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Bowling Ball Cleaner Experiments 101 by James Goulding III

Bowling Ball Cleaner Experiments 101

By James Goulding III

Hello again bowlers, and it feels good to be back blogging after a nice summer break.  I hope everyone is ready for fall leagues as most have either started up already, or will be shortly.  There is always a lot of talk surrounding which type of bowling ball cleaner and/or polish to use to keep your bowling equipment looking good.   While I have blogged about this in the past, and gone through different types of cleaners, which ones are good to use during USBC certified
competition, and which ones are banned, I would like to take this opportunity
to share a real world experiment I performed using a cleaner available at any
local drug store or supermarket, and I think you will find the results quite
interesting.  Just an FYI, here is the USBC list of allowable cleaners and polishes as of the start of the 2011 – 2012 bowling season:


Here are the notes from my personal experiment last season into this season….

I bought a Hammer Swagga and put 90 -100 games on it the last two months of the season between leagues and tournament play. I have used most of the commercial cleaners and even household cleaners on the market, trying to find the simplest, easy to use, and most effective cleaner between sets. I decided to go with 91% isopropyl alcohol, as it is a strong cleaner (in my opinion) and many have debated it’s ability to deep clean a ball and keep oil from seeping deep into the cover of the ball, and it is relatively cheap to purchase (I used the
CVS brand for the experiment) compared to other cleaning products.

Now, anyone who uses high end Hammer equipment knows that these balls soak in oil with the best of them, which is why I wanted to experiment using the Swagga (2000 Abralon factory surface). I religiously cleaned the Swagga immediately at the completion of each set, using only a microfiber towel and the 91% isopropyl alcohol. I also took the ball into the Revivor oven in my pro shop every 35 games to check and see how much oil was coming out of the ball. Also, I kept track of my scores with the ball, and noted ball reaction over the course of the life span in the experiment. Lastly, the ball got one surface freshener at 50 games, back to the original box finish of 2000 Abralon.

Results were very promising for the use of ONLY 91% isopropyl alcohol on your bowling ball as a cleaner. I noted almost ZERO reduction in ball reaction over the course of the experiment, averaging 236.5 in tournament play with the ball, 242.33 in one house on league, and 244.0 in the other house in league play over that span of time. I saw no dip in scoring with the ball from game 1 to 35 before each Revivor session, as the sets were very consistent from beginning to end. As far as oil extraction went, the ball went into the oven for the period
of 30 minutes with just a few drops of oil wiped off, and then an hour, with
only a few more small spots of oil wiped off, and finally at the hour and a half mark I pulled it for the final time noting no more oil coming out of the cover of the ball. This was true with each Revivor session, which honestly blew me away using only the 91% isopropyl alcohol as a cleaning agent on the ball. I thought there would be much more oil seeping from the cover each time, but apparently the isopropyl alcohol did the trick as the only cleaning agent being
used on the ball.

So, based on my personal experience with this experiment, I feel very
comfortable using just 91% isopropyl alcohol to clean my bowling equipment,
which IS approved for use by the USBC during, before, or after competition of
your bowling session. It does a very good job of removing lane oil, dirt, belt marks, and grime from the ball AS LONG AS YOU USE IT IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR SET BEFORE YOU PUT THE BALL AWAY EVERY TIME. If you don’t, I can’t say how well this product will work to keep oil out of the cover, but my guess is significantly worse than if you use it immediately after you are done bowling.  I am not saying that the cleaners made specifically for bowling balls work any less, rather I wanted to see if I could find a cheaper alternative that worked just as well, and I think I have found that in the 91% isopropyl alcohol.  I will try this on balls of different surfaces and textures just to make sure that this works well across multiple types of equipment.  I will say that I have used it on a Roto Grip Nomad Dagger and a Brunswick C-System 4.5 with good results, but I will continue my quest for knowledge, and try and post those results up as they come in.  I just wanted to share my recent experience in this area, and hope that someone else can find this trick works well for them, too.  If you have tried similar experiments as mine, please feel free to post those results up on the comment section of this blog for everyone to learn from and read, thank you.  As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and in no way represent those of the Maine State USBC or any of its members.  Take care everyone, and good luck on the start of your bowling seasons!

