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The Villages - Florida's premier active adult retirement community is situated within three counties, Lake, Marion and Sumter, in Central Florida. One of its numerous sporting activities is lawn bowls, played on a grass green in the Rio Grande Neighborhood Center.

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Bowls, or lawn bowling as it is known, is a sport that men and women of all ages can play together on an equal basis.Physical strength plays a small part in this game. Skill and strategy are the real factors.

Members enjoy competing in tournaments hosted by our club and at other clubs around the state as well. For social bowls (mixed), teams are 2, 3 or 4 people. Since there are no set teams, you are not obligated to be there every day.

One of the best things about lawn bowling is it doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment. All you need is a pair of flat soled shoes, and you're on your way. We will provide everything else you need to get you started off on the right foot.We welcome all visitors, so why not drop by see how the game is played.

Directions, current weather and more about the Club, click here.
Learn more about the game click here.
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The Game

Introduction to Lawn Bowling

Bowls (also known as Lawn Bowls or Lawn Bowling) is a precision sport where the goal is to roll slightly radially asymmetrical balls (called bowls) closer to a smaller white ball (the "jack") than one's opponent is able to do. This game is most popular in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and in other UK territories. In the United States, Bowls USA, the governing body, has over 2800 dues-paying members.

The game takes place on a 120 ft. square of closely cut grass called a green. A green can also be artifical turf or a green clay, also known as "rubico". The green is divided into rinks, 14-16 ft. wide, generally 8 rinks to a green.
Four types of games can be played:

First, a small white ball called a "jack" is delivered down the surface of the rink and centered. Then, standing on a mat and going alternately, players deliver (roll) their bowls, the aim being to have their bowls come to a stop as close as possible to the "jack". The trick is that the bowls are biased (eccentrically balanced) and, therefore, do not roll in a straight line, but curl towards the "jack". A player must decide where the bowl should come to rest and then deliver the bowl along this visualized "line of aim".

The "feel" of the green is another important element in the game and dictates the "weight" with which a bowl should be delivered: e.g., less weight for a fast green or short distance, more for a heavy green or long distance. The "jack" can be knocked and moved away (if lucky!) from the opponent and closer to one's own bowls.

The game is made up of a predetermined number of "ends" which consist of the playing of all the bowls of both sides in one direction on the rink. The first player lays the mat and, standing on it, rolls the jack up the green where it is centred by the "skip" (or, as in singles, the "marker"). The player then rolls the first bowl which is followed by one played by the opposition until both teams have played all their bowls. When the last bowl of the end has been played, the players decide who has the winning "shot(s)", how many, and the number is entered on the scorecard. A game generally lasts about two"line-height: "

Game Etiquette

Lawn Bowling etiquette is about good sportsmanship and common sense.
Here are some tips;

The History of Bowls

Lawn bowling, or "bowling on the green," is an outdoor game that has fascinated both young and old for centuries. The actual origin of the game is hidden in the haze of antiquity. We do, however, have authentic records of well over seven hundred years of bowling history. Sculptured vases and ancient plaques show the game being played some four thousand years ago, and archaeologists have uncovered biased stone bowls from 5,000 B.C. which indicate our ancestors enjoyed the game of bowling more than seven thousand years ago.

When Caesar rules Rome, the game was known as "Bocce," and the conquering Roman Legions may well have carried the game to Europe and the British Isles. By the thirteenth century, bowling had spread to France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, and England.

Bowling was so well established in England by 1299 A.D. that a group of players organized the Southhamptom Old Bowling Green Club, the oldest established bowling club in the world that is still active. The game became so popular in England and in France it was prohibited by law because archery, essential to the national defense, was being neglected. The French king, Charles IV, prohibited the game for the common people in 1319, and King Edward III issued a similar edict in England in 1361.

Scottish Heritage
Fortunately, bowling was not suppressed in Scotland, where it attained a popularity which has increased with the years. Scottish bowlers developed the present flat green game, established rules, worked out a uniform code of laws, and were instrumental in saving the game for posterity. The ancient game of bowls has always been dear to the heart of every true Scot, and it has always held a prominent place in the history and literature of Scotland. To the Scots goes the credit also for giving the game an international background, as emigrant Scots enthusiastically carried the game with them to all parts of the world.

Today there are more than 200 public bowling greens in the City of Glasgow alone. Every trade group has its own bowling league. Elaborate clubhouses, that completely enclose full-sized bowling greens for winter play, have recently become very popular in the British Isles, especially in Scotland. With this year round play, the game of bowls is reported to be rapidly outdistancing golf as the national game of Scotland.

Royal Heritage
Lawn bowling, or "bowls" has much literary and historical proof of being the real "Sport of Kings." From the time of Edward III, the game was restricted by royal decree to "Noblemen and others having manors or lands." Successive kings played and enjoyed the game. However, King Henry III, who had bowling greens installed at Whitehall, permitted the common people to play on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, no serious effort was made to enforce this ban, and of course it did not apply to Scotland. Almost every English monarch was a bowler, and the royal estates were all equipped with fine bowling greens. King James I was an ardent bowler, as was his son King Charles I. Both monarchs are reputed to have enjoyed playing for high stakes. King Charles, according to bowling tradition, lost over $5,000 in one encounter with a Barking Hill merchant named Richard Shute. A bowling green has been a permanent fixture at Windsor Castle. Anne Boleyn was a bowler, as were many noblewomen, including the first Princess Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The late Queen Mary, and King Edward V enjoyed the game of bowls. Edward VIII, now the Duke of Windsor, was president of the Royal Household Bowling club of Windsor Castle. His brother, the late George VI, was an enthusiastic bowler and patron of the English Bowling Association.

