Palos Verdes Bowl has been open for more than half a century, but just because it's reached middle age doesn't mean it lacks modern amenities. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, the alley's karaoke hours turn civilians into celebs as they rock out and star in music videos in front of a greenscreen. The stage also plays host to professional musicians on Thursdays and Fridays. Throughout the week, bowlers can take a break to engage in winner-takes-all conversation over sliders, wings, and pizza from the onsite cafe, Maxine's, or a tall brew from the onsite bar.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters, which allowed the teens who had previously been hand-setting the pins to focus on perfecting their jazz hands for upcoming street rumbles.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. They attempt to knock them down during leagues, club play, and events such as birthday parties and fundraisers. The largest owner and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
At Westminster Lanes, pins crash from the early morning until late at night. Here, players strap their feet into rental shoes and select the optimal ball for knocking down those poor pins, who just got back on their feet. Toes start tapping during Rock 'n' Bowl on weekends, and the alley occasionally hosts live entertainment, such as comedy shows.
Lawn-bowling statistics don't dominate newspaper box scores, but the sport is hardly an unknown phenomenon. The game’s English roots stretch as far back as the 13th century, and today, lawn bowlers can be spotted in locales as distant as South Africa and New Zealand. Primarily a game of finesse, lawn bowling rewards teams of three for their accuracy as they read the manicured terrain and gently heft a three-pound ball toward a small, distant target.
Ever since Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club was founded in 1927, it has embraced the social aspect of the sport, currently welcoming 120 members from the surrounding community. As the only lawn bowling club in the city of Los Angeles according to Westwood-Century City Patch, the HPLBC organizes matches across two separate playing fields, accommodating as many as 96 players at a time. The club loans equipment to new members so they can get a feel for the game before buying their own supplies, and instructors arrive in the late morning to dole out pointers and help newcomers learn the fundamentals. Plenty of benches and shaded areas allow players to relax in between throws or enjoy a quick refreshment before the next match.
Bowlers on a quest for either recreation or league glory can soak up the retro vibe at La Habra 300 Bowl until at least midnight every night. On Friday and Saturday, cosmic effects add a festive glow to nocturnal bowling (extra fee), evoking the excitement of outer space without the danger posed by reckless spaceship drivers. The center also offers party packages that furnish groups with lane space and shoes but require partygoers to bring their own cakes.
As friends sup quietly in a private banquet hall, chaos reigns a floor below. There, stones hurtle toward the wall, forming piles of rubble soon swept away and forgotten in the clamor. Still, the friends dine peacefully, unaware of the destruction happening under their feet. At the two-story Irvine Lanes, bowlers topple pins on the first floor's 40 lanes while the second floor hosts private parties and catered events in an elegant setting. Of course, a snack bar lets bowlers eat downstairs, too, and a full arcade, bar, and smoking patio keep outings interesting as the machine whittles new pins between frames.