What is a Set in Lawn Bowls Scoring?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: July 9, 2023

Here is how sets in lawn bowls work. A set in lawn bowls is a way to split up a game into smaller sections prior to play starting. For instance, the Controlling Body of the competition can state that a game of 18 ends will be split into three sets of 6 ends, with the winner of set getting an extra point.

Traditional team lawn bowls scoring involves building up points over a certain number of ends to find a winner. Traditionally in singles the first player to reach 21 points wins the game. However, there has been a move to play team and singles games in lawn bowls using sets.

Reasons for a set in lawn bowls.

The reason for sets in lawn bowls scoring are 1) to add interest to the game for players and spectators alike, 2) to speed up a game that might otherwise be tediously long and 3) to make the length of a game controllable. A game that the organisers know will take a certain time makes it feasible to televise or live stream bowls games in a pre-determined time slot.

Please look at the image above this article. It reflects the scoring used at the SA Masters in 2023. The Conditions of Play stated that the singles game would be played over two sets of nine ends each, with the winner of the set earning a point. In the event of a draw in points and sets, there would be a tie-breaker of three ends, with the winner getting an extra point.

In the photo above you can see that H. Potgieter won the first set.

More ways to use sets in lawn bowls

Another way to use sets in a team game is to split a game of 21 ends, for example, into three sets of seven. These are almost like mini-games within the game. The team that gets the most points in a set gets a point or two, depending on what the Conditions of Play say.

Sometimes there is confusion at the start of a game involving sets because the players are not sure if the team with the most points or the team that win the most ends in a set in lawn bowls gets the point(s) for that set. It is important to be clear what a set means before play starts.

Another reason to incorporate sets

Dividing a match into sets, whether this is organised formally or whether you simply do so in your head (for instance in a singles match to 21 ends) concentrates the mind wonderfully. It is easier to put a lost set behind you and concentrate on winning the next set than simply to play on and on to try and win the game as a whole. Mentally it is hard to just play on and on for several hours without there being some kind of break in the game. A completed set in lawn bowls does just that for the player.

Denoting a set won on a bowls scoreboard

Divide the scoreboard into the separate sets with a squiggly line down the middle (see photo). When a set is complete, write the points above or below the scores to show which team won the set and the points won for winning the set.

Skins in Lawn Bowls

What is a set on the bowling green?

The “word” set is used in many different ways in bowls: 1) A set of bowls refers to four identical bowls making up the full complement of bowls; 2) There are sets in some lawn bowls scorings format, as described; and 3) A set can refer to a little conglomeration of bowls (usually of one team’s bowls) in or near the head. In the latter example, a skip might say: “Draw a bowl in here just in front of this set”.