Forget the florescent lighting, the smell of stale beer and shoe disinfectant spray — bowling no longer need be associated. Today, bowling just got a little greener, as in grassy green lawns, for lanes. It's lawn bowling.
What is that?
Lawn bowling is a sport, often played on a flat green field that is either inside or out. The objective is to roll biased balls so it stops close to a smaller ball, called a "jack" or "kitty." Played in Naples and around the world, lawn bowling has been quite popular for centuries and has been popular among many classes of people, from royalty down to middle and lower classes.
Many who occupy the playing field at the Naples Premier Croquet & Lawn Bowling Club in Naples are British.
"It's huge in England!" exclaims Jenny Simpkin.
Simpkin is there along with her husband Brian Simpkin playing with friends on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. It's a relaxed mood among the players and words of encouragement spread quickly between teams. The playing was lighthearted, and jokes were tossed around.
"You cheeky bastard!" Desmund Cohen said with a laugh after he and the players joke on the field.
It's an easy decision for these travelers to come to Naples and enjoy the sport they've long enjoyed in their home countries.
"With the weather here, we really like it," said Jenny Simpkin.
Many participants in today's games have known each other for years, and a few met just through bowling together. One of the few Americans playing at the club is Ken Valldejuli. Even though he's American, the retired police officer's tie to lawn bowling is someone who hails from England: his wife. And Brian Simpkin and Rick Gray have known each other for nearly 30 years. They grew up on the same street on South England and now they're playing together in Naples.
Even though this type of bowling differs a bit from the bowling we're used to, it is similar in the enjoyment anyone can experience from rolling a ball toward a target with a few friends and a few laughs. That's international.