FAQ for both Crown & Lawn Bowls

  • Q1:  Crown Green Bowls

    Question.  Are wooden bowls still used?
    Answer.  Wooden bowls, which are made from the timber Lignum Vitae, are still used and are very popular.  It is now difficult to obtain good quality Lignum to make new bowls but Thurston do still have a small stock of timber from which to make their Standfast Crown Green bowls (see B2200).  Thurston's renovate many pairs of wooden bowls mainly during the closed season ( see section 1 for renovation services) and are recognised by many as the leaders in the field.

    Question.  Can I have my wooden bowls polished natural.
    Answer.  Yes, any wooden bowls can be polished natural.  It should however be remembered that all Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls have cracks and the clear, specially formulated lacquer applied shows up all the imperfections so if the Lignum is poor or contains sapwood it is sometimes more sensible to have the bowls polished Black.

    Question.  What size of bowls are available and which is most suited for my use?
    Answer.  Crown green bowls have always been sold by weight as the size designation.  The popular weights being 2lb 6oz, 2lb 8oz, 2lb 10oz and 2lb 12oz.  It seems that with the Lignum Vitae, (wooden) bowls the bowlers were more interested in the weight and it is was certainly true that in earlier years the heavier the bowl that one could handle was always considered to the best bowl for the job.  Modern Crown Green bowls are made from a composite material which is so hard diamond tools have to used to turn the material.  Thurston's stock a range of bowls from 2lb 4oz to 2lb 12oz in even weight steps, odd weights such as 2lb 9oz, 2lb 11oz, etc can be supplied to order.  Also for children we have in stock 2lb and 2lb 2oz bowls.

    Question.  I have heard of Hi-density bowls, what are they ?
    Answer.  Material now used for bowls is a phenolic thermoset composition.  This can be produced to a specific density, unlike Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls where the density depends on the actual original timber.  Manufacturers using the composition material such as Drakes Pride and Taylor have extended their standard composition weight range of crown green bowls to include both hi-density and also low density models.

    Question.  Can you explain what advantages high density or standard or low density have compared to each other ?
    Answer.  This requires quite a long answer and must include a reference again to Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls as well.  It is said that a Lignum (wooden) bowl runs on a "yard" after it is stopped.  What is being implied is that when comparing the run of a wooden bowl against the original, now called standard weight composition, it is true that for a given strength of delivery the composition bowl will stop about a yard shorter than the Lignum (wooden) bowl.  The reason is simply that the standard weight composition bowl is slightly heavier for its size than the average wooden bowl.

    What the manufacturers have done is to take a slightly higher specific gravity composition material and produce a bowl which is heavier for its size than a standard composition.  For example a high density 2lb 8oz bowl is about the same size as a 2lb 6oz standard weight. High density bowls are useful on very fast greens which usually occur after a period of dry weather or especially after dry and hot days.  The other advantage is that if a bowler suffers from a hand problem and they are having difficulty gripping the larger bowl, but still want to maintain the weight, then the hi-density allows them to come down a size but maintain the weight.
    On the other hand a low-density composition bowl, made from slightly lighter material than the standard weight and is more similar to Lignum (wooden) bowls in its density is better suited to heavier greens, such as early season or rain effected or "heavy" greens.  The reason being that as they are lighter they "ride" the surface more easily and therefore run further.  A 2lb 8oz low-density bowl will be approximately the same size as a 2lb 10oz  standard composition bowl.  It is also useful for low-density bowls to be polished as this helps to feel more like a wooden bowl.  Thurston's stock the Excel model by Drakes Pride (see B2222) which is a low density, polished bowl.  Also, made to order "Harlequin" coloured bowls available in 5 colours(see B2275). 
    At the Liverpool Thurston stores there are examples of the different weights and densities of crown green bowls so you can try them in the hand for size and feel.

    Question.  What size bowl do I need ?
    Answer.  Bearing in mind the answer to the previous question.  The simple answer is what feels comfortable in your hand.  Remember that you have to be able to hold the bowl even in wet conditions.  IF the bowl feels right, then it is probably the right size and if it doesn't feel "right" then this will be in your mind when you are playing your shots.

    Question.  Do I need a jack?
    Answer.  If you are wanting to practice or just play socially, then the answer is definitely yes.  But if you only play at the club with other club members then it is usual for the club to supply the jacks as they do for matches and then you would not need one.  The crown green standard jacks are available from Thurston's in both the traditional Black and the popular Yellow versions (see B2000 & B2030) or use a practice jack, 2 full bias see item B2060 .

    Question.  What bias should I use ?
    Answer.  Some years ago you used to be able to tell what area a bowler came from by the bias they requested, but in more recent years the standard bias of 2 full has proved to be dominant.  This is the same bias as the standard jacks which most clubs have.  Other biases that are available to special order are 2 ¼ bias which is slightly stronger than the 2 full and also 2 ½ bias which is stronger than the 2 ¼.

    Question.  My friends bowls have no dimple, are they legal?
    Answer.  Most crown green bowlers prefer to have the dimple in the bias side but some keen bowlers who do not want their opponent to see how they have delivered the bowl sometime opt to have no dimple and occasionally mark the bias side with just a black spot.

    Question.  My recently polished bowls are showing pin prick marks is the polish faulty?
    Answer. Probably not, the usual reason for such marks, which tend to be seen at the start of the season, is the fertiliser and top dressing applied to the greens. Granular fertiliser and top dressing can break through the polish causing blemishes. In most cases top dressing contains 70% sand and this creates an abrasive surface early in the season. Chemical fertilisers can break down the adhesion of the polish on the bowls so it might start to come away.

