On May 31st 1930, Harl S. Kittle, vice president of the Beverly Hills Lawn Bowling Club, purchased a new 5-room stucco house at the corner of Catalina and Oak streets to be used as a summer home. The Kittles must have liked their home and surroundings, because in February of 1931, they made a permanent move to Laguna Beach. He brought with him his hopes of building a bowling green in Laguna Beach not only for the enjoyment of the residents, but to induce Canadians to visit Laguna Beach for the winters.
A New Club Is Born
Harl's efforts bore fruit when on April 29, 1931 at the Laguna Hotel, the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club was formally launched with Harl being named its first president. With seventy-four members registered on the charter list, it was at the time the largest club in Southern California. By May the membership had grown to ninety-five. By July of that year the new green, what is now the south green, was being mowed. In November the green was opened and first games played. On May 1, 1932 the club was officially dedicated along with Heisler Park with a 2-day tournament. From then on, Laguna was a very popular club hosting numerous tournaments through the years..
This classic 1940 film short by Grantland Rice depicts various aspects of "bowling," including Lawn Bowling in Los Angeles (0:26) and Laguna Beach (2:06).
This short also included outdoor Duckpins (at a fashionable Hollywood outdoor duckpins establishment) and, of course, indoor "Tenpins" bowling.
At its 20th Anniversary celebration in 1951, the club announced that a new north green was to open within months. The added rinks would not only double playing surfaces, but permit alternating and allowing the highly cultivated grass a "breather" from the heavy traffic. The "new facilities" received their final "dressing" under the direction of the Agricultural Experimental Stations, University of California at Los Angeles.
Arial photo of he club before the north green was added
Photo courtesy of the Laguna Beach Historical Society.
A Third Green???
Believe it or not, almost 10 years later in August of 1960, the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce supported a drive for funds to build yet a 3rd green, most likely north of the current north green. At the time there were 115 regular members, but there were also 152 Canadians associated with the club. That effort, unfortunately, seems to have fallen through. Alas, there is no third green.
Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club's golden anniversary was celebrated with a huge well-publicized tournament. Note the change in dress from all whites to a more "relaxed" ensemble.
Eighty-seven years later, the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club has a membership of approximately three hundred and is still going strong.