James Goulding III

(M.I.S.T. Tournament Director)



USBC Annual Fees: A Raging Debate by James Goulding III

USBC Annual Fees: A Raging Debate

by James Goulding III

Welcome again everyone to another blog installment on bowler-2-bowler.  I have been thinking about this subject ever since reading (and blogging about) the USBC annual meeting back in May.  At the meeting, there was a proposal that the annual USBC dues that every sanctioned bowler pays should go from the $10 yearly that it currently is, to a fee of $15.  This is the national amount, not including whatever your local association charges on top of the USBC amount.  This proposal was voted down, so the national USBC dues will continue to be $10 for the 2010 – 2011 bowling season.  Many people have varied, and sometimes very passionate, feelings on the USBC and the amount they charge for yearly fees, some good and others not so good.  For this reason, I have decided to weigh in with my very own feelings on the subject, and also try to propose my own solutions that could appease the many differing opinions on the debate about what USBC should charge bowlers on a yearly basis.

First off, I think I need to classify bowlers into (4) different categories, so that anybody reading this can see why it is so difficult for the USBC to please every bowler with the decisions they make.  Here are the (4) categories I have come up describing bowlers as it pertains to USBC and their dues program:

1) These bowlers are the ones who bowl every season and rarely will ever challenge for an honor score in their lifetime.  But, as it pertains to USBC dues, while they might complain they pay too much, these bowlers actually have somewhat of a valid point because the only service the USBC offers them is sanctioned lane conditions.  It’s not like they are going to be soaking the USBC for the cost of a 300 ring every season, so going up on dues will not sit well with this crowd.  I think the USBC knows this represents a major faction of bowlers out there, and they do not want to risk losing a ton of members by going up on dues, so to appease this crowd, they cut back on the available awards and keep the costs the same.

2)  These bowlers are the ones who constantly complain that dues are too high, even though they have the ability to grab multiple honor scores every  year.  The cost of (1) plaque that the USBC gives the bowler in this group costs them more than double the dues for a season, but these type of bowlers still complain that they should get more awards and at a cheaper rate.  Easy house shots have inflated their egos to the point that they lose all rational thought process when it comes to the amount of money it takes for the USBC to produce the awards for which they seek.  This is a relatively small percentage of bowlers, but a significant enough amount that the USBC had to scale back the awards program because they were going to go bankrupt if they kept giving away awards basically for free.  There is no way the USBC can ever truly please these bowlers, no matter what they charge or the awards that they offer on a yearly basis.  You never want to be lumped into this category if you are a bowler, and if you are in this category, please feel free to change your ways and exit at any time.

3)  These bowlers are happy with the current awards system, and will contend for USBC awards on a regular basis.  These bowlers may think that the USBC dues are a little high, but they don’t put up a stink about it.  These bowlers put their faith in the USBC that they make the best decisions for the sport of bowling, and even if the dues go up, they will pay to play.  There are a small number in this category, so the USBC doesn’t cater to them or their needs (per se), and will make decisions not based on the wants or needs of this group specifically, but will cover this group most of the time when they make decisions about the sport of bowling.

4)  This is the smallest group, but one that I fashion myself to be in.  This group will bowl and pay the USBC dues no matter what the cost.  This group feels that the recognition of an achievement is more significant than the ring or plaque that describes it.  The USBC could charge $40 a year for dues, and this group would pay, because they love the sport of bowling, and will do whatever it takes to make sure they continue doing it.  The USBC could eliminate the awards program altogether, but as long as they still recognize personal accomplishments on a national level (and database), then this group will not complain about it.  Unfortunately, this group is small in number, so it is hard for them to get their voices heard over the roar of the other groups who are in the USBC’s earshot.

Those are the (4) groups I think cover most bowlers out there as they pertain to USBC dues.  I personally have no problem with the USBC scaling back the awards program (like they have done now) and keep costs in line at $10 a year.  They are a business, after all, and if they do not generate sufficient funds to stay afloat, then there will be NO MORE awards for bowlers, because the USBC won’t be around to give them anymore. 

