What Are Wind Socks for in Lawn Bowling?

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

The purpose of wind socks placed near to bowling greens is so that players can gauge the strength and direction of the wind. Information gained from a wind sock is only a rough guide because the wind conditions may be different down at the green as opposed to high up at the end of a pole.

However, when there is a stiff breeze (as indicated by the wind sock shown in the photo) then players do gain some comfort from glancing at wind socks to see the direction of the wind.

Does wind have an effect in playing lawn bowls?

Generally players believe that wind does have an effect on bowls as they move up the green. What exactly the effect is, and when it happens, and if you can compensate for it, is where players differ. The same situation applies in golf and tennis.

Personally I ignore the wind sock when playing bowls. Even if I adjust for a breeze successfully (an luckily) on one end there is no telling that the same wind conditions will prevail in the next end. So why bother? I simply feel the breeze on my face and body, then deliver my bowl according to my instincts.

And all the players experience the same inconsistency of wind over consecutive ends so why worry about it?

This may be because I play with heavier bowls. Players who use smaller bowls (No. 1, Zero and Double Zero) definitely complain more about the wind controlling their bowls.

What if the wind sock shows a strong breeze?

The conventional wisdom says that a bowler should play “into the wind” if he has a choice. Thus if the wind blowing strongly east to west across the green, one should play up the west side of the rink, into the wind. The notion seems to be that less adjustment will be required in terms of line and weight than if the player played “with the wind”.

If a player plays with the wind, then the wind will take her bowls much further than if she played into the wind. That would require a much wider line (more grass) and correspondingly a greater adjustment in weight. Obviously more skill is needed for this manoeuvre.

More tips for playing in windy conditions

If you keep your ends short then there will be correspondingly less wind influence on the bowls because the distance they will travel is less. So deliver the jack for short ends in a strong wind.

Aggressive play (firm shots and aggressive drives) could also help. A strong bowl is likely to be more accurate when the wind is gusting unpredictably.

Are there alternatives to wind socks?

Flags are good substitutes for wind socks when you are looking to find wind direction

If there is no wind sock around you can use anything that the wind moves. Some of these are:

  • Club, district and national flags
  • Advertising banners
  • Tree branches
  • Clothing
  • Anything else that flaps in a breeze

Some bowls clubs have metal weather vanes on their roofs to indicate wind direction.

Where do you get wind socks for a bowls club?

Look for a sponsor for wind socks from car dealerships, and tyres and motor car parts businesses. If you don’t come right, search the web for suppliers or ask the local air field or airport where they got their wind socks. They will be happy to point you in the right direction.