Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2016 – 9:55 AM
Beverly Hills residents turned out in force to join Mayor John Mirisch for a day of lawn bowling Saturday at Roxbury Park.
Lawn bowling has a storied history in Beverly Hills.
The first green was built at the current site of the Wells Fargo Bank, at the corner of Camden Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard; it was built by Dr. Oscar Beasley, President of the Bank of Beverly Hills, next door to his depository.
Several years later, City fathers had a new public park on the drawing board at the site of a bean field fronted by Roxbury Drive and Olympic Boulevard, to be dedicated to local residents who had fallen in World War I. City councilman J.L. Kennedy proposed the installation of a bowling green at the new Roxbury Memorial Park to complement several tennis courts and a community clubhouse. In October, 1929, the bowling green and clubhouse were dedicated, and the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club took its place as an historic Beverly Hills landmark.
As the number of participants mushroomed, a second bowling green was added in 1935, and the third opened in 1946. The cost of both additional greens was underwritten by enthusiastic Beverly Hills bowlers.
During the era before major professional sports proliferated on the West Coast and recreational TV developed the ubiquitous couch potato, the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club was the hot local gathering spot. No less than five city mayors held the club president’s seat, and a who’s who of Westside bigwigs and entertainment celebrities were roster members, including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck’s best friend, Walt Disney.
After Walt’s passing, his Beverly Hills bowling buddies teamed with the Walt Disney Company to organize an international tournament in the animation creator’s name. The Disney Company designed and produced an array of Disney Masters Tournament items for exclusive use of the event, which robustly continues today in its fourth decade. The unique tournament memorabilia includes a remarkable four-foot trophy made of solid Brazilian redwood, with imbeds of Walt’s four personal lawn bowls, topped by a golden foot-high Mickey Mouse figurine.
Today, the game of bowls continues at Roxbury Memorial Park, but the realities of time have altered the user configuration. The footprint of three bowling greens continues, but now reflects a contemporary recreational menu for active community participants. One of the greens, the original “Beasley” green, remains a landmark dedicated to the game that has been a city activity since 1926. Of the other two greens, one is dedicated to croquet and the other has been converted to two beach volleyball courts.
Today the sport continues to enjoy popularity with many participants and bowling greens throughout Los Angeles.
To discover more and learn how to play, visit http://www.bowlnow.org/