How to Play Bowls
The game is played on a bowling green, the surface of which is generally grass but in some of the hotter drier countries artificial surfaces are increasingly being used. The game can also be played in many indoor bowling centres and played on a carpet like surface.
While the weight required to deliver the bowl changes on these surfaces the rules and objectives of the game are essentially the same.
A bowling green is normally square and rules say that it shall be not less than 34m and no more than 40m in the direction of play. The green is surrounded by a ditch and is divided into rinks which should be not less than 4.3m or more than 5.8m wide. The extremities are marked off by boundary markers with the centre being indicated by a pin which carries the number of the green. Players deliver their bowls from one end to the other, when the end is complete they turn round and play back again.
Bowls are available in many different sizes, they are made of a hard plastic material which is able to withstand the constant contact between bowls. Until 2001 all lawn bowls were either black or brown in colour. The rules have now changed so that just about any colour imaginable can be made.
Bowls are not spherical, they are shaped on one side which is known as the bias, and they carry a mark indicating which side is the bias. This enables the bowler to find a way past bowls that have been delivered short of the jack either by forehand or backhand.
During the game players deliver bowls up the green in turn, trying to finish closest to a smaller white/yellow ball called the 'jack'. The player must stand on a rubber mat when delivering their bowl. The mat is placed on the centre line of the rink with its front end no less than 2m from the rear ditch or less than 25m from the front ditch. This position is chosen by the player who rolls the jack to start the end. The player's then take it in turn to deliver their bowls, when they have all been delivered the number of winning shots are counted.
A shot is a bowl which is nearer the jack than any of the opponents bowls e.g. If you have two shots nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls you score two shots at that end.
Bowls games can involve singles play or teams of two in pairs, three in triples or four in rinks. With the exception of singles which is normally decided by the first player to reach 21 shots other formats are determined by the score after a requisite number of ends e.g. pairs is usually decided over 21 ends, triples over 18 ends and rinks over 21 ends. (Please see the Club comp format page for all of our internal competitions)
© 2023 Gordon Meredith