Short mat bowls is an indoor sport in which players attempt to score points by rolling a heavy ball along a fairly flat surface, to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents, and so outscore them.
The game is a modern variation on lawn bowls, from which the game is derived.
The Short Mat Bowls game was first played in 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 1980s when its potential as a low-cost sport for people of all ages was realised.
Short mat bowls is an all-year sport unaffected by weather and it does not require a permanent location as the rink mats can be rolled up and stowed away. This makes it particularly appropriate for small communities as it can be played in village halls, schools, sports and social clubs, hotels etc. where space is restricted and is also required for other purposes: it is even played on North Sea oil rigs where space is severely limited.