Do Lawn Bowls Go Out of Date?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 12, 2023

In South Africa lawn bowls do not go out of date in the sense that it is not compulsory for the manufacturer to test the bowls every ten years and give them a date stamp. The cost of sending a set of bowls to the UK or Australia to be checked every ten years is prohibitive, so players no longer require date stamps on their bowls to compete at district or national level. However, South African bowlers who compete overseas must have current date stamps on their bowls.

What the Rules Say About Date Stamps on Bowls

Section 4.2 of the Laws of Bowls in South Africa state:

To check the accuracy of the bias and the visibility of the World Bowls Stamp, all bowls must be re-tested and re-stamped at least once every 10 years, or earlier if the stamp is not clearly legible. For domestic play, Member National Authorities can decide the requirements for re-testing and re-stamping bowls.

You can see from the above that Bowls South Africa has not totally ruled out the possibility that a competition must be played with current date stamps on the bowls. However, for all practical purposes, date stamps are not required unless players are notified beforehand.

For the record, I have been in district and national competitions for nearly two decades and the issue of date stamps has never come up.

Are Some Lawn Bowls Too Old to Play With?

Seeing that date stamps are in effect not required, one is free to play with any age bowls one prefers. However, it is rare to see players at inter-district and national level play with anything but the most modern bowls.

For all other play, the age, size and weight of bowl is simply a matter of taste. Increasingly, too, the sheer cost of buying a new set of bowls is having the effect of the aggregate age of bowls on our greens to be older and older.

As mentioned elsewhere on this website, the trend is towards playing with smaller bowls, with zeroes and double zeroes.

If you are in any doubt about the requirements, please contact your district federation for assistance. Here is the list of lawn bowls district offices in South Africa.