I get frustrated when I hear bowlers whine and complain that they are giving the USBC their money and getting nothing back in return.  That is the biggest load off poo I have ever heard.  For starters, IT’S ONLY $10 A YEAR!!!!!  Many bowlers complain like they have to pay $1,000 a year to bowl in a sanctioned league.  Of course these same bowlers will go out and spend over $500 for a couple of new bowling balls to try to achieve the awards that they complain are too expensive at a $10 fee once a year, so there is quite a bit of irony in there I think.  I guess some people think that the USBC has a stash of plaques, patches, and rings, and they are all FREE to produce for the USBC.  Well, let me tell you, it costs money for them to give out these awards, and paying a measly $10 is peanuts compared to what bowlers probably SHOULD pay to compete in USBC sanctioned leagues.

I would also be fine with the USBC telling bowlers they have to go up on dues from say $10 to $15.  But, and let me stress this, the USBC should do some research before a rate hike, and sell it to the bowlers.  I think they should do a cost analysis and see what they would need to charge to bring back some of the awards they eliminated, and still keep the quality of awards they have now, and give that final total to bowlers and let them know exactly what is going on and why.  Remember, the biggest group of bowlers are the ones who win the least amount of awards, so a rate hike would need to fly with this crowd for the USBC to stay viable.  So, by explaining to everyone that the cost increase for dues is to solely expand the awards program for ALL bowlers, the USBC might get away with a rate hike and not lose too many bowlers in the process (I still think it would be crazy to quit bowling just because you don’t want to pay a one time $10 or $15 fee once a year, but hey, that’s just my opinion).

I just feel like many bowlers don’t realize that their $10 they give the USBC each year isn’t just for awards.  They offer bowlers the opportunity to bowl on sanctioned lane conditions, ensuring that any and all scores you throw are legitimate.  Also, they require each bowling center to pass an annual inspection covering all aspects of the game, from lanes to pins, and approaches to pin decks.  This way, bowlers can compete against one another on a level playing field night in and night out.  The USBC also provides coaching classes, so that bowlers have certified coaches available in their area to help improve their bowling game(s).  Also, the USBC has a state of the art research and development facility to stay on the cutting edge of bowling technology, and to ensure that the playing rules accurately reflect the changing landscape of the sport of bowling.  The USBC rulebook gives leagues and tournaments guidelines to follow so that all competition is conducted in as fair of a manner as possible.  If you felt your $10 was too much at the beginning of this blog post, do you still feel that way after reading all the different services that the USBC provides?

I am not saying the USBC is perfect, but I think that for what they charge, they get the most out of our money on an annual basis.  I would be fine with paying double or triple the amount we currently pay, but I also realize that the USBC would lose many members if they did that, so I just try to let people know that their $10 can only go so far as it pertains to the awards program the USBC provides.  I do have a few possible solutions that the USBC could implement, or at least bring up for discussion at the next annual meeting, as it pertains to the amount they should charge bowlers to sanction.  Here are a few of my ideas:

1)  Set a base price for all new bowlers who have never received a USBC award before.  Say that price is $10 for example.  Well, if you achieve say (2) awards during the season, the following year you would pay an additional fee depending on the amount of awards you won.  Maybe that fee could go up by $3 for each award you get.  So, if you won (2) awards the year before, your sanction dues for the following season would be $16, instead of $10.  This type of sliding scale doesn’t penalize those who do not achieve honor scores, and passes the extra cost onto those who want the awards from USBC, and the bowlers who also achieve those awards from USBC.

2)  Give bowlers three different cost options when they sanction with the USBC.  The first, and cheapest, option is to pay for basic USBC services minus the awards program.  You would only pay something in the range of $10 like it is now, you would get recognition of your achievement in the USBC’s database, but not receive any actual award from the USBC for what you accomplish.  The second option would be an upgraded $15 annual fee, and that entitles you to the current awards system that is in place.  You get (1) of each type of award per season, all the benefits of USBC sanctioning, a subscription to US Bowler magazine, and basically keep things the way they are in the current system.  The last option would be an upgraded $20 sanctioning, and that gets you (2) of any award, a subscription to US Bowler magazine, first choice of bowling dates and times for the USBC National Tournament over the $10 or $15 crowd, and all the other benefits that USBC sanctioning has to offer.  I am just guessing at the costs of all of these options, but I think that some sort of tiered system would be a viable way for the USBC to make all types of bowlers happy, from the ones who could care less about awards, all the way to the ones who live to collect plaques and patches.

