Pensioners fighting to save their bowls club have claimed squatters' rights on the green they have used for 23 years.
Players at the Hales Bowls Club, in Norfolk, want to prevent a developer building new homes on the site.
The club has lodged a claim with the Land Registry for "adverse possession", an argument usually used by squatters occupying a property.
The bowling green is in the grounds of the Garden House pub in Hales, owned by Cripps Developments, of Beccles.
Hales Bowls club has more than 20 members aged between 40 and 75.
Club chairman Joe Rochard, 65, said: "We're claiming adverse possession of the land because we've played on it regularly for the last 23 years.
"We know someone who works for a law firm and he suggested it."
Yvonne Walpole, 66, a former player, who lives opposite the pub in Hales, said: "This is a dead village. We've got no post office or shop. The bowls club is the only thing we have left."
A spokeswoman for the Land Registry said that if the two parties could not reach agreement the case would be referred to an independent adjudicator, who would then either determine the matter or direct one of the parties to start court proceedings.