The North Central Florida League (NCFL) also known as the Traveling League celebrated its 82th birthday this year. Organized in 1934, the NCFL was the first true competitive league and the longest lived of any lawn bowling league in the U.S. The original four clubs that made up the NCFL were from Orlando, Daytona Beach, Deland and Mount Dora. Over the following decades, teams from Winter Park, New Smyrna Beach and Lakeland joined the league at different times. The only club that has always been represented throughout the entire 82 years is Mount Dora.
NCFL secretary and future Hall of Fame inductee Gene Goodwin made a proposal to save the shrinking league in 2003 by changing its format from a competition among clubs to one of competition between teams from the participating clubs. The proposal was approved for play in 2004.
Sadly, today only the Mount Dora and Lakeland clubs are still extant. In 2009 the Lakeland LBC joined the league with two teams and the two clubs have kept the league going with leadership from former President Bob Wulbrecht who served from 2009-2015. Lakeland has fielded four teams for the last five years to go with Mount Dora’s 12 teams. Bob hopes that in the near future a newly formed club in The Villages, a huge retirement community one hour northwest of Orlando, will join the league.
Among the hundreds of bowlers who participated in the NCFL over the years, Bowls USA Hall of Fame member Harold Esch holds the record of over 620 games played in the NCFL from 1950 to 1998 with the Orlando and Mount Dora clubs. Harold passed away in 2010.
The US Open Committee would like to thank the North Central Florida League donation to the 2016 games,