ASBC Handbook

Welcome to Alton Social Bowling Club


Table of Contents

Welcome from the President                                                                                              3

Introduction.                                                                                                                            3

Layout of the Club.                                                                                                                 3

Location of playing equipment                                                                                           3

Entering the main building.                                                                                                  4

Changing rooms.                                                                                                                      4

Roll Ups, Friendlies, Competitions and Fixtures throughout the year.                    4

Main Corridor League and match information.                                                               5

Match day information.                                                                                                          5

Getting Started.                                                                                                                         6

The Rules of the Game.                                                                                                            6

The Basic Technique.                                                                                                                6

The Position on the mat and Stance.                                                                                   6

The Delivery.                                                                                                                               7

The Bias.                                                                                                                                       7

The Kit                                                                                                                                           7

What clothes should I wear?.                                                                                                  7

And what footwear?.                                                                                                                 7

Do I need a set of bowls?.                                                                                                         7

PLAY BOWLS FAQS.                                                                                                                     7

What makes the bowl turn?.                                                                                                   7

Is there any etiquette to know?.                                                                                            8

What are different formats of the game?.                                                                           8

When you play in a team, what are the different positions?.                                        8

What are the dimensions of the playing surface?.                                                            8

Glossary of Terms.                                                                                                                       9


3. Welcome from the President

I would like to welcome you to our bowls club which is also a social club for our members, and I encourage you to meet others, say hello and join in social activities as well as bowling.         

As with most bowling clubs it relies totally upon unpaid help, for its viability and capacity to meet the expectations of its members. The Bowls Committee (listed on the website with their pictures and roles) and others in support roles, voluntarily provide substantial amounts of time and energy to enable the club to function.

Members WILL be asked to perform non-bowling duties if capable. A member who does not help with the running and maintenance of the club, places unreasonable burden on others.

Duty rosters are on notice boards for members to check if they are “on duty”. If unavailable it is a member’s responsibility to find a replacement. The committee are always available should you have any questions concerning running of the club or wish to volunteer for any duties.

We are really pleased to have you as a member so please speak to a committee member and introduce yourself if they haven’t already identified you. Best wishes and enjoy the bowling, the competition and importantly the social interaction.                                                                                                                                                         


Welcome as a member of the Alton Social Club. We hope you enjoy your membership of the Club, and enjoy the friendship, fantastic facilities, and wide choice of social and competitive bowls offered. This handbook is designed for the information and guidance of new bowlers to the club, and contains something for all members, new and old.

Our website contains lots of information such as history of club, competitions, league fixtures, friendly fixtures, club policies, rink booking, items for sale, contact information of members and committee members, types of bowls and differences, plus news and records of winners of competitions, club policies etc. We would encourage you to review its content.           

Layout of the Club

On becoming a member of the club you will be given all the access codes needed to enter the Green, outbuildings, and clubhouse along with access to the website members’ information which includes rink booking, members’ contact details etc.

Location of playing equipment

On entering the main gates, the first building on the left is where the equipment for playing is held e.g., the mats, jack, score boards etc. Note: If your intention is only to play then there is no need to open the full clubhouse.

4. Entering the main building

On entering the main building there is access to the kitchen area, which is stocked with all the necessary equipment for tea and coffee making. There is a small charge for using coffee, tea, milk (when available) etc.

There is also a fully licenced bar area for the consumption of both alcoholic and soft beverages. There is a card reader to allow for cashless transactions. The bar is manned by bar staff (approved by the bar manager) and typically is open for league games and friendlies.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Changing rooms       

The Male and Female changing rooms can be accessed either through the outside door or by exiting the main function room.

Within the changing areas are male and female toilets, and there is also a separate disabled toilet. In the changing room lockers are available to rent, please contact the treasurer to request a locker.

Roll Ups, Friendlies, Competitions and Fixtures throughout the year

For roll ups and practise there is no charge (green fees) as this is included in your membership fees. You also do not need to wear bowls attire and can dress casually; however, you must still wear bowls shoes or trainers.

