Playing a Game of Bowls

There are a number of formats in which bowls may be played: singles, pairs, triples and fours (rinks).  Most friendly and league inter-club matches at Merrow are triples (three players per club per rink) or rinks (four players per club per rink). These matches are normally played over 18 ends (triples) or 21 ends (rinks) with the winner being the team who overall have the most shots. In the following summary it is assumed that you are playing a rinks game.

  • Before a match each Club Captain will normally stand on the green and hand out the score cards to their skips (leader) of each rink after calling out the players’ names. You should then make your way to the appropriate rink. The skips introduce their teams and it is normal to shake hands with everybody on both teams wishing them good luck for the match ahead.
  • It should be noted that the person standing on the mat and their skip have possession of the rink from the moment that the previous bowl (wood) came to rest until their own bowl comes to rest. Once the bowl has come to rest possession of the mat transfers to the opposing team. When you are not in possession of the rink you must be either at least 1 m behind the mat or behind the head.
  • Although there are specific roles within a team communication before, during and after the match is important and should be encouraged.
  • The role of the lead is to place the mat on the centre ‘line’, deliver the jack to the length agreed with the skip and then normally to deliver their (two) bowls to rest as close as possible to the jack.

AKO bring the mat up

  • The number 2’s follow suit by delivering their bowls as close to the jack as possible unless the skip asks them to do something else. They will normally also record the score on the scorecard.
  • The number 3’s will be asked by the skip to either continue to build the head, play defensive bowls to cover positions where if the jack is moved the opponents could score many shots or to play attacking shots to either remove opposition bowls or move the jack.
  • The skips will play similar shots to the number 3 carrying the ultimate responsibility for the result of each end as they play the last bowls.

AKO nearest bowl

  • Once all the bowls have been delivered the number 3 with their opposite number will determine how many shots are to be awarded to the team whose bowl was closest to the jack.
  • If the bowls are a similar distance from the jack then the person who challenges the number of shots requested by the opposition will measure the distance between the jack and the bowls.
  • No bowls are to be disturbed until these people have agreed the number of shots and they will then communicate the score to their skips.
  • Normally no other players are involved in the measuring process and should stand away from the head and not comment. However, if you think an error is being made you should politely bring this to the attention of your number 3.
  • As soon as the score has been decided the lead who will deliver the jack is expected to place the mat as quickly as possible.
  • The other lead is expected to use the bowls gatherer to collect the bowls and place them behind the mat. If the bowls gatherer is not used the members of both teams will push the bowls back using their feet.

New bowlers are teamed up with experienced players who will guide to provide support and advice during the game. Irrespective of experience and level of skill, it is expected that all players will demonstrate good sportsmanship to ensure enjoyment for everyone and so that all have the chance to play their best.  Further information on Etiquette can be found on the website.