Hexham Elvaston Bowling Club

Frequently Asked Questions

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Here we deal with some of the issues which potential (or new) players raise

On this page:

A game for all ages.

What do you wear?

What's the cost of kit?

What would I need?

What are the fees?

How long is a game?

What are "Jumbles"?

Is a trial session easy?

What if I'm no good?

Is there a social side?

I have small hands

Do you play when it rains?

Can I give it a go, then?


Bowls delivery

Bias marks on bowls

You may also want to look at our beginners guide to the game - and in due course our blog on various aspects of the game - what to do and what not to do on the green.

Isn't it just a game for old people?

Definitely not - although the nice thing is that you can continue to play into older age.  In fact, the very best players are younger - many in their 20's - while at national level there are competitions reserved for those over 55.  The important thing is that all age groups can and do play together. And it's also a sport where men and women can play on the same footing, against one another or in the same team. Above all, this is a physical outdoor sport, so if you want to stay active, it's well worth considering

Don't you dress in formal white gear?

Some clubs in some parts of the world wear white but in this area all-white dress is reserved for major events (County matches or finals of championships, etc).  Most clubs these days have a special outfit for competitive matches (grey below the waist, with mainly white sports tops), and usually have some kind of dress code for club competitions.  No one in our area has any restriction on dress for informal games between friends. People often forget that most sports these days (football, cricket, hockey) require teams to buy matching kit - bowls is just the same.

It must be expensive to get kitted out, all the same?

A set of bowls would be your biggest outlay, by far.  Modern coloured bowls cost around £200-250 for a set of four, with black ones a little less - but these can and should last for decades.  Beginners will always find that a club will be willing to lend one or more sets so that they get the feel of it.  You could also pick up perfectly good second-hand sets for about £40-£50, and nearly-new ones for under £100.

Bowls shoes have to be flat-soled, and these days look more like trainers: expect to pay around £40-£50, though you can pay less for basic models.  White shirts or blouses or just that, nothing special, and for beginners grey trousers are not hard to find.  A waterproof jacket will be useful, too, when you get to the point of playing in competitions - again, many clubs have a few spares that can be borrowed, but in due course you'd want your own.  Also in due course would be the issue of club shirts - our own are sold at cost price, about £20.  

Of course, there are other items of equipment (measures, etc) but they're not necessary when you start.  A lot of the costs outlined here will last for many years.  Compare this to other sports, and it isn't that much, really. 

So what would I need if I did come along?

Just comfortable clothes (casual or sports wear) and flat-soled shoes - trainers are fine.  Evenings can be cool, so have something warm, just in case. That's it - we can supply all the equipment, including bowls. 

What about costs for playing?

Our annual fee is £85.  But new bowlers pay half price for the first year.  For that fee you have pretty well unlimited use of the green for the season.  Oh, and for juniors the fee is... zero!  Can it get any better?

How long does a game last?

Outdoor bowls matches are seldom timed, but a good rule of thumb is that team matches (whether fours, triples or pairs) will take about two hours.  If it's a friendly match between clubs there's quite likely to be a tea afterwards.

Singles matches aren't timed, and generally are played to a set score (first to 21).  Therefore they may be over very quickly, or on the other hand they may last for an hour and a half or so.

Our own "Jumbles" sessions last for two hours (15 ends) in the evening, but a bit longer in the afternoon as there are three games of six ends each (plus a tea break of 20 minutes or so).  The good news is that time on the green just seems to fly by!

What are these Jumbles you keep talking about?

In some clubs they refer to the Hat competitions - in other words, the names of all members who are taking part are drawn from the hat.  In our club we just use a cloth bag - but it ensures that the names are all mixed up, with no deliberate choosing of teams.

What happens at a first session?

One of our members or coaches would show you the basics of the game and answer any questions.  You could then practise or find out more about the game, either for a short time or for longer if you wish.  There'd be no commitment or pressure. 

What if I'm no good?

You'd be unusual.  Some players are obviously very good indeed, but no one is expecting you to be international standard.  Remember that bowls is essentially a team game.  All the people you play with will have gone through the learning process, and will understand any early difficulties.  Our club, like most others, has a wide range of abilities, and the Jumbles sessions will have a good mix - everyone is more or less good.  While it takes a lot to get to the top levels of the sport, it's relatively easy to play well enough for such club events.

It still sounds a bit serious

A lot of players do take bowls very seriously indeed - it's a proper sport, after all.  But it's also a sport with a huge social element, and you get to meet a lot of people.  You can play at any level you're comfortable with.  If you want to be a social bowler, or play only in the Jumbles, that's fine - no one will push you to play if you don't want to.

I have small hands.  Are the bowls different sizes?

Yes, they come in seven sizes (0-6), though most people use size 4 or less.  The club has several sets of the smaller sizes (0-2) and you could try these out for size and comfort before committing. 

What happens if it rains?

It depends on the type of rain.  Perhaps it's best to think in terms of cricket or golf - for each sport rain is acceptable and expected, but at a certain point it becomes obvious that it is better to stop.  In bowls the recognised point in an important (league or cup) game is when water starts to lie on the green.  For internal club competitions or Jumbles a sensible decision is taken when all agree to pause or call the whole thing off.

I'd like to give it a go - but no promises about joining!

That's fine.  Just go to our Contacts page and we'll sort something out.  We have several taster sessions in May, but could organise individual introductory sessions if you preferred.  Go on, you've nothing to lose, and a lot to gain!

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