Playing Lawn Bowls

Lawn Bowls

The Small WHITE BALL is called 'The Jack' this has no bias,  so will roll straight, this will be your target. The Large round Ball is the 'BOWL' or 'Wood' & normally comes in sets of Two or Four, they must be used in a matched set (all the same manufacturer, size, weight & colour). The 'Bowl' (wood) has a Bias which makes it curve when played. The game is to get your bowls (woods) nearest the 'Jack' at the other end, allowing for the bias in your Bowl (Wood). Unfortunately your opponents is trying to do the same.

Placing The Mat At The Start Of Each End

At each end, the player to play first should place the centre line of the mat lengthwise along the centre line of the rink, with the mat line at least 2m from the rear ditch and at least 25m from the front ditch.

Delivering The Jack

The player to play first should deliver the jack and make sure that it is centered. If the jack in its original course comes to rest less than 2 metres from the front ditch, it should be placed on the centre line of the rink with the nearest point of the jack to the mat line being 2 metres from the front ditch.

Improper Delivery Of The Jack

The jack has been improperly delivered if it comes to rest:

In the ditch or completely outside the boundaries of the rink OR at a distance of less than 23m from the mat line, as measured in a straight line from the centre of the mat line to the nearest point of the jack, after the jack has been centered; or on the rink after contact with any object or person completely outside the boundaries of the rink.

If a player improperly delivers the jack, the opposing player should re-deliver the jack, making sure that it is centered, but should not play first.

If the jack is improperly delivered once by each player in any end, it should not be delivered again in that end. Instead, it should be centered with the nearest point of the jack to the mat line being 2m from the front ditch & the first player to play.

Live Jack In The Ditch

A jack that is moved by a bowl in play into the front ditch within the side boundaries of the rink of play is a live jack. The position of a jack in the ditch should be marked by a white indicator, and is placed vertically either against the face of the bank or on top of the bank, immediately in line with the jack.

The position of a jack in the ditch will be legally changed if the jack is moved by a toucher (marked bowl) in play. BUT: If a jack at rest in the ditch is moved by a NON-TOUCHER entering the ditch, the jack should put it back to its former position.

If, once its position has been marked, there is further valid movement of a jack (BY A LIVE WOOD) in the ditch its new position should be marked by moving the indicators

Knockout Games

ALL Knockout rounds the lower team/persons must contact the above team to arrange/re-arrange a date & time to play.

If the game is a draw after the 18th end, another end (19th) must be played to decided a winner. The teams must toss a coin to decide who plays first in the extra end.

ALL Knockouts, the scores should be written on the correct knockout draw sheeton the changing room score boards (in ink), and the name of the winning team/persons written into the next round.

Score Cards

Each team must fill in a score card for the game, write down: Team Names, Players, Date, Home or Away, & then signed by both Scorers at end of the game. Add a note for any oddities EG: 3 players, Claim of a result, etc.


Dress appropriately and ensure that you know the dress code for each game or match in which you are participating. Do not show disrespect for your opponent(s) by arriving late, ensure that you leave sufficient time to change before the game. Behave appropriately. Do not walk across rinks that other people are using.
Introduce yourself and shake hands with your opponent(s) both before play commences and after the game is complete.  During the game do not move around the head when your opponent is about to deliver his bowl. Stand well back from the head, keep quiet and do not do anything that would distract your opponent. Wait until the bowl has been delivered before moving.  If you are at the same end as the player delivering a bowl you must stand behind the mat thus staying out of the player's line of vision. Here is what the rules says about this. "Players of each team not in the act of playing or controlling play shall stand behind the Jack and away from the head or 1m behind the mat. "  Bear in mind that some people like to see the rink boundary markers and the centre pin while playing so make sure that you are not obscuring them. On sunny days you must also ensure that your shadow does not fall on the jack.
Spectators who are in the player's line of vision should also keep still while bowls are being delivered and they should not distract players on the green. For example if you need to arrange a tie with another member don't try to do this while he is playing someone else!
We are privileged to have some of the best bowling greens in the area. Look after them! Don't drop your bowls onto the green and ensure that your delivery is not causing scuff marks or otherwise damaging the green.
Place litter and cigarette ends in the bins and ashtrays provided for this and do not spit on the green.
Observe the rules for possession of the rink on the Bowling Green!
Here is the ruling on this: "Possession of the rink shall belong to the team whose bowl is being played. The players in Possession of the rink for the time being shall not be interfered with, annoyed, or have their attention distracted in any way by their opponents. As soon as each bowl has come to rest, possession of the rink shall be transferred to the other team, time being allowed for marking a 'toucher'. "
After you have delivered a bowl and before it has come to rest you have two options. If you want to track your bowl's progress you must be behind the head as it stops. In other words you must beat it to the head. If you don't go to the head you must be behind the mat as your bowl stops. This ruling is quite clear but unfortunately many players, including many of those who should know better, show disrespect for their opponents by failing to observe it.  How many times have you been on the mat, ready to play your bowl, when you have had to wait for your opponent to complete his stroll up the green or back to the mat? If your opponent is guilty of this you should ask him to stop. Remember that it is he who is in the wrong.


