Lawn bowls

Lawn bowls is a sport needing concentration and calm. It has players young and old.

The game has a ball (called a bowl), that the players roll toward a smaller ball (called a jack). The idea is to roll your bowls closer to the jack than you opponent can.

The game is played in over 40 countries and has been in the Commonwealth Games since 1930.


Historians thought the game became popular in Europe because Julius Caesar's soldiers played it. By the 13th Century, bowls was played often in Britain.

In the 14th Century, lawn bowls was banned in France and England because archery was losing popularity. This was because they needed soldiers with archery skills and they were getting less of them. In Scotland, the game continued. Todays rules are similar to the rules that the Scots used.

The most famous bowls story took place on Plymouth Hoe (in England) on July 15, 1588. Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing his game before taking on the attacking Spanish warships.

Rules of Lawn bowls
The basics

The idea is to roll your bowls so that they stop nearer to the jack than those of your opponent. To begin play, a jack is rolled to the opposite side of the field (called the rink), and it becomes the target. Players then bowl in turn. In singles and doubles games, each player uses four bowls.


In scoring, when all the bowls have been played, the bowls of one team closer to the jack than the nearest bowl of the opposing team counts for 1 point each. The first player or team to reach 21 points will win the game.


Bowls is played on a flat lawn, about 37-38m long.


Bowls are 12 to 14.5cm in diameter and weigh up to 1.5 kg. They are black or brown in colour and are flattened on one side, so that they curve when rolled.

Bowls Coach Bill Sheedy (at the back) keeping a keen eye on things. Image courtesy of the South Oakleigh Club.

The jack is white in colour, weighs 0.2 to 0.3 kg, and has a diameter of 6.3 cm.

Lawn bowls at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games

In the Games, there will be men's and women's competition in singles, pairs and triples events.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games aims to attract a record number of lawn bowls participants. The lawn bowls tournament will be held at the State Lawn Bowls Centre at John Cain Memorial Park in the suburb of Thornbury.

Leading countries by gold medals in Commonwealth Games:
  • England 16
  • Scotland 11
  • New Zealand - 10
  • South Africa 9
  • Australia - 6
References & Sources

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