bowls, ancient sport (the bocce of Caesar's Rome is still played by Italians), especially popular in Great Britain and Australia, known as lawn bowls or bowling on the green in the United States. It was played in America before the American Revolution (hence Bowling Green in numerous place names), but later declined in popularity. Christian Schepflin revived the game in 1879 by forming the Dunellen (N.J.) Bowling Club. The usual "bowling green" is about 120 ft (36.58 m) square and is divided into six alleys, or rinks, each of which is 20 ft (6.1 m) wide and 120 ft long. A small white ball, called a jack, is thrown on the alley by one of the players at some spot not less than 25 yd (22.86 m) from the bowling mat. The object of the game is to roll a ball—weighing 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) and made biased so as to swerve while rolling—as close to the jack as possible, and, if necessary, to dislodge balls previously thrown by opponents. The American Lawn Bowls Association (founded 1915) standardizes rules in the United States; it is one of 10 national groups affiliated with the International Bowling Board (founded 1905). The sport called curling, played on ice, is related to bowls.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.