For league, friendlies, and competitions there are standards of dress and approved footwear which must be complied with, also green fees and/or competition fees are to be paid. Please check with league captains or the captain of the day to understand what fees etc. are applicable.

Alton Social Bowls Club currently enters:

Organised Roll ups are held on Monday Evenings and Tuesday afternoons. Both are weather dependent as no one likes to bowl in foul weather when it is only for practise or social. We are also organising some coaching sessions which will be advised and held prior to roll up sessions for those who wish to partake. All members at any time when the rink is free can book a roll up session via the website to practise or play against others for fun.

Friendly games are normally held on weekends, these are great for new bowlers to learn the game in a non-competitive environment, playing with our existing members also helps to get to know other members and learn some of the game’s rules and etiquette.

Leagues Matches: – 3 Counties, Stan Hardman, Whitchurch are mixed leagues. B & D (Basingstoke & District) is a men’s league.

These can vary in difficulty depending upon which league and division the team is in e.g., Division 1, 2 or 3 and the type of league. League captains & committee members can advise you which would be best for you to join based upon your skill, available days & times, position you want to play etc.

Club Competitions (advised after the start of season normally in May): –

Charlie Porter Trophy, Ladies Singles, Ladies Pairs, Men’s Singles, Men’s Pairs, Mixed Handicap, mixed singles, Australian pairs, novices etc. competitions will vary dependent on number of entrants.



Outside Club entries

These can vary each year but will typically be, Club two fours, Gazette Cup, Hants & Berks Cup, Mixed Top Club, Petersfield Cup, President’s Cup – Three Counties Bowls Fellowship, Thornbery Trophy, Tony Allcock Trophy, Top Club.

We have a selection committee who will typically select from available players for above outside competitions.

You can also personally enter various competitions run by the Leagues, county or National on your own or with others as a team. Note these entries are normally carried out before or at the start of the season.

Main Corridor League and match information

Notice boards in the corridor have all of the information relating to each League and Friendly with dates and venues, that the club are scheduled to play.

The process for selecting players for each of the matches falls to the team captain. To aid them in their selection it is up to each individual to state what matches they are available to play in by putting their name on the sheet and ticking against those dates. Please note that this does not mean that you will always be selected to play as there are only so many places. The B&D League is selected on playing standard. Progression for a new bowler is achieved by playing matches and practising.                                                                                                                                                                                

5. Match day information

Once the captain has selected the team it will be promulgated on the notice board outside the main doors of the clubhouse. If you have been selected to play, then you need to confirm that you are still available to play by selecting a tick against your name. You also need to be aware of the attire for the match e.g., club shirt, white, navy or grey trousers/skirt/shorts and the time and location of the match. If for any reason that you cannot play after you have been selected, please let the team captain know as soon as possible. For a home match please arrive at least 15 minutes before the start time to assist in preparing the green. For away matches the team meets at the club usually for car sharing.                                                                                                                                                            

The Green

The green comprises six rinks and can be played both vertically and horizontally. There is also a colour coding system, black, red, and yellow, which are a method of maximising the playing surface, these are alternated and are listed what colour is on what day on the notice board. The rinks can be booked by any member who has access to the booking system on the website. In the event that the green is dangerous to play on due to Heavy rain/ Thunder then games will be cancelled/delayed/re-arranged for safety reasons as well as protecting the green from damage. Green mats will sometimes be deployed at both ends of the rinks when the green is tender to protect the green from damage.




6. Getting Started

It’s normal to feel slightly apprehensive about starting something new, but bowls is a sport that is easy to take up. The rules of the game are relatively simple, the basic technique is not complex and you don’t need lots of new kit. This section explains more.

The Rules of the Game

Like boules on the beach or a game of skittles, it’ll take you no time to figure out the basic rules of the game.

