How Does Chalk Spray Work in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: June 6, 2023

Using chalk spray in lawn bowls rather than the traditional piece of white chalkboard chalk is a real option.

Bowls must be marked if the bowl touches the jack directly during a game to indicate that it will be regarded as “live” should it land up in the ditch. Such a marked bowl is called a “toucher”. Unmarked bowls are considered “dead” when they land in the ditch and are removed to the bank.

Using a little canister of chalk spray to mark bowls, as shown in the photograph, is totally acceptable – but has its benefits and its drawbacks.

Benefits of using chalk spray compared to ordinary chalk

  • A mark made with spray is more likely to be visible on speckled and multi-coloured bowls. As every bowler knows, it is difficult to press hard enough with a piece of chalk to make the mark visible on the new, modern bowls with variegated colours.
  • It is easy to use chalk spray. Just shake the small canister so the beads inside stir up the chalk, then spray close to the bowl.
  • You don’t have to touch the bowl to spray a bowl. By contrast, in marking a bowl with chalk you may have to touch the bowl to steady it for marking. This could lead to moving the bowl unintentionally.
  • A chalk spray canister remains clean, whereas a piece of chalk can make the hands slippery, which could in turn affect your grip on your bowls.

Negatives of using chalk spray

  • Chalk spray is much more expensive compared to standard pieces of chalk, which are widely available in stationery shops in large packs.
  • You have to order chalk spray from a specialist shop whereas chalk is available everywhere.
  • The canister of spray can run out in the middle of a game whereas all bowls club have pieces of chalk available in an emergency.
  • The canister has a top so one can lose time by removing and replacing the lid before spraying.
  • The neat little clouds of chalk that appear on the bowl once you have sprayed it can rub off much easier on the grass than a strong chalk mark.
  • You can’t break the canister in half, whereas you can break a piece of chalk in half to give to another player.

Is using chalk spray permitted in bowls?

Yes, it is entirely “legal” to use chalk spray in bowls. Watch any big bowling tournament on Youtube and you will see the markers and players using spray instead of chalk.

How to put a chalk mark on a lawn bowl

When using a piece of chalk to mark lawn bowls, always mark the bowl on the running edge. A simple, distinct single stripe will do.

Never place the chalk mark over the dimples as it will be difficult for the player to remove the mark before the next end.

Do not make the chalk mark over the brand or any of the other lettering and stamps that appears on the bowl as the mark may not be visible to the players.

What does a heart chalked on a lawn bowl mean?

Sometimes a skip is so delighted with a shot that a player (particularly a lead) has played that she will mark her bowl with a heart.

There are number of reasons for this. The shot may represent a turn in fortunes for the team in the game. Or the player may need encouragement after a bad run. Or the skip may want to put of psychological pressure on the opposing skip.

It’s perfectly acceptable practice to mark a bowl with a heart in special circumstances. But don’t overdo it or it will lose its meaning and its effect.

Marker pen for lawn bowls

In recent years there has been a tendency for bowlers to use a marker pen rather than a piece of chalk or a chalk spray but the benefits are debatable.

Yes, you get coloured pens that can make yellow, orange, pink or any other colour marks, which are easier to see on coloured or variegated bowls.

On the other hand, they are harder to carry about and there is one more drawback of a marker pen: often the mark is difficult for the player to remove from the bowl. So do check the ease of removal before buying a marker pen for bowls.

Why is a marker called a marker in lawn bowls?

This article has dealt with how the bowls (or the green) are marked with pieces of chalk or chalk spray. In a game of singles there is no player at the other end of the green to mark your touchers. Therefore a non-player stands at the other end to mark the bowls (hence the name “marker”) and otherwise impart neutral information to both players.