The Aim of the Game

The goal in lawn bowls is to roll your bowls so that they stop nearer to the jack (a small white sphere) than those of your opponent, granting you the privilege of scoring. For every bowl that is closer to the jack than the nearest rival’s bowl, the player or team is awarded a point, often referred to as a “shot.”

Types of Matches

Bowls matches can be played in one of three formats:

  • Shots: A target score is set before the game begins, such as 15 or 21 points. The player who first reaches this target score by accumulating “shots” wins.
  • Ends: A match is divided into a fixed number of ends, which can be anywhere from 12 to 21. The winner is the team with the most points after all the ends have been played.
  • Time: Games are played within a set timeframe, with the team having the most points when time runs out declared the winner.

Competition Configurations

Participants can compete in various configurations, including Singles, Teams, and Sides.

  • Singles: A match between two individual players, each taking turns to play two, three, or four bowls.
  • Teams: Formed of two, three, or four players, with variations such as:
    • Pairs: Two teams of two players each, with members alternating turns to play four bowls.
    • Triples: Matches involve teams of three, with each player rolling three bowls in turn.
    • Fours: Comprises teams of four players (Lead, Second, Third, and Skip), with each participant playing two bowls alternately.
  • Sides: A competition involving any agreed number of teams and/or singles players, with the aggregate scores deciding the match outcome.

The Playing Field

  • The Green: A rectangular grass playing area enclosed by a ditch, subdivided into lanes known as rinks.
  • The Rink: Contains various features essential to the game.
    • The Ditches: Situated at both ends of a rink, these are part of the play area. A bowl entering the front ditch is “dead” unless it has touched the jack before, making it a “toucher” and keeping it in play.
    • The Bank: An elevated area beyond the ditch displaying markers for the rink’s center and sidelines.
    • The Side Lines: Indicated by markers on the bank and not directly marked on the rink. Bowls curving outside these lines but returning to the rink remain playable.
    • The Mat: Placed by the lead bowler at each end on the rink’s center line. Players must have at least one foot on the mat when bowling.

The Jack

The jack serves as the target and is rolled out first. The side to roll the jack is determined by a coin toss at the game’s start, with subsequent ends seeing the previous end’s winner taking the first roll. The jack’s position can change during play if struck by a bowl.

Delivering the Jack

The jack needs to be rolled out correctly and centered if it lands within 2m of the front ditch. Failure to deliver the jack correctly results in a turnover, with the opposing team given a chance to deliver.

The Bowls

Bowls vary in size and weight, uniquely designed to curve due to an asymmetrical shape. This “bias” makes strategic placement around the jack a challenging and tactical aspect of the game.

Gameplay Strategy

The initial task is to correctly roll out the jack, followed by skillful delivery of bowls to curve towards the jack. This curving action introduces strategic gameplay elements, demanding careful consideration of the bowl’s delivery path.

Scoring System

Points are awarded at the end of each end to the player/team with bowls closest to the jack. Determining the closest bowl sometimes requires measurement, especially when it’s not clear by observation alone. Points are only scored for bowls closer to the jack than any opponent’s nearest bowl.