Enough about being thrown into competition. Let’s get back to lawn bowling basics.
I guess most readers have a basic understanding of the game of lawn bowls. First you roll a small ball (called the jack or kitty) within the confines of a ‘rink’ and then you roll several ‘bowls’ (larger balls that are not perfectly spherical) to see who can roll their bowl closest to the jack. Does that sound like fun yet? Well I haven’t finished, but hey, does golf sound like fun? does ten pin bowling sound like fun?
What distinguishes lawn bowls is that your opponents’ bowls get in the way and their attempts physically affect your attempts and vice versa. Can you putt your golf ball into your opponent’s and send it into the rough? No, of course not, theirs must be moved out of the way. In ten pin bowling you have the rink to yourself and again there is no interaction between opposing bowls. In lawn bowls on the other hand this interactive dynamic is integral to the game.
So when considering lawn bowls, think beyond getting closest to the kitty. In a fours game 16 bowls end up in the head (the cluster of bowls at the jack end). After a few bowls have been delivered, getting closest to the kitty becomes a whole different challenge. You might have to get around an opponent’s bowl, you might have to slide inside it, or you might have to run into it, nudging it away and leaving yours closest. The list of possible shots is vast and too many to talk about here but this is what makes lawn bowls so challenging and so much fun.
So maybe I have your interest now and should talk a little about scoring. In most game formats at the conclusion of each ‘end’ you or your team score a ‘shot’ for every bowl you have closer to the jack than the closest opposing bowl. Now let’s say you have the last bowl in one end of a fours game. 15 bowls have been delivered and the opponents have the closest bowl but your team have the next four closest bowls. If that situation remains unaltered, they will score 1 shot for that end. However, your opponent’s shot bowl is exposed and they should be worried. You deliver a quality upshot (a faster bowl that still has some pace when level with the kitty), which makes contact with their shot bowl such that both bowls travel well away from the jack. Consequently your team now has the four closest bowls and scores 4 shots – a net turnaround of 5 shots as a result of your brilliant play. Successful shots like that are not rare even at intermediate standards.
Is lawn bowls sounding like fun yet? I certainly hope so and would encourage anyone who has not played to give it a try – your local club will likely be very welcoming to new members.