Tournament Bowling: A Lefty’s Perspective

Hey everyone out there, I just wanted to post about a few things that happened to me at a local tournament this past weekend.  As you all know by now, I am left handed, and I will be blogging time to time about how things go on that side of the lane, and you can see some of the differences from a lefty’s view.  To start, here are my up to date statistics so you can get an idea of how I throw the ball as we go along:

PAP (Positive Axis Point): 4 1/4″ over, 1/4″ up
375 RPM on CATS  System
30 degree axis tilt
18.0-18.5 mph
Span:  4 3/4″ x 4 3/4″
Thumb Pitch:  1/4″ Reverse x 1/8″ Lateral

Those are my up to date stats, I am a decent rev, good speed lefty, who likes to play in on the lane, around 3rd arrow or a little deeper most of the time.  I covered an article by Joe Slowinski talking about carry down, and how I feel it exists and wreaks havoc with bowlers everywhere.   I bowled a tournament this past weekend where lane play, carry down, and transition were night and day depending on how many bowlers were out there on the left side, and you can see how the lanes changed depending on those factors.

My first set had zero other lefties, but the shot I was bowling on was a modified house shot, where the left side had a big out of bounds from the 8 board all the way to the gutter.  A player with my speed would have an impossible time getting the ball to face up to the hole and carry from there, even with my decent amount of rotation.  From the 2nd arrow in the oil was not a heavy concentration, a decent amount, but not what you would normally see on a typical house shot.  You did not have miss room to the right, the ball just wouldn’t hold line, it would take off on you.  This formula makes for a tight shot, one where you need to try and open up the lane to start scoring, but being by myself, this proved a very tough challenge.

I started the day using my benchmark ball, a Brunswick Fury, drilled pin under bridge, 4″ Pin to PAP, sanded to 400 + Rough Buff.  This ball works well on most medium oil house shots, and gives me a true read on what is out there most of the time.  On this shot, this ball was not reading the outside very well, and squirting through the break point due to the increased volume outside the 2nd arrow.  Inside, the ball would hook a touch early and not finish, due to it being pin under (more rolly, less angular) the decreased entry angle hurt my carry since I couldn’t swing the ball out due to the OOB.  I struggled through the first game and a half, trying to play inside tight and hitting the hole, but not carrying very well. 

I decided to go to a ball that was pin over and polished (which will give me more length and help me create angle keeping the ball inside, which in turn would hopefully help my carry).  The ball was a Brunswick Swarm, drilled pin under ring, 5″ Pin to PAP,  with a flare increasing x-hole.  This ball gave me a decent look, but a couple of shots squirted out a touch, and came in late, leaving 3-7 splits.  I also had a hard time kicking out the corners all set long, and struggled to a 570 set, my lowest tourney set in years.  You can see how the decreased traffic really hurt on a shot like this, because I saw the right side blow open after the first game, once some of the outside oil was peeled off, and the middle had a little carry down.

The next set saw me again by myself, but I figured I would try a different strategy.  I would take a ball with more surface (lower grit sand to get the ball to bite), no polish, and play in the outside oil.  I have an Ebonite Big One, sanded at 2000 abralon, drilled pin next to ring, 3 3/8″ Pin to PAP, no x-hole.  This ball starts early and gives good continuation.  I played with this ball the entire set, and saw some mixed results.  I found that the carry was o.k. the first game and a half, but then the left side blew open a bit near the end of the 2nd game.  I had created a hook spot using the dull ball, and migrated in to around 12 and started bumping it off the dry boards.  I ended up getting a couple of bad breaks with three pocket 7-10’s the last two games, but managed to pull a low 600 out of the set.  I did feel that if I could get in a situation the next squad where I could have some traffic, I could set up the lane to start carrying and scoring much better.

The last set, after a strip and re-oil, saw me bowling with three other lefties!  Finally, I had some traffic to see how different the lanes would be with four of us roaming around over there.  The other three lefties all played from 2nd arrow out, and being a lefty who can get in was certainly an advantage as I will tell you about as the set goes on.

I started with the Brunswick Swarm to help set myself up for the last two games.  I wanted something polished that would give me a hold spot once the outsides would dry up a bit.  I muddled through a clean 206 game, keeping the ball around the pocket from an inside line, and making all my spares, but things were working out good for the rest of the set.  I threw my last ball of the 10th frame out further with a ball change to a Twisted Fury to see what would happen, and just as I thought, it came roaring back and struck.  The other three lefties who were all playing outside had burned a small track area that I could take advantage of, and I switched balls to something I could swing out, but would still have recovery for carry.  I switched to a Brunswick Twisted Fury, drilled pin over bridge, 4 1/2″ Pin to PAP, no x-hole, surface at 400+ Rough Buff.  This ball is farily angular (due to bwing pin up and polished), but reads the mid-lane tremendously and does not jump hard off the spot.  I shot 480 my next two games with this ball, running into some bad carry, but never missing the hole, finishing with a 686 set.  By setting up the inside with a polished ball that gave me some hold area, and bumping the ball off the dry boards the traffic outside created, I was easily the high set out of the 10 bowlers on the pair.

This goes to show you that things are not always what they seem on the left side of the lane.  Many righties think that the left side is “easy” and that we should always have an easier time scoring, because we do not have to cross so many tracks, and the lanes do not change as quick.  I agree, that on some shots where the outsides are drier, or the lanes are walled up, the left side does have a a slight advantage, there’s no denying that at all.  But, on a tough shot, with an out of bounds, the left side can also be a nightmare.  If you need bowlers outside to help set up the pair, and there are none on the left side with you, it can be a long day.  I just wanted to give a little perspective to how different lanes can play on the left side, and that sometimes we lefties would welcome a few more of us on that side of the lane to help set up OUR shot.  With all those things considered, you still have to hit what’s put out there for a shot, regardless of who is, or is not, bowling on your side of the lane.  Thanks for reading.

-James Goulding III

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