Working out what set of bowls to use can be confusing – do you want a narrow set? What surface will they work on? Grips and colours? The list goes on.
Sometimes we make things more complicated than it needs to be, and all we need is for someone to simplify the decision.
Do bowls work across different formats? And are there different types of bowls? That’s what we’re looking at today!
Are there different types of bowls?
Yes, there are 3 distinct types of bowls based on the game being played:
- crown green bowls
- carpet bowls
- and flat green bowls (used for outdoor bowls, indoor bowls and short mat bowls)
Each type can’t be used for the other, for example you can’t use a set of crown green bowls for lawn bowls.
It is important to understand what game you are planning on playing and getting a set designed for that sport.
Crown Green Bowls
Crown green bowls is a traditional British game played on a green with a raised crown in the centre. The game is similar to lawn bowls, but the green is smaller and the bowls are heavier.
Much like flat green bowls, crown green bowls come in different sizes, but without the different colour and grip options. Crown green bowls are often ungripped.
Crown green bowls come with standardised biases, so you don’t get different models as you would when selecting a set of flat green bowls.
The top brands of crown green bowls are:
- Drakes Pride
- Thomas Taylor
Carpet bowls is a game similar to lawn bowls, but played on a carpeted surface. Carpet bowls are much smaller than crown green and flat green bowls and only come in one size and bias.
Carpet bowls have very few colour options (usually black or brown), and come with no grips – this is mainly due to the fact that you don’t need to grip a carpet bowl in the same way you would a flat green bowl.
Flat Green Bowls
Flat green bowls offer the most flexibility, both in the formats you can play, but also the options you have available in terms of sizes, colours and grips.
A flat green bowl can be used for:
- Indoor bowls
- Outdoor bowls
- Short mat bowls#
Depending on the brand and model you get, you can get a bowl that is any colour and pattern under the sun, a variety of grips and biases are available to suit any format and playing style. Lets take a look at each.
Indoor bowls is played on a carpet surface, and is the same dimensions as an outdoor green.
The surface runs much faster than an outdoor green (at least in the UK!), so bowls for indoor bowls often have a weaker bias.
A strong biased bowl for slow outdoor greens, or shot mat bowls may be too wide to control for a club player, so the right model is essential. You can find my list of the best indoor lawn bowls here.
The outdoor game is exactly the same as indoor, only its played on grass or a synthetic astro-turf.
Outdoor greens run much slower, so a stronger biased bowl is need to get a decent amount of turn off of the surface, this is because the friction from the grass is stronger than the carpet of an indoor surface.
Many players play indoor over the winter, and outdoors during the summer. As many can’t afford to have 2 sets of bowls, it is common for players to have a single set of bowls that play well on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. These are known as “duel purpose bowls”.
You can find my list of the best duel purpose bowls here.
Short mat is very different from indoor bowls, despite it also being played indoors on a carpet surface.
As the name suggests short mat bowls is played on a much smaller surface, however unlike carpet bowls, a full size bowl is used and any flat green model can be used to play.
Duel purpose bowls are also great for short mat games, this makes them the most diverse options for a club bowler.
There are 3 types of bowls, crown green bowls, carpet bowls, and flat green bowls.
It is important to understand the differences, and what each type of bowl is used for, as they are not interchangeable.