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Templecombe Indoor Bowling Club - About The Game


Short mat bowls was first made as a much longer version that is still around today from Ireland. There are many differences between long mat bowls and short mat bowls and the list is located at the bottom of this page. Often when asked about bowls peoples minds automatically jump towards the long-mat version of the sport, short mat bowls was made to be played all year around and inside. So that where the short mat game comes into it's own - it is also usually a lot more contested and to an extent more enjoyable. Bowls is just the name given to the sport. When playing bowls the game you can tell that the game is a lot different to the longer-mat version and is very popular especially in England.   

Very often, there is insufficient space for several full-size bowls strips indoors. For that reason, a second popular indoor variant called Short Mat Bowls, with characteristics all of its own, has become established with a really big following all over Britain and Ireland is really a miniaturized version of the outdoor game to enable it to be played more easily indoors while keeping as many of the features as possible. It is played on a mat measuring 40-45 x 6 feet with full-size bowls, the mat being easily rolled up and put away for convenience. There is a ditch but this is simply an area marked at the end of the mat with white fenders and to compensate for the shorter distance an intimidating block is placed in the centre of the mat. This makes it impossible for a bowler to aim a fast straight bowl at the jack area - all bowls must use the bias to curl around the block to their target.

The short mat bowls game was first played in South Wales by two South Africans who came to work in the area. They had played bowls outdoors in South Africa and, perhaps due to the poor climate and the long close season in this country, they began to play a simulation of the outdoor game on a strip of carpet in a church hall. Some time later, they moved to Northern Ireland and took the new game with them. Rules and conditions of play were drawn up and the game soon became well established in the Province. It was introduced into England by Irish expatriates, but development was slow until the 1980's when its potential as a low cost sport for people of all ages was realised. The English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) was formed in 1984, and is now the governing body of the sport in England.

Here is a summary of the primary differences between and Short Mat Bowls:

Here is a look at a short mat green.