The Game

A Few Helpful Hints

Business House bowls is played by 2 teams of 3 players who try to earn points by rolling their “bowls” up the green to land closest to a small target ball called a “Jack.”

Lawn bowls, as it is officially called, is played on a square area measuring approximately 36 metres on each side. This area, known the green, is surrounded by a shallow ditch. The surface of the playing area is either grass or an artificial surface like carpet. The green is divided into 7 or 8 rectangular “rinks” which allow 7 or 8 games to take place at one time. The rinks measure 36m long by 4m wide.

Bowls (Balls) – Our bowls vary in size between 00 and 5 to fit different players hand sizes, 00 being the smallest. 

They are made of a very hard, heavy plastic material, and come in a wide range of colors. Lawn bowls are not spherical; they bulge out slightly on one side so that they follow a curved path when they are rolled. The curved path of the ball helps bowlers maneuver their way past other bowls. There is a marks on the ball to show the wide and narrow sides for the “bias.” The Jack is the target ball and is white or yellow, about 65mm in diameter.

Playing the Game –  Players must stand with at least one foot on a rubber mat, when delivering their bowl. The mat is placed on the center line no less than 2m from the rear ditch and 25m from the front ditch. The player who throws the Jack determines where the mat is played for that round, or “end.”

The first player, the “lead,” delivers the Jack. If the Jack doesn’t travel at least 23m from the front edge of the mat or land inbounds, the opposition skip can place it where they like. The Jack must be centered on the rink, which means it is moved to the center line while keeping it at the same distance it traveled. If it stops within 2m from the front edge of the rink, it has to be moved to the center line 2m out.

The Jack becomes the target for the bowlers. After the lead player rolls the Jack, they roll one of their 2 balls. Then the other lead rolls one their balls, and play continues in this manner until all of the balls have been played. The bowl may travel outside the boundaries of the rink as long as it comes to rest within the boundaries.

An end is complete when the Jack and all bowls by all players have been rolled. The ball that lands nearest the Jack is called “the shot.” When all of the bowls have been played, the number of “shots” is counted. Players deliver their bowls from one end of the rink and then the other, alternating back and forth from end to end until the game is finished. A team gets 1 point for each of its balls that is closer to the Jack than the closest opponent’s ball. The team that scores in one end rolls first in the next end. Games are usually played for 8 ends.

If a bowl hits a Jack, the Jack remains in its new position even if it is knocked into the ditch. If it goes in the ditch, play continues with bowlers trying to get their bowls as close as possible to the Jack at the edge of the green without falling into the ditch.The bowl which moves the Jack is marked with chalk and called the “Toucher.” If it touches the Jack before falling into the ditch or if it is later knocked into the ditch by another bowl, it’s considered “live” and may be included in the final point count. A live ball is any ball that is delivered inbounds. A dead bowl is one that is considered out of play and is removed from the rink. A bowl is considered dead if it goes into the ditch without touching the Jack, comes to rest out of bounds, is knocked out of bounds by another ball.

A draw is the most common shot, and it’s really what the game is about. With the draw, the player attempts to deliver his bowl as close to the Jack as possible to earn a point. Yard On, with this shot, the bowler attempts to roll the bowl a metre or two past the Jack. Running Shot is bowled with more force than the Yard On with the intent to knock the opponent’s bowls from their location or move the Jack to the ditch.