Lawn Bowls Lifters or Pick Up Sticks: My Pet Peeve

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

I love the game of lawn bowls but I have some pet peeves about the game too. One of them is the impolite handling of bowl and jack lifters on the green.

Yes, lifters are important for people with back, hip, leg or ankle trouble. If a lifter is left at one end of the green when I go up to the mat I don’t mind using the lifter myself for convenience..

But lifters are the cause of problems too. Here are some of them:

  • Those that bend down to pick up their bowls risk losing an eye if an eye comes into contact with the lifter handle. It should be mandatory for the handle to be covered with brightly covered tape.
  • When skips cross the green to start a new end, they often find that a lifter is lying there at risk of being struck by a jack or bowl. Now it becomes the skips’ responsibility to throw the lifter onto the bank. That’s wrong.
  • Lifters are often badly made. There are professionally made, collapsible lifters available from the major bowling equipment manufacturers, but often bowlers get friends to make a pick up stick cheap. The result if often a lifter that doesn’t lift bowls properly because the lifting circle is the wrong size or shape. This results in bowls falling hard onto the surface of the green.
  • Sometimes players who do not need a lifter and could do with the exercise involved in bending down to lift their bowls by hand. There is some kind of status attached to having a lifter, in other words. This should not be encouraged. A lifter is a necessary aid for some, but it is not a status symbol or a fashionable accessory.

An example of the misuse of a lawn bowl lifter

Coincidentally, just after I wrote the first half of this article I played a social game of bowls where a gross misuse of not one but three lifters was evident. The players whose lifters they belonged to were oblivious of the discomfort that their inconsideration was causing.

No one knew whose lifter was whose; the players who used them left them lying around for the skip to pick up and place on the bank; and, worst of all, one of the lifters was left lying around near the mat. A lady stepped on it, bending the lifter out of shape. Fortunately, she was not injured.

The right way to manage a lifter

The best way to use your lifter is to carry it from end to end with you. Leave it next to you when you deliver your bowls and pick it up immediately afterwards. Experienced players who understand the etiquette of bowls do this.

Some players will tell you that it’s best to leave one or two lifters at either end of the rink for everyone to use. What nonsense. That means no one is responsible for the lifters then, leading to the kind of chaos mentioned above.

If you are going to use a lifter, it is your responsibility that its presence is not a nuisance, or a liability, to the other players.