Lawn Bowls Competition Format

The Gold Coast 2018 Lawn Bowls competition consisted of a total of 10 medal events including two Para-Sport medal events in B2/B3 Mixed Pairs and B6/B7/B8 Open Triples.

Competition Format

Men’s and Women’s Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours events (excluding para-sport)

Each nation can have a maximum of five players nominated and athletes are permitted to enter a maximum of two medal events. The Singles and Fours events will be conducted concurrently, as will the Pairs and Triples. Therefore, an athlete cannot compete in both the Singles and Fours, nor both the Pairs and Triples.

Singles: Each athlete will use four bowls, and the player first to score 21 shots will be deemed the winner.

Pairs: Each athlete will use three bowls with the games being 18 ends (3×3).

Triples: Each athlete will use two bowls with the games being 18 ends.

Fours: Each athlete will use two bowls with the games being 15 ends.

All Lawn Bowls events will follow the same general competition format, beginning with a group stage called sectional play. Upon the completion of sectional play, a certain number of players/teams from each section (group) will advance to the knockout stage.

From quarterfinal games onwards if Pairs, Triples or Fours game scores are equal after the prescribed number of ends, an extra end will be played to determine the winner as specified in Law 28.

During sectional play, matches must be played to the completion of the required number of ends or the time limit.

During knockout stages, once a winner is determined (that is, it is mathematically impossible for the opponent to win or draw the match), the match will finish regardless of the number of ends played.

The winner of each match advances to the next round. The only time a losing player or team will contest another match is when losing semifinalists meet in the Bronze medal match.

Para-sport events

For the para-sport events, the mixed pairs must include one male and one female athlete. The combination can be either two B2 bowlers, two B3 bowlers, or one B2 and one B3 bowler. Each athlete will be accompanied by an athlete director as per the CGF regulations.

B2 Bowlers with a visual impairment (VI). They can recognise hand movements and have a visual acuity of 2/60. B3 Bowlers have a visual acuity of more than 2/60 and up to 6/60.

B2/B3 Mixed Pairs: Each athlete will use three bowls with the games being 15 ends.

With regards to the B6/B7/B8 Open Triples event, the team must include at least one B6 player.

B6 Bowlers with balance difficulties rated as a loss of 5 points or more. Athletes may be ambulant (walking) or use a wheelchair.

B7 Bowlers with minor difficulties with balance, rated as a loss of less than 5 points. Athletes may be ambulant or use a wheelchair.

B8 Bowlers with no noticeable impairment of function but have a permanent impairment. They are rated as having lost 10 points on the bench test. Athletes are ambulant.

B6/B7/B8 Open Triples: Each athlete will use two bowls with the games being 15 ends.

Sectional play – The competition will begin with sectional play where the teams will play in groups in which all players/teams in the group play each other. A final ranking order for each group will be calculated and the top four ranked teams will advance to the semifinal.

Knock-out stage – The winner of each semifinal advances to the Gold medal round, and the losing semifinalists meet in the Bronze medal match.


The aim of Lawn Bowls is to get your bowls as close as possible to a small white ball called the ‘jack’. After a coin toss, the first bowler (the lead) places the mat and rolls the jack to the other end of the green as a target. The jack must travel at least 23m and, when it comes to rest, it is moved across to the centre of the rink. The players then take turns to bowl.

An “end” of bowls comprises the placing of the mat, the delivery of the jack and the delivery of all the bowls of all of the players in one direction on the rink.

When all the bowls have been played, a competitor or team gets one point for each of their bowls that is closer to the jack than the opponent’s closest bowl. Aiming for the opponents’ bowls and knocking them out of the way is an integral part of the game. Aiming to move the jack into a more favourable position is also permitted.

After all the bowls have been delivered, the direction of play is reversed.

Bowls are considered dead if they:

  • travel less than 14m from the mat
  • come to rest outside the rink
  • go into the ditch without touching the jack (bowls that hit the jack on their initial roll are called touchers; they may remain potential scorers wherever they land) within the confines of the rink.

The number of bowls per player and number of ends played varies across events.

A time limit of two hours and 15 minutes (not including trial ends) applies to all sectional matches for all disciplines. Time limits do not apply to knockout finals matches; but slow play rules still apply.


Field of play

Bowling greens are normally square and must be 34-40m long. They are normally divided into six rinks, 5.4m to 6.3m wide, allowing six matches to be played at once. The green is surrounded by a ditch 20-38cm wide and 5-20cm deep, enclosed by a sloping bank.


Although bowls are also known as ‘woods’, they can actually be made from rubber, wood or a combination of the two. They can be of any colour and carry a player’s individual emblem, logo or engraving inside the smallest grooved ring on both sides of each bowl.

Bowls weigh up to 1.59kg and measure 116mm to 134mm in diameter. Bowls have a weight ‘bias’ created through the shape of the bowl and are designed to travel a curved path. A small dimple or symbol indicates the bias direction.


White or yellow in colour, the jack is ball-shaped and measures 630mm in diameter, weighing between 225g to 285g.


The mat is 600mm long and 360mm wide.


To avoid damage to the greens, flat heel-less footwear is mandatory in Bowls. Clothing should be comfortable and relaxed.


Sport Jargon

Bias: Refers to the shape of the bowl and its effect whereby the bowl will curve in its path to the side of the bowl’s bias.

Weight: the amount of force applied to the bowl when delivered.

Draw shot: the standard shot where players aim to deliver their bow as close as possible to the jack or a designated position.

Head: the group of bowls, including the jack that has come to rest within the boundary of the rink.

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