New Members

Welcome to all those playing Lawn Bowls at Ferntree Gully for the first time. And if you are still thinking about joining, take the plunge and join us now!

This segment of our website is designed to provide novice bowlers with an insight into what is expected of a bowler for the Ferntree Gully Bowling Club. The segment will be added to regularly to ensure that new members are not left in the dark. Having said that, our senior  members are always approachable with any queries new bowlers may have.

Lawn Bowls remains a very “polite” game (though some might disagree) and whereas no one has ever been rubbed out for a head-high tackle, there are still a number of expectations of players in both the competitive and the social aspects of the game. Refer to the page on “Etiquette” elsewhere on this site for a resume of these rules, some of which are enshrined in the Regulations, others which have built up with the traditions of the game.

1. Information Sheet

Uniform: First, let us put on record the uniform requirements. Both in social bowls and competitive bowls, anywhere, footwear must be flat-soled i.e no ripple patterns, dimples, sprigs etc. This is to ensure the integrity of the surfaces on which we play, particularly grass. Pennant bowlers, both men and women, should wear the club shirt (white with a green and yellow club logo) and preferably green shorts, trousers or slacks. The green trousers are obligatory for our first and second pennant teams, and encouraged at all other levels. If green is not worn, trousers and shorts must be white. Club shirts are available at the clubrooms, and regular consignments of the green trousers are sometimes available. There is also a weather-proof jacket bearing the club logo available. Headwear is not quite as stringent. Baseball-style caps are available in the Club’s colours, but most players, given the open-air nature of our game, prefer a broad brimmed white hat.

2. Playing Pennant

As a novice bowler, you will more often than not commence your career as”Lead” for your team. More will be made of the various positions in later articles. A Pennant team consists of four players, each permitted two bowls each, and there will be four such teams representing the Club in each Divisional match. In order of play, players are-: Lead, Second, Third and Skip. As from season 2011 a match will be 21 Ends.

Let us enumerate the various responsibilities of a pennant player at Ferntree Gully.

  • Determine what team you are playing for, your position in that team, the venue at which you are playing and, if Away, the time of departure from the clubrooms. Team selections listed on this website will be accurate until Friday evening. Any changes after that time will be conveyed to the player by the Selection Committee.
  • If you are making your way to an Away venue independently, make sure you have entered your name on the “Direct Travel” list on the Clubroom noticeboard. In such a case, ensure that you know the whereabouts of the opposing club’s rinks. Melway references will be given on the Selections page.
  • If leaving from the clubrooms, ensure that you introduce yourself to a member, or members of your team. It’s a big club, and your team mates may not know you.
  • There are a few “administrative” tasks involved in a Pennant match, and these tasks are doled out to the members of each team
  • One member of each side will be appointed as Team Manager, and it is that person’s responsibility to meet with the opposing team Manager prior to the game, and determine the rinks, toss for possession of the mat, and to verify the result at the end of the game. The Team Manager is also responsible for returning all paperwork to the Club.
  • “Lead” gets off pretty lightly. If playing at Home, the Lead ensures that mats and the jack are returned to the clubroom at the conclusion of the match.
  • “Second” has the responsibility of collecting the Rink Fees from each player, and returning those fees to the Team Manager. From 2015 it has become the Second’s responsibility to keep the scores, including completion and verification of the score card and, if at home, ensuring the rink and match scoreboards are up to date. At the conclusion the score cards are verified and signed in conjunction with the opposing Second. Completed scorecard is handed to the Team Manager. Other  paperwork applicable on the day include -:
  • Assessment sheet – Under the new proposal, first trialled in 2013, the Assessment sheet is under the control of the Skip, who may or may not delegate the task to another player. Individual bowls are scored as to their merit, and this information will be conveyed by the Skip. The Skip’s two bowls should be assessed by another member based on the same criteria.
  • Best and Fairest Vote (Saturday and Tuesday Pennant ) – these are for our Don Alexander Medal (Saturday), and the Betty Kryggier Medal (Tuesady) and are given to the Skip, who will request a member of the opposing team to assess the votes for the match.
  • Score Card, which is given to the Second. See details above.
  • At the end of the match, all such documents, correctly completed, are returned to the Team Manager, with the Rink Fees, and deposited in the receptacle kept for that purpose. (It tends to move around a bit, so just ask someone.) If the team manager is not returning to the Club this task may be delegated to someone else.
  • And the final responsibility? Enjoy your game.
2A – Your Bowls

Prior to commencing your match, the two bowls you intend using should be placed at the edge of the rink. This is apparently so an umpire, or anyone else, can check the validity of the bowls. I have never actually seen this happen, but they are the rules. Of more importance is that your bowls must be identified with your Club name. In our Club, this takes the form of some adhesive circular labels, affixed to the flat sides of your bowls. These are available from the Club, and generally a supply is kept behind the bar. This is a most important pre-season task.

2B – Practising your Bowls

While acknowledging that practicing the many types of shot is important for a new bowler, you should aso endeavor to develop a correct release. Greenkeepers universally take a dim view of bowls landing on their greens from a great height. This is called “dumping” and is frowned upon most particularly on grass greens, and for obvious reasons. Learn, or be coached, in putting your bowl down smoothly on the surface of the green.

3. The Pennant Team – Part 1 The Lead.

(reproduced in part from a series of articles in “Bowls in Victoria” Feb 1994 R. Middleton)

The Lead is the most important member of the team. Let’s commence by dispelling some myths about the Lead position.

  • It is NOT the position where you bury your worst bowler, or your most inexperienced bowler, although it is true that most novices will commence their careers as Lead.
  • It is not true that you will be expected to draw a resting toucher with every bowl (although it would be nice!)
  • It is not true, that once you have delivered your two bowls, you can kick back, relax, and wait until you wander down the other end.

The required skills of a good Lead bowler are listed here in point form.

  • Placing the Mat – exclusively your territory. Be aware of your Skip’s requirements in the positioning of the mat. Early in a match you may be at liberty to place the mat where you want to, but as the tactics of the game become important, the positioning of the mat will be conveyed to you by the Skip. Always place the mat by facing towards the rink marker at your end. This enables you to line the mat correctly with the reference line.
  • Delivering the Jack: you need to be able to deliver the jack/kitty/cake – the little round ball – to the position indicated by the Skip. He/She will do this by standing on the line at the position the jack should be delivered to. If the Skip doesn’t have to move, you will probably get an appreciative clap. Note that the delivery does not have to be dead straight, but if the jack goes out of bounds, the opposing Lead gets to reposition the mat, and deliver the jack.
  • For novices, therefore, practicing rolling the jack should take almost as much time as perfecting your draw. And remember, there are different weight jacks for different surfaces. The white jack used on grass is considerably lighter than the yellow jack used on synthetic. You need to be able to adapt.
  • The Lead needs to perfect the Draw shot; it would be rare for a Lead to be asked to play any sort of forcing shot, so perfecting the art of the Draw is a Lead’s primary training regime. In a match, you must endeavour to get both of your bowls in the scoring zone. “One in the head, one behind” is an outcome favoured by many Skips. Short bowls (by any memebr of the team) are of negligible use,  so you must get used to drawing to the jack.
  • Never get disappointed by watching all your good work blasted out of existance by the opposition. Be positive in the thought that your bowl/s have forced the opposition to change their tactics.
  • Finally, once your two bowls have been delivered, you should remain at the End to give encouragement and support to your team mates following. For novices, watch and learn how the head develops, how your Skip plans the requirements of the next bowl.
3. The Pennant Team – Part 2 – The Second

(reproduced in part from a series of articles in “Bowls in Victoria” March 1994 R. Middleton)

The Second is the most important member of the team.

Ideally, the Second is the most versatile bowler on the team. He/she should be capable of producing a wide array of shots, aimed at either consolidating the head, as set up by the lead, rescuing the head, if the lead has not played to expectations, or taking back control of the head, if the opposing Lead has grabbed the initiative. The Second should therefore be capable of accurate draw bowling on either hand, as well as having the capability of playing accurate forcing shots or weighted deliveries, with the intention of breaking up a negative head, while still remaining in the scoring area. An accurate drive will also be called upon sometimes. The Second, in summary, should have the ability to play position bowls, as required, to any area in or around the head.

3 The Pennant Team – Part 3 – The Third

(reproduced in part from an article in “Bowls in Victoria” April 1994, R Middleton)

The Third is the most important member of the Team. The Third must be a communicator, as he/she acts as the “eyes” of the Skip at the head. The Skip will most likely have a good idea of what he/she is going to bowl when they leave the head, but the situation at the head will most likely change, and the Third must be able to accurately convey that information to the Skip. (You are not permitted to take measurements until the end is completed, so you must have a good eye.) At the conclusion of the end, the Third must be able to measure properly and accurately, and not be afraid to call for the Umpire if it is too close to call. Those intending making a career out of being Third are encouraged to learn the correct way of taking measurement. As a bowler, the Third must be versatile, and competent in all shots – the draw, on either hand, to rescue a damaged, or poor head, a weighted, or forcing shot to remove a troublesome opposition bowl, or the jack, while still remaining in play, and an accurate drive. As with every position, the Third should be on hand to lend support to the Lead and Second during their turn at the mat.

3. The Pennant Team – Part 4 – The Skip.

(reproduced in part from an article in “Bowls in Victoria” May 1994, R Middleton)

The Skip is the most important member of the team. The Skip is not necessarily the most proficient bowler in the team. Certainly, he/she must possess, and be competent in, a wide array of shots, but the Skip must also possess the qualities of a tactitian, of being able to instruct his/her team to build a head to the teams advantage, and/or to anticipate the tactics of the opposing team and plan his own team’s strategy accordingly. The Skip must display a positive attitude towards the team, being ready to congratulate good play, and offer encouragement, rather than criticism for any bad play. Attitude is integral to the position of Skip. As a bowler, the Skip must be supremely accurate with the draw shot. The last four bowls of an end are the “make or break” bowls, and more points will be scored or saved with an accurate draw, than with a low-percentage drive, which many Skips believe they must employ. Finally, the Skip should have a clear understanding of the existing head as he/she leaves to bowl, and must show confidence in the instructions of the Third should the nature of the head change.

3. The Pennant Team – Part 5 – The Team

(reproduced in part from Peter Belliss “Perfect Bowls”,Ch 16.

The assertion at the beginning of the last four paragraphs was quite deliberate. Every member of the teamis the most important member of the team, because it is only in that acknowledgement that the four people who are playing together can regard themselves as a team. When four individuals can recognise the importance of each position, can acknowledge their several attributes and deficiencies, and are prepared to support both, and can coalesce this recognition into one achievable goal, then they can say, “I am part of a team, playing for my Club”, rather than, “I am having a game of bowls with these three guys.” In an ideal world, a successful Four practises together, as well as playing together, but Club Bowls is far from an ideal world, as Selection issues invariably arise. Nevertheless, this should be considered as a desirable outcome if possible.