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Bowling for Beginners – A Quick Guide to Playing Bowls

20 October 2017

Bowls is fast becoming a popular sport and with all ages now enjoying the sport, it’s the perfect time to try it for yourself. But don’t worry if you’ve not played before. We’ve made a quick guide to the game so you can get involved!

If you’re thinking about taking up a new hobby, lawn bowls could be just the thing! If you can’t take part in strenuous activity, for whatever reason, lawn bowls is a the perfect sport. The precision and skill of the game is engaging and is it also a great way to build up a new social circle. Age isn’t a factor so if you’re thinking of giving it a go, we’ll explain how to take up the game as a newcomer.

What is the Object of the Game?

The object of the game is simple: to roll your bowls to as close a proximity to the jack as possible, and to ensure that one or more of your bowls are closer to the jack than any of those of your opponent.

What Equipment will I need?

Bowls are often called Woods and some people still use this as a generic term for bowls although they are now usually made from a plastic composition. They come in varying sizes and don’t weigh more than 1.59kg. Before 2001, it was a rules that they needed to be black or brown in colour but the rules have now been changed so they can be  virtually any colour! Although they look spherical, they are actually shaped on one side so that they follow a curved track down the green. They are marked on the side where the bias is applied.

Are there Age Restrictions for Playing Bowls?        

Absolutely not. All sorts of ages playing bowls from the very young ones – aged nine and upwards. Traditionally it is known to be played by the older generation but more recently, it is becoming a popular sport with teens and young people. The average age for a player in Scotland is the mid 30s. Read our blog on our TLH Employee Ella who, at just 16, is already heavily involved in the sport.

How do you Play Bowls?

A rubber mat is stood on when players deliver their bowl. It is placed on the centre line where its position is chosen by the player who throws the jack to start the game or ‘end’. One foot must remain on the mat when a bowl is being delivered or over the mat as it leaves your hand. If you fail to do this, it can be judged as a foot fault.

The players then take turns to deliver their bowls. When all the bowls have been delivered the number of “shots” is counted. A shot is a bowl which is nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls. For example, if you have three shots nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls you score three shots at that end.

During an end the bowl nearest to the Jack is referred to as “the shot”. You may hear players on the mat asking, “Who is holding shot?”.

The Jack is the small white ball that is the target in bowls. It may also be referred to as ‘Sweetie’, the ‘Kitty’ or  the “White”.

How is the Game Scored?

A shot is a lawn bowl that was delivered closer to the jack than the opposing team’s bowls. For instance, if Team A delivered three bowls far away from the jack and further away from Team B’s bowls, but delivered one bowl directly next to the jack, closer than any of Team B’s bowls, Team A has one shot and Team B has zero.

Beginners guide to bowls
Beginners guide

Tally up the shots. There are two methods of deciding when a game is complete. In the first, the game ends when one team reaches 21 points. In the second, the game ends after 18 or 21 ends are played, and the victor is whoever had the highest score.

Where can I Play?

With more than 2,500 clubs across England, there’s bound to be one near to you. And bowls is a relatively cheap game compared to other sports, whether you choose to join a club or ‘pay and play’ at your local park. We have many bowls clubs in Torquay. We just happen to be the only hotel in Torquay with our own bowls green! You can also visit our arena and try bowls. Contact reception to book. We also hold bowls breaks within the TLH Leisure resort plus a bowls shop on-site who offer everything you need to start playing this versatile sport.


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