In closing, I would like to say that the debate over what the USBC charges for sanctioning is far from over.  I have just tried to shed some light on the subject, and make bowlers think about where that $10 goes that they give to the USBC every season.  $10 is a small amount to pay for the peace of mind that there is a governing body trying to make the playing field as level and competitive as possible, while still giving awards back to the bowlers who achieve great things on the lanes that they sanction.  I would give my $10 a year to the USBC just for that, even if they eliminated the awards program altogether.  As long as they keep a national database so that I can look up what I have achieved over the years, then the rest is just gravy.  Actually achieving a 300 or 800 (for example), and having that out there for the world to see, means more than some ring or plaque that will sit in my house will ever mean.  Knowing that what I achieve is legitimate and on a fair playing surface is reason enough for me to sanction with USBC every season, in every league and tournament, no matter what the cost may be.  As always, the opinion expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the Maine State USBC, or any of its members.  Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will try and respond ASAP.  Good luck, and good bowling everyone!




PBA Senior Tour: Entering a Golden Age by James Goulding III

PBA Senior Tour: Entering a Golden Age

by James Goulding III

Hello once again avid Bowler-2-Bowler blog readers!  Sorry it has been a month since the last blog entry, but the hectic end to the current bowling season, as well as a multitude of good tournament bowling has left me with little time to catch up with all things bowling related here on the world-wide web.  I was strolling through the PBA headlines, and one thing caught my eye, which was the current results for the senior U.S. Open which is going on right now at the Suncoast Bowling Center in Las Vegas, NV.  I got to thinking about the senior tour, and how it has gone from immensely popular back in the days when John Handegard, Gene Stus, and the great Earl Anthony ruled the roost, to practically non-existent a few years ago, and now it seems to be making a comeback in popularity.  Why?  Well, let me throw my .02 out on the matter, as reading through the PBA website gave me the idea for this post, and I have some opinions on the matter, so let’s get started!

First off, I think that the PBA Senior Tour is about to enter another “Golden Age” of sorts.  What I mean by this, of course, is the talent that people are going to see out on the lanes in the next few years is going to be as good as it has ever been on the PBA Senior Tour.  Viewers relate to bowlers they have seen on TV their whole lives, and now that many of the great PBA players of the past 20-30 years are getting into that 50+ age category to qualify for the senior tour, I believe the same viewers who followed those great players will continue to watch them do battle on the senior tour.  There are some great players who are now eligible for the senior tour, and some who have had some tremendous success in their limited time on tour already.  Tom Baker, Harry Sullins, Brian Voss, Hugh Miller, and the great Walter Ray Williams Jr. are just a few of the names out there competing, and WRW is still at the top of the heap on the regular PBA Tour, so he is a dual force to be reckoned with!  In the next few years we are going to see the likes of Parker Bohn III, Pete Weber, Ameleto Monacelli, and many other great PBA bowlers become eligible for the senior tour, and I believe this is what is going to make the PBA Senior Tour “must see TV” every tournament.  All of those players have been legends and staples on TV for decades, and now that they get a chance to compete at a high level on the senior tour, well, that just adds more drama and flare to a tour that so desperately needs it.  I just hope that the executives of the PBA realize this in the next few years, and take advantage of the marketing of the PBA Senior Tour by letting everyone out there know some of the “big guns” who are now competing out there.  This really could be a “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour, but without the backing of the PBA front office, it will sadly go un-noticed and these great bowlers will not get the recognition, or financial gain, from the tournament bowling that they deserve.

Another reason I say this is going to be a “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour is because history has shown me that these things are cyclical.  What I mean is, a tour like the senior tour, which has an age limit to get in, goes through periods of  drought where there are not many bowlers becoming eligible who may have dominated on the PBA Tour in their younger years, and even though they are getting a steady stream of senior players from the amateur circuit, many TV viewers are more likely to tune in if a recognizable name is on the telecast.  If you look back to the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s, which was the last “Golden Age” on the PBA Senior Tour, you had a flood of talent come up from the PBA ranks, the likes of Early Anthony, Teata Semiz, Gary Dickinson, Johnny Petraglia, and the legendary Dick Weber.  Many people grew up watching these gentlemen dominate the PBA Tour every Saturday afternoon on ABC, and now that they were on the senior tour, the same viewers tuned in to see them dominate once again, and they did not get disappointed.  I, myself, was too young to see the great Earl Anthony or Dick Weber compete on the national tour, but I was able to see both of them bowl on the senior tour, and it is something I will never forget.  If there were no senior tour, then I would have missed out on seeing two of the best bowlers of all time, which is another reason why it is so vital that the PBA keep the senior tour going.  For many younger viewers who didn’t get to see Pete Weber win the Triple Crown, or see WRW become the first bowler to top $200,000 in a single season, for instance, the senior tour allows them to see these guys in a whole new light.  So, like I said earlier, I believe that the cycle is about to be back on the upswing with the ground swell of PBA talent either eligible now, or becoming eligible in the next five years for the senior circuit.  I really do think that we are going to see something special with the senior tour, just like we did back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and I don’t want to miss a minute of the action.

