Club
When the Marrickville Bowling Club was established in 1905, it had only 52 members – all middle-class men. Luckily, anyone can enjoy barefoot bowls at Marrickville, just bring $10 and wear comfortable clothing. The bistro offers an extensive and affordable menu of burgers, pastas, seafood and steak, and you can catch excellent live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Close to the CBD, it’s a great place for a few relaxed beers before you kick on in the city.
Rock n Bowl, Manly
The aptly named Rock n Bowl in Manly has been around for 17 years and is still going strong, offering outdoor music while you bowl. The club provides tutoring and will organise a round-robin schedule, although it’s a little pricier than your regular social bowling. Rates start at $20 in the off-peak winter period. A function menu offers barbeque, seafood and other snacks. It’s a great option for corporate bonding and team building.
Beachside Bowls, Harbord Diggers
Longueville Sporting Club
Neutral Bay Club