History of Bowls



See Our Club for history of Palo Alto Lawn bowls.

See also:

Equipment Glossary

Download The Basics of Bowling.
One PDF page with diagram.

Lois and Glenn still going strong. They are rumoured to be in the 80+ age bracket!

Tony and Fred enjoy a busy day on the green as skippers.

The history of bowls has been traced back to the ancient Egyptians. It is believed they played with stones - probably selecting the small round ones that weren't any good for building pyramids with anyway. The English, of course, wanted to machine perfectly spherical ones from fine lumber they obtained from remote parts of the empire.

Until one day someone's bowl split in two. And he put a simple knob to replace the broken half which lead him to immediately discover he could bowl curved shots and sneak around other bowls near the jack. Today all bowls have a certain built in bias.

In Italy it became Bocce Balls. In France it became Boile. In England it became Lawn Bowls or simply Bowling. In the USA it became ten pin bowling after someone lost the instructions and rules on the way over. But we do know Sir Francis Drake played bowls - and in one famous game - told his men not to worry - he would finish the game before taking up arms against the invaders.

Nowadays most bowls and bowling equipment comes from Australia where the sport is very popular. The bias of some different models is shown in the diagram.

Our thanks to LawnBowlsUSA and Henselite for diagram reproduction permission.

See Glossary of Terms too.

San Francisco Clubhouse - since 1901

And still the coldest place to bowl in midsummer when the fog rolls over Golden Gate Park.



Ed Walker still showing great form at the end of a long cold summer day on the fast greens of San Francisco. He finished out of the money, unlike our Peter Knopf who was PIMD tournament organizer and on the winning team.

And just to show the long history of bowls, a final quote from Shakespeare himself (Richard II, Act III, Scene IV):

Queen: What sport shall we devise here in this garden,
To drive away the heavy thought of care?

First Lady: Madam, we'll play at bowls.

Queen: 'Twill make me think the world is full of rubs.
And that my fortune runs against the bias



(C) Copyright 2008 PALBC - Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club