Salisbury Bowling Club

The Game

If you play or watch other sports you will find the principles of the game of Flat Green Bowls fairly simple. It can be played all year around by almost anyone.

This very simple guide is to demonstrate the basics of the game in simple terms. There are links included at the end to direct you to resources which provide further and up to date information.

The game is played on an area of grass (the green) or indoors on a carpet. The green is in turn divided into narrower strips (playing areas called rinks). The green is surrounded by a ditch and a bank.

A player will place a mat at one end of the rink and roll a small white or yellow ball (the jack) to the other end, which will be placed centrally on the rink.

The player will then deliver a bowl towards the jack intending to end as close to the jack as possible.

The bowl is not entirely shaped like a ball but is weighted (biased) on one side so that as the bowl slows it curves towards the biased side.

The bowl should be delivered with the correct weight and line (direction). It can be delivered so that it curves to the left or to the right towards the bias.

The object of the game is to get one or more bowls closer to the jack than your opponent. Each of your closest bowls will, after agreement and measurement (if necessary), score a point. This process constitutes an “end”.

At the completion of an end the mat is placed again and the next end is played in the opposite direction. Games normally consist of a designated number of ends (e.g. 21 ends) or until one of the teams or players reaches a certain score.

Bowls can be played as singles or in teams of twos (pairs), threes (triples) or fours (rinks). They can be of single or mixed sex. This all depends of the conditions of the particular game or competition being played.

In team games, the first person to play (the lead) has the responsibility of placing the mat and delivering the jack. The lead will play all of their bowls, this can be two, three of four bowls, depending on the variation of the game being played.

The last team member to play is the skip. The skip is in overall control of the game and directs the other players as to where bowls should be bowled. This is done to build an arrangement of bowls (the head) to maximise the teams score and tactically prevent the opposition from scoring.

For more information there are useful links at Bowls England and the BBC Bowls Basics.