Bowls is played on a square of grass called a green, which is divided into lanes called rinks.  Players take turns to deliver their bowls from a mat at one end of the rink towards a small white target ball, known as the ’jack’, situated near the other end and longer than 23 meters.  The bowls are shaped so that they take a curved path towards the jack, known as the bias (examples of bias and bowls are on the website under “what type of bowl can I choose”).

The aim of the game is to get your bowls closest to the jack.  One point is given for each bowl nearer the jack than the nearest bowl of your opponent.  For example, if you or your team has three bowls closer to the jack than your opponent’s nearest bowl then you will score three for that end.

Each game is split into individual ends.   After playing all the bowls in one direction and agreeing the score, the next end is played back down the rink in the opposite direction.  The winner of the previous end will cast the jack.

There are different formats of the game. You can play singles or as part of a team, and a match can vary in lengths (e.g., 21 or 18 ends or the first player to 21 shots).  The winner can either be the one who has scored the most shots after a specified number of ends or the first to reach a designated score.

The Basic Technique

The sport of bowls takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. The action required to deliver a bowl is based on a fairly natural physical movement and your first shot could be every bit as good as a world champion’s.

Every bowler’s delivery is slightly different, but you can’t go too far wrong, and no-one’s going to laugh at you whilst you’re getting the hang of it. Once you have got the basic delivery sussed, you’ll be hooked on getting consistently close to the jack. Here’s a basic guide to help beginners get started. If you have a physical disability, you may need to adopt a different approach. Note: you can find lots of lessons and guides to playing on YouTube.

The Position on the mat and Stance

Before delivery you should stand on the mat. Face forward with your feet pointing towards the jack, but to one side of it depending which way you are planning to curve the bowl. The bowl should feel comfortable in your favoured hand and be placed outside the hip to enable an unimpeded backswing. You should be looking where you’re aiming.

7. The Delivery

Most players combine a forward stride with their backswing. On completion of your backswing, then swing your arm forwards whilst bending your knees so, at the moment of release, the hand holding the bowl is almost touching the ground. This helps the bowl roll smoothly and prevent damage to the green. At the moment of delivery, make sure one of your feet is on or over the mat. Simple as that!

The Bias

Oh yes, the bias is the slightly tricky bit! The bias is the shape of the bowl that makes it turn. To make it easy, bowls have a large disc one side and a small disc on the other. The bowl curves towards the side with the smaller disc. So, if you are a right hander holding the bowl with the small disc on the side nearest their thumb, the bowl will curve from left to right, so you need to aim to the left of the jack.

The Kit

What clothes should I wear?

Whites is far from the reality these days. For newcomers playing social bowls, the dress code is usually relaxed and whatever makes you feel comfortable. A polo shirt, together with casual trousers or track suit or shorts would be our suggestion for roll ups.

To play in club matches, leagues, competitions the dress for the match will be stated on the team sheet displayed on the notice board but will include a club shirt and either Navy, white or grey trousers/skirt/shorts.

And what footwear?

To help keep the playing surface in good condition, it’s important to wear a pair of flat-soled trainers for roll ups, for matches you should wear Bowls shoes.

Do I need a set of bowls?

We have bowls available for newcomers to use free of charge, you can also try different sizes and types before considering buying as there are many options. Once you have decided to take up the game, you may wish to invest in a set of bowls, these are available new from bowls sports shops and online, also sometimes our website has second-hand bowls for sale as well as eBay etc.

Bowls come in sets of four and each is identical. You can choose different sizes and weights depending on your hand size and physique, and even pick your favourite colour!

You can pick up a suitable set for under £50 second hand, or from around £250 if you splash out on a new set – that’s less than the price of a decent golf club! Sets can last a lifetime and so it works out very reasonably in the long run. Note Bowls are date stamped and for some levels of the game have to be in-date and tested, more details available from members.


What makes the bowl turn?

Many people believe one side of a bowl is more heavily weighted than the other. However, it is the shape of the bowl that makes it ‘turn’ rather than anything to do with weight. This is known as ‘bias’.

