Taken from an article on the Bowls Victoria website
Bowls (often referred to as “Lawn Bowls”) is one of the largest participation sports in Victoria with more than 60,000 registered bowlers and hundreds of thousands of people of all ages who play various casual forms of the game. eg barefoot bowls, social bowls, corporate bowls, and party bowls.
Dating back to origins in Egyptian times, “Bowls”, “Bowling on The Green”, “Bocce”, “Lawn Bowling” has been around for several thousand years.
Historians suggest the game made its way from ancient Egypt across Europe with Julius Caesar’s centurions.
In the 14th Century, bowls was banned for commoners in France and England because, due to its popularity, participation in archery, essential for defence, was declining.
The Royal Victorian Bowls Association (RVBA) was established in 1880, and the Victorian Ladies’ Bowling Association (VLBA) in 1907 making it the first ladies’ bowling association in the world.
In 2009/2010 a transition took place that saw Bowls Victoria replace the RVBA and VLBA bodies, so that now all of the administration for lawn bowls in Victoria is handled by one parent association. At a national level Bowls Australia oversight the State associations and also liaises with the World Bowls administration body.
Why is it so popular?
Bowls has some unique qualities:
1. Easy to learn – a novice can pick up the basics in half an hour – and spend the next 50 years trying to master it. Having mastered the basics, one can compete at a level appropriate to the mastery achieved and enjoy doing so for many, many years.
2. Open to everyone – people of all abilities/disabilities.
People of all ages from 5 to 99 can play. People who have been outstanding athletes in other sporting pursuits play with and against many who were never likely to be great athletes, but who can really play bowls! People in wheelchairs, people with visual impairment, people with hearing disorders, people with other intellectual or physical disabilities – all can play the game with people of similar impairments or alongside able-bodied bowlers with little or no modifications to the game itself.
3. It is an inexpensive sport when compared to most. Membership of a Bowls Club varies from $60 to perhaps $180 for a full year. Opportunities to “drop in” and “have a bowl” are offered by most Victorian Bowls Clubs through FREE Come-and-Try Days, and through casual programs (Barefoot Bowls, etc) which normally cost around $5 to $10 a session with all equipment and coaching provided – normally with BBQ and drinks available (often included in the fee!).
4. Membership of a Club (which includes affiliation with Bowls Victoria) is recognised by any Bowls Club in Australia (and the world). Unlike other sporting clubs, a member is not restricted to those clubs with reciprocal rights. An affiliated bowler can enter any Bowls Club in Australia, be welcomed and join in various events run at the club (for a very small greens fee).