What did the bowler say to the golfer?

Ask a golfer to play a round without sticks and you’ll get a very funny look.  Ask a bowler to bowl *with* sticks, and the look will be even funnier.  Everybody knows that golfers can’t play without sticks and bowlers can’t play with them …. unless they have a disability.

Not so says Nick Atkins. This Australian entrepreneur is on a one-man crusade to encourage all bowlers, arthritic *and* able-bodied, to use his company’s Hunter Hacksaw bowling arm to improve their game.

Hunter Hacksaw Bowling Arm

Nick points out – and not a lot of people know this – that the use of bowling aids by anyone is not prohibited by the Laws of Bowls.  Neither does he understand why in the UK, people would rather be seen ….  well, would rather not be seen at all using a ‘bowling aid’ due to their close association with disabilities of all kinds.

“That’s crazy” he tells me. “Why wouldn’t you use a product that is almost certain to improve your delivery line and eliminate delivery bounce?”

Bowling Aids

He has a point. Let’s face it, most bowlers already do.  Whether it’s a damp cloth, a tube of Grippo or a tub of Winwax, just about everyone you know is already using a bowling aid.  It’s just that none of us who use these products think of ourselves as ‘disabled’.  The same applies to the ubiquitous ‘lifter’ a staple for thousands of bowlers with a bit of back, knee or hip trouble who would never for a moment consider applying to the Council for a blue badge. 

Henselite Grippo 40gm tube Bowls Mate


There’s also an increasingly popular evolution of the lifter called the Bowlsmate. This adjustable height stick combines the lifter with a ferrule and an ergonomic handle so the bowler can lean forward on it while delivering to provide support and stability.

I suggest to him that, sad as it may be, there is a stigma associated with products perceived as “disability aids” or “enabling products” amongst the able-bodied fraternity which no amount of persuasion will overcome.  Try and tell a Grippo user they’re using a bowling aid and they’ll tell you where to stick it – and it won’t be on your bowls!


Grip, gloves and cloths

Grip is the most ubiquitous bowling aid, and comes in many varieties. Wilgrip  is a small tube of white paste for applying to your fingers. Grippo and Betts are similar products supplied for application to the surface of the bowls. The formulation of these products are closely guarded trade secrets.  They may look like toothpaste, but I promise you toothpaste doesn’t do the trick.  Apply an inch of ‘bowlspaste’ to your bowl, smear around the surface with a cloth, wait for 10 to 20 seconds then buff to a shine.

It’s counter-intuitive of course.  You would expect a smooth shiny surface to be very slippery, but the magic of these pastes is that as you polish, they become stickier.

Bulldog is a block of waxy blue squidgy material which you apply to your fingers – but not to the bowl.  Then there are three branded cloths impregnated with wax – Aero Gorilla, Taylor Grippit and Drakes Pride Get-A-Grip. Keep a square of any of these in your pocket and squeeze it between your fingers between deliveries



Monkey Grip and Winwax are tubs of a carnauba-based formulation that can be applied to bowls or fingers …. or both. Carnauba wax is a natural wax derived from the leaves of the carnauba palm tree (Copernicia prunifera), which is native to northeastern Brazil. It is sometimes referred to as the “queen of waxes” due to its hardness, high melting point, and glossy finish.  Those in the know swear that these two products are the best to use when the rain is pouring down.  Whereas Grippo, Betts and WIlgrip may only be needed once or twice during an 18-end match, the carnauba-based products should be re-applied during downpours to eliminate any loss of grip.

Some bowlers improve their grip by using a thin leather or simulated leather glove on the bowling hand.  Although we stock gloves at Bush Hill Bowls, I don’t like to sell them without examining the patient’s … I mean customer’s motives.  Like a pharmacist who doesn’t like to sell powerful painkillers to a customer without asking a few questions I will start by asking what problem they are hoping to solve by wearing a glove.

Can you guess? 

So is a glove the answer?  In most cases I will advise that it isn’t. And it’s not because there’s more profit selling a set of bowls than selling a glove. But in most cases the bowler hasn’t even considered that their bowls are too big for their hands. This is often the case when a bowler of ten or more years experience has been using the same beloved set for ever, feels wedded to it, and divorce never enters their head.

Until I suggest it.

Sticks and poles to bend my bowls

Bowling arms grasp the bowl firmly in their jaws. For anyone with back or knee issues, whether or not they consider themselves ‘disabled’ a bowling arm has obvious advantages.

Bowling Arm

Because they are available in different lengths to match the height of the user, there is no need to bend back or knees to pick up or deliver the bowl.  There’s even a size to be used from a sedentary position in a wheelchair or rollator. A bowling arm delivers a perfect arc of swing from back to front that doesn’t deviate from the line, whose momentum completely eliminates that annoying but common fault when the human arm swings across the body and compromises the direction of travel.

“It’s not fair” I’ve heard bowlers mutter in friendly, county and even national competitions. “That bowling arm thing gives them an unfair advantage.” 

