(Courtesy Golden Gate Lawn Bowling Club)

National lawn bowling championships hosted by historic Golden Gate Club

It’s a short golf game, played on a curling field, with wooden Italian bocce balls.

Lawn bowling may not be well known in San Francisco, but its history in The City dates back more than a century. Founded in 1901, the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club is the oldest such club in the United States.

This Tuesday, the club is celebrating 118 years by kicking off the sport’s national championships in its historic home, Golden Gate Park.

And the Recreation and Park Department is inviting anyone over the age of 12 to participate.

“Wear flat-soled shoes, enjoy a blissful time on the green, and discover why lawn bowls roll on a graceful arc (they aren’t quite round),” spokesperson Tamara Aparton said in a statement.

Aparton expects the event to be grand: “The Superbowl of lawn bowling,” she called it.

Professionals have been preparing all year for the event, competing in regional tournaments across the country, according to the club. And just 48 bowlers from seven U.S. divisions qualified for these final matches.

The club will kick off the games Monday at 4 p.m. at the clubhouse at 320 Bowling Green Drive with an opening ceremony meant to show off its most recent renovations.

The grounds date back to 1901, when Golden Gate Parks Superintendent John McLaren co-founded what was then a one-of-a-kind space.

By late 2014 – when renovations began – the club had become a San Francisco historic landmark and gained the support of the US Senior Olympics and Bowls USA among other institutions.

Every corner of the clubhouse and grounds has been further inspected and perfected in recent months to prepare for the big games.

The competition will run through Friday, ending with a closing banquet at the park’s Conservatory of Flowers.

The championships are free and open to the public for viewing. To learn more about the event, visit the club’s online page at www.sflbc.org.

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