Lawn Bowls

Edmonton Indoor Lawn Bowling Club

Probably one of the most viewed incredible video of indoor bowls.  It is from the 2017 World Bowls Tour yearly tournament at Potters Resort in the UK every January.  Nick Brett is the bowler.  His partner Greg Harlow set it up. One could call this, the shot heard round the world!  It was broadcasting live on BBC at the time.

Indoor Lawn Bowls


Lawn bowling or “bowls” is a casual sport where the objective is to roll a biased or weighted ball so that it stops as close as possible to a smaller, target ball named the kitty, or Jack.

The first set of lawn bowling rules was published in 1864, by a cotton merchant in Glasgow called William Wallace Mitchell.These rules still form the basis of how we play Bowls today, although some people have also adopted their own versions of the game.

All you need to play a game of Bowls is a set of foot mats, a playing surface, the jack (or kitty) and a set of bowls.

The balls used for lawn bowling are available in a variety of sizes, but they all have a bias in weight which causes them to roll in a curved path. Your ability to judge where your ball will end up is where the challenge of the game comes in.

In a game of Bowls, the green is split into individual rinks, where games are played one vs one, two vs. two, triples or in fours.
A point is awarded to any player whose bowl ends up the closest to the jack at the end of a round. The number of points needed to win a game can vary, but usually the first player or team to reach 18 or 21 points is declared the winner.
Players can also use “sets” where the first person to score a certain amount of point wins a set.


Indoor Lawn Bowls is basically the same game as outdoor.  The same bowls, mats, jacks can be used.

For a proper facility to play regulation indoor bowls there must be a minimum of 25 meters length of playing area with about 10 feet wide per rink.

Edmonton Indoor Lawn Bowling Club uses 3 soccer centers for winter bowling.  Each center has one rink that is covered in a felt like material.  It is surprisingly similar to grass in the way it affects the bowls.


crown green bowls

Crown green bowls is played on a specially prepared short-cut smooth grass surface known as a bowling green or simply the green (usually 45×45 yards). The green usually has a raised centre known as the crown which can often be as high as 30 centimetres above the edge of the green. The green has a ditch around the edge, and slopes on all sides from the crown towards the ditch. Greens are usually rectangular or square, but L-shaped and circular greens also exist.

Competitive games are usually held between two people with the winner being the first person to accumulate 21 points. An unlimited number of ends are played until someone wins. Variations exist where players can have more than two bowls, games are played to 31 points or more, or players form teams of two or more players.

Short Mat Bowls

As the title implies, the game is played over a much shorter length than the flat green game. The carpet is between 40-45ft (12.2m – 13.7m) and 6ft (1.8m) wide. At both ends, there is a fender, and 1ft (0.3m) in from the fender there is a white line, representing the ditch.

Equipment to be used is the same as that for playing on the larger indoor or outdoor surfaces. There are regulations as regards the weight or size of the bowl to be used but, in the main, those who have the necessary equipment for playing the outdoor or full-length indoor flat green game would be correctly set up to play the short mat game.

The basic skills required for playing the short mat game are exactly those for playing the flat green game indoors and outdoors. These are, of course, line and length.


Carpet Bowls

A game may be arranged to last until a fixed number of points (shot points plus penalty points) has been scored by the winner, or a fixed number of ends has been played or a fixed period of time has elapsed. If an end has had at least one bowl delivered at the time limit, then the end shall be continued, but will not be replayed if that shot becomes dead or penalty points are incurred by knocking off the jack. If the total number of points is equal at the conclusion of a match of a fixed number of ends, or a fixed period of time, the match shall be a tie. If a winner is required, an extra end shall be played, and the opponents shall toss as for the beginning of a game. If, during the playing of such an extra end, the jack is knocked off the carpet, the penalty shall be scored and the game therefore ended. If the winning total, in a game of a fixed number of points, is achieved through a penalty score, the end is not replayed. Control of the carpet passes to the opposing side as soon as the preceding bowl has come to rest.

• In a fours game, each plays two bowls, the leaders play their two alternately, then similarly with the seconds, the thirds and the skips.
• In a triples, the leaders and seconds each play three bowls and the  skippers two bowls.
• In a pairs game, the leader and the skipper shall each play four bowls. The leaders deliver their bowls alternately, after which the skippers do likewise.
• In a singles, each player shall use 4 bowls, and deliver their bowls alternately.

