The game of bowls

Bowls is a game played on a flat rectangular surface, normally grass. This can vary in size but must be no less than 32 metres and no more than 40 metres in length. This is called a green.

The Green

The bowls green, divided into rinks

The bowls green, divided into rinks

The green is surrounded by a small ditch. This is the boundary of the playing area. The green is divided into rinks which are at least 4.8 metres in width.

Each rink is divided by a numbered marker indicating the mid point of the rink, and rink positions change regularly to even out wear on the green.

How is the game played?

To start a game you will need a mat which is a rectangular piece of rubber, a jack, which is a small white ball, (all supplied by most clubs) and a set of bowls.

To begin the game you place the mat lengthways on the green at least 2 metres from the ditch and in direct line with the rink markers. Keeping one foot on the mat roll the jack up the green making sure it passes the 25 metre marker, but not as far as the ditch. You centre the jack with the rink marker.

Now you are ready to bowl your bowl. Because of the shape of the bowl it will travel in a curve.

The two main deliveries of a bowl are forehand and backhand. For a forehand delivery, the bowl curves from right to left; a backhand delivery from left to right. (For a left handed bowler this would be reversed.)

Forehand and backhand delivery

Forehand and backhand delivery

The skill of the game is to bowl your bowl on the right line and with the right weight behind it, so that it travels up the green and curves in towards and stops close to the jack. However, as all greens are different the correct line and weight will vary.

The objective of the game bowls is to finish with your bowls nearer to the jack than your opponents.

Why play bowls?

Bowls is a social sport. You can play as an individual or part of a team so you can get to meet many other bowlers from other teams. Matches can be home or away so there is an opportunity to play on other greens.

Who plays bowls?

Bowls is open to all ages, young and old, male or female, and to people of all abilities. Bowls can be played at a competitive level or can be played as a social sport. With friendly fixtures and league matches, bowls is available to all.

What do you need to plays bowls?

You will need a flat pair of shoes and a set of bowls. Sets of bowls are often available to borrow from clubs, so that newcomers can practise before purchasing their own set.

What will it cost to play bowls?

Bowls is not an expensive sport to play. After an initial annual fee you can play on the green at any time for no extra cost. Only if you play in matches do you pay an additional fee. This match fee is for a game of around two to three hours of bowls, usually with refreshments during or after the game. Temporary memberships are often available at local clubs within Wiltshire, so you do not need to become a full member in case bowls is not your sport.

Only when you begin to play in matches is it necessary to have regulation dress – e.g. white tops, grey or white skirts or trousers.