How Do You Play Skins in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 6, 2023

Playing skins in lawn bowls the South African way concentrates the mind wonderfully because every single point counts. An overall win may just not be good enough. As a result, the results in a skins game of lawn bowls give a better representation of the performance of each team. That is because their performance in each and every end makes a big difference.

The game is in fact divided up into a number of mini-games that must be won.

Bowlers typically play skins in a competition, in a format where the game can be divided into equal parts e.g. 18 ends = 3 skins of 6 ends each, 15 ends = 3 skins of 5 ends each and 10 ends = 2 skins of five ends each. Each skin is a mini-game that must be won on points.

(Sometimes there is confusion when playing skins. Players don’t know if they must count the points won or the ends won. Typically the points are counted, but it is worth checking with the Controlling Body of the competition just to make sure).

This kind of skins is played elsewhere such as in Hong Kong, where it is called Tiger Skins.

How does skins scoring work in bowls?

In the photo there was a game of 18 ends. The ultimate score was a tie but Andre’s team won all the skins so his team won more points overall.

Typical skins rules in South African lawn bowls are:

  • Two points for a win
  • One point each in the event of a peel (i.e. in the event that the teams draw overall)
  • Two points for winning a skin
  • One point if there is a peel (i.e. both teams win the same number of points in the skin)

Usually, in a competition, each team has a card where all the points are noted. The skips sign each other’s cards and the umpire checks the scores against the board, then she signs the card too.

In the unlikely event of a draw in each skin and a draw overall, then a tie break will apply. This means that the teams play three ends to determine a winner.

Are there other types of skins games?

There are other kinds and all of them have to do with prize money. South Australian, Julian Haines, Elimination Skins and South African skins all involve prize money per end. These formats are good for busy, sophisticated clubs in towns and cities – not so much for clubs in villages and rural areas. All these formats make exciting and interesting club tournaments