Use your favorite search engine for videos of games of each type

THE LONG AND ENTERTAINING HISTORY OF BOWLSBowls may well be the oldest outdoor sport in the world. Bowls historians believe that the game developed from the Egyptians. One of their pastimes was to play skittles with round stones. This has been determined based on artifacts found in tombs dating circa 5,000 B.C. Over the years the sport spread across the world taking on a variety of forms: Bocce (Italian), Bolla (Saxon), Bolle (Danish), Boules (French) and Ula Miaka (Polynesian). The oldest bowls green still in use is in Southampton, England. Records show that the green has been in operation since 1299 A.D. The first royal monarch to play bowls was Edward I. Greens existed mostly on the properties of landed gentry, however, as it gained popularity among the working people, greens suddenly appeared by taverns and inns. Soon bowls became known as a sport of “dissolute people.” Players drank and bet too much, quarreled and even dueled, presumably over the outcome of shots and games. By 1388 bowling became a national security issue as too many people were bowling instead of furthering their archery skills, therein threatening the nation’s defense. In 1388, Richard II passed a law forbidding bowls. Those who broke the law could be imprisoned for two years and fined a hefty ten pounds. In 1541 King Henry VIII eased the restriction, at least for the wealthy. He banned the game for those who were not “well to do” because “Bowyers, Fletchers, Stringers and Arrowhead makers” were spending more time at recreational events such as bowls instead of practicing their trade. Henry further limited the game by forbidding anyone to “play at any bowle or bowles in open space out of his own garden or orchard,” or they would be fined. However, on Christmas Day, laborers were permitted to play bowls but in their master’s presence. Records of lawn bowls matches seem to indicate that heavy wagers were placed on games, so much so that Henry wrote a statute to prevent greens from being used for financial gain. The story regarding how the bias was introduced to bowls is credited to Henry VIII. It dates back to March 31, 1522. Evidently, one day Henry delivered his bowl with such force that it shattered into pieces. Undeterred, he went indoors seeking a suitable substitute bowl. A wooden ornamental knob located on the banister caught his attention. He sawed it off and brought it to the green. Given that the sawed end was narrower than the opposite end of the bowl, a new bowl, with a curved draw, was born.Two years into her reign, Queen Mary I had had enough of the debauchery of bowls. In 1555, she annulled all bowls licenses because it fostered “unlawful assemblies, conventions, seditions and conspiracies.” Once again, bowls were considered of ill repute. However, history indicates that by 1588, it had regained its position as a favorite pastime. The most famous story in lawn bowls involves Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada. On July 18, 1588, Drake was involved in a game at Plymouth Hoe when he was notified that the Spanish Armada was approaching. His immortalized response was, “We still have time to finish the game and to thrash the Spaniards, too.” He then proceeded to finish the match which he lost before embarking on the fight with the Armada which he won. Whether this famous story really took place has been heavily debated. It wasn’t long before bowls reached American shores. As early as 1626, Dutch bowlers played on a flat, sandy surface in New York (New Amsterdam). In 1664, the British built the first green at the Bowling Green Park in lower Manhattan. Bowls took off as a popular pastime. Today, the U.S. Customs House, located at 1 Bowling Green, stands where the earliest lawn bowls green used to be. Thanks to the enthusiasm of these early lawn bowlers, Bowls Green Park, now Battery Park, became the first official park in New York in 1773. The annual rental fee to the city of New York was one peppercorn. Meanwhile, Boston had become a popular lawn bowls site, that is, until the Boston Tea Party took place during the American Revolutionary War for independence. According to historians, overnight interest in a “British game” plummeted.Back in England, the game of lawn bowls had become standardized. Around 1670, Charles II, King of Scotland, England and Ireland, along with two brothers, drew up rules and regulations making play of the game consistent across all greens. A rather revealing regulation stated, “always keep your temper.” By 1888 Scotland had 364 lawn bowls clubs. William Mitchell, a Glaswegian (Glasgow) solicitor, read over Charles’ version of the laws. He found them quite entertaining but no longer representative of how the game was being played. Mitchell revised the laws in 1850. When the Scottish Bowling Association was founded in 1892, they drew up a new set of laws for the game of bowls. Evidently these laws “provided for the first time a standard minimum bias for bowls.” Meanwhile, in “Land Down Under” bowls were taking hold. A plaque at the Sandy Bay Bowls Club, Tasmania, Australia, commemorates the first bowls game played at this site. The plaque reads, “On 4 January 1845 ‘The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen`s Land Gazette’ reported the following: ‘Old English recreations – the first game of bowls ever played in Van Diemen`s Land or perhaps in the Southern Hemisphere, was played at Mr. Lipscombe`s Sandy Bay, on Wednesday last, 1st January, 1845, between Mr. T Burgess and Mr. F Lipscombe (both old English players) for a small sum, which was decided in the favour of the former by the odd game out of twenty-five.’ In 1899, a group of Australian bowlers traveling with an Aussie cricket team arrived in England. Games between the Aussies and some English bowlers led to the idea of holding formal international bowls competitions. This idea led to the formation of the Imperial Bowling Association. In 1901 this association, along with the London County Bowling Club, played against the Scotland Association. Competitions at this level were viewed as prestigious events and so led to the formation of the English Bowling Association in 1903. Returning to America, as early as 1632, Williamsburg, Virginia had a bowling green. Records indicate that a bowling green was built at Mount Vernon around 1732. By the late 19th and 20th centuries, textile workers who emigrated from England to America’s East Coast, furthered the expansion of bowls. On July 27, 1915, the American Lawn Bowls Association (ALBA) was founded and hosted its first national championship in Men’s Fours in 1918. Men’s doubles and singles competitions were added in 1920 and 1928, respectively. Beginning in 1957, the ALBA conducted a United States Championship open to U.S. bowlers, and a National Open Championship that admitted teams from other countries. On February 21, 1970, the American Women’s Lawn Bowling Association (AWLBA) was founded to promote lawn bowls for women throughout the world under the auspices of the International Women’s Bowling Board. On February 1, 2001, the ALBA and the AWLBA merged to become the USLBA. That name remained in place until 2012 when Bowls USA (BUSA) became the official governing body of lawn bowls in the U.S. Bowls continues to be an international game enjoyed by players across the globe! Currently there are 51 countries with membership in World Bowls. Today, bowls has widespread presence on the Internet which allows you to watch competitions between the world’s top bowlers and view instructional videos. The history of lawn bowls is still being written!