About Short Mat Bowls

This is a brief introduction to the game of Short Mat Bowls. The best way to appreciate the intricacies of the sport is to come and try it. Short mat bowls is adapted from the outdoor sport of lawn bowls so the rules are very similar. The object is to get as many woods (bowls) as possible near to the smaller target bowl (jack).

Hardwick plays Short Mat Bowls indoors all-year round. Our mat is 45ft (14m) long by 6ft (1.8m) wide.  The difficulty of the game is increased by the wooden block which is placed in the centre of the mat. Players must avoid their bowl hitting the block.Short-Mat-Diagram-Horizontal.jpg.

Each bowl (or wood) has a 'bias' which causes the bowl to follow a curved path. The actual path depends greatly on the speed with which the bowl is released. The bowl must go round the centre block, not go off the mat sides, nor hit the wooden fender at the end, while hopefully ending up somewhere near the jack.

The game is played by two teams (1 to 4 players per team) with each player having 2 to 4 bowls each. The bowls are delivered alternately by each team. When one team member has delivered all their bowls the next team member takes their turn. An ‘End’ is complete when every team member has delivered all their bowls. The number of ends in a match is decided before the start.


When an end is complete, each of a team’s woods which are nearer to the jack than any of the opponents’ woods count as a scoring ‘shot’. Obviously, the victorious team is the one with the most shots when the match is finished.