Lastly, I would like to say that the PBA needs to get their heads out of the sand, and get these senior bowlers on TV again!  How are people supposed to even know that Brian Voss may be bowling against WRW for a title if it is not on TV?  I would hate to miss a classic battle between two of the best bowlers of the last 25 years, just because the PBA decides to keep it off of TV to save a buck.  It would be a shame for an entire generation of bowling fans to miss out on some great senior bowling, so maybe with the infusion of talent coming onto the PBA Senior Tour in the next few years things will change for the better.  Every form of professional bowling deserves to be televised, from the PBA Women’s Tour, the PBA Tour, and the Senior PBA Tour, they are all professional athletes and deserve the respect of a national viewing audience to showcase their unique talent on the lanes week in and week out.  Maybe I am in the minority on this opinion, but I feel very strongly about it, and think most hard-core bowling fans would agree with me.  Get ALL of these professional bowlers on TV!!

In closing, I would like to say that I enjoy all forms of professional bowling, but I hold a special place for the PBA Senior Tour in my heart.  I love watching how these great bowlers can continue to compete at a level I could only dream of, and at an age when most people are thinking more about relaxing than grinding out 30 games of qualifying week in and week out.  It takes a truly special talent to do what the senior players do, and I hope the senior tour gains in popularity like never before due to the factors I mentioned earlier in my blog entry.  I think with the infusion of such spectacular talent over the next few years, along with the great bowlers already on the senior tour, this will become another “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour.  As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will post it up here, and respond ASAP.  Thank you for reading, have a great time on the lanes everyone, and don’t forget to check out the PBA Senior Tour this summer!





Bowling: An Olympic “Sport”? by James Goulding III

Bowling:  An Olympic “Sport”?

by James Goulding III

 Hello everyone, and a Happy Valentine’s Day to all.  Watching the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics the other night got me thinking again about two of the more heated debates that surround bowling.  The first one is, is bowling a game or a sport?  This has been debated many times, but I am going to try to go “by the book” so to speak for my definition of bowling later in this blog entry.  The second heated discussion about bowling centers around the Olympics, and whether or not bowling should be an Olympic event.  I think we first have to come to  solid footing on the first question about bowling being a sport or not, before we can even think about the Olympics as it applies to bowling.  So, I am going to break this down and hopefully come up with some ideas for people to think about when it comes to bowling, it’s standing in the sports community, and the Olympics, all tied up into a blog post.



To delve into this debate, I  enlisted the services of Merriam Webster online at www.merriam-webster.com.  Here is the definition of game: “activity engaged in for diversion or amusement”.  I would say that the argument could certainly be made that bowling most certainly qualifies as a game, at the VERY least.  This holds true for open bowling, and league bowling, but how about the serious tournament bowler who is out to win?  Let me now give you the definition of a sport: ” physical activity engaged in for pleasure”.  The only difference between a sport and a game is that a sport requires “physical” activity, instead of just “activity”.  Now, it does not mention what degree of physical activity is required to call something a sport, only that some form of physical activity is required for a game to be called a sport.  For example, Monopoly is a game, because it requires no physical activity to play, but water polo is a sport because of the physical activity required to play it.  To me, this means that bowling should be called a sport and not a game.  D0es bowling require as much physical activity as, say, playing basketball?  No, of course not, but it DOES require some form of physical activity to throw a bowling ball, and by definition it should be classified as a sport. 