  1.  Bowls should not be dropped on the Green.
  2.  Do not stand on the edges.
  3.  Matches, cigarette ends, etc., should be placed in the litter-baskets and not in the Ditches.
  4.  Bowls should not be kicked in until the shot has been decided.
  5.  After delivering a Bowl, a player should either retire behind the Mat or advance to the head. He should not take up a position in between.
  6.  Don't delay the game.
  7.  Don't wander around or move about the head when a player is about to deliver a Bowl.
  8.  In a Fours Game, the 'second' keeps the score; in a Pairs Game the 'Skip' keeps the score.
  9.  Bowling is a friendly game and all players should show courtesy and good sportsmanship.
  10.  All Bowlers should know the Rules.
  11.  Mobile Phones should not be used on or around the green.

After the Game you should once again shake hands with your opponent(s) and congratulate/commiserate with them appropriately. It is also customary to offer to buy them a drink if you have won the game. Where a marker has been involved in a singles game you should also offer him a drink.
Knowledge of the above will make you a more respected bowler, keep things friendly and contribute towards the enjoyment of the game for everyone involved, both on and off the green.
The Players' Roles in Team Games on the Bowling Green
 In all team games it is the skip's job to direct the play. Other players should play the shot directed by the skip even if they don't agree with it. In fours games the 'third' should direct the skip when required to do so. In Triples or Pairs the Second or Lead may do this. Other players should not interfere unless invited to do so.
Here is what the rule book says about players' roles.
The Skip shall have sole charge of his team, and his instructions shall be observed by his players. With the opposing Skip he shall decide all disputed points, and when both agree, their decision shall be final.
If both Skips cannot agree, the point in dispute shall be referred to, and considered by, an Umpire whose decision shall be final. A Skip may at any time delegate his powers or any of his duties to other members of his team provided that such delegation is notified to the opposing Skip.
The Third Player may have given to him the duty of measuring any and all disputed shots.
The Second Player shall keep a record of all shots scored for and against his team and shall at all times retain possession of the score card whilst play is in progress. He shall see that the names of all the players are entered on the score card; shall compare his record of the game with that of the opposing Second player as each end is declared, and at the close of the game shall hand his score card to his Skip.
The Lead Player shall place the mat and shall deliver the Jack ensuring that the Jack is properly centered before playing his first bowl.
Also In addition to the duties specified in the preceding clauses any player may undertake such duties as may be assigned to him by the skip.  It is also worth emphasizing that the head must not be disturbed by any player until the shots have been finally agreed. When the Thirds or Skips are deciding the shots the other players should stand well back from the head and give them the space to do so.
During the game encourage your team mates, do not criticize them. Commend good shots and learn to accept that flukes are a part of the game. Sometimes they go for you, sometimes against.

Etiquette for Markers on the Bowling Green.

During the season, Consider making yourself available as a marker whenever you can. We all know that there is nothing worse than playing an important tie without a marker.  It is not good etiquette to watch games from the sidelines or from the clubhouse while there are people playing without markers. If you have the time get out there and mark.

If you are marking a tie the following rules should be observed:

  • When a player has delivered the jack the marker should centre it then stand back and to one side, ensuring that all rink markers are visible to the players.
  • He should answer any specific question (from the player in possession of the rink) about the state of the head. He should not offer any additional information that has not been requested. For example if someone asks, "Who lies shot?", you should just answer that question, eg. "you are" or "he is". You should not say anything like, "You are lying two shots".
  •  If you are unsure of the situation, for example you cannot decide who is lying, don't guess. You can offer an opinion but make sure that the player who is asking the question is made aware of this.
  •  The marker should mark all touchers immediately they come to rest and remove chalk marks from non touchers. He should also remove all dead bowls from the rink with the players' agreement. He should also mark the position of touchers and or the Jack which are in the ditch.
  •  The marker should not move any bowls until the end is complete and the players have agreed the number of shots.
  •  He shall measure disputed shots when required but once again he should not move the bowls until the players agree. If an Umpire is available then he may be called upon for a decision. Where no Umpire is available the marker may select one. Both players may also agree that the marker should make the decision. This is acceptable at local level.

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