+603 2093 5355 Monday - Friday 09:00 - 17:00 National Lawn Bowls Centre, Bukit Kiara National Sports Complex

Lawn Bowls History

THE HISTORY OF
LAWN BOWLS

Perhaps the most famous historical game took place in 1588, with legend claiming that Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing a game of bowls at Plymouth even as the invading Spanish Armada approached.

There are numerous theories regarding the origin
of the sport, however archaeological findings from
Egypt suggest a sport with biased stone balls was
played close to 7000 years ago. A variation of the
sport, which later came to be known as ‘bocce’,
was popular in Rome in the days of Julius Caesar.
The spread of the Roman Empire may explain
the early introduction of the game to much of
Europe, while other variations of the game were
gradually appearing across the globe, from China
to Polynesia.
The oldest surviving bowling club is in
Southampton (England) and dates back to 1299,
and as the game grew in popularity in the 14th
Century, the respective kings of France and
England banned the sport as it was seen to
be distracting people from the militarily-critical
practice of archery. The sport is referenced in no
less than three of William Shakespeare’s plays,
at a time when it was almost exclusively played
by nobleman and punishment was enforced
when commoners were caught playing amongst
themselves.
The preferred style of play at the time was ‘crown
bowls’, perhaps a reference to the popularity of
the sport amongst the royals. The game was
played on an uneven grass surface until the
flat-green game was developed in Scotland

where it found a welcome home. The Scots also
developed a formal code of laws, the essence
of which still form many of the current rules and
regulations.
Perhaps the most famous historical game took
place in 1588, with legend claiming that Sir
Francis Drake insisted on finishing a game of
bowls at Plymouth even as the invading Spanish
Armada approached.
As the British colonised much of the world, so
did the sport of lawn bowls spread: to Australia,
Canada and the United States amongst others.
Although the sport has never reached great
heights in the United States, George Washington’s
father Augustus was a keen competitor and is
believed to have commenced construction of a
bowling green in 1732, the year of George’s birth.
In the late 1800s, national bowling associations
were being established across the globe. The
Royal Victorian Bowling Association (Australia)
was formed in 1880, while the Scottish Bowling
Association came into existence in 1892.
Today there are more than 55 member National
Authorities in 51 Member Nations, with the
prestigious World Bowls Championships taking
place every 4 years.