How Do Points Work In Lawn Bowls? | Lawn Bowls Scoring Explained

  • By: Reece Williams
  • Time to read: 3 min.

To win a game of bowls, you need to score more than your opponent. But how do you get points? And how does the scoring work?

These are some of the early questions new bowlers have, and whilst in can seem a bit confusing to start with, you soon get the hang of it!

In this guide I’ll go over the basic rules for lawn bowls, how you score points (known as “shots”), how you decide what shots are scored, and when this all happens during a game.

Lets take a closer look.

How to score in lawn bowls

Scoring in lawn bowls is simple. You get a point for each bowl that is closer to the jack than your opponent’s nearest.

An example of how a game is scored

In the example above, the player with the blue bowls would score 3 – as he has 3 bowls closer than the nearest red one.

The counting is done after all players have bowled all of their bowls. This is known as an “end” and a game of lawn bowls is made up of many ends – often up to 21.

You can find out more by reading my guide on how long is a game of bowls.

How do you decide on the shots in lawn bowls

Scores are worked out by the players from both teams. Once the end is done a nominated player from each team. They will:

  1. assess where the bowls have finished
  2. they will decide between them which they think is the closest – this is usually easy to see – this decides who won the end
  3. the nominated player from the winning team will then “ask” for how many shots they think they have
  4. it is up to the losing player to either agree, or use a measure (a bit like a tape measure, but with string) to work out which bowls are closest

Ideally, both players will agree on the score without using the measure This is because using the measure can be time consuming, and delays the game.


If there is any doubt over which bowls are closest, it is usually recommended you use a bowls measure to work it out definitively.

Examples of lawn bowls measures

To use a measure you must first decide which bowls you are measuring. Normally you decide which bowl is closest for the losing team first.

You will then measure to that first, and then compare it to the winning teams’s bowls to see how many are closer, and therefore score a point.

To do this you:

  1. place the pointy end against the jack so that the measure points towards the first bowl. Just be careful to not move it by accident
  2. press down on the button on the top of the measure. This releases the string so you can pull it out
  3. whilst ensuring there is tension in the string place the plastic tip of the string to the first bowl. you should be able to scrap against the closest part of the bowl (this is usually the rounded running surface of the bowl is on it’s side)
  4. once you are happy with the measure release the button. This holds the string in place
  5. reposition the measure so the pointy end is again against the jack, but in the direction of the second bowl
  6. pull the string out towards the bowl. If the plastic end doesn’t reach then the first bowl is closer, if it goes beyond the closest point of the bowl the second bowl is closer
  7. If its very close you can always repeat this against the first bowl to confirm
  8. This measure can then be used against any other bowls you want to measure against


Bowls is a simple game. Whoever gets closest to the jack wins, and if you get a point for every bowl that is closer than your opponent’s nearest one.

It’s a game based on respect, so the teams will decide amongst themselves to see who has won, and by how many. Even when a measure is used, both teams must be in agreement as to the result for it to count.