BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Essex County Lawn Bowling Club, located in Watsessing Park, hosted a regional tournament this past weekend, Sept. 22 and 23. The competition was sanctioned by the Northeast Division of Bowls USA and is named the Skip Arculli Pairs Competition. Arculli is a member of the club and was also a member of the American pairs team which won a world championship in 1984. He currently resides in Nutley. His daughter, Michele, is a member of the club and competed this weekend. Players came from as far away as Virginia and Rhode Island for the match.
A pairs team in the contest was Bloomfield resident Veronica Sum who played with her mother, Frances Shen.
But the competition was won by ECLBC members Ken DeAngelis and Patrick Duffy. DeAngelis is a former Bloomfield resident, having attended Watsessing Elementary School and Bloomfield High School, Class of 1974. He is also a graduate of Bloomfield College, Class of 1981. He currently lives in Butler and has been lawn bowling for only two years. Duffy is from Brooklyn.
“I had a great partner,” DeAngelis said after his victory. “As a kid, I saw people bowling here. But I thought people only bowled in alleys. I’m learning the strategy from Patrick.”
The object of the game is for a player to roll his ball, or “bowl,” closest to a small ball called a “jack.” Once everyone has done this, the bowl closest to the jack is awarded a point. Of course, a player can purposely knock an opponent’s bowl away from the jack or even knock the jack away. In pairs, teammates use these collisions as a strategy.
The president of the Bloomfield-based club in Colin Smith, a resident of Lake Hiawatha. He said that every pair played five games. Each game is between two and two and a half hours. Thirteen pairs competed this year. The Essex County club has about 40 members and about a dozen competed this weekend.
Most lawn bowling greens are natural grass, but the Bloomfield green is turf. This makes for a faster surface and the bowls take longer to slow down.
DeAngelis’ comment that he was playing with a great partner was true. Duffy has been on the winning pairs team every year since 2015. In 2015-16, he was paired with Duncan Farrell, of Union.
Shen, of the Bloomfield mother/daughter team, has been bowling for six years. This is her third Skip Arculli tournament. She started her daughter on the game four years ago. They were not doing too badly after the first day of competition, either, with a 2-1 record. But on Sunday they were 1-2 and finished with a 3-2 record. DeAngelis and Duffy won all their matches.
“It’s a mild game,” Shen said, “and a fall back from vigorous games like tennis. Someone may have knee problems.”
But lawn bowling does provide exercise. Teams walk back and forth, from one side of the green to the other, to approach the jack.
“You walk from end to end,” Shen said. “Fourteen ends is usually a tournament. It depends on the rules. This tournament was 14 ends.”
“It looks easier than it is,” Sum said. “That’s the key. It’s challenging. Each end is different.”
Sum said that Sun City, where her mother lives half of the year, is a mecca for lawn bowling. Both mother and daughter will be going to the U.S. Lawn Bowling Open, which will be played in Sun City this year. Shen said from where she lives, there are about a half-dozen places to lawn bowl only 15 minutes away.