Are Heavier Bowls Better?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: April 2, 2023

If you are strong, fit and your hands are big enough to play for hours and hours in all bowling conditions with lawn bowls Size 3 and upward, then you will doubtless achieve better accuracy.

That is because these heavier bowls tend to “grip” the green better, meaning that they overcome any small obstacles and irregularities in the surface. Naturally the wind affect them less too. And when at rest, large size bowls are harder to dislodge from their position, especially by a smaller bowl.

But human hands are now smaller and weaker than they were fifty years ago, so there is a definite trend now for lawn bowlers to use small bowls rather than the heavier ones. Even zeroes and double zeroes are popular at club level these days.

For about ten years, women bowlers have been openly looking for smaller bowls. Surprisingly to me, lately some men, especially on the older side, have been choosing small bowls too.

Heavier Bowls Are Not the Same as Large Bowls

Please note that my comments above relate to the Size of the bowls (the dimensions) and not the weight. That is because the weight difference between modern bowls are minimal – in the order of 25 – 60 grams or so.

By contrast, very old bowls, including old woods made of lignum vitae, were not only huge in circumference and diameter but also weighed a lot.

In my experience, only the very small modern bowls (double zeroes and zeroes) are noticeably lighter, affected by wind and slowing down at the end of the road in a way that appears to be premature.

All other bowls are much of a muchness when it comes to weight. Experience may enable you to discern the difference when looking for the best bowl for you.

Disclaimer: this generalisation about all modern bowls weighing much the same may not be useful for assessing bowls used for indoor bowling, where greater accuracy is possible.

Choosing the Right Set of Lawn Bowls

The main criterion for choosing a set of lawn bowls should be how comfortably you can hold it in your hand. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does the bowl feel as though it will stay comfortably gripped in my hand during my back swing?
  • Can I turn the bowls upside down in front of me with my bowling hand without it falling out of my hand?
  • Does my hand wrap comfortably around the bowl with my thumb resting easily on the dimples?

If you answer the above questions in the affirmative, then you have the right size bowl. Only then should you get onto the green to experiment. See how the bowl runs. Compare the running of a selection of sizes if possible. Straight-running bowls are preferable for the front ranks.

My guess is that with modern bowls you experience much of weight difference between Size 1 and Size 3 bowls (the most commonly used sizes).

All that said, I cannot help but notice that the best and most successful bowlers in my district are playing with some very large sized bowls indeed. Maybe the larger, heavier size and the few extra grams do make all the difference at the top levels of lawn bowls play.

Here is a useful Guide to Lawn Bowls Sizes and Weights