What is a Wood in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 6, 2023

Lawn bowls is a popular sport that requires precision and strategy. One of the key components of the game is the wood, also known as a bowl. In fact, the word “bowl” is replacing the word “wood” in lawn bowls, simply because these items are no longer made of natural materials. Instead they are composed of sophisticated plastics.

In the photo here you can see how far “woods” have come. In the middle is a Thomas Taylor wood (literally made of wood) which was manufactured in the first half of last century. The red bowl is the leading edge bowl the Henselite Tiger Pro so beloved of the Malaysian international players. On the right is the ever-popular Drakes Pride Protea model with a wonderful dappled finish.

In this article, we will explore the concept of woods (or bowls)in lawn bowls and delve into the most interesting facts and attributes associated with them.

1. Introduction to bowls

Lawn bowls is a game that involves rolling biased balls, known as woods or bowls, with the aim of getting them as close as possible to a smaller target ball called the jack. The woods are specifically designed to curve as they travel, making the game more challenging and strategic.

2. What is lawn bowls?

Lawn bowls is a precision sport that originated in the 13th century and has since gained popularity worldwide. It is played on a carefully manicured green surface known as a bowling green or on artificial surfaces outside or inside. The objective of the game is to deliver your woods closer to the jack (the white target bowl) than your opponents.

3. The importance of woods in lawn bowls

The bowls themselves play a crucial role in the game of lawn bowls. They are the main equipment used by players to achieve their desired outcome. Each player typically has a set of four bowls, which they use strategically to outmaneuver their opponents and gain an advantage on the green.

4. What is a wood?

A wood (or bowls) is a biased ball used in lawn bowls. It is asymmetrical, with a flattened side known as the bias. This bias causes the wood to curve or bend as it travels down the green. The amount of bias can vary depending on the specific model of wood and the player’s style of play.

5. The Components of a Wood

To better understand the characteristics of woods, it is essential to explore their components. The following elements contribute to the performance of a wood:


The bias is a crucial component of a bowl. It determines the wood’s trajectory and how much it will curve during its journey. Different woods have varying degrees of bias, allowing players to select the one that suits their playing style and the specific conditions of the green.


The grip refers to the surface of the wood that comes into contact with the player’s hand. It is essential for maintaining control and delivering the bowl accurately. Different woods have different grip patterns, providing players with options based on their personal preferences.

Size and Weight

Woods come in various sizes and weights to accommodate different players’ needs. The size and weight of a bowl can impact its stability, feel, and control. Players often choose woods that feel comfortable and well-balanced in their hands, enabling them to deliver consistent shots.

5. Different Types of Woods

Over the years, the materials used in crafting woods for lawn bowls have evolved. Let’s explore two main types:

Traditional Lignum Vitae Woods (no longer commonly used)

Traditionally, woods were made from lignum vitae, a dense and durable timber known for its natural self-lubricating properties. These woods have a long history and are favored by many experienced social players for their unique characteristics and craftsmanship.

However, in twenty years of playing bowls I have never seen such bowls played in competitions. The old bowls featured in this photo, in their original leather case, is a bowling antique: A full set of Vintage R G Lawrie of Glasgow lignum vitae lawn bowls.

Old Woods Made of lignum vitae

Modern Composite Bowls (a huge variety of models and colours)

In recent years, modern composite materials have been introduced in the manufacturing of woods. These woods often combine different materials, such as resins, fibres and melamine, to create lightweight yet robust options. They offer enhanced durability and performance while maintaining a consistent bias.

Pictured here is a selection of lovely modern, multi-coloured lawn bowls – but they get even more exotic than this. And, if you are prepared to pay the price, you can customise your bowls completely.

New composite bowls made of plastics, fibres and resins

6. Choosing the Right Wood

Selecting the right bowl is essential for any lawn bowls player. Here are some factors to consider:

Personal Preference

Every player has their own style and preferences when it comes to bowls. Some may prefer a more aggressive bias, while others may opt for a gentler, hockey-stick shaped curve. Trying out different bowls and experimenting with their biases can help players find the perfect match for their playing style.

Playing Conditions

The conditions of the green can greatly influence the choice of bowl. Faster greens may require models with a stronger bias to compensate for the increased speed, while slower greens may benefit from bowls with a more subtle curve. It’s important to adapt and select woods that suit the specific conditions of the game.

7. Interesting Facts about Woods in Lawn Bowls

Woods hold intriguing qualities that contribute to the sport of lawn bowls. Consider the following interesting facts:

  • Longevity and Durability: Well-maintained woods can last for decades, making them a worthwhile investment for avid lawn bowls players. Proper care, including regular cleaning and polishing, can help extend their lifespan.
  • Maintenance and Care: Cleaning and polishing woods is an important part of their maintenance. It not only keeps them looking pristine but also ensures optimal performance on the green. Many players have their preferred cleaning routines and products to maintain the condition of their woods.

8. Conclusion

Woods are an integral part of the game of lawn bowls, providing players with the means to showcase their skills and strategy. Understanding the components, types, and selection process of woods can help players make informed decisions and enhance their performance on the green.

In conclusion, the wood in lawn bowls is a specialized biased ball that plays a significant role in the game. Whether made from traditional lignum vitae or modern composite materials, the wood’s bias, grip, size, and weight all contribute to its performance.

By choosing the right wood and considering personal preferences and playing conditions, players can optimize their game and enjoy the strategic nature of lawn bowls.

How often should I replace my woods?

There is no set time frame for replacing woods. It depends on their condition and performance. If a wood becomes damaged or loses its bias, it may be time to consider replacing your set.

What should I consider when selecting the weight of my woods?

The weight of the woods should be comfortable for you to handle and deliver accurately. It’s recommended to try out different weights and see which feels most balanced and controlled in your hand.

Are there any restrictions on the size of woods in lawn bowls competitions?

Yes, different competitions may have regulations regarding the maximum size of woods. Typically, woods should not exceed a certain diameter to ensure fair