What are the best lawn bowls for beginners? We break down the most important issues to help make the best choice.
Top 3 bowls for beginners
|Drakes Pride||Professional||£50-£120 (used)||See more|
|Taylor||Vector VS||£80-£120 (used)||See more|
|Aero||Quantum||£130-£180 (used)||See more|
Once you’ve learnt the rules of lawn bowls, and you’ve decided you want to take up the sport, you’ll need to get your own set of bowls.
Selecting your first set of bowls can be a bit of a minefield. 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.
Bowls come in a set one of eight standard sizes (00 – 6). 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.
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.
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!
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 you will need a slightly wider biased bowl to contend with the slower, heavier greens you 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.
If you are playing indoors only, then checkout our guide on the best indoor bowls to buy.
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 how do you know which model does what? Thankfully each manufacturer have their own “bias charts”. You can see our list of bias charts for all major brands here, 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!
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, however, the brand name shouldn’t be a deciding factor in itself.
New bowls cost up to £350 so 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 for many years to come.
Taylor Bowls offer a great selection on models for the beginner. If you are playing on faster greens the Blaze may be a good choice. If you plan on playing in multiple different positions (e.g. a number 2, or a skip) in the not-to-distant future the Ace is ideal.
However, for its consistency and clean narrow line, we recommend the Vector VS. The Vetor VS model are available on Amazon for a great price, if you are interested.
Here’s what Taylor has to say about the Vector VS: “The Vector-VS is perfect for fast surfaces and indoor greens, having a lenient, gentle draw to the jack with no hook at the end, making it ideal for front end bowlers.”
Other Taylor bowls reviews:
- Taylor Legacy SL Bowls Review
- Taylor Ace Bowls Review
- Taylor Lazer Bowls Review
- Taylor Blaze Bowls Review
The Professional model is the perfect model for any bowler who wants a versatile bowl. It’s just as comfortable on the indoor rinks as it is outdoors. With quality grip options and colours you can be guaranteed to find something to your tastes. The Professional is also available on Amazon.
Here’s what Drakes Pride have to say about the Professional: “A phenomenally successful and popular model of bowl used by many top ranking players. The Professional is a mid bias bowl with a gradual and consistent finish offering a wide range of shot options, making it superb for both indoor and outdoor use.”
Other Drakes Pride reviews
We are huge fans of Aero bowls. They have a wide range of bowls for all environments and ability types, however we believe the Quantum has the best scope for a beginner. The Quantum will play narrow on outdoor rinks, making it ideal for lead players. It is also perfect for indoor bowls, making it duel purpose. Aero bowls are on the expensive side, so we would recommend finding a set on eBay second hand.
Here’s what Aero have to say about the Quantum: “The Aero QUANTUM is the most popular all round model for indoor play in the Aero range. A mid bias bowl. Ideal for all playing positions on all types of indoor surface but particularly suitable for back end players. For outdoor players who prefer a narrower draw line. Suitable for front end playing positions on average to quick paced surfaces.”
Other Aero reviews