Marking a game of Bowls.

The aim of this page is to provide new bowlers with an insight into the conduct, relationships and protocol for marking club or Controlling body singles ties. This is an important and responsible task which requires concentration and respect.


Most bowling games involve a team of players who all have additional tasks to perform over and above the delivery of their bowls. These additional tasks include :

  1. Setting and centering of the mat
  2. Centering of the Jack
  3. Ensuring that the Jack is set at a legal distance from front of mat or front ditch.
  4. Ensuring that the scorecard is marked correctly at the completion of each end.
  5. Ensuring that Touchers are correctly marked.
  6. Ensuring that the rules of the sport are adhered to at all times.

During a single handed game (singles) these duties have to be shared between the players or allocated to a third person who acts on behalf of the two opponents. This third person is identified as the Marker.

Who appoints a Marker?

The marker can be appointed by :

  1. The Controlling Body (World, National or County Executive)
  2. The Hosting Club
  3. At the request of participating players

Duties of a Marker

The duties of a marker are defined in the Laws of the Sport of Bowls under Section 14 : Duties of Officials (Rule 55). They provide the marker with the authority to act on behalf of the controlling bodies.

  1. In the absence of the umpire, the marker shall control the game in accordance with the Laws of the Sport of Bowls.
  2. In the absence of the umpire , the marker shall before play commences, examine all bowls for the imprint of the World Bowls Stamp such imprint to be clearly visible , and shall ascertain by measurement the width of the rink of play.
  3. The marker shall centre the jack and place a full length jack 2 metres from the ditch in compliance with Law 25.
  4. The marker shall ensure that the jack is not less than 23m from the mat line after it has been centered.
  5. The marker shall stand at one side of the rink and to the rear of the jack.
  6. The marker shall answer any specific question relating to the existing state of the head , while the player is in possession of the rink and when requested, indicate the shot (if possible).
  7. The marker shall mark the touchers immediately they come to rest and remove the marks from non-touchers. With the agreement of both opponents , he shall remove all dead bowls from the green and the ditch.He shall mark the position of the jack and touchers which are in the ditch. (Laws 29 and 36)
  8. The marker shall not move or cause to be moved either jack or bowls until each player has agreed to the number of shots.
  9. The marker shall measure carefully all doubtful shots when requested to by either player. If unable to come to a decision satisfactory to the players , the marker shall call the umpire. If an official umpire has not been appointed , the marker shall appoint one.
  10. The decision of the umpire shall be final.
  11. The marker shall enter scores at each end indicate to the players the state of the game.
  12. When the game is finished, the marker shall see that the scorecard containing the names of the players is signed by the players and the time of the conclusion of the game recorded on the card and is disposed of according to the rules of the competition.
  13. The marker shall remove the mat from the previous end as necessary.

Technique for Markers

Marking should be a relaxing, informative and an enjoyable experience however this responsibility does require the marker to be vigilant, concentrating on both players and bowls at all times. If markers conduct themselves effectively , players gain their confidence. The side effect is frequently a higher standard of play which is beneficial to all, players and spectators alike.

The converse is also true. bad marking disrupts the flow of the game, frequently leads to errors on scorecards and can at worst cause a riot on the green. This is evident in side games such as Top 5 singles or Top 10 competitions.

When should I decline to mark a tie?

The answer to this question should be obvious although not always apparent. Don't mark a tie if you :

  1. Are particularly tired and not capable of concentrating.
  2. Don't have the time to allow the players to relax and control the game.
  3. Are not physically fit to walk , bend to mark touchers, etc.
  4. Cannot be neutral or impartial towards either player.

Example : GBA Top 5 Final - September 2010

The finalists were Cardonald and Hawthorn bowling clubs, the venue was Willowbank. One of the duties of the GBA directors is to mark the singles tie when requested to do so. On this occasion, the GBA secretary elected to ask one of the directors to stand down to preserve neutrality. One of the umpires was asked to mark this particular game in his place.

This example demonstrates the precedence given to neutrality within bowling. It should never be compromised for any reason as such action brings the sport of Bowls into disrepute.