Playing Rules

Titchfield Bowling Club Playing Rules.


“Bowls” has been played for a long, long, time. At one stage it was banned by the King detracting people from the main sport of the time “Archery”, as this was important for fighting wars. This was repealed in 1854.

We do not know the original rules of the game that we are trying to preserve , it has been said that Sir Francis Drake played the game on Plymouth Hoe! We can only look back at the history of our Club, in existence since 1923 to see what has gone on.

The Bowls game itself has evolved into the forms that everyone else plays and which includes Bowls England, Crown  Green and all the other derivatives such as indoor mats.

There is an Old English Bowls Association (OEBA) , based around the South Coast area , which has now decreased to only five teams in their league. Along with ourselves and Alverstoke, it seems that these seven clubs are the last remnants of the game. We want to try and preserve the game as much as understand it, as a bit of past history and not let it gradually be changed to a different game by practices brought in from the modern game. There are rules agreed by the OEBA for the way in which they play their League games

( an  abridged version is on the back of our Constitution booklet) and a full copy is on display in the Club House.

The old game  used to be played on a reasonably flat meadow. The Bowls or “Woods” as they are known have to have a much higher bias or curve when bowled than other types of bowling because the rink although purposely laid is not completely smooth; and some grounds have some very interesting characteristics causing challenges especially for away teams.


  1. The green is to be marked out with a base lines and divided into four (4) rinks. A 10 -12 foot square is to be marked at the ends of each rink, the side and back lines of each  square are to be four (4) feet in from the side and base lines of the rink respectively.
  2. The woods are not to be less than a Jaques No.6 bias and every endeavour is to be taken to see that no other woods are used.
  3. A wood has to end up within Four(4) feet of the Jack to score.
  4. For Club afternoon and evening games the winner will be the team to reach 21 points first.
  5. Members draw coloured number tags to form teams for play.
  6. On each rink the Member who draws the No.1 tag bowls the Jack for the first end . For subsequent ends the Member whose wood was the nearest for the end just played then bowls the Jack.
  7. The mat is to be place behind the base line and between the limits of the sides of the box. Once the Jack is bowled the mat must not be moved. ( Practice at Titchfield to lay long end of mat lengthwise. Other Clubs lay long end of mat crosswise.)
  8. When bowling the Jack , a wood must  be held in the other hand.
  9. Both feet must be on or behind the mat at the moment of delivery of a Jack and Wood.
  10. If the Jack , on its delivery , comes to rest outside of the outer edge of the square it is to be walked inside the square by the same distance that it came to rest outside , moving at right angles to a line of the square.
  11. .If the Jack goes right out of the rink over the far baseline or its side lines, then it should be returned for another attempt.
  12. .The successful bowler of the  Jack then plays their first wood , followed by their opponent, then after they have played their second woods they go to the head of the rink to direct the play of their team- mates and to advise how may  woods held or not at any moment of time as the end progresses.
  13. .Woods  must not be delivered with force such that the bias is ineffective. Essentially it is a” Drawing” game to get  to the Jack, not one to knock others out of the way. Therefore , all woods are to be bowled with the bias intact and should not be bowled in a straight line (firing) at the Jack or other woods in the Head. Any player deemed to use this tactic will forfeit  that end for his side and any of the opposing team’s woods within 4 feet of the Jack will count.
  14. .After all the woods have been played, one point is scored for each wood that is nearer to the Jack than the hearest opponent’s wood. All scoring woods must be within 4 feet of the Jack. In case of dispute one nominated player from each side will use a measure to determine the score.
  15. .If during play the Jack is knocked over the base or side lines of the square the end is over, and although it counts as an end played , no score is awarded. The bowler of that end is to again bowl to the Jack on the next end.
  16. If the wood comes to rest on or outside the base lines of the rink it is dead and removed from play .However , if the wood passes over the side lines on its  way to the Jack and comes to rest inside the rink it is in play.
  17. All draws for play ( see Tag System below) will take place 5 minutes before the start time ( i.e. 13.55hrs and 17.55hrs) to ensure a prompt start time. Members  are requested to arrive before these times so as to prevent any confusion as to how many players there are for that session.
  18. Footwear – only flat sold shoes (no heel) are to be worn for play . Open shoes, e.g . sandals, are not allowed.
  19.  If wet conditions prevail , members present should organise amongst themselves to “swish” the greens before play to remove surface moisture and worm casts, even if this means that the start is delayed.
  20.  Tag System.

This was introduced to help organise the daily play by ensuring it was on a   first come first serve basis it there were more than 32 members wishing to play and to help those organising games to ensure the correct amount of numbered tags were placed in the bag for exchange  with non numbered tags.

To ensure there is no confusion a member should only take a tag for themselves and no other members, Also , tags should not be handed out to others.


Please note that all Club competitions are based on the highest score after a minimum of 25 ends.