Bramley Bowling Club

Affiliated to Bowls England, Surrey County Bowling Association and West Surrey Bowling Association.

Lawn Bowls - The Object of the Game


1 Playing the Game of Lawn Bowls


It is said that Lawn Bowls is a game that can be played by anyone aged from nine to ninety. It  does tend  to  have  a  crusty,  "old  people's game" image due  largely  to  the  use  of  Sponsors  like Saga  and  over  55's  insurance  companies.  The  reality  is  somewhat different  and  at  county  level in  Scotland  the  average  player's  age  is  probably somewhere  in  the  thirties.  Competitive  bowling can  be  an  exhausting  game  and  in matches  players  are  expected  to  perform  for  three  to  four hours  without  a  break. During these games they can walk two or three miles and bend up and down about 100  times.  It's  no wonder that  bowlers  traditionally  suffer  from  both  back  and knee injuries. Add to  that  the  concentration  and  effort  required  and  you  can  see why we need a seat and a few beers after the match!

The Game is played on a Bowling Green. The surface is generally grass but in some of  the hotter,  drier  countries  artificial  surfaces  are  increasingly  being  used.  In countries  with  long winters,  like  the  UK  and Canada,  many  indoor  bowling  centres have sprung up where the game is 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. Lawn  Bowls  are  available  in  different  sizes  with  a  mid  sized  men's  bowl  being between 116mm and 131mm in diameter. They are made of a hard plastic material which  is  able to  withstand  the constant  contact  between  bowls  during  play.  Their weight should not exceed 1.59kg.The rules allow bowls in virtually any colour and the manufacturers have taken up the challenge by producing bowls in just about every colour imaginable, even pink! Lawn bowls are not spherical; they are shaped on one side such that they follow a curved track to the  jack. They carry a mark  to  indicate to which  side  the  bias  is applied. During  a game players deliver (roll) their bowls up the  green in turn trying to finish closest to a smaller white ball called the "Jack".


2 The Green

A bowling green is normally square and the Scottish Bowling Association rules say that it should be no less than 34 metres and no more than 40 metres in the direction of  play. Play every two or three days,playing  either across the green or up and down.The perimeter of the ditch is surrounded by a bank which should  be not less than 230mm above the surface of the green. The green is normally divided into six rinks

allowing six games to take place concurrently. The rinks should be not less than 2.8 metres nor more than 5.5 metres wide. Surface wear is spread by moving the rink settings laterally and by changing the direction of play every few days, playing either across the green or up and down.Lawn Bowls. Rink extremities are marked off by boundary markers with the centre of each being indicated by a "pin" which also carries a number for the rink. The rinks are numbered 1 through 6. Players deliver their bowls from one end to another during an "end" then, when the end is complete, they turn around and play back again.


3 The Play


The bowls can be delivered on the "forehand" or the "backhand" depending on the player’s preference or where bowls that have already been played are. The curved path helps the player to find a way past bowls that have been delivered short of the jack. Note that bowls may travel outside the boundaries of the rink during their course as long as they come to rest within these boundaries.The  players  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 2 metres from the rear ditch or less than 25m from the front ditch. Its position is chosen by the player who throws the Jack to start the end. During an end the bowl nearest to the Jack is referred to as "the shot". You may hear players on the mat asking, "who is lying the shot?".The  player  who  first  delivers  the  jack  must  ensure  that  it  is  properly  centered.  If  it comes to rest within two metres from the front edge of the green it must be moved out to a mark at that distance. The player delivering the jack can choose the length to play it, but it must finish at least 23m in a straight line of play from the front edge of the mat.The  players  then  take  turns  to  deliver  their  bowls. When  all  the  bowls  have  been delivered the number of "shots" is counted. A shot is a bowl which is nearer the jack

than any of your opponent’s bowls. For example, if you have three shots nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls you score three shots at that end.


4 Types of Lawn Bowls Games and Matches


Games of bowls can involve singles play or teams of two in pairs, three in triples or four in "rinks" games. Matches generally involve  a number of teams from  one  club playing another club. For example a match could involve six rinks or 24 players (6x4) per team.


4.1 Touchers


The jack can be moved by the bowls during play. When a bowl moves the jack it is left in the new position provided it remains within the rink boundary markers. It can also be pushed into the ditch by a bowl. In this case it remains in the ditch and the players must try to play their bowls as close as possible to the jack, at the edge of the green, without falling into the ditch.A bowl which moves the jack is marked with chalk and classed as a "Toucher". If it touches  the jack  before  falling  into  the  ditch  it  stays  there,  remains  "live"  and  may feature in the final shot count. A toucher that remains on the rink and is later driven into the ditch by another bowl is also a live bowl. A bowl that goes into the ditch and that has not touched the jack is classed as being "dead" and it is removed. All bowls which finish outside the side boundaries of the rink are dead.


