Want to spend a Saturday near the beach but not a Sunday in the hospital with a third-degree sunburn on your back? Then swing by the Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club for a rousing afternoon of lawn bowling, pizza and expensive-tasting refreshments. While traditional indoor bowling invokes memories of two-tone shoes and beer bellies, lawn bowling is slightly different. Instead of the standard three-holed, oversized bowling ball, a lawn bowling ball is called a "bowl" and resembles a standard croquet ball. And instead of pins, there is a single jack at the end of an 80-foot lane toward which players roll their bowls. The bowl that stops closest to the jack wins.
Though barely a blip on the ESPN radar, lawn bowling does offer some advantages over its more popular cousin. First of all, it's cheap. One game at Newport Harbor is only $1 for members, as opposed to about $7 per game at local bowling alleys—not including shoe rental. Also, whereas bowling alleys typically reek of stale beer, cigarettes and spray deodorant, lawn bowling is played outside in the fresh air and sunshine. OUTSIDE, people! It's summer. Enjoy it. Plus, for the lawn-bowling dilettante, the Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club even offers lessons from international lawn-bowling champions, some of whom may possess the ability to speak more than one language and distinguish a Pouilly Fuisse from a Schlitz.
Still not convinced that lawn bowling will soon outrank indoor bowling in popularity? Well, it probably won't, but wouldn't you like to get in on the ground floor just in case? Just remember to bring your own shoes. The Newport Harbor Club doesn't have any to steal.
Saturday on the Green at Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club, 1550 Crown Dr. N., Corona del Mar, (949) 230-1957; www.newportbeach-cvb.com. Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free.