Best lawn bowls for beginners
What are the best lawn bowls for beginners? We break down the most important issues to help make the best choice
Selecting your first set of bowls can be a bit of a mindfield. With over 30 models currently on sale, all with unique characteristics, in 8 different sizes, and a multitude of colours to choose from it’s no wonder we get intimidated!
Choosing a set of woods will eventually come down to a mixture of personal preference, and the demands of how you play. These demands can include:
- What position you play in teams. The needs of a lead will be very different to those of a skip
- Where you play. Bowls behave very differently on fast indoor greens compared to slower greens outdoors (especially those wet and heavy early months!)
- How you play. Bowls can be designed for all manner of playing styles, understanding what you need can bring out the best in your game
Buying lawn bowls isn’t cheap with an average set costing in the region of £200-£350, so its great to feel confident in the choice you make. Below we break down the most important questions you will need to ask, as well as some practical advice on what/where to look for your first set of bowls.
What size bowl to choose?
Bowls come in a set one of eight standard sizes (00 - 6). This is the most important element of selecting your bowls, too large and you won’t be able to hold it properly, too small and you’ll see them flying all over the green.
As a general rule of thumb, the gentlemen will often use a size between 3 and 5 - with 3 being the smaller size - and the ladies using 00 and 2, however the only way to find what works for you is to see how the different sizes feel in your hands.
Sizes are standard across all brands so you don’t need to worry about finding a specific brand to compare bowls.
The tests you can try include:
- When trying out different sizes try wrapping both hands around the central part of the running surface, so that your thumbs are touching. If the bowl is the right size your middle fingers will be either just touching, or be close too.
- Hold the bowl as if you were about to deliver it. Swing your arm back, then forward. If you are unable to maintain your grip comfortably, then the bowl is likely too big
- Lastly, hold the bowl out in front of you, You should be able to hold onto the bowl for a good 20-30 seconds.
Bowls also come in to weights, “medium” and “heavy”. This should be taken into consideration when investigating what size to choose. It is recommended to select the largest, heaviest bowl you can handle comfortably, as a smaller/lighter bowl requires more effort to deliver, and can be moved easily when in the head. However, comfort should always be the most important factor.
Good places to find different bowls to try is either in your local bowls store (if you have access to one), or preferably down your local club - just ask permission before you start grabbing other people’s bowls!
What bowls bias should I choose?
Which is best? It can sometimes be a bit like asking “how long is a piece of string”, however it will likely come down to two factors. Where you play your bowls, and what position you will be playing in.
Firstly, will you be playing indoor or outdoor bowls? Often indoor rinks are much faster, which requires a narrower (i.e. a bowl that doesn’t swing as much) bowl. This will make controlling your line much easier. If you are playing outdoor yu will need a slightly wider biased bowl to contend with the slower, heavier greens e get in the UK - but do note that if you are lucky enough to be playing in sunnier climates you will find the greens to be as fast as indoor rinks, so narrower bowl will be best.
Different positions in a bowls team will require different bowls. For example a lead will want to have a much narrower bowl, to help get a consistent line to draw to the jack, whereas a skip will want a much wider bias to help navigate through a busy head. That being said, you will often find yourself as a beginner playing in either the lead or number 2 position, as these roles help develop you line and weight, therefore a narrow to medium bias would be best
So you know what type of model you want. Great! How do you know which model does what? Thankfully each manufacturer have their own “bias charts” (try googling a few brands and “bias chart” to see what we mean), this will give you a list of models to try.
Finally, it comes down to personal preference. Get down your club and ask around. Also see below for our full list of recommended models!
What Bowls brand should I choose?
Of all the factors to consider when buying new bowls “brand” is often the least important. Bias’ and sizes are all standardised, so you will find models are consistent across all of them
There are four main brands of bowls available.
- Drakes Pride
More experienced bowlers may have personal preference, as certain brands offer unique grips, for example, however, the brand name shouldn’t be a deciding factor in itself.
How much do a set of lawn bowls cost?
With brand new bowls costing upto £350 it is recommended to purchase a set of second hand bowls for your first set. Second hand bowls usually cost in the region of £30 - £120 making it a cost effective solution.
You can get second hand bowls from a variety of sources (see our guide to second hand bowls), however we recommend eBay as there is always a wide variety of stock, and you will get a better selection of models.
As long as the bowls don’t have any major chunks or gauges, they will be fine for using in competition.
Bowls best for indoor
- Taylor Bowls (Lazer, Vector VS, Blaze, Ace)
- Henselite (Dreamline, Tiger II, Classic II)
- Drakes Pride (Advantage, Fineline)
- Almark (Arrow, Sterling Slimline)
Bowls best for outdoor
- Taylor Bowls (Ace, International, Legacy SL, Lignoid)
- Henselite (Classic II, Classic, Tiger)
- Drakes Pride (Professional, Jazz)
- Almark (Sterling Slimline, Sterling Gold)