4.2 Lawn Bowls Tactics


Bowls is a highly tactical game. This is one of its attractions. It is not always about "drawing" closest  the  jack.  Players  must  constantly  anticipate  what  shot  their opponents may play. For example when a  team  has  a  few  bowls  behind  the  head, (behind  the  jack),  the  opposing  team may  see  the  need  to  place  a  bowl  amongst these to cover the possibility of the jack being moved. Similarly, if one side is already lying the shot, they may elect to play a guarding shot short of the target area to prevent their opponents from moving anything. These are only  two examples and  there  are many other  situations,  too many to  discuss  here, where tactics come into play.


4.3 Types of Shots in Bowling


There  are  basically four  different  types  of  shot,  or  delivery in Lawn Bowling. These are:


4.3.1 The Draw


A Drawing Shot is the most common and it is really what the game is all about. This shot is the one in which the player attempts to play with the exact weight required to finish closest to the jack or to a point on the green dictated by strategy or tactics. This shot is often considered to be the most skillful.


4.3.2 The Yard On


The "Yard On" shot is when the player plays his bowl with the weight that will carry it a yard  or two  past  the  target. The objective of  this  shot is  usually  to  drag  the  jack away  from  the opponent's  bowls  towards  your  own  or  to  push  a  bowl  out  of  the "head"  and  take  its  place.  This is  often  referred  to  as  a  "chap  and  lie"  shot  in


4.3.3 The Running Shot or Ditch Length Shot


The Running Shot is one which uses more weight than the yard on. The object of this shot is to remove opponent’s bowls from the head, to move the jack to the ditch or to seek some other result that requires the bowl to be played with weight. This can be a difficult  shot  to  play  as  the line  (bias)  required  to  get  to  the  target  changes  with different weight.


4.3.4 The Drive


The  Drive  is  probably  the  most  spectacular  shot  on  the  bowling  green. A drive is when the player delivers the bowl at high speed and with maximum weight so that he can  strike  the  head or  the  target  with  full  force.  The  object  of  this  shot  can  be  to completely remove opponent's bowls  from  the head or  from  the  rink  or  to  drive  the jack into the ditch. It is also commonly used when a player has a few shots against him. In this case the object is to destroy the head or to "burn" the end by driving the

jack out of the rink. This can be a very effective and intimidating shot to have in your armoury but  many  players  have  difficulty  controlling  their direction  when concentrating their efforts on so much weight.


5 Lawn Bowling Glossary




Bias is the amount of curve that a bowl will take during its course to the jack. Bowls are  available with  several  different  biases  for  use  in  different  conditions  and competitions.




A  Burned  or  "burnt"  End  is  one  where  the  Jack  has  been  moved  outside  the boundaries of the rink by a bowl in play. In normal competition Burned Ends must be replayed.




Deliver is the term used for throwing or rolling a bowl. The delivery is the action of delivering a bowl. A bowler with a good delivery can be compared to a golfer with a good swing.




The term draw can have several meanings in bowling. As a noun it can refer to the type of shot being played. A "dead draw" is an attempt to deliver the bowl as close as possible  to  the  target (generally  the  jack).  It can  also  be  used  as  a  verb. You may hear a skip issuing an instruction such as, "Just draw to the jack".





An end  of bowls  comprises  the  placing  of  the  mat,  the  delivery  of  the  jack  and the playing of all the required bowls of all of the opponents in one direction on the rink.




A Guard is a bowl played to a position that restricts the opposition from getting to the target.




The head refers collectively to the Jack and the bowls that have been delivered and come to rest within the boundaries of the rink.




When a player unintentionally delivers a bowl beyond the jack or the intended target it is described as being Heavy.




The  Jack  is  the  small  white  ball  that  is  the  target  in  bowls.  You  may  also  hear  it referred to colloquially as the "White", the "Kitty" or the "Sweetie".




If a bowl is Jack high it means that it has reached a position such that its nearest part laterally aligned with the jack. Effectively it means that the bowl and jack are level.




A Lead is the person who plays first in pairs triples or fours (rinks) game. The lead is responsible for setting the mat and delivering the jack to start the end.




The Line or Road is the curved route taken to the jack. E.g. "You are a yard short but your line was good."




The Second in a triples or rinks (fours) game is the player who plays second.




A  bowl  that  does  not  reach  the  jack  or  the  intended  target  is  described  as  being short.




Shot can have several meanings. The shot or shots are the number of points scored in an end. It can also mean the type of delivery, e.g. a drawing shot, and during an end, the bowl that is currently nearest the jack.




The Skip is the captain of a team in pairs, triples or rinks play. The Skip is always last to play and is responsible for directing the play during an end. The other players in a team must follow the Skip's instructions.



The third is the third player to play in a rinks game. The third Is normally responsible, with his corresponding opponent, for deciding the result of an end, i.e. who is lying the shot and how many shots have been scored. The skips however have the final say in this in the event of any dispute.




A Toucher is a bowl that during its course touches the jack before finishing within the boundaries of the rink. A Toucher remains live even if it finishes in the ditch.




Weight is the term used to refer to the power applied to a delivery




Before the introduction of plastic composition bowls they were made from the heaviest and most dense wood available, Lignum Vitae. At this time bowls were often called Woods and some people still use this as a generic term for Bowls.



2018 Season sponsored by Pimms Funeral Services