What Happens if You Play Someone Else’s Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: August 4, 2023

Do not panic if you play someone else’s bowl instead of your own. This can easily happen if two bowls look the same. For instance, they may both be brown bowls with an orange emblem.

The solution: once you realise that the wrong bowl has been bowled, simply go up to the head and replace the incorrect bowl with the correct one.

Obviously, if the incorrectly chosen bowl was marked or nominated as a toucher, then the correct bowl should also be marked as such. The chalk mark on the incorrectly bowled bowl should be wiped off the bowl before it is returned to the mat to be rolled by its correct owner.

What do the Laws of Bowls say about playing the wrong bowl?

Here is the what the World Bowls Laws of Bowls say about playing the wrong bowl:

29.2 Playing another player’s bowl
29.2.1 If a player plays another player’s bowl instead of their own, the other
player’s bowl must be replaced with the player’s own bowl.
29.2.2 If the bowl which was replaced was marked or nominated as a toucher,
the player’s own bowl must be marked or nominated as a toucher

Why do lawn bowls have emblems on them?

There are two reasons why sets of lawn bowls have emblems engraved onto them, front and back:

  • Matching emblems on all four bowls indicate that the four bowls comprise a set
  • To differentiate the different players’ bowls on the green. For instance, two bowls of the same colour, and even with the same colour and speckled finish, for instance, can look astonishingly the same. The emblem should help players to differentiate the bowls belonging to different players

Why are there stickers on lawn bowls?

In competitions, the Controlling Body may make stickers available to the players for various reasons:

  • So there is no confusion between teams and players as to whose bowls belong to which team
  • So that spectators can easily make out whose bowls are whose
  • So that the scores on the flip board or electronic scoreboard can be colour coded e.g. bowls with pink stickers belong to District A and bowls with blue stickers belong to District B

Sometimes during play, the players will request the umpire for bowls stickers if there is ongoing confusion about two similarly coloured and / or patterned sets of bowls.