WHILE THE REST of us cursed summer’s late arrival, Willie Weir danced a jig. Weir’s the greenskeeper at Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club, which hosts the sport’s national championships for the first time in 13 years, August 25–28. And after an emergency resodding project in late May, the last thing he needed was dry, hot weather to fry his fragile greens. “It was way too much stress for 500 square feet of grass,” he says.
This isn’t the first time Weir’s worked lifesaving wonders at the club. Eight years ago, interest in “bowls”—it’s a little like curling on grass—was dying among the under-65 set, so rather than watch the club fold, the 50-year-old Beacon Hill resident convinced more than a dozen friends to start a league. “On an August night there isn’t a more beautiful place to be,” he says. “I tell people that even if it was a tiddlywinks club, I’d be a member.” Today Men with Big Bowls boasts 54 players, many in their 30s and 40s, and there’s a yearlong waiting list to join. And Weir’s wife, Kat Marriner, founded Bowl Busters, a women’s league, in 2006. Even better, Jefferson Park is rolling with 139 members—the third most of any club in the country.