So, now I can get into the Olympic debate.  It would make no sense to even try to classify bowling as a possible Olympic event if you couldn’t even classify it as a sport.  But, if you go by the strict definition of the term “sport”, bowling does qualify, and now I can make the case for it to be included as an Olympic event.



This has been a long debated subject, but to me, up until now bowling should NOT have ever been considered for the Olympics.  I know what you’re going to say, I just made the point that bowling is a sport and not a game, so why am I against it being an Olympic event?  To be honest, bowling isn’t organized enough to become an Olympic event.  Bowling needs three things, in my opinion, to be considered for the Olympics:  A unified governing body for bowling, a standardized set of rules covering the sport, and strict guidelines for lane conditions and bowling ball specifications.  Let me get into each of those three points separately, as each is vital to getting bowling into the Olympics.

The unified governing body for the sport is key to Olympic consideration.  If bowling wants to be taken seriously, then there should be one entity that makes up all the rules, regulations, and awards programs for bowling, so that no matter what continent you bowl on, you can rest assured that you are on a level playing field with someone who may be bowling halfway across the world from you.  This governing body, which I would like to see called the International Bowling Federation, or IBF, can pool together all the different ways the sport of bowling is played in different countries, and come up with guidelines that everyone has to follow.  Now, I would also like to see continental control through smaller sibling organizations to the parent organization, which is the IBF.  There could be the following groups that make sure rules are followed on a more localized level, and report back to the IBF:

North American Bowling Congress (NABC)

Central American Bowling Congress (CABC)

South American Bowling Congress (SABC)

African Nations Bowling Congress (ANBC )

European Bowling Congress (EBC)

Asian  Bowling Congress (ABC)

Australian Regional Bowling Congress (ARBC)

Middle Eastern Bowling Congress (MEBC)

These subsidiaries of the parent IBF would be able to more easily distribute awards, and make sure rules are followed in each region.  You will still have your local associations like you have now, but there would be more strict international guidelines to follow so that if a bowler moves to the United States from Iraq, that person knows they are still bowling under the same rules and regulations they bowled in back in Iraq.  This would be a BIG step forward for bowling as an Olympic sport, as it shows unity and consistency for the sport worldwide, which is key for ALL Olympic sports.

Now that I have covered the governing body, and the need for standardized rules for the sport of bowling, I will show where lane and bowling equipment specifications are the final key to the Olympic puzzle for bowling.  One problem facing bowling throughout the years is that you can bowl in one bowling center, and then move to the next bowling center, and the lane conditions are COMPLETELY different.  Sometimes it is like night and day.  Opponents of Olympic bowling sight this as THE reason bowling will never be an Olympic sport.  It is just too hard to regulate lane conditions.  Maybe so, but there has never been an international body like the IBF that I suggested to oversee the sport of bowling and make sure the local center comply with international guidelines to keep their sanctioned status.  The IBF could expand upon the red, white, and blue oil condition program that the current USBC is trying to implement.  Basically this program has three oil pattern going from easier to more difficult.  The first oil pattern would be used for your recreational bowling, and the second oil pattern would cover all sanctioned league bowling.  The third oil pattern would be for tournament bowling, and would be used everywhere there is sanctioned tournament bowling.  This would show the Olympic community that no matter where you bowl, depending upon what type of bowling you are doing (recreational, league, or tournament), you would always be bowling on the exact same lane conditions as a person doing the same thing on the other side of the planet.  The local and continental associations would be responsible for compliance with the lane condition regulations, and report back to the IBF for final sanctioning of bowling centers, leagues, and tournaments.  If you want to learn more about the current red, white, and blue lane condition program by the USBC, go to www.bowl.com and type in “red, white, and blue” under search, it is very good info, and a good step forward for the sport of bowling.

Lastly, bowling ball specifications and lane inspections would have to fall under a “one size fits all” definition for bowling to be considered an Olympic event.  You can’t have one country allow different ending bowling ball statics, ball hardness, or lane length and width (for example) from another country.  The IBF would have to come up with a blueprint for EVERY country that sanctions with the IBF to follow, or else they lose their sanctioning status.  This is no different than what we do now in the United States with the USBC and their equipment specifications, it would just be amped up on a global scale to cover ALL countries and ALL bowlers who sanction.  If this can get done, there would be no other reason to exclude bowling as an Olympic sport.  