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Lawn Bowls

Updated on January 4, 2010

Lawn bowls is a game played with wooden balls, called bowls, usually on a grass lawn. The object of the game is to roll the balls so that they stop as close as possible to a smaller stationary ball, called a jack.


Each of the bowls, also called woods, is made of hardwood, is about 16 inches (40 cm) in circumference, and weighs 3J/2 pounds (1.58 kg). One side is more convex than the other so that the wood swerves when it is rolled. The jack is about 8 inches (20 cm) in circumference, weighs about 10 ounces (310 grams), and is usually made of earthenware. When rolling his woods, a player puts one foot on a mat about 22 inches (56 cm) long and 14 inches (35 cm) wide.

Playing Area

The game is usually played on a green, or flat grass lawn, which is 38 to 42 yards (35-38 meters) square and is bounded by a ditch and a bank. In the version of the game called level green bowls the lawn is divided by tapes into alleys, called rinks, 19 to 21 feet (5.8-6.4 meters) wide. In the version called crown green bowls the lawn slopes from the center to the ditch, and there are no rinks. Bowls is also played indoors on matting. An Italian form of the game is called boccie.

Object of the Game

The jack is rolled down the center of the rink for at least 25 yards (23 meters). The privilege of rolling the jack is decided by a toss-up. Each player then tries to place his woods closer to the jack than those of his opponent. When all the woods have been bowled, each wood closer to the jack than the closest wood of the opponent counts as one point. The completion of one game is called an end. The winner rolls the jack and the first wood of the next game.


In singles each of two players has four woods and bowls them one at a time in turn. The first player to reach 21 points wins. In all but singles games the winners are those with the highest points after 18 or 21 ends.


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