The number of times I’ve suggested that the mutterer uses one for themselves and explained that it’s entirely legal for *any* bowler to use one!  “Oh no, I wouldn’t use one – I’m not handicapped.” 

Well, I think to myself, you are if they are beating you!

UBI Launcher closeup

Also available are pushers, also known as launchers. These long poles sit on the bowl with a horseshoe shaped front and allow you to literally push or shove the bowl along the green. These are particularly helpful indoors, when resistance from the carpet is not an issue. Anyone could use one, of course, so a bowler with reduced muscle strength in the wrist or forearm can continue to deliver their bowls accurately and to a length.

Next time: Walkers, Rollators and Wheelchairs


Place two jacks (the ‘bubbles’) on the rink, one white and one yellow.

Place the white one on the T and the yellow one on the 23m dot, hence offering one long and one short jack to the bowlers.

The mat is always on the T

Play in teams of 3 or 4

Two bowls per player

LEADS must deliver one bowl to the yellow jack and one bowl to the white jack

Remaining team players deliver, as instructed by their skip, to either the white or yellow jack.

SCORING  3 – 2 – 1  for *each* jack – so a total of 12mpoints available per end.

Bush Hill Bowls is delighted to announce sponsorship of Bowls TV.

This match streaming service broadcast – and archived – on YouTube is going from strength to strength, and Bush Hill Bowls will be working with Bowls TV to offer special promotions and offers to viewers who tune in to the live streams.

We applaud Norfolk’s Wayne Willgress, who beat Barry Jenkins on 26th November 2023 at Potters to win the 2023 Open Singles Circuit grand final for the second successive year.

Open Singles Circuit 2023

Stand and deliver, or step forward and roll?

There is no ‘golden rule’ about what stance a new bowler should adopt. There are some helpful pointers which may help the novice evolve a style which produces good results consistently.

Stability is key. So the feet may be side by side as you stand and deliver or in the ‘shooter’ or stepped position, and the bowler may (or may not) take a step forwards as the delivery arm begins the rear-wards pendulum swing. The essential check to make is that there is balance throughout the delivery action.

Follow-through is an essential part of delivery in all ball sports. Doesn’t matter if you are a cricket, tennis player, golfer, footballer or bowler (tenpin or lawn!): completing the action through the line of travel of the ball or bowl will help achieve accuracy.

Smooth transfer of the bowl from hand to green is a good thing, giving maximum control over direction and bias balance.

Think of an aircraft’s wheels at the moment of touchdown.  A less than perfect landing results in clouds of rubber smoke as the tyres slide and bounce on the tarmac.

The perfect landing is smoke-free, and that’s the ideal visualisation for a bowls delivery as the bowl makes contact with the grass or carpet. Flexing the knees to lower the body and get the delivery hand closer to the ground is good practice.

On outdoor greens, dropping the bowl from waist-high onto the green is frowned on because of the damage (divots) it causes to the lawn.

Indoors, although a high release is not regarded as good practice, many older, not to say elderly bowlers with back and knee injuries successfully deliver their bowls from knee height or even higher with surprising accuracy onto the jack.

Finally the novice bowler cannot do better than remember the golfer’s refrain: “The more I practice, the luckier I Get!”



Is there a right and wrong way to deliver a bowl? Absolutely not – there are as many fine delivery styles as there are good bowlers. The pictures above illustrate some good – and bad – pointers to achieving a successful bowls delivery. Read more

Do you remember that particular game when your opponent’s bowls performance seemed to be intolerably good?

You felt somehow inferior … or intimidated .. or some other emotion, from the very first moment they stood on the mat to bowl the first trial end. Read more

Bowls Glove?

Could this be the best bowls glove?

Ever keen to see innovation in the sport your correspondent struck gold in the first week of the new outdoor season. It is wet, of course, and the green is wet. Holding onto a slippery wet bowl is never easy.

Choosing a grip-enhancing product is on many bowlers minds at this time of year. Sales of Grippo, Monkey Grip, Wilgrip, Bulldog Grip and Champion spray polish (when meagre stocks can be found) are always strong in April and May. Read more

Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors it is important to ensure you have a good grip on your bowl at the moment of delivery. At Bush Hill Bowls, we are here to help you to get just that. For starters we offer a wide array of useful products you can rely on. In addition, we have outlined a few tips below so you can improve your finger placement. Read more

At Bush Hill Bowls we strive to offer the perfect range of products so that people of all ages can get involved in the sport. We have options to suit any skill levels too. One thing we understand is how tricky it can be for young people to start playing. That is why we offer a selection of bowls for juniors, sized for smaller hands so it’s easier for them to get familiar with the sport. Read more

Our company specialises in providing bowlers with top quality bowls shirts. The merchandise we have is suitable for indoor play when the rain is pouring and for outside events when the sun is out. Not only this, but everything is very reasonably priced too.

Are there clothing requirements? Read more