Can You Play Lawn Bowls in the Rain?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 11, 2023

The saying goes: “It never rains on a bowling green”. That means bowlers rarely admit that it’s just too wet to play bowls. That’s how enthusiastic they are about the game.

And that’s why you see bowlers playing bowls in overcast conditions, cloudy weather, spitting rain or constant drizzle.

Do You Play Lawn Bowls in the Rain?

If, during a lawn bowls competition, the rain becomes so heavy that the water on the green impedes the running of the bowls, the Controlling Body of the competition may stop play. Usually the Controlling Body consults with the Green Keeper first. The bowls are left in the positions they were when play stopped. When play resumes, bowlers replay the interrupted end.

In social play, the bowlers will continue to play as long as possible. When the rain falls too hard, the skips quickly agree that conditions are unpleasant and there is a rush for the clubhouse.

In many places in South Africa rain showers do not last long – just long enough for a cup of tea, after which play continues as if nothing had happened.

What Rain Wear Can One Use for Lawn Bowls?

Any rainwear that doesn’t affect the way you deliver your bowls is permitted. These include:

• Shoe covers
• Rain coats
• Rain-resistant jackets
• Plastic sweat pants and tops
• Ponchos
• Rain hats
• Plastic peak covers
• Gloves
• Umbrellas

What Effect Does Rain Have on Lawn Bowling?

When the rain first starts, the green may become faster because the water forms a slick on the top. Players find their bowls running into the ditch because they expected the rain to make the green slower immediately.

Once the water sinks into the lawn, the grass quickly becomes damp and starts to impede the running of the bowls. It may take players a couple of ends to adjust to the new, slower, conditions.
When a green becomes waterlogged, it’s impossible to say how the bowls were run. Players face random difficulties as they try to adjust to the puddles that gather in slight hollows in the lawn’s surface.

Are Heavy Lawn Bowls Better for Rainy Conditions?

Heavier lawn bowls are better for rainy conditions because they are less affected by all external conditions, including wet greens. A heavier bowl is more likely to run predictably through a damp patch than a lighter one.