    Question. Our Clubs Standard Jacks have been three stamps on. Can they be re-tested?
    Answer. The B.C.G.B.A. States ' Jacks (Standard) are not to be stamped on more than four occasions. The first three, in date order to be made on the  bias side. So a Standard jack with three date stamps can be re-tested and providing meets the regulations can be re-stamped for the four & final time with the stamp on the non bias side.

  • Q2:  Lawn - Flat Green Bowls

    Question.  I have a set of Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls can they be re-stamped ?
    Answer.  World Bowls have tightened up their regulations and it is now unlikely that Lignum bowls will conform to those regulations.  However the bowls can still be renovated and used in social games despite not being stamped.

    Question.  The date stamp on my bowls has expired, do I really need them to be re-tested ?
    Answer.  The World Bowls 'stamp' and its predecessor World Bowls Board 'stamp' have a ten year life, which includes the year of its test.  So basically by their regulations the answer is, yes it should be re-tested.  The main reason for doing the re-test is that part of the work done checks that the set is still running as a set. After all given ten years of wear and tear the bowls must have suffered abrasion and knocks.  So it is in your interest to have them checked out.

    Question.  My bowls have no emblems, are they legal?
    Answer.    This question basically only relates to sets sold in the UK prior to 1996, when emblems were not required in the UK. Even now  it depends on what level you are playing at to know if emblems/engraving is required for play in the UK. This needs to be considered and advised  to the tester when you submit your bowls for test. Currently (2009) the World Bowls Ltd. testers licence states ' Bowls may display- Engravings (emblems)'. However, the manufacturers licence  requires all sets to have engraving (emblems), so all new sets of bowls will have emblems.
    For club and even inter club competitions bowls without emblems are ok. If however the competition is under the auspices of World Bowls Ltd. or  the Professional Bowlers Association the you will find that sets of bowls must have emblems. So to be safe it is probably best to have emblems/engraving.
    THURSTON can engrave emblems on to most makes of bowl and would suggest that this work is carried out at the same time as the set is tested.

    Question.  I've decided to have engraving on my bowls, can I have my initials and an emblem?
    Answer.  The answer is yes, but with reservation. As long as the initials are all on the same side eg. on the bias side and the emblem on the non bias side. Then the sets, basically, conforms to World Bowls Ltd. regulations and will be acceptable in the UK. Most other counties require that the emblem would be the same, but proportional in size, on the bias and flat side of the bowls.
    THURSTON recommend that the emblems/engraving be the same on both sides which avoids any possible future problems.

    Question.  I play outdoors what weight of bowl should I use?
    Answer.  If you only play outdoors and play in the U.K., then a medium weight bowl is probably the best.  The reason being that most U.K. outdoor greens are slow / heavy and a medium weight bowl will have some chance to show its bias.  If you were to use an Indoor style and or heavyweight model the slow / heavy greens will kill the bias before it has a chance to show.

    Question.  I play both Indoor and Outdoor do I really need to different sets of bowls ?
    Answer.  The previous answer has some bearing on this one.  However there are some models of bowl (eg Professional by Drakes Pride) that have medium bias and many bowlers find they perform acceptably both on outdoor and indoor greens.  Most manufacturers do however produce models suited to either outdoor or indoor use.  Note.  If outdoor model bowls are used indoor they will tend to run into the next rink and so you might not be able to play certain hands.  If indoor models are used outdoor they will show little or no bias and reduce the game to playing up the middle.  Perhaps this is what causes complaints about bias strength?

    Question.  What size of bowls should I use?
    Answer.  The 'old' idea was to use the largest size you possibly could, or  that if you can span the circumference of the running sole with your two hands then that size would be right.
    However the simple answer is whatever size feels comfortable in the hand. So when selecting a set of bowls try a few sets. Perhaps start with a size 3 try a few 'pretend' deliveries. Does it cause any strain to your wrist? Does it feel that you need to adjust /tighten you grip in the back swing? Does out fall out of your hand!?  If it all feels ok then perhaps try a size 4 or even larger, but if there is discomfort go down the sizes until you are comfortable.
    Also there are some models' which are not as broad, such as the Drakes Pride Professional model. Such models might allow you to use a bigger bowl comfortably, so also try a few types of bowl in a size if you can.

    Question.  I have two sets of the same make and model of bowl one set is red the other is green. I am told they are the same bias but I find they take a different line - whose is right?
    Answer . Speak to any of the top bowlers and they will agree that the different coloured sets perform differently and yet when seen on the bowls test table they run the same. The only answer that seems to have any merit is that subtle but significant differences in how the player grips the bowl and thus how they deliver. Are  probably caused by affect that the different colour dyes used in the powder mix used for moulding bowls has on the final surface finish.

    Question. My set of size 4 heavy bowls weigh more than my friends set, why is their a difference?
    Answer. We assume that the sets are different models or are from different manufactures. As each manufacturer uses the specific gravity of moulding powder that they favour for their quality. So there are likely to be weight differences between different manufactures sets. Also there is likely to be differences between models as there are some that are slim line, so slightly less material, and some which 'fill the hand', which will have a little more material. So between different models  from the same manufacturer there will be different weighs, even if both are marked up as 'heavy', for the same size bowl. The weight chart shown below should therefore be used as a rough guide only.

    Question. It looks like they have painted the grips on their bowls, surely this effects the bais and is it allowed?
    Answer. Law 8.6 deals with alterations to bias of bowls which is illegal and has sever penalties. However point 4 states .. Players or owners who colour the groove rings or dimples on a bowl for decoration are not breaking the law.

    This size/weight table is an approximate guide to weights and sizes of lawn bowls, each manufacturer and each model will be somewhat different. These figures are only for guidance and are an average across a range of models & makes.

    Bowls Weight Table Guide