We don’t expect you to bring anything except your enthusiasm and willingness to learn the silly names that our game pieces have been given. You likely five-pin or ten-pin bowled at one time or another, so you probably figured out that you hurl a bowl at a target … well, sort of. In bowls or lawn bowling, we first throw the small white ball (some people call it the jack and others call it the kitty) which becomes the target for the first end. Don’t worry, the first end is just the beginning–and there are usually 12 ends or more before we finish.
Because we spend a lot of time mowing and rolling the grass, I’ve already used a bad word: throw. We actually roll the jack down the centre of what we call a green and each green has a marker to identify it. There are (in most Clubs) eight such greens (like the lanes in alley bowling)–and guess what we call the whole grassy area? It’s a green as well. So some of us use lane or rink to refer to the individual greens. A few of our Clubs have more than one green and use them in rotation.
Once the jack or kitty has been centred down the middle of our green, the end can be started. The first player to actually bowl is the lead (pronounced ‘leed’ rather than ‘led’)–the same one who rolled the jack. Although we roll a jack, when we deliver the bowl, we bowl it. Unlike almost every other sport, bowls contain something called a bias which causes the bowl to pull to the left or right as it travels. If you’ve ever curled, you’ll know that this is deliberate. We’ll help you figure it out as you learn.
The object of the delivery of a bowl is to become as friendly as possible with the jack–that is, to come to rest as close as you can to it, and if possible stay there until the end of the end. If it were that simple, we’d all do exactly that; but the opposing team has the same objective–so another approach is to evict your opponent’s bowl and replace it with yours. This is appropriately called a take out.
Inevitably, during the end, the jack is accidentally or deliberately bumped from its centred position, undoing all the skilful work of cozying up to it. So that means the remaining bowls–both yours and your team’s–have to aim for the jack’s new location. Scoring the end takes place after both teams have run out of bowls. Closest bowl or bowls to the jack score; and if your team won that end, you’ll have to start another end in the opposite direction.