Players Helping the Marker to Measure in a Singles Game

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: July 30, 2023

We received the following interesting question from a bowler recently:

“In a singles game I marked,I asked one of the players to help me measure,as the bowl was too far away for me to reach. I asked the player to hold the box measure against the jack while I take the other end to the bowl. I was told that it was incorrect and that I as the marker must hold the measure against the jack,while the player takes the point to the bowl.
I can’t find any rule to help me with this decision. Which is the correct way to do it,and why?
Thank you
W.H.”

The short answer to that, WH, is that the marker should handle the box as that is the part of the measure where the length of the measure is “locked in”. It is up to the players who are helping to measure to agree when the string touches the bowl that is in contention, upon which the marker releases the lock.

That said, there is no rule spelling it out this way. We can talk only from long experience and practicality when making this recommendation.

Read and absorb the rest of this article to gain further advice regarding the duties of a marker and out-of-reach measuring.

The purpose of a marker

There are several duties undertaken by a marker in a lawn bowls game of singles. These may be broadly categorised as:

  • Informing bowlers of conditions in the head
  • Centering the jack and the mat
  • Measuring shots if required to by the players
  • In the absence of an umpire make sure the Laws of Bowls are adhered to

It goes without saying that a player with a considerable amount of experience of the game will make a better marker than a beginner.

And it’s important to note that the marker is doing a favour in assisting the players. At no stage should she be regarded as a slave to be instructed as such.

Before measuring a shot

In every instance the players must ask the marker to measure the shot.

If the shot is obviously too long for the marker’s reach, he should ask before going on her knees if the players would be prepared to help measure. If the players are not happy with this, or one player looks reluctant, then the marker should call the umpire. In the absence of an umpire she should call a member of the Controlling Body to appoint a neutral person to help to measure the shot.

How a players helps a marker to measure

When ready to measure, the marker handles the box and places the point on the box against the jack. When the marker says he is ready, then the helper takes the point of the string and takes it to the bowl being contested.

Once the players agree that the point of the string is touching the nearest point of the bowl, the marker then releases the lock on the box. The player then hands the string point to the marker, who moves around to measure the next bowl against the distance already measured.

Once again the player takes the string end and places it against the bowl. The players then agree if the bowl is nearer to the previous bowl or not and therefore which one has the shot.

If there is no clear decision by the players on which one bowl is nearest, it is best to call the umpire right away to make a final determination.

Marker already measuring the shot asks for help

If the marker is already measuring the shot and realises that the distance makes the bowl out of reach, he should then stop proceedings and ask the players if they are prepared to help. If there is reluctance, then the marker should take away the measure, stand up and call the umpire, or a member of the Controlling Body of the tournament, as described above.

Does the marker ever handle the string point?

If a player decides to measure the shot himself and once measuring the shot realises he needs help, he can ask the marker to place the string point on the bowl. The marker should ask the opponent to do this but, if the opponent is happy for the marker to help then he may do so.

However, this eventuality is rare. This player, who has 20 years of bowling experience, has never seen this happen.

Markers and a long measure

If a player delivers the jack and his opponent suspects that the distance between mat and jack may be too short to be legal, then the players and the marker ask the umpire for a long measure.

However, when a long measure is to be done and there is no “umpire” to do so, the marker can ask for assistance from a player from the opposing player, or a neutral person. The person must then take stands behind the jack holding the pointer front of the jack pointing to the bowls.

It is then the markers duty then to measure the bowls in contention for the shot (shots) to declare The player (person)in this case has no right to declare the shot, it is in the hands of the marker, not the player. (Rule 42.2.15 of World Bowls Rules of Bowls).

World Bowls rules for markers

It is best to study the official word on the duties of markers which are to be found in Rule 42, The Marker’s Duties in the World Bowls Rules of Bowls

Marker’s courses

Attend a marker’s course if you can. Marking can be a relaxing and rewarding pastime – but only if you know all the finder details. Your club will advertise these courses and such courses don’t take long – a day at most.