Lawn bowls or bowls is another member of the boules family of sport. The world’s oldest surviving bowling green is the Southampton Old Bowling Green, and this was first used in 1299. A manuscript housed in the royal library in Windsor contains a drawing of two players aiming at a small cone, instead of a jack. The jack is the smaller ball that is used as the target in a game. Another manuscript of the same century contains representations of three players bowling towards a jack. The game was eventually banned by the king and parliament as the concern was the sport would affect the practice of archery. The later was of course very important in battle at the time. The prohibition continued despite the invention of gun powder and firearms that eventually lead to the fall of archery as the weapon of choice.  

The basis of the rules of what has become the modern game, was first published by William Wallace Mitchell in 1864, a Glasgow cotton merchant. In 1830 the patenting of the first lawn mower changed everything for many sports. This meant that playing fields, greens, ovals, grass courts etc., could now be much better prepared. Several national bowling associations were established in the late 1800s, including the Scottish Bowling Association in 1892. Today World Bowls is the highest recognised international authority for the sport with their headquarters based in Edinburgh. There are over 50 members worldwide.  

The game is played with rules very similar to other boules sports. There is a smaller ball, the jack or kitty, that is first rolled by the opponent in a singles match. Teams can consist of pair, triples or fours. The bowling green is divided into parallel playing strips called rinks. When the jack comes to rest, it is then aligned to the centre of the rink and players proceed to roll their bowls from a mat towards the jack. Points are scored based on the proximity of the balls to the jack. Greens can be various shapes and sizes with differently prepared surfaces. Bowls can also be played indoors.  

World Bowls

Professional Bowls Association

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