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Lawn bowls - touchers, ditchers and measures

Updated on September 22, 2008

A toucher in bowls is a bowl that touches the jack before coming to rest as it is bowled. It may kiss the jack as it rolls past; it may "trail" the jack by pushing it away from its previous position but staying it with it, it may knock the jack to one side, or it may simply come to rest touching the jack. It might even knock the jack into the ditch. However, it is NOT a toucher if it is knocked against the jack by a later bowl. It is also not a toucher if it rolls outside the confines of the rink on either side after touching the jack, as it would then be removed from play.

Touchers are always marked, either by a piece of chalk or a "puffer", as in the first picture below, because it is important to know whether a ditcher must be removed or not. Sometimes the action of marking a bowl might affect its position ot that of another bowl of the jack, it which case it can be "nominated" as being a toucher.

The second picture shows a bowl in the ditch. It may have been knocked into the ditch by another bowl, or it may have been sent with too much force and rolled into the ditch as a result. If it is a toucher it stays there. If not, it is removed and placed on the bank, as in the third picture. A toucher in the ditch can end up counting in the final score, whereas this is not true of a bowl that has been removed.

In the fourth picture it is clear which is the shot bowl, but which is second? Does the "blue" player score two shots or only one? The only way to find out is to measure the distance between the jack and both the bowls in dispute. A bowls measure is like a tape measure, but it can be locked in place. The block part of the measure is placed against the jack and the tape extended until it just touches the closest point of the bowl. The tape is then locked and the whole thing moved carefully to measure the gap between the jack and the other bowl. If it does more than touch the second bowl, the latter is the winner - if there is daylight between the end of the tape and the bowl, the former is clearly closer.

Sometimes the gap is too close for the tape to be extended, in which case small callipers must be used, which are usually to be found on the side of a bowls measure. There are sometimes occasions when the gap is too large for one person to measure, and even times when the tape is too short!

If it appears that the two bowls are exactly the same distance from the jack, the end is declared to be tied and no score is counted, assuming that the measure is for the shot bowl. If it is for the second or subsequent bowl, no extra score is counted beyond what has been agreed already.

Marking a toucher
Marking a toucher
In the ditch! Was it a toucher?
In the ditch! Was it a toucher?
No! So out it comes!
No! So out it comes!
Does blue have two shots or only one?
Does blue have two shots or only one?
The only way to find out is to get down and measure it!
The only way to find out is to get down and measure it!


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    • The Indexer profile imageAUTHOR

      John Welford 

      6 years ago from UK

      Yes it is. This happens quite often as the result of a "wick", which is when a bowl touches the edge of another and has its course deflected on to the jack. This can be played for or happen by accident - to the great annoyance of the opposition!

    • profile image

      Georgina Kelman 

      6 years ago

      If a bowl hits another bowl before hitting the jack, is it still a "toucher"?


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