Lawn Bowls Instructions

Written by jason thompson
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Lawn Bowls Instructions
Lawn bowls is played all over the world. (barefoot bowls image by Sirena Designs from

Lawn bowls is an ancient game, believed to have originated in ancient Egypt. The oldest bowls green still played on (in Southampton, England) has been in use since the year 1299. Lawn bowls' popularity is so enduring that it is said that Sir Frances Drake would not set sail to defend England from the Spanish Armada until he finished his game. Because the game does not require a high degree of physical fitness, it is a popular game amongst the elderly. However, it has many younger adherents, too.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Rubber mat 24 inches by 14 inches
  • Jack
  • 8 or more bowls, depending on the number of players

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  1. 1

    Place the mat at the start of the rink on which you are playing. (A rink is an area of the lawn that is 20 feet wide by 120 feet long.) Each player must keep one foot on the mat when bowling.

  2. 2

    Divide the players into teams. A game with two teams of four, in which each player has two bowls (a lawn bowls ball is called a "bowl"), is called "Rinks" or "Fours." A game with two teams of three players, in which each player has three balls, is called "Triples." A game with two teams of two players, in which every player has four bowls, is called "Pairs." A game where each player competes alone and has four bowls is called "Singles."

  3. 3

    Roll the small white bowl, called the "jack," into the rink away from the mat. If it lands closer than 25 yards (23 meters) or out of the rink, then it must be rolled again.

  4. 4

    Roll the bowls toward the jack. Each player rolls one bowl in turn, with teams alternating turns. The object of the game is to get the bowls as close to the jack as possible.

  5. 5

    Check which team's bowls are closest to the jack, using a measuring tape if necessary. Then check which team has rolled their bowls next closest. Mark the closest that the second-place team came to the jack. Score one point for the winning team for each bowl they placed closer to the jack than this mark. This completes an "end," or one round of the game.

  6. 6

    Play enough ends to complete a full game. Traditionally, 21 ends makes a game, but some play to 14, 15, or 18 ends.

Tips and warnings

  • The bowls have a flat side, so they will not roll in a straight line. Take this into account when rolling for the jack.
  • You may not want to try for the jack with every bowl. Knocking an opponent's bowl away from the jack could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

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