Aaron Zangl of Hermosa Beach hopes to win the gold during his time in Adelaide, Australia, as a member of the five-man team representing the United States in the World Championships of Lawn Bowling.
Zangl, 37, who began lawn bowling six years ago at the Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club, will compete against teams from 27 countries in a tournament that is often compared to the Olympics or soccer’s World Cup.
“I love the sport because it requires so much mental focus and because of all the strategy that is involved,” he said in a press release.
The World Championships will be held Nov. 24 through Dec. 9 at Lockleys Bowling Club and Holdfast Bay Bowls & Croquet Club in Adelaide.
Lawn bowls weigh about 4 pounds and are elliptical in shape, causing a bias or curve when rolled on the green toward the small white target ball called the jack, said John Simpson, a lawn bowler from Redondo Beach. A team receives a point for each bowl that is closer to the jack than the nearest opponent’s bowl. Teams of doubles or triples are typically played, and many people compare the sport to bocce ball, he said.
“People always compare it to bocce,” said Zangl. “I say bocce is like bowls as checkers is like chess, especially at the top level of the game where it is 90 percent mental or maybe more.”
Zangl, who lives two blocks away from the Hermosa club, was intrigued when he would walk past and stop to watch the bowlers. “I was invited in to give it a try -- like we do to all that stop and look -- and I was hooked,” he said.
Zangl says he spends at least 15 hours per week on the bowling green, and probably 30 hours a week when he is playing in tournaments. “I also practice every day off of the green with different visualization and meditation techniques.”
His past accomplishments in the sport include being selected to represent Team USA in Tiger Bowls in Hong Kong, The Atlantic Championships in Paphos, Cyprus, and The North American Challenge in Victoria, B.C. Canada. Last year he was the U.S. National Champion.
Memorable moments in his lawn bowling career include his first lesson from Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club member Yvonne Barton and carrying the U.S. flag during the opening ceremony of international events. “It’s a huge honor and emotional experience representing our country,” he said.
The Hermosa Beach Lawn Bowling Club, with more than 70 members, is located at 861 Valley Drive. It was founded in 1936, when Mayor John Clark obtained the approval of the City Council to install a green at his own expense. The clubhouse was donated in 1958.
The club bowls on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:45 a.m. and on Saturday at 10 a.m. Visitors are invited to any session (session last approximately two hours.) and are asked to wear rubber-soled shoes to protect the green. "And no, you don’t have to wear white clothes," said Simpson. The club also holds special events, sometimes on Sundays, with tournaments and barbecues.
“Come down to the club and have a roll," said Zangl. "Everyone is always surprised how fun the game is. The game can be enjoyed socially or taken to the next level and enjoyed for a lifetime. Many people feel that it is a retirement sport, but that is a huge misconception.”