Article by Rachel Boardman
Whether you’re buying your first set of lawn bowls or your 50th the sheer variety of different bowls on offer can sometimes make the process feel a little like walking through a minefield. Then there’s the advice from your fellow bowlers who seem to have forgotten just how personal this choice is. The phrase what is right for one isn’t necessarily right for you has never been so pertinent.
So, what exactly do you need to consider before whipping out your wallet and buying that shiny new set of bowls that caught your eye?
Which bowls are best for your game?
All the decisions you make will ultimately come back to which bowls will help not hinder your game. For example, the position you play in teams is important to know as the needs of the lead bowler are different to those of the skip.
It’s also important to consider where you play too. The bowls will behave differently on indoor and outdoor greens and so will affect the weight and bias you choose.
Don’t forget your personal game too! Everyone bowls with a slightly different technique so finding a set of bowls that compliments your style is important. If you’re constantly having to fight with your bowls rhythm your opponent is always going to have an advantage over, you.
What size bowl should I choose?
Probably the most important thing to consider when choosing your new set of bowls is the size. Too large and you won’t be able to hold them properly – like when you were a kid and you couldn’t throw a football with just one hand because your hands weren’t yet big enough. Too small and your bowls will go flying around the green like oversized golf balls.
The bowls themselves come in a set of eight standard sizes from 00 to 6. In general, a god size for males is between 3 and 5 whereas females usually find that the smaller sizes between 00 and 2 are a better fit.
As you’ve probably guessed, the only way to find the right size for you is to try the different sized bowls out. Indicators of good-sized bowl include;
- When you wrap both hands around the central part of the running surface so that your thumbs are touching, your middle fingers will be just touching or very close to.
- Do a practice swing with the bowl in your hand. If you can maintain your grip easily and comfortably then it is a good size for you.
- If you hold the bowl out in front of you for 30 seconds without dropping it then you should be good.
Which weight bowl should I use?
Ok so this one is a little easier as you only have two different weights to choose from, medium and heavy. However, the choice should be taken into consideration along with the size of the bowl. For example, a heavy size 2 bowl may actually be a better choice than a lighter size 3 bowl.
It is recommended that you should choose the heaviest and largest bowl you can handle comfortably. This is because smaller and lighter bowls can often require more effort to deliver and can be moved easily when knocked by another bowl.
Which bowl bias is right for me?
This is such a personal decision and will likely change over time. The two biggest factors to consider here are what position you play in teams and whether you play indoors or outdoors.
Indoor greens are often much faster than outdoor green and so a bowl that doesn’t swing so as much (known as a narrow bowl) would be a better option. Outdoor greens can be much slower, so a wider bowl is generally favoured.
In general, the lead in the team is better having a narrower bowl and the skip a wider bowl. This is because the skip has to navigate an often-busy field of play. If you are newer to the sport you are likely to be playing lead or at number 2 to help develop you game so choosing a narrow to medium bias would be a good place to start.
To help you out each brand of bowls has their own bias charts so you can easily pick the one that is right for you.
How much do lawn bowls cost?
A brand-new set of lawn bowls can set you back up to £350 however if looked after will last you a long time. You can, however, get hold of a set of second-hand bowls for between £30 – £120 which could be a good solution if you’re not sure the game is for you yet.
Taylor Legacy SL Slimline Progrip Black Heavy Lawn Bowls
The slimline nature of these bowls makes them a great choice for those with smaller hands. They feature a medium bias giving you more controlled swing towards the jack. Plus, they come with Progrip as standard.
Drakes Pride Hi-Density Deluxe Crown Green Bowls
Hi-Density Bowls are smaller than usual for the weight of the Bowl. i.e. a 2lb 8oz Hi-Density Bowl is the same size as a regular 2lb 6oz bowl. This enables the Bowler to play with a heavier Bowl than they may otherwise be able to handle and also make it easier to control the length of delivery on faster running greens.
Taylor Lazer Progrip Indoor/Lawn Bowls
These bowls have the narrowest running bias in the Taylor range and come as standard with the Taylor ProGrip making it easier to grip the bowl. The slim profile makes the bowls that much more comfortable and are available in sizes 00, 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4.