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Learn to Lawn Bowl at MacKenzie Lawn Bowls Club

Learning to lawn bowl requires concentration and different muscles, like any new game, and can be played and enjoyed by people of all ages. The game is a constant challenge because of the ever-changing position of the jack and bowls which have come to rest. The aim of the game is for your team to get as many bowls as possible closest to the little white jack. It is different from bocce ball because the bowls curve when they slow down so it takes a bit of finesse and practice.

It generally takes three lessons to learn the fundamentals of the game, and a lesson generally takes an hour. You just need to wear a mask and flat-soled shoes, and the club will provide the bowls for you to use. Best of all, there is no charge for the lessons, and no one will be high pressuring you to join. If you are all fired up after your lessons and want to join, you must play in a welcoming game to demonstrate that you know the rules. After that, ask for an application form, pay the club fee, and join us on the greens!

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lawn Bowls?

The game is known around the world as Bowls, Lawn Bowls or Bowling on the Green.  It is played on a bowling green which is 120 feet square.  The green is marked off into 8 rinks, and each rink is 14 feet wide.


Are there teams?

Yes, there are four kinds of teams:

Single   –   One against one. Each player delivers 4 bowls.

Pairs  –   Two against two. Each player delivers four bowls.

Triples  –   Three against three. Each player delivers three bowls.

Four. –   Four against four. Each player delivers two bowls.


What equipment is needed?

A set of 4 matched bowls, each weighing between 3 to 3 ½ pounds.

The jack  –  A small, white ball about. 2.5 inches in diameter.

A mat  –  Approximately 14” X 24”.

The Club owns bowls which are available for use.  Jacks and mats are furnished by the club.

Flat soled shoes must be worn on the greens when bowling.

What is the object of the game?

Each player takes turns rolling his or her bowls down the rink, attempting to get them as close as possible to the jack.  After everyone on both teams has bowled, the team with the bowl nearest the jack scores one point for that bowl and an additional point for each bowl closer to the jack than the nearest bowl of a player on the other team 

Why do the bowls curve?

The bowl is not uniformly shaped.  Since it is smaller on one side, it naturally curves in that direction when it slows down.  This is called “the bias.” Each set of bowls has an icon or marking for easy identification.  Black or brown have been the traditional colors, but now bowls come in many colors.

How long does a game last?

Baseball has innings, football has quarters, and lawn bowling has ends.  When all players on both teams have delivered their  bowls, this completes the play of an end.  Usually a game is 12 ends, and that lasts around an hour and a half.

How does the game proceed?

The most commonly played game in the United States is triples where each player delivers 3 bowls.  The positions on each team are called:




After it is determined which team will bowl first, the lead on that team places the mat and rolls the jack from the mat toward the other end.  The jack is then centered on the rink.  The leads and vices stay at the mat end and the skips are positioned at the jack end, or “Head.” 

The leads then deliver their 3 bowls alternately.  Then the vices deliver theirs.   The leads and vices then proceed to the  opposite end of the green, and the skips go to the mat end and bowl their three. 

The score for the end is then determined and written on a scoreboard.  The team winning the end sets the mat and rolls the jack to start the next end.

What if the bowl hits the jack?

During play the jack may be hit and moved by one or more bowls. There is no penalty for hitting the jack.  The bowl that hits the jack is called a “toucher” and is marked with chalk by the skip to indicate that it is a live bowl if it is subsequently knocked into the ditch.

If the jack is knocked out of bounds, it is spotted on the center of the rink 2 meters from the front of the ditch.  If the jack is driven into the ditch within the rink boundaries, the play continues.

Learning Lawn Bowling at Our Open House Event

We have had an Open House in May during which the public is invited to come and give lawn bowls a try.  Currently we are not having this event.  In the meantime, contact us by phone to arrange free lessons.

We have a page with charts and videos about lawn bowling. Click on the button below to go there.

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