The curved path taken by the bowl is always towards the side with the smaller disc, but this only happens when the bowl begins to slow down.

The point at which the bowl begins to turn is known as the ‘shoulder’ and this will vary according to the distance, or length, that the jack is from the mat. A simple guide is that the shoulder is roughly two thirds of the distance the bowl must run to arrive at its objective.

8. Is there any etiquette to know?

Nothing about which to feel nervous. Friendly sporting acts towards teammates and opponents are appreciated and reciprocated, such as keeping still & quite whilst others are delivering their bowls. Players within the same team will regularly acknowledge good shots. This could be a simple clap but can often include a ‘high five’ or a cheer – depends how much the game matters!

For further information visit Etiquette – Alton Social Bowls Club (


9. What are different formats of the game?

The most common formats of the game of lawn bowls are:

Singles: Two players with two or four bowls each – winner is first to 21 shots.

Pairs: Two teams of two – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends.

Triples: Two teams of three – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends.

Fours (or Rinks): Two teams of four – the winning side is team to score most shots after agreed number of ends.

When you play in a team, what are the different positions?

In team games each member has a particular role. Below is a simple description of the roles of each player in a fours game:


The Lead is the first to play. The Lead places the mat, delivers the jack and centres it before attempting to bowl as close as possible to the jack.


The Seconds play after the Leads have each played their two bowls. The Second may be asked to play a variety of different shots by their skip depending on what the Leads have done. The second may be asked to complete the scorecard.


The Third may be called upon to play different shots in order to score more or to place bowls tactically to protect an advantage. In addition, the Third is also responsible for advising the skip when requested and agreeing the number of shots with their opposite number each end and measuring as required.


The Skip has overall responsibility for the rink and should be an experienced and capable player to offer assistance to new bowlers. The Skip’s duties include directing the development of each end, overall responsibility for the rink as well as settling any disputed points with the opposite Skip – especially in the event of no umpire being present. They must also complete the score card but may delegate this duty to another member of their team, usually the second.

What are the dimensions of the playing surface?

Outdoor bowls is played on a flat grass (or artificial) surface called the ‘green’ that should be either rectangular or square. The length of the green in the direction of play should be between 31 metres and 40 metres.

The green is divided into sections called ‘rinks’ which should be between a minimum of 4.3 metres and a maximum of 5.8 metres wide for outdoor play.

Surrounding the green is a ditch, and a bank where markers indicate the boundaries and centre lines of each rink.

Each game is split into individual ends. At the start of each end one player will place the mat on the centre line of the rink and deliver the jack. The jack is then put on the centre line at the other end of the rink. The jack must be a minimum of 23 metres from the mat at the start of the end.

Glossary of Terms


When (for a right-handed player) the bowl is delivered so the curve of the bowl is from the left to right.


The shape of the bowl which causes it to curve.


The moment the bowl leaves the hand.


The gully around the green. If a bowl ends up in the ditch and it is not a ‘toucher’ then it doesn’t count.


A bowl delivered at the correct weight, and with correct line, to arrive exactly where you want.


The sequence of play from the moment the mat is placed down until all bowls have been delivered and you know who has won. A bit like a game in tennis!

Foot fault 

If you don’t deliver the bowl with part of your foot on or above the mat.


When (for the right-handed player) the bowl is delivered so that the curve of the bowl is from the right to left.


The total playing area. There are usually 6 rinks on each green.


The little round target ball to which you’re trying to get your bowls closest.


The rectangular shaped mat from which the bowler must deliver the jack and/or bowl.

Pace of Weight 

The amount of force with which the bowl is delivered to execute a particular shot.


The rectangular strip of the green, between 4 and 6 metres wide, on which the game takes place.


Position adopted on the mat prior to delivery.


The bowl that is nearest the jack at any stage of play.


A bowl that hits the jack during its original course. This bowl still counts as a live wood, even if it ends up in the ditch.