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Note:  The word “his” should be read as “hers’ where appropriate.



The basic game of bowls involves two teams of four, each player bowling two bowls.  Variations on this theme include Triples - three players bowling three bowls each, Pairs - two players bowling four bowls each and Singles - one player versus an opponent, each using four bowls.

Note:  Other variations are possible, e.g.  a “a triples” game played with two bowls.



The “Skip” is in charge of the team and, until it is his turn to bowl, he stands at the “head” directing the play, marking “touchers”, removing “dead” bowls from the ditch, etc.  By convention the Skip’s judgment is accepted without question, partly on account of his greater experience, but also because he is best positioned to assess the situation in the head.

No 1 (lead) positions the mat, casts and centres the jack, and bowls his two bowls.
No 2 bowls as directed by the Skip.No 3 bowls as directed, takes charge of the head whilst the Skip bowls (offering advice when asked to do so).  When the end is completed he agrees the number of shots (for or against) with the opposing No 3.



When all the bowls have been played the two No 3s have to determine the score. The initiative should be taken by the No 3 of the team which is NOT holding “shot” who then concedes such shots as are clearly closer to the jack than any of his own team’s.  After which, if the “winning” No 3 believes he is entitled to more, he has to prove his entitlement by measuring.  Scoring bowls should be removed by hand (NOT BY THE FEET) from the head and pushed/guided to the No 2 for safe keeping.  While the head is being assessed, the No 2s should be ready to update the scoreboard, the winning No l should be ready to reset the mat for the next end, and the losing No 1 should be bringing the trolley up to the head.

Once the No 3s have agreed the score it can be signaled to the Skips at which point any spare players should help the No 1 collect the bowls and return them to a point behind the mat. 

Note: While the No 3s are measuring and counting, the other players should stand clear (and mind their own business).



A “tied” end occurs when the two nearest opposing bowls are equidistant from the jack. (The end counts as a “played” end but with no score to either side.)



A dead end occurs when the jack has been knocked across one of the sidelines or over the rear bank.  The end is re-played in the same direction (unless both Skips agree it can be played in the other direction).  On the score card and scoreboard a dead end is a non-event and no entry is made.



Possession of the mat (and the right to deliver the jack and first bowl) is tossed for     initially (the winner having the option of telling the opposing player to take the mat,    jack and first bowl which cannot be refused). In all subsequent ends the winner of the    previous end will have the mat, jack and first bowl except in a tied game when an extra   end is played and a coin toss again takes place. The winner of the toss has the same   options available.

On every end the mat can be positioned anywhere on the centre line of the rink, provided the mat's front edge is not less than 2 metres from the edge of the rear ditch   and not beyond the nearest white (25m) marker on the side bank. If the jack is miscast it is returned to be re-cast by the opposing No 1. If it is miscast again in the same end, the Laws require the jack to be positioned on the far 2 metre mark. The mat can be placed at a length of the lead's or skip's choosing.



A “toucher” is a bowl which has touched the jack whilst on its original course up the rink.  It must be chalked (or nominated) before the following bowl has come to rest - after that it is too late.  In practice this ruling tends to be applied with a measure of latitude.  A toucher remains a “live” bowl even if it ends up in the ditch (where it could still count in the score), whereas a “non-toucher” in the ditch has to be removed and placed on the bank.



The recommended procedure for the No 3, once the result of the end is established, is to turn to face the Skip (at the far end of the rink) and tap the upper arm to indicate the number of shots “for”, or tap the lowered wrist to signal the number of shots “against”.  This is more effective than holding fingers in the air, and better than shouting. 



The “Official” Club roll-ups always start at 2.30pm for the men and 2.00pm for the ladies. A player wishing to participate should arrive in the pavilion at least 15 minutes before this time and place his name disc on the table when all the discs will be shuffled and arranged in groups of 8, 6 or 4 to determine the matches for the afternoon.

Informal roll-ups take place at other times such as mornings, evenings and week-ends.


Ladies have priority in the use of rinks for the Tuesday afternoon roll-ups.  Men have priority on Wednesday.  Having “priority” does not mean that men are totally excluded on Ladies roll-up afternoons (and vice versa); they are still entitled to use any spare rinks.
Thursday and Saturday afternoons are mixed



The Club plays friendly matches against other clubs and participates in two evening leagues.  Lists are posted well in advance so that members wishing to be considered can put their names down.  Later the same lists will feature the teams selected for the various matches.  A member chosen for a match, MUST tick his name to show he has noted his selection and (if applicable rink duty) is 0K to play.



To provide competitive play within the Club, five separate leagues run throughout the season.  Each team in a league is managed by a Team Leader who selects, by rotation, which of his team’s seven or eight members will play in each league fixture.  In addition a series of annual competitions provides further opportunities for competitive play.



  • Keep still and quiet, and at least one metre behind the mat, when the player in possession of the mat is preparing to bowl.  Spectators should do nothing that might upset the concentration of the players, e.g.  Moving along the bank when a player is about to bowl, talking to one of the players, or to the Marker, during a game.

  • Once an end has been completed, assuming your team has lost the end, or, if you have miscast the jack and it is being returned, it is considered good “bowls manners” to pick up the jack (and/or the mat) and hand it to the opposing No 1.

  • Concentrate on the play, try to build up a map of the head in your mind and try to “read” the green.  Bowl as the Skip requests. He might want your bowl to end up two or three metres behind the jack. ALWAYS wait on, or by, the mat until your Skip has signalled the position of your bowl in relation to the jack. Skips are understandably annoyed to find they are continually signalling to someone’s backside.

  • When the Skips are bowling and you are at the head... STAND STILL.  Even small movements can be terribly distracting.

  • Don’t do stupid things like waving an overcast bowl through the head, or over-reacting to an opponent’s lucky wick’.  You’ll get your share of LWs in due course.

  • Don’t waste other people’s time.  When it’s your turn to bowl be sure you are ready to step on the mat with your bowl in your hand.  While you are searching around for your bowl you are keeping seven people waiting.

  • When you are at the head (while the Skips bowl) remember the No 3s need an unobstructed view of the head, staring at the back of your head will not help them to do their job.  You should position yourself behind the No 3s.

  • Bowls is a lovely game to play, even more so when everyone knows what to do and how to behave.  Enjoy your game and try to ensure your opponents enjoy their game as well - even though you beat them.



The Laws (rules) of the game of Outdoor Bowls are published in booklet form.  Any player intending to take bowls seriously is advised to become familiar with the Laws for they cover practically every conceivable situation.




On arrival and gaining entry to the clubhouse cancel the alarm.
This procedure is explained to members on joining. 
It is not considered secure to write the number down as this could fall into the wrong hands.
Suffice it to say the number is the same for padlock and alarm.

Last member to leave ensure 
a)    All bowling equipment is in the left-hand shed and the door locked, key returned to key cupboard on left of kitchen door.
b)    All windows and external doors are closed and secure.
c)    All heating and lighting off.
d)    Kitchen door must be closed and serving hatch shut (if these are left open the alarm will sound immediately the outer door is opened). 

Also ensure the fire doors (x 3) into short mat hall and ladies toilet are not wedged open

e)    Alarm set and main door locked. Gate secured.


a)    Start times for play on the green is 4.00pm Monday, 10.30am Tues to Friday, 
    10.00am Saturday and Sunday. When a bank holiday is a Monday start time on the following Tuesday is 12 noon and the rinks are available all bank holiday Monday from 10.30am 
b)    Rinks may be booked according to availability for competitions. Should rinks 1 to 5 be     booked, rink 6 may be booked but it must be remembered that if a member of the public requires to play, the rink must be instantly vacated.
c)    Rinks once booked must be adhered to unless changes are made by mutual agreement or a     priority match is taking place.
d)    Wet mats MUST be put down when a notice to this effect is displayed.
e)    All equipment must be returned to the store shed on completion of play
f)    Where roll ups coincide with matches the matches take priority and roll ups are not started     until the match has commenced. Rink 6 may be used but rule b) above applies.
g)    Rink colour and direction must be changed at end of play FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS     in line with instructions left in writing or verbally. If no instructions are left consult the rink diary for     the change of colour and/or direction 
    These will be changed by the groundsman on the other days.

Equipment list per rink
    2 Pushers.
    2 Sets of 3 coloured pegs. 
    2 Mats.
    1 score board. 
    1 jack. 
    Measuring stick.


a)     Leagues are played Monday evening, Tuesday afternoons, Thursday evening, Friday     afternoons and Sunday mornings. The rink allocation is normally made and displayed on the tag board. 
    If this is not the case the allocation is on the league notice board.

b)    Score cards must be filled out with,
    Rink number
    League competition
    Identification of the teams
    Names of team members
Signed by the skips on completion and placed in the card box in the clubhouse.




SHORT MAT CLUB RULES ( Amended July 2014)


  • Dress Code – Dress is optional for all internal league games and roll up's, but flat heeled bowls shoes must be worn at all times when players are on the mat. For friendly matches and external league games greys should be worn or the club polo shirts in white or blue.


  • Internal Leagues -  games will be played during the mornings on either one or two mats and will commence at 10am. Members should arrive at the club no later than 9-45am in order to sign in and prepare for the match start time. In agreeing to play in the internal pairs,triples and fours leagues members should not drop out of the competitions without a valid reason and are expected to complete the programme that they have agreed to compete in. Restrictions may be placed on members who fail to comply with the above.


  • Mat Choice – On all occasions when two mats are in use the home skips should toss a coin,with the winner choosing which mat his team will play on. When only one mat is in use the skips or individual players in singles should toss for the choice of mat, with the winner having the choice of which mat the game will be played on. The only exception to the above is that a scheduled game has priority of mat choice over any other game that is booked after the schedules are published for the season.


  • Burnt End -  (jack driven off the mat) If the jack is knocked off the side of the mat the offending team will concede 1 shot and the mat to the opponents. The end should be counted as played.


  • No Score Ends – When no difference can be measured between two opposing bowls to determine “shot” then neither side will score and the card should be marked N/S for that end. The end will be counted as played and the mat will go to the team who had the mat on the previous end.


  • Prior to Game Start – The skip or number one should toss to decide which team will start the game. The winner of the toss has the choice to start or give the mat away to the other team. In games with more than one set the team who did not start first should start set two. If a third set is being played skips should toss again to determine which team will start the final set. Players should note that the mat cannot be given away at any stage of the game.


7.  Player shortages – If a team turn up with one player short, the following will apply  -


Triples -  the two players will bowl three woods each and their shot total will be reduced by 25% in each set.


Fours – the 3 players will bowl 3,3,2, woods (the skip will always bowl the two woods) and their shot total will be reduced by 25% in each set.                                                                      For all other categories of shortage or non appearance, the match will be declared void and the opponents will receive 4 points and 6 shots in both triples and fours games. If a team member arrives after a match has started, he/she may still participate but only in the next complete set. As above a 25% shot reduction will apply to the set where the player was absent.





8.  Skips – Players should be aware that the team skips are in charge of the game and players must abide by the decisions skips take in the game. Skips in pairs,triples or fours internal league games may only visit the head once in any set. If a skip decides to visit the head with the opposing skip, this will count as his/her one visit. The skip will be one of the selected team members. If a nominated reserve is brought into the team, that reserve may take on the roll of skip. Any other group member brought into the team cannot be given the skips position.



  • Score Cards – the home team should fill in the score card as the game progresses and should ensure the finished card is signed and agreed by both skips. The results should be clear and should indicate if any penalties have been applied. Score cards should be filled in for void or abandoned games with a reason on the card as to what team was at fault. The away team number 2 should operate the score board and update the score as the game progresses.


  •  Time limit – The first wood of the last end must be bowled no later than 5 minutes before the end of the two hour session. If the game is not completed at this stage the score will be recorded as a finished game.


  •  Team Changes – Changing from the published team for tactical purposes is not allowed. During the game players positions within the team may be changed as required and includes the skip provided the replacement player is from the published team or official reserve.


  •  Club Competitions -  Players who enter club competitions must be available to play on the finals days as published at the start of any competitions. Should players become aware that they will not be able to play in any final that they may reach they should withdraw from the competition at the earliest opportunity, or consult with the Short Mat Manager to clarify if a solution is possible for their circumstances.


13.  All Other Issues – are covered within the E.S.M.B. A. rules and will apply in any other instance not mentioned above. A copy of these rules are displayed on the notice board in the Short Mat Hall. 




      Hadleigh Bowls Club Short Mat Rules – July 2014


Tony Ryall – Short Mat Manager

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