Crown Green Vs Flat Green – The Key Differences

Crown Green Bowls vs Flat Green Bowls

There are several fundamental differences between flat green and crown green bowls. Crown green is strictly an outside game. Greens on average are between 40-45 square yards in size; they consist of an uneven surface of well-manicured grass. By contrast, flat rinks have an even surface and the bowls are played up and down a lane without much variation.

Here are some of the most important variations between the two codes from the crown green players’ angle, plus one or two thoughts that puzzle crown enthusiasts.

Crown bowls are anything from 2lb 4oz to 3lb in weight; the lighter and smaller bowls are mainly used by ladies or juniors. Bowls are of wood or composition material and are made slightly off-centre or eccentric as this keeps a heavier weight mass on one side and this is known as bias. The most popular weights are 2lb 8oz – 2lb 12oz.

By contrast, flat green bowls are much larger, starting at around 3lb and moving up to 4lb. Also the bias is much more pronounced and they are stronger than crown green woods.

Crown green players use just two woods whereas the flat players use four. This obviously leads to the many variations in play. For example, the strategic placing of bowls round the end or head is much more pronounced in flat green because they have more chances of altering or retrieving a situation. People watching on TV often ask why some of the crown green ends seem much farther away from the jack than the flat green. The reason is that the variations on the flat rink are nowhere near as pronounced as they are on the crown greens.

Obviously crown greens all vary, due to the undulations and gullies. Therefore it is possible to place the jack in certain parts of the green and not bowl a wood less than a yard away from the jack. In both codes the jack is very important because the scoring of the games revolves around which bowls are nearest to it.

In crown green, should both bowls from the same player be nearest, they both count one point each. If only one is nearest it is one point only, the same applying in flat green using four bowls (just double up). But there is a wide difference in the use of the jack. Flat green players use a composition ball similar to a cue ball in snooker. A mark is set by merely rolling it down the rink and if necessary at the players’ requests, the jack can be handled by the official and moved from its original resting place.

Crown green people find this mystifying, for the jack in crown green bowling is an extremely valuable piece of equipment, governing the whole pattern of the game. It is a smaller replica of the bowls, about 32oz in weight, and is, like the bowls, eccentric in shape, and biased. It is used to determine the length (which could be anything from 19 yards to 75 yards in any direction), the speed of the green, the bias or peg and the weight or pace.

Once it has been led out it must not be disturbed at all unless it is interfering with another end or some other infringement covered by British Crown Green rules.

There are some really good jack handlers in the crown green game and their correct manipulation of the ‘chitty’, ‘monkey’, ‘block’, ‘little un’ (some of the nicknames it goes under) has been the difference between winning and losing! It goes without saying that the flat game players are superb at their game; their ability is beyond question, but the standards are just as high in crown green bowling. However, there is no doubt that the flat game looks better on TV because the bowls are more often played closer to the jack.

I would love to see a contest between all the top men of bowls (both codes) on a full-size flat rink under crown green rules. It would be thrilling to watch and I wouldn’t like to tip the winner.

5 thoughts on “Crown Green Vs Flat Green – The Key Differences

  1. Malcolm Howarth says:

    I thought the minimum distance that a jack must go in crown green bowls was 21 yards. Where would it be possible to stage a friendly match between both types of players, playing crown green format, nearest to Bristol.
    Ps. I am a former crown green bowler from Manchester but now play flat green bowls in Bristol.
    Thank you
    Malcolm Howarth

    • Stephen Wall says:

      Malcolm, you are correct, I think the article is mixing its units of measurement, the correct minimum distance for the jack to travel is 19m or 21 yds.

  2. kevin hurst says:

    one diff is that in rick it is the bias that makes the wood work , and in crown its the green and the bias that makes the woods work

    • Stephen Wall says:

      Roger, there is no comparison between the two Jacks, in Crown Green the Jack is a smaller version of the bowl, in so much as it has a bias, which will if bowled on a flat green run towards the bias as it slows down towards the end of its run; much the same way as a wood will do. Subsequently if this bias is used against the crown of the green it will run away quite quickly towards the gully. This is the main reason why before delivering the jack the bias must be shown to your opponent, to help them understand the land that it takes through its run. Invariably bowlers will initially deliver their first bowl with the same bias, unless there is home knowledge of the green, who will then use this to their advantage.

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