When choosing a new set of bowls you have to make lots of decisions – what bias should you get? what size is best for me? But one thing that is often overlooked is what type of grip should get.
Whilst other features get the bulk of our attention, such as bias strength (or my case, what colour combo to get), one of the key points gets left as an after thought.
I am of course referring to the style of grip on the bowl.
The grip is so important as the fingers are the last thing to touch the bowl before you release it, and so many of the common issues faced by bowlers can be traced back to the grip.
Why spend so long choosing the perfect bias, only to find you can’t control it because you don’t have the optimal grip style?
In this guide I will take you through the 4 most common types of grip. They are:
- the dimple grip
- the crescent grip
- the embedded grip
- and non-gripped
Lets take a closer look at each.
The dimple grip is the most common type of grip. You will find most club bowlers will have dimple grips on their bowls.
Dimple grips are small divots in the shoulder of the bowl. They are often circular, but can be oval, square or oblong in shape.
Dimple grips are great if you are comfortable with the size of bowl you have, but just want somewhere for your fingers to rest on the shoulder of the bowl.
The idea with the dimple grip pattern is that your finger tip sits just inside one of the dimples.
All brands will have some kind of dimple design option, so you will have no trouble getting them on your favourite make and model.
The crescent grip pattern is similar to the dimple, but is far less common.
Just like the dimple pattern, the crescent grip has indents around the shoulders of the bowls, but (as the name suggests) the shape is curved just like a crescent moon.
Unlike the dimple grip, the idea is that your fingers simply use the ridges, as apposed to sitting inside them.
The crescent grip is also far less common when buying a set of bowls. Not all manufacturers offer them, and often require you to contact them directly to get a price to add them on.
They are far more common in Australia than in the UK, so you may be limited to the territory you live in.
The embedded grip is one of the newer grip options. These have only been around for the past 5 years, and are one of the latest inventions from bowls manufacturers.
The embedded grip is easy to notice, as a chunk is taken out of the shoulder of the bowl, and a pattern is then placed within the bowl.
As you can see in the example above, the grip pattern is not sitting on top of the shoulder. Instead, there is a channel taken out of the bowl.
The pattern within this channel can be anything. In the example above, the grip pattern is Aero’s “Zigzag”, but you can find other embedded grips with dimples (for example Taylor’s Xtreme grip) or crescents.
The embedded grip is great as it allows your fingers to sit slightly deeper in the bowl, making it feel smaller. This is ideal for those who sruggle to grip their bowl.
The non-gripped option is the classic look for a lawn bowl. Before all of these fancy patterns became available all bowls were ungripped.
Whilst the name suggests there is nothing on the bowl for our fingers, this isn’t necessarily true.
As you can see on the example above, ungripped bowls often come with a couple of rings on the shoulder of the bowl.
This is more for a guide for your fingers more than anything else.
Ungripped bowls are becoming less and less popular, but if you’ve used them for a while you may find grip patterns uncomfortable.
Ungripped bowls can also be tricky in wet conditions, so I’d recommend only using them indoors.
In this guide I’ve gone over the 4 most popular types of bowl grips.
In my opinion embedded grips are the best (which is why I included a photo of the bowls I use most often!) as they offer the best control of the bowl.
I have used other grip types – mainly the dimple grip – and these are great too. Which one is best for you? Only you can find that out, so get other there and try as many as you can!