Noble Heritage
In the early days, it was fashionable for the aristocracy to have private bowling greens. Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary being invited to "play at bowls with the nobility and gentry." Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Water Raleigh, Victor Hugo, and Lord Macauley were all bowlers. British officers installed bowling greens in the American colonies in New York in 1725, and in Port Royal Canada in 1734. George Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller had private bowling greens on their estates in 1896.

Today, bowls is no longer solely a rich person's game. The world famous have played and enjoyed this game from ancient to modern times, ranging from Dr. Samuel Johnson to Dr. William Brady, and from Shakespeare to Walt Disney. Men play today on the very green at Plymouth Hoe where Sir Francis Drake and his captains bowled that memorable day in 1588 when the messenger arrived with the news of the invading Spanish Armada.

Literature, history and art all abound with references to this game, and we can indeed look back with pride on the noble heritage of our Royal and Ancient games of bowls. It may seem a little selfish, but some "old timers" dread the day when the American public really discovers this game. They picture bowling alleys deserted, golf courses neglected, and tennis courts empty, while waiting lines form at the bowling green; and there will be no royal decree to restrict this game to a favored few.

The American Scene
Lawn bowling appears to have been introduced into the American colonies in the1600s, although archaeologists have uncovered biased stone bowls, now in a museum at Vancouver, B.C. which indicate that a similar game was played be the North American Indians centuries before this. Bowling greens were recorded in Boston in 1615, New Amsterdam, as New York was then called, and not long afterwards in Washington and Virginia.

Bowling at Mount Vernon
In 1726 George Washington's father, Augustus, took over management of the family estate at Mount Vernon, and in 1732, the year George was born, constructed the bowling green. At this time the game was highly favored as a genteel pastime by the ranking officers of the British Colonial Army, and the green at Mt. Vernon was undoubtedly very popular. George grew up with the game, became an avid bowler in his youth, and apparently this love of the game was never lost. He kept the green busy through the years. By 1754 he had come into his inheritance and settled down with Martha. They kept up the family tradition of sponsoring bowling on the green as "suitable for the intelligentia and ranking army officers." The game abruptly lost its popularity during the Revolution. On July 4, 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, the Colonies were rent apart. Those still loyal to the British Crown fled to Canada, were imprisoned or killed, and their property confiscated. This wartime hysteria swept all thing British with it, including bowling greens. Greens were plowed up, converted to camp grounds, planted with flowers or trees, and hidden as much as possible. At Mount Vernon the abandoned green was planted with young full grown trees described as a rugged type of magnolia. One of these trees, "The Washington magnolia," planted in the garden entrance to the bowling green is reputed to be hale and hearty today. Apparently all local records went too, as our national archives had no record of bowling activity for this period until our first edition. Recent research by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union record authentic maps which date back to 1726, locate the bowling green, and confirm our previous reports.

Reviving the Sport
The game was not revived in the United States until 1879 when a bowler named Shepplin started a small private club in New Jersey. Soon this expanded to a second club and in 1885 the Middlesex Bowling Green Club was officially organized. New clubs appeared in Boston, and soon bowling greens were once again flourishing along the eastern seaboard. Fourteen years passed before the first West Coast club was formed. In 1899 the St. Andrews Society of San Francisco and Oakland combined to construct the first bowling green in the West in Golden Gate Park.

The first Southern California lawn bowling club was formed in Los Angeles about 1908, and today there are more than thirty active clubs and many private greens in this area.

About Us

One of the numerous sporting activities at The Villages, Florida's premier active adult retirement community, is lawn bowls, played on a grass green in the Rio Grande Neighborhood Center. Lawn bowls has been available here for many years and played on an informal basis. On 13th May, 2014 the Recreation Department approved the formation of a new club to be known as " The Villages Lawn Bowls Club".

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Since then, the Club has continued to grow and has had a steady increase of interest in the sport. Many different formats and games have been used since the new club was formed, including 4-3-2-1, singles, pairs, triples and Australian pairs. All of the new bowlers have become very proficient and some of the new bowlers who have joined the Southeast Division (SED) of Bowls USA are eager to take part in outside tournaments, including the annual Men's Pairs at Sun City Center, FL. and the Lakeland Men versus Women Tournament held every January.

The SED is the second largest geographical division of Bowls USA, the organization that governs the sport of bowls in the U.S.A. The SED is comprised of lawn bowling clubs in the seven southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The green at The Villages, with the assistance of the crew and very knowledgeable lead person now appointed to take care of the golf courses and green spaces, has undergone some renovation and is playing and looking excellent. Seven rinks are now available for play having been readjusted from the previous over regulation size six rinks.

Bowling is available year round to residents and guests at the facility and beginners and experienced bowlers are welcome to join the club where free coaching lessons, games, league and tournament play are available.

Croquet is also played on the Green. For more information about The Villages Croquet Club, visit

Club Officers

Henry Landsberg

John Garbett

Vern Griffin

Scott Chamberlain



The Villages Lawn Bowls Club
Rio Grande Neighborhood Center,
1228 Rio Grande Ave., The Villages, Florida 32159

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© 2015- The Villages Lawn Bowls Club