About a half dozen people are gathered on a sunny day in hats and polo shirts, ready to play. The group heads first to their clubhouse, pulling out equipment and setting up on a lush green reserved just for them, each member with their own colorful set of “bowls.”
They meet up at noon in Murphy Park to take part in the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowls Club. It’s there the players are led by “lawn bowls hall-of-famer” Joe Shepard. He hangs back, occasionally directing players and suggesting improvements to technique. Many participants are former athletes who have found the sport to be less physically exerting, but still a plenty challenging replacement.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of exercise, but you have to roll lots of bowls to be good. It’s a very precise sport. It takes a lot of practice,” says member Carrie Chiang, who used to play tennis.
The green and the club have been around since July 18, 1970, as noted by a plaque at the Vargas Bowling Green in honor of Manuel F. Vargas. The club, which has about 20 members, is run by the city of Sunnyvale through the senior center.