Drakes Pride PRO 50
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Magenta Red 3 Heavy 2028 stamp £280
While on the lookout for hot new products for serious bowlers I came across this advert. Those of you who know your scriptures will immediately hear Luke 6:38:
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
OFF WITH THE OLD, ON WITH THE NEW
Item 1: Not so much a night of the long knives, more the morning of the guillotine. Never have so many ministers been culled in one day than by Boris this week. This is a BIG CHANGE.
Item 2: In comparison, the loss of a single bowlswear supplier might not seem so terrible. Emsmorn, which closed its doors gracefully this week after 37 years, cited a reduction in customers and a big hike in overseas production costs. In the world of bowls this too is a BIG CHANGE.
Item 3: The Markle effect. Yes Meghan Markle has become a fan of lawn bowls after watching people playing from her window at Frogmore Cottage on the Queen’s Windsor estate. The entranced Duchess chatted to players from the Royal Household Bowling club next door to her home.
This could be THE BIGGEST CHANGE OF ALL. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told the Daily Express: “One day someone will be a bowls champion because of what Meghan said.”
Alexie Sayle doesn’t play bowls. If he did he’d probably come up with a new lyric about the datestamp on lawn bowls.
Thing is, when you getta new motor the reg number tells you how old it is. If you are buying second hand motor, the reg number is a good indication of how long it will last.
When you getta new set of bowls, things aren’t so straightforward.
I’m writing this in February 2019. According to World Bowls rules, a new set of bowls is legal for competition play for 10 years from the date stamped on the bowl.
But try and buy a set of bowls today with a 2019 stamp on it and you won’t find one anywhere.
The best you’ll find is the ’28 stamp. Subtract February 2019 from December 2028 and you get nine years and ten months worth of value. In other words you’ve been short changed by two months.
It gets worse. If you buy your new set of bowls in November 2019 they’ll also have a ’28 stamp on them.
Now you’ve been short-changed by eleven months.
In any other field of commerce where weights and measures are involved, this would be the sort of thing that could be flagged up to Trading Standards.
But in the world of bowls, it seems, trading standards are something none of the manufacturers – or the world bowls authorities – are aware of.
It’s embarrassing for us, as retailers. Quite often a customer will say “Can I have a discount? I’m only getting nine and a half years out of these new bowls, but I’m paying for ten!”
We then have to explain that the manufacturers don’t give us a discount until the bowls have less than eight years of the ten left to run.
So what’s the answer? There could be a sliding scale for pricing, based on the number of months/years of life a bowl has left.
Just like a motor dealer will offer a larger discount in the weeks before a new number plate is due to come in, so bowls manufacturers could price their bowls to the trade to take the competition life of a set of bowls into account.
We would then pay less for a set in June of any year than we do in January and could pass that saving on to our customers.
What do you think? Do you look at the datestamp when you buy your bowls?
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.
- The body position is low. As a result the bowl will not ‘bounce’.
- The stride is long so there is ample forward momentum producing energy.
- The trailing foot is ‘on or over the mat’ so the delivery is legal.
- The left hand is anchored on the left knee, as a result the delivery platform has stability.
- The left shoulder, eyes and delivery hand are aligned to the bowls delivery line so increasing the likelihood of the bowl starting out on the right path.
- The fingers of the delivery hand are splayed sideways – they should be pointing directly downwards. As a result the bowl will start its trajectory at a cant, defeating the natural kick-in point of the bias.
- The leading foot is pointing in a completely different direction to the delivery line so the body is fighting with itself about which line the delivery should take. It should be aligned to the aiming point.
- The body is attempting to move in at least five different directions at once (see red lines) so once again the energy that could be focused along the delivery line is being undermined.
Only this week I had the painful task of ‘rescuing’ bowls equipment from a park bowls club.
It was a true rescue, because 24 hours later the club secretary handed the gate keys back to the council.
The rescued stuff is here on our web site and available free to any club that can collect it.
So I asked myself, Why are so many park bowls clubs shutting down?
Surely not because our leading bowls players don’t make headlines by getting snapped drunk in charge of a pedalo?
The answer most often given is a combination of declining membership and a withdrawal of council funding.
In the last five years dozens, if not hundreds of publicly-funded lawn bowls greens closed and are now growing wild or being sold to developers.
While the financial squeeze on local authority budgets is clearly to blame, budgeting is all about choices.
The real question is why do local authorities choose public bowls greens for the axe instead of finding some other way of saving money?
One answer has to be that the sport itself doesn’t have a strong enough voice where it counts – where these financial decision are being made.
Can this voice get stronger? A crude but effective response is to find a way to introduce the cult of celebrity into the game of lawn bowls. Celebrity brings attention, media focus, and interest.
Paparazzi are just not interested in the likes of Alex Marshall, Ellen Faulkner, Sian Honnor, Michael Stepney, Andy Thomson, Carla Banks, Greg Harlow or Gareth Humphreys.
They are not celebrities – their names don’t rank alongside Bobby Moore, Will Carling, Jayne Torvill or Lewis Hamilton. Are their sporting achievements are less worthy?
Is it because their sport isn’t televised week-in, week out? Or that their behaviour is too good to warrant regular media exposure?
Or am I missing something?
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.
It was almost as if every time they picked up their bowls that they did it with something that could only be described as ….togetherness. They stepped onto the mat with what appeared to be eager anticipation.
Their bowls went on to perform exactly as they expected them to, delivery after delivery, end after end.
As the match continued you began to experience a a niggling doubt that some other make or model of bowl might be out there that would, if only you were lucky enough to find it, help you to bowl with such confidence.
Niggling doubts are one of the most performance defeating feelings a bowler can have. They can be about anything – your appearance, your team-mates, your recent run of form or lack of it, or something elsewhere in your life that’s bugging you.
Yet the feel of a much-loved bowl in hand can do much to wipe away niggles that might otherwise distract your mind and spoil your play.
So if, with bowl in hand, you feel warmth and confidence – then you probably are in love with your bowls.
But if the idea of receiving an emotional fillip from your bowls sounds crazy; if, in fact, you lug them around with you like so much shopping in a bag then you are probably not emotionally bonding with your bowls and that means it’s time to start looking for love!
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.
Bowls gloves are also selling well, but that may be about to change. Seen on the green this week – a bowler wearing a latex surgical glove.
Since it is perfectly acceptable to use leather or faux-leather gloves, and/or apply any of the above-mentioned products to either hands or bowls, there can be no reason to think that the wearing of a surgical glove should be singled out as unacceptable.
The laws of the sport don’t ban them. You couldn’t say wearing a surgical glove gives a player any greater advantage than wearing a traditional bowls glove or using a wax or rubber-based grip paste or solution.
Unless, that is, the latex glove is such a superior solution to the problem of slippery bowls that anyone who is not using one could be said to be at a distinct disadvantage. Even then, anyone who wants to can choose to wear a latex glove.
Financially they make good sense too. A bowls glove from Drakes Pride or OBG costs around £9.50. A box of 200 (yes, two hundred) disposable latex gloves can be had for a similar amount.
I’m off to the green to try a latex glove…