When people watch bowls for the first time – either on tv or in person – they all wonder “why are they spraying that bowl?”. In short the bowl is marked because it is a “toucher”.
But what is a toucher? And what does it mean for the rest of the game? In this guide I hope to explain everything you need to know about “touchers” in lawn bowls.
What is a “toucher” in lawn bowls?
The term “toucher” refers to a bowl that touches the jack before it comes to rest after being delivered by the bowler.
It is important to note, that a toucher is only marked if the bowl comes into direct contact with the jack (i.e. it doesn’t move the jack by knocking another bowl into it).
Finally, a bowl can only be marked as a toucher on it’s initial delivery (a bowler just bowled the bowl). Once it has stopped moving it can no longer become a toucher, even if another bowler knocks it on to the jack.
A bowl is only marked as a toucher for the duration of the end, and any chalk marks must be rubbed off before the start of the next end.
How do you mark a toucher in lawn bowls?
The two most common ways to mark a toucher is by putting an “X” on it with a stick of chalk, or by spaying it with a special chalk spray.
When I first started the chalk sticks were pretty much the only way you saw a toucher being marked, however the sprays are far more convieniant.
The sprays allow you to mark the bowl without touching it. This is can be important, especially if the bowl stops on one of the edges, as marking it with a piece of chalk can be difficult without moving it, or knocking it over.
Sprays are also useful as they can be made in different colours. This was never a problem 10-15 years ago as most bowls were black, however with bowls now being bought in every colour combination you can think of its important to have a good contrast colour to make the toucher mark clear.
Why are touchers important in lawn bowls?
So, why are touchers marked in the first place? The main reason is in case the bowl ends up in the ditch at the back of the rink.
Normally, when a bowl ends up in the ditch it is considered out of play, and doesn’t count when the end finishes. This is not the case for touchers.
When a toucher ends up in the ditch it is still live and can be included in the count.
For more information on this read my full guide on what happens when the jack is in the ditch which covers several scenarios for when either the jack or a bowl ends up in the ditch.
Touchers are an important part of the game of bowls. The benefit of keeping a bowl live, especially when the jack has ended up in the ditch too, cannot be over stated.
It can be hard to get a toucher, and sometimes a bit risky, as you can never be sure where the jack will end up, so its best done with caution.