It’s all about practice and precision when it comes to perfecting the game of carpet bowling, but it’s the fun atmosphere and strategy that keeps husband and wife duo, Joyce and Fred Luecke coming back.
The couple, both longtime carpet bowlers with the Sunshine Club at Echo Centre, took home a gold medal win at the BC provincial carpet bowling championships in Telkwa, BC this year. They are heading to the BC 55+ Games – formerly known as the BC Senior Games – in Coquitlam this September.
“I love the strategy of it. You have to set things up, you can’t just go for the jack, which is the little white ball,” Joyce Luecke said as she points to a game unfolding on the carpet in front of her at Echo Centre.
“It’s all about angles and if you have a good eye... that comes with practice.”
Carpet bowling, played widely in the south of England, is an indoor game where the object is for each player in a singles game or each team in a pairs, triples or fours to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls closer to the jack than their opponents.
Introduced to the game by her mother, who still bowls today at 97 years old, Luecke said since starting matches as a pair in 2004 she and Fred have won about six gold medals and a couple silver medals too.
It was carpet bowling that brought the couple together many years ago, after the passing of Fred’s first wife.
“His wife died and he came with his sister-in-law to play cards... his sister-in-law was a carpet bowler and she sort of encouraged him to come and that’s how we met,” Luecke said.
“He told me when he came and looked in the door he used to keep his eye on me.”
Luecke said since about 1967 the number of carpet bowlers with the Sunshine Club has dwindled from about 100 people to just 22. She encourages any new members to come out and try the game which, she added, is not just an “old folks” game.
“It’s more strenuous then people think and you have to be able to get down so that you can roll your bowl along the carpet,” Luecke said.
“Some people catch on right away but it’s like any other sport, sometimes you have an aptitude for it and sometimes it takes a little bit longer...it’s something you have to come and practice for a while before you know whether you’ll be good at it.”
Taking a break from challenging a fellow Sunshine Club carpet bowler at a Thursday afternoon drop-in session, Fred Luecke said what he enjoys most about the game is the challenge.
“I fell in love with it when my first wife died and I came here and watched it for a while and I went and enjoyed it,” Fred said.
“It’s a good game and it’s not easy, it takes strategy.”
Fred added that it generally takes about a year of practice to perfect your strategy.
The couple hope to see more folks showing up to the Tuesday and Thursday drop-in games at Echo Centre from 1–3 p.m. in the future.