Lovewood Ladies bond over love of bocce golf

Fran Theisen, of the Village of Chatham, makes her shot during bocce golf with the Lovewood Ladies at Chatham Recreation Center as Sandy Condella watches.

The Lovewood Ladies Bocce Golf Group has been kicking its social game up a notch.

Teresa Wise, of the Village of Chatham, said her group of women who play bocce golf is the perfect excuse for some social time.

“It’s basically a neighborhood group,” Wise said. “I was lucky when I moved into this area because this neighborhood does do a lot of things together.”

Wise said the reason for starting the group was to create a vehicle for a sense of community and belonging.

“All of us come from different places,” Wise said, “when you come here, you kind of have to start all over again. Bocce golf helps create interactions and conversations, especially for those moving into a new area.”

Because bocce golf isn’t as physically strenuous as some other activities, it’s something most of the neighborhood can be invited to do, Wise said.

“What I like about the group is it keeps the neighborhood together,” said Fran Theisen, of the Village of Chatham. “We welcome everybody.”

The socialization of the group is the main point of it, creating a weekly excuse to get out and see everyone, Wise said.

“A lot of social interactions are built and maintained here,” she said.

And the group’s members agree.

“We get to know everybody here,” Theisen said. “It’s almost like a family.”

Theisen said she uses the group almost solely for its social aspect and “keeping in touch with what’s happening in the neighborhood.”

“It’s an easy type of game,” she said. “It’s amazing — people who don’t even play golf are excellent putters. If you have a good day, you have a good day. If you have a bad one, you have a bad one.”

Right now, the group is 16 members strong, Wise said, and usually gets closer to 20 at the end of the summer.

“We accept new members, but we try to keep it to the local neighborhood,” she said. “If somebody new moves into the area, we invite them to play.”

Wise said this is nice for the newcomers too because it offers them a chance to meet more of their neighbors and “feel a sense of belonging right away.”

Theisen said she used to see more people before the coronavirus pandemic, but now she mostly relies on meetings like the Lovewood bocce golf to see her friends and neighbors.

“Overall,” Wise said, “people are more likely to feel a sense of belonging if they are close with their neighbors and sharing a common interest or learning new activities. There are so many benefits.”

Staff writer Alexandria Mansfield can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5401, or alexandria.mansfield@thevillagesmedia.com.