What Does It Mean to Take Grass in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Kitty Driver
  • Date: August 28, 2023

The most-used expressions heard on the bowling green is surely “Take Grass”, “Take More Grass” and “You Didn’t Take Grass!”

These expressions come from skips who are frustrated at the their team members not playing their bowls wide enough, causing narrow bowls that drop away from the head before they can glide in, coming to rest close to the jack.

When should you take a lot of grass?

In general terms, on fast greens you should take more grass. There is less resistance to the bowl running, so the bias (the specific shape of the bowl) can take effect, allowing a good turn on the bowl.

The slower the green (e.g. an un-mown lawn or a wet green) the straighter the bowl runs, so slightly less grass is required.

But the general rule is: Remember to take grass!

In the photo, to which I have added a line to illustrate the centre line, you can see that the bowler is not playing the bowl down the centre line.

Far from it.

He is taking grass (i.e. playing the bowl wide of the centre line) in the hopes that, when the bowl reaches the correct distance, it will have turned nicely into the head, coming to rest close to the jack – hopefully closer than the opponent’s nearest bowl.

Make sure take grass so that your bowl curves nicely

How to make sure you take enough grass

There are a few easy steps to make sure you take sufficient grass when delivering your bowl:

  • Stand behind the mat before you bowl and imagine the path of your bowl. Visualise the “line” the bowl will take
  • Step onto the mat with your anchor foot (the foot on the same side as your delivery arm) in line with the path
  • Deliver your bowl down the path you visualised
  • Once your have delivered your bowl, stand in front of the mat – in line with the mat – and watch your bowl go down the green
  • Learn from the bowl. Do you need to take more grass or less grass next time?

Do all bowls need the same grass?

No. Every model of bowl (the famous brands are Drakes Price, Aero, Henselite and Taylor, with each having several models) have different biases. The bias of the bowl you use must be taken into account when you are figuring out how much grass to take. This eventually becomes second nature.

Some bowls take a gentle hockey stick-shaped path, while others take a wide berth. (The old Henselite Classics and Henselite Super-Grips are famous for their beautiful, wide, forgiving curve.)

Generally, the front ranks use bowls that require more grass, while the back ranks use bowls that can be used to play a variety of shots – models such as the Drake Pride Professional and the Henselite Tiger Pro.

When should you take less grass?

If your bowls are ending wide of the jack then you should adjust your line to play more narrowly, which effectively means taking less grass.

Concentrate well during your trial ends to get a take on if there is a swing hand (one that requires a lot of grass) or a narrow hand (one that requires you to take less grass).