Not yet an Olympic sport
March 4, 2010 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Irish Road bowling traces its origins to the 1600s. The idea of the sport is simple: players compete to roll a 28-ounce iron ball (or "bowl") along a country road, covering a pre-set distance in as few throws as possible. Hotbeds of the sport include Ireland (of course), West Virginia, New York, Vermont, Michigan, North Carolina, the Netherlands (where it is called "klootshieten" and is played with somewhat different rules), and Germany (another variant called Boßeln).

More video.
"Go Play in the Road", Washington Post story
Road bowling glossary
posted by beagle (20 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was he throwing that iron ball over peoples heads or was the release a lot earlier than it looks.
posted by Wanderlust88 at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2010


klootsChieten

nice
posted by Substrata at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2010


Thanks Substrata - yes, missed the 'c' in there, and I should know better.
posted by beagle at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2010


"Klootschieten!" is what I'd probably shout if that ball dropped on my head.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where do you get one of those balls?
posted by box at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2010


First time I ever heard of this most awesome sport was the Ireland episode of Tony Bourdain No Reservations.
Kinda like golf, except with a really heavy, dangerous golf ball that could break your leg. As with any respectable sport, wagering is not only permitted, it's practically mandatory.
Great stuff.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where do you get one of those balls?

Right here.
posted by beagle at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Others take delight in the hurling and the bowling, but I take delight in the juice of the barley and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early. And good FPPs, cheers!
posted by Abiezer at 1:11 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was in high school, we used to get stoned and play a sport we called "idling". You were not allowed to touch the gas pedal or the brake pedal, but could use the handbrake in an emergency without penalty, but the referee had to agree it was necessary to prevent damage to the car or its passengers. The object was to see how far you could travel in this mode. The usual reason for having to stop was being pulled over by a policeman. God, we were dumb.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:30 PM on March 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Where the bowl rolls.
posted by peeedro at 1:34 PM on March 4, 2010


I'd love to play a game of idling! Thanks, Mental Whip, we're gonna play that this summer up north. :)
posted by unixrat at 2:06 PM on March 4, 2010


Growing up in rural Illinois where 2 miles of empty road isn't exactly hard to come by, I'm really surprised that this isn't something that wasn't a lot more popular.

Though the leisure habits/taste of the stomping grounds of my youth are often stereotypically dismissed as conservative or traditional, there always seemed to be a taste for something new to do as long as it wasn't too queer (original non-political definition) .

This is just simple (in the "not flashy" definition) enough and weird enough, that it seems like something that would really catch on as a sport for the farmers and good old boys from my youth -- both their dads and the guys who grew up there who are taking over the farms themselves.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:11 PM on March 4, 2010


Hurl a 28 ounce iron ball as far as you can along a road that's filled
with spectators? I don't see what could possibly go wrong!
posted by Jawn at 2:12 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, when I was a kid I thought I'd invented this with my pals. Except we used water balloons. Our "Road Rollers" didn't tend to get all that far.

I'm delighted that "chucking something down the hill" is an actual sport!
posted by majick at 4:01 PM on March 4, 2010


Hurl a 28 ounce iron ball as far as you can along a road that's filled
with spectators? I don't see what could possibly go wrong!


A bunch of motorcycles could appear from around the corner at 200mph?
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:04 PM on March 4, 2010


"Would you like to see him crush me like a worm?"

Scottish version.
posted by bwg at 4:24 PM on March 4, 2010


I never realized Ireland was so pixellated.
posted by Xezlec at 5:45 PM on March 4, 2010


Summer is a-comin'. Anyone think Oregon/Washington should be doing this?
posted by codswallop at 6:05 PM on March 4, 2010


The West Virginia Association is a quick way to get some bowls as beagle posted earlier. However, if you have a metal detector I would highly recommend bringing it along as it will save you money in the long run. The first major competition this year in WV is coming up in Ireland, WV in two week at the Irish Spring Festival. If anyone in the NC area wants to participate sometime just let us know.
posted by ashevilleroadbowling at 7:54 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a game I play with my family. Bocce golf.

Buy a set of bocce balls. Give everyone in the group one large ball. Go anywhere. The person with the worst score from the previous round throws the small white ball in any direction they desire. Everyone must roll, using golf-style rules to attempt to touch the white ball in the fewest possible throws. You can displace the white ball with your throw, intentionally. This sets up some fierce competition.
You score it like golf.
If you are playing on concrete you can ruin nice set of balls fast, so get a cheap one. It works best in large parks, but anywhere will do. Just don't break an windows.
posted by darkfred at 12:37 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


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