What is a Draw in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 16, 2023

To draw in lawn bowls means to deliver a bowl directly towards the jack with the sole purpose of bringing it to a halt as close to the jack as possible. When the player succeeds in getting the bowl close to the jack the skip is likely to say: “Nice draw” or “Well drawn”.

In the photo it is evident that the players are trying to get their bowls as close to the jack as they can. It looks easy to do but it’s not. The players must adjust their lines, their weight and adjust to the weather and surface conditions to achieve a good draw.

Is every bowl delivered meant to be a draw?

Sometimes trying to draw a shot is simply not possible. However, the draw is the basis of lawn bowls delivery. Most of the time players try to draw the shot.

In a singles game nearly 100% of bowls delivered are intended to be draws. Ideally, each player wants his bowl to go directly to the jack without deviating from the line envisaged. Of course, that is not always possible. The bowl might go too wide or too narrow, or it will be short of the jack or the player will play the shot too heavily, ending up way beyond the jack. Or his bowl might knock into front bowls, sending it off course.

Pairs matches are also predominantly drawing games but because the players play with four bowls each, the head becomes congested with bowls near to the completion of the end. In that case the players may play other kinds of shots such as firm shots, running shots or even chop-and-lie shots in an effort to get their bowls nearer to the jack.

In trips the lead and second try to draw the shot, although the second must be able to play more ambitious shots if called by the skip.

For the fours game (or rinks as it is also called) the front rank (leads and seconds) try to draw shots.
The third will play whatever type of shot the skip calls for, while the skip must improve the head (i.e. draw more shots if his team is lying shot) or somehow draw the shot, move the jack or move other bowls so his team’s bowls lie the shot.

There is nothing better in bowls than a brilliant draw

At the end of the day, bowls is a drawing game. Look at this brilliant shot in an indoor bowls competition to see what this means. To draw accurately like this takes much skill and years of practice and experience. It was interesting to read Nick Greene’s comment on his achievement and it’s worth remembering it when next you have to play a difficult shot where the jack is surrounded by bowls:

“But if you imagine that the other balls are not there, you’re still just trying to draw to the jack.”

from Slate interview