Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has designated May 10 as Lawn Bowls Day in Southern California.

On that day, participating Southland clubs, including the MacKenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club at the corner State and Las Positas streets in Santa Barbara, will provide a free introduction and training in the essentials of lawn bowling.

Many people regard lawn bowling as a pastime for the old and retired. Not true. The game can be enjoyed at many levels by people of all ages. Most bowlers play primarily at their own club a few times a week, satisfied with the time they spend outdoors in a serene, relaxing environment competing with men and women of like minds. They find that the more they play, the more there is to learn about the game, that it is as cerebral as it is physical, and when played to its fullest potential, will challenge even the most avid athlete.

The more competitive bowlers enjoy rivalries and friendships with members of other clubs as well as opportunities to meet and play against bowlers from other parts of the world. Lawn bowing is truly an international sport, played in many countries and on every continent.

Lawn bowling traces its beginnings to ancient times; bowling greens hundreds of years old still operate. If learning about such an old and venerable sport appeals to you, drop by MacKenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club on May 10 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. See for yourself why lawn bowling has such widespread fascination, even for the governor. Enjoy free pizza and drinks. Be sure to wear flat-soled shoes.

MacKenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club, located on the upper level of MacKenzie Park, is a nonprofit organization co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara City Parks and Recreation Department. The club provides outdoor recreation and competition to residents of all ages in a modern, beautiful facility. Free introductory classes are offered to new bowlers; all necessary equipment is provided. For more information on club activities and availability of classes, click here or call 805.563.5494.

Ray Stone is a MacKenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club member.