SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The game is played behind a gate on a pristine green, but it is not an exclusive country club. Everyone is welcome, though you'll find the regulars at the Santa Maria Lawn Bowling Club are all of a certain age.
"I'm probably one of the younger ones," Nancy Andersen said, "And I'm 75."
But that doesn't mean you can't join them. One of the best things about lawn bowling is people of any size, gender, or age, can compete equally against each other.
"Come and try it. It's exciting," Jim Graham said. "It takes you a couple years to get anywhere close to mastering it. It's an easy game to learn, not an easy game to master."
Graham has seen it all in more than 60 years of lawn bowling. He was a National Singles Champion in 1984. Graham plays three times a week in Santa Maria, and gives lessons to anyone who wants to give lawn bowling a try.
The object is to get the bowls as close to the jack as you can. What makes this game fun is the bowls have a bias to them, which means they naturally curve toward the target. It takes a little getting used to, but with some tips on where to aim and how to stay low and follow through, you will like one of the gang in no time.
"The thing I like about it," Dick Gillespie said, "Is men and women can play equally."
His wife Susan quickly responded, "Because we certainly can't play at home."
The bowlers share an easy camaraderie, and years of wisdom.
"If I win, I feel good," 90-year-old Seymour Hersh said. "If I lose, I make someone else feel good."
It's a level playing field for everyone. The members and the city bought a new surface that was installed late last year.
Membership is only $84 a year, and if you join you can play almost anytime. The Santa Maria Lawn Bowling Club is at 420 S. McClelland Street, right across the street from the main library and right next door to the Natural History Museum.
Those interested in giving it a try can call (805) 349-9838 for more information.