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Local shuffleboard club offering free practice sessions

By Staff | Nov 30, 2009

John Speer calls it “chess with a stick.”
Shuffleboard is wildly popular in the North Fort Myers area, especially at the Lee County Shuffleboard Courts located at North Fort Myers Community Park, behind the library.
The courts are home to the Lee County Shuffleboard Club. Speer is a past president, who travels from his home in Punta Gorda most days to join fellow enthusiasts there at his club.
He announced that the club is now offering free practice lessons.
“On each Saturday at 9 a.m., for an hour or a little longer, there will be highly qualified instructors available to teach shuffleboard basics to any adult who would like to learn how to improve their game.”
All equipment will be furnished if you don’t have it.
“The lessons are not only for beginners. Everyone can get better,” he continued. “If you are an experienced player who has a problem with some aspect of your game, you can have the instructors help you analyze and perhaps solve the problem.”
For safety, he noted, there are no flip flops or open toed shoes are allowed on the courts during practice or play.
Speer explained some of the history of the game.
“It is a very interesting sport which has followed the general basics of curling without the ice, brooms or stones. It was played on ship’s decks until the 1920s when a group started to play on concrete courts in Florida. Florida was the first.”
He said he calls it “chess with a stick” because you have to develop the game strategy of how to keep your opponent from scoring, while attempting to score points yourself.
“One unique aspect of shuffleboard is the ability to reduce your opponent score by shooting their disk into a ’10-off zone’ at the end of the court.
“There are many aspects to the game other than strategy. You must consider the drift of the court, speed to shoot your shot, windy weather and the accuracy of your aim.”
You don’t need to register for the free lessons, just show up on Saturdays.
The club itself plays there every day except Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m.
“Last year we had 14,500 people who played through the year. We are by far the largest user of this facility.”
It’s a year-round sport he said, and they have tournaments for up to 150 people with people traveling in from all over the state.
Current officers of the club are Al Nelson, president; Don Watson, 1st vice president and Scottie Keusch, 2nd vice president.
Officially called the Earl Longsworth Shuffleboard Courts, the courts hold amateur and professional tournaments.
Don Watson is also District Tournament director and recently oversaw a state amateur tournament there.
“People come from all over to play – from Lakeland to Bradenton. Every year we get new players.”
For more information on the club and the park, go to leeparks.org.