Do Lawn Bowls Go Out of Date?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 9, 2023

Lawn bowls do go out of date when the age of bowls pass the date stamped on each bowl in the set. But in South Africa this does not matter much. Unless you are in the Gold Squad or playing in the National Squad you can play with out-of-date bowls in competitions. That’s because it costs just too much for South African bowlers to send their bowls to Australia or Britain every ten years to be re-calibrated and re-stamped. Technology like that does not exist in South Africa. That’s why local competition organisers do not require players to use bowls that have valid dates.

How do you tell the age of lawn bowls?

A set of 21st century lawn bowls has a date stamp on each bowl indicating when the bowl will “expire”, while old bowls (prior to 1975) don’t have date stamps. And bowls without “dimples” (the lines of concave holes along the side of the bowl) are definitely old bowls made prior to 1975.

Old bowls are usually heavier than modern bowls and they are usually black or brown with thin yellow or beige lines and writing on them. Modern bowls are in an endless variety of colours, multi-colours and styles, and they are date stamped.

The image shows a date stamp on a set of Drakes Pride Protea bowls. The expiry date in 2021. The WB stands for World Bowls, the organisation whose standard according to which the bowls have been test. The “X” is the manufacturer’s mark for Drakes Pride.

What does the date mean on lawn bowls?

The date on lawn bowls indicate when the bowl will reach its 10-year expiry date. When a set of bowls is calibrated, the manufacturer stamps the expiry date on each bowl. Current, non-expired bowls are required for international competitions. They are generally not needed for competitions in South Africa. That is because the cost of having expired bowls re-calibrated, tested, approved and date stamped is prohibitive because all lawn bowls are manufactured outside the country (Australia and Britain). There are no testing and calibrating facilities in South Africa. Each set of new lawn bowls has an expiry date on it.

Why do bowls have a date stamp?

Bowls have a date stamp to indicate that they have not expired. The date refers to the year that the bowl will expire. A non-expired bowl is considered to be properly calibrated. The idea is that all players in a competition will be on a level playing field, so to speak, if all their bowls are properly balanced and have not yet reached their expiry date. Also, the player will have bowls that are practically identical, which will lead to more consistent results. All bowls are registered with the manufacturers, who keep a record of the expiry date of bowls.

There are no testing facilities for bowls in South Africa. Sets of bowls must be sent to the relevant manufacturer overseas to be re-tested and stamped with a new expiry date. However, this is an expensive service. It may be worth simply buying a new set of bowls if you are finicky about playing with a calibrated, non-expired set of bowls.