I will probably be posting a lot about bowling and as marius has asked for an explanation, I will see if I can explain for the non-player.
Bowling is played on a green which is a square of grass which is flat (or supposed to be). The version I play is known as Lawn Bowls, there is a slight variant known as crown bowls, the real main difference to crown bowls is no rinks, a rink is explained below.
A bowling green
The square is surrounded by a ditch, which is usually about 2 inches deep and lined with stones or carpet.
The object of the game is to get closest to the white or jack, usually a small ball about 3 or 4 inches in diameter and the bowls are about 7 or 8 inches in diameter you have between 2 and 4 bowls depending on the format of the game. The bowls are round and have what is known as a bias, this means that one side is weighted and the weights can vary. This means that the bowl is thrown out so that it will bend back to the jack. and travels in an arc, this again can vary depending on the flatness of the green.
Image of bowls and a jack.
You place the mat, a rubber mat about 2 feet long 1 foot wide which you must throw from. You throw the jack to the preferred length there are minimums and maximums but the minimum is 23 metres. maximum is 2 metres from the ditch which can be different depending on the green you are playing on. So the jack is set to the middle of the rink and you then take turns throwing the bowls to try and get as close to the jack as possible. After all the bowls have been thrown the closest bowl wins the shot and you get as many shots as bowls you have closer than your opponent. e.g. 2 bowls closer than your opponent 2 shots and so on.
When all the bowls have been thrown and the shots decided this is called an end, you can play to either a shot total or a prescribed number of ends.
Singles - one person v another person usually you have 4 bowls each and you play ends until somebody reaches 21 shots.
Pairs - 2 people v 2 people, 4 bowls each you play 17 ends.
Pairs - 2 people v 2 people, 2 bowls each you play 21 ends.
Triples - 3 people v 3 people, 3 bowls each you play 15 ends.
Rink - 4 people v 4 people, 2 bowls each you play 17 ends.
Sometimes games can be different such as 2 bowl singles, 2 bowl triples, 3 bowl pairs and 21 ends in the rink game.
League format, the leagues I play in is 4 Rinks, 17 ends 1 point per rink and 1 for the overall team score. Therefore you are playing for 5 points and the score can be split such as 3-2. Another league i play in is the same format but 2 points for a winning a rink and 1 for the aggregate so playing for 9 points.
The green is usually divided in to 6 rinks, this means it can be played north to south or east to west. The rinks are measured to mins and maxs but can vary per green. If a bowl goes outside the rink then it is a dead bowl and taken off, if a bowl goes into the ditch at the end of the rink then it is also considered dead. If the bowl touches the bowl then it is considered a toucher or chalker as it is marked with chalk, either a stick or spray. If this bowl then goes into the ditch it is still considered live. If the jack goes into the ditch it is considered live, if it goes out the side of the rink then it is a 'burnt' end and in most cases has to be replayed.
Therefore your league team is 16 players, divided into 4 rinks of 4, there is a prescribed order that is played in, always you bowl your opponent bowls, in the rink game there are 16 bowls on the rink in play.
The Lead - He is responsible for setting the mat, in the middle of the rink minimum 2 metres from the ditch and 23 metres from 2 metres from the opposite ditch. He also throws the jack to the preferred length a skill in it's own, he then plays first.
The second - he throws second and is also responsible for keeping the score card and responsibility.
The third - Can you guess when he goes? Of course after the second, he obviously has 8 bowls on the rink before he plays so has to be a more skillful player to navigate the bowls that are perhaps not that close to the jack.
The Skip - Last to bowl and usually the best player in the rink, he has 12 bowls to navigate and as he is last if not holding the shot might have to take action to sort this out, they are usually considered the capt of their rink. It is also up to them to tell the first three what they should attempt to do with their bowls.
As you can see it seems like quite a lot to take in, essentially it is a simple game about being closest to the jack at the end of the end you are playing and scoring more shots than your opponent. tactics can come in at the end of the game as you might be losing but your team is winning then it is important to make sure the aggregate score comes in your favour.
Bowling is played by men and women from 10 years to 80 years, but no maximum if you are fit enough to play. We will play in any weather as long as the rain has not flooded the green or that it will cause damage to the green. The leagues i play in are male leagues, but i am representing my club in the mixed pairs Scottish qualifiers, i am essentially 10 games away from being the Scottish champion in that game, but we will not get carried away still have to win the first game.
Bowls is played at club level, you can proceed to county when you are selected to play for your area, then there is the international level.
I have played bowls since i was 13 and as I am now 31 i have been playing for 18 years and I love it, my dad and 2 uncles also play, so a family game and the club is a community where you know people, there are fights and good times but it is a place to socialise, which is a big part of the game, usually a couple of drinks are taken during the game and a couple after where you and your opponent celebrate and commiserate together.
The best part for me in the league i a in I have played and beat Scottish International players and county players, they are better because they have the consistency to play well all the time, but sometimes you can beat them, everybody has an off day.
Bowling has for a long time been a game for the older generation, some of the babes that play bowls.
You also play indoor bowls which is played in the winter, same basic rules but you have no weather to contend with and you play on a carpet, which is like playing on a snooker or pool table sometimes, same game different sport altogether.
Well writing that was harder than i thought it would be but there is the game of bowls, i hope you now have an understanding of what i do every Wednesday and Friday fro 16 weeks every summer and will celebrate with me when I win and commiserate when I lose.
Any questions please feel free to comment and i will try and answer them.
Yours in bowling Andrew