What is a Wick in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 17, 2023

A wick in lawn bowls means that a bowl travelling towards the target white ball (the jack) hits another bowl in play, or more than one bowl, before reaching its final resting place. The wick is also known as the carrom (archaic term). The word “wick” is derived from the game of curling.

Is a wick in lawn bowls good?

The wick has a bad reputation because it is so often accidental. For instance, a skip may ask a player for a certain shot and, although the player tries his best to achieve it, the bowl may wick off other bowls to achieve an unexpected, unplanned outcome.

Often a player delivers a bowl and gets the shot (lying closest to the jack) and yet may seem displeased because the shot was achieved with a wick. In other words, sheer luck led to the outcome. That’s because a wick is more often than not unplanned.

It is quite understandable that a wick is generally unplanned, with the sheer number of permutations possible of where all the bowls (sometimes up to 15 bowls) lie on the green in the vicinity of the jack when a player delivers a bowl.

Are there different kinds of wicks?

There are different types of wicks ranging from a gentle “kiss” against another bowl (as illustrated in the photo) right up to a strong, billiard-style wick where the bowl carroms off a number of bowls.

Can you plan to play a wick?

Sometimes a skip asks an accomplished to play a wick, particularly if an opponent’s bowl lies level with the jack. A gentle wick off that bowl may achieve shot.

Really experienced players sometimes take a long look at the head before going down to the mat to play a bowl. Almost sub-consciously they compute a wick, sometimes a complicated wick, in order to achieve the shot. If the shot is successful the player should not expect to be congratulated. That’s because although he knows he played the shot deliberately, no one else knows or believes that. It’s just the nature of wicking.

Can a bowl that has wicked off another bowl be a toucher?

Yes, a bowl that has wicked off any other bowl in play is still a toucher if it touches the jack before coming to rest. The Laws of the Sport of Bowls do not expressly say this but that is how the game is played.

Etiquette and the wick

It is customary in lawn bowls etiquette not to clap and congratulate the player who has achieved a good outcome involving a wick. There is a tacit understanding in lawn bowls that if a wick gets you the shot, it was just luck. So even if your player plays a winning shot by wicking off other bowls, hold in your elation. Don’t even smile. Just carry on the game as if this happens every day.