Friday, 21 August 2009

The Bowls Buying Guide

First and foremost is the size of bowl that you choose to play with, it must fit your hand without being so big as to slip, but equally not to small so that it sits too far back in the hand, which leads to you coping the bowl out, instead of it rolling of the fingers. There are a few ways you can tell if a bowls is the right size for you. Firstly place the bowl in your hand that you would normally bowl with, place your fingers around the bowl in your normal 'claw grip' then extend your arm to arms length, at this point turn your hand upside down, you should be able to do this without the bowl starting to slip, and without your hand shaking. Taking this into account, you should play with the largest bowl you can execute this exercise with. As a guide the most common Gents size bowl is a size 4, a size 3 being the smaller hand gent, and a size 5 being the larger hand gent. most popular Ladies size is a size 1, with a size 0 being a smaller hand lady, and a size 2 being a larger hand lady, but remember this is only a guide it will greatly depend on the size of your hand, length, width, and strength of grip. Measuring your hand is unsatisfactory as you cannot determine if you will be able to handle the weight of the bowl you have chosen, this particularly applies to Ladies with long slender fingers, which upon measuring leads you to buy a much larger bowl then is suitable, because is has not got the width in her hand, nor the strength required. You will normally find players at your local club, will let you hold their bowls for this purpose, If you haven’t got a specialist bowls shop nearby.

Next is the weight of bowl, this is not quite so important, most bowls are made in a medium and heavyweight, and some slimmer shape bowls made in a heavymedium weight. The weight difference is very small only 3oz on a size 5, dropping down to under 1oz on the size 0 bowl, but surprisingly it is noticeable when coming to bowl. I would normally recommend a mediumweight bowl for outdoor grass surfaces, and a heavyweight bowl for indoor and artificial surfaces, mainly because the mediumweight bowl will get a little more turn at the end of the draw, which is usually a good thing on the heavier grass surfaces, and with heavyweights it is the reverse, just stoping them from getting a couple more rolls on the indoor surface, it can also help the bowl from being displaced so easily, particularly indoors. It is a popular misconception that the heavvweight bowl will roll further having the momentum to carry it on, not so we are told. From research we know that although the heavier bowl will be carried by the momentum in the first half of the draw, it will slow down quicker as it comes to rest, as the heavier weight begins to dig into the surface, of course the heavier or wetter the surface the more this will be noticeable.

Now the interesting part, well for me anyway. What make and model shall I buy ?, This is where your bowls specialist can really play a part in determining you go away with the right bowl for you. There are now over 15 models available in the UK, from 3 different manufacturers, then given the various weight, grip, size and colour combinations, there is hundreds of outcome’s. Taylor bowls are the oldest manufacturer, dating back over 200 years, they are based in Glasgow, Scotland, in the UK, they have 6 current models available, The Lignoid, Legacy SL, International, Ace, Vector VS, and Lazer. In Liverpool we have Drakes Pride, the only English bowls manufacturer; they have the Jazz, Professional, and Advantage models on the UK market. Then we have probably the most well known manufacturer, Henselite, they are based in Australia, and were the first company to develop a composition bowl as we know it today, it was developed in Australia with the help of a British scientist during the early 50’s to combat the heat from the sun, which was shrinking the wood in the old wooden bowls and having an effect on the bias.

You should first determine where you will play most of your games, is it indoors or outside, is the surface, considered fast or slow, are the end rinks a problem (being able to take enough green) what position will you play most of your games Skip, No3. 2nd, or Lead. Armed with this information, your chosen Bowls Specialist should be able to steer you through the minefield of different models available.