Bowling for beginners

Do you know your Back Bowl from your Bias? Your Dead End from your Draw Shot? No?

If you’re more ‘Crackerjack’ than committed when it comes to lawn bowls it doesn’t really matter. As your mother used to say “it’s not about who wins or loses…” Lawn bowls is a lot of fun and a great way to relax with your mates or the work crowd.

At The RUC, we’re lovers of lawn bowls and we thought it would be great to share some lawn bowls tips for beginners so that you can impress your buds with your sweet sweet bowling skills. Or at least sound like you know what you’re talking about.

So here it is, The RUC’s very basic ‘Bowling for beginners’

  • The aim is to roll biased balls, ie weighted balls, so that they stop close to the smaller ball, the ‘jack’.
  • The jack is the little white ball used as a target to play to and determines point scoring. You play on a large rectangular bowling green, or rink. At The RUC in Turner we have three lawn bowls greens with seven rinks on each green – that’s 21 rinks in total if our maths serves us correctly.
  • Choose a mate to ‘place the mat’ and take the ‘end’  – this is where they roll the jack to the other end of the green – once the jack comes to rest it is centred and this will be your target for the game.
  • You and your buds take turns to roll your bowls from the matt towards the jack.
  • A bowl may curve outside the rink boundary, but it must rest firmly within the rink boundary to remain in play.
  • If you’re just learning you may end up with ‘dead’ bowls – that is your bowls fall into the ditch and are removed from play.
  • After all competitors have delivered all of their bowls, the distance of the closest bowl to the jack is determined, and points or ‘shots’ are awarded for each bowl which you have closer than your opponents. So if your mate Dave has two bowls closer to the jack than you do, Dave gets two shots.
  • “Same again, from the other end!” – you then place the mat and roll the jack from the other end repeating the game again – a typical game of bowls is 21 ends.
  • Some bowls lingo* you might like to learn to impress your mates:
    Back Bowl – a bowl that comes to rest beyond the jack.
    Bias– the weighted offset to make the bowl curve. The bias side is noted by the smaller button and bias is correct when the bowl curves toward the jack.
    Blocker– a bowl that blocks someone from reaching the target.
    Dead End – when the jack is knocked out of bounds. The end isn’t counted and is played again.
    Foot Fault – when a player doesn’t have one foot over the mat on release of the bowl.
    Head – rolling bowls toward the jack builds up the ‘head’, which means the bowls that have come to rest within the boundary of the rink and have not been declared dead.
    Lead– the person who starts off the play. He/she places the mat and rolls the jack if their team ‘has the mat’.
    Potato Bowl – A badly thrown bowl that hops, skips and jumps.
    Skipper – the team captain or ‘skip’ always plays last. This person is usually the most experienced player, who also guides the strategy.
    Touchersbowls that hit the jack. These bowls are marked with chalk and remain ‘alive’ even if they’re in the ditch.
  • Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.
  • Remember these great quotes from the all Aussie lawn bowls film, Crackerjack:
    Stan: “And remember, this is a game of skill, touch and patience. A true revealer of character”
    Jack: “All it’s revealing right now is two inches of arse-crack poking out the top of my pants!”


Remember these hot tips on your next visit to The RUC in Turner, and you can’t really go wrong. And don’t forget to bring your mates, max eight people to a rink, for a chilled Sunday of lawn bowls – burgers, beer and bowls! At The RUC in Turner you can also enjoy barefoot bowls with music on the green, have your own bowling butler if you bring more than 10-15 people, and kick off the weekend with twilight bowls as the sun sets.


*Source – http://www.palbc.org/glossary.html

Published October 3, 2014 | Pricing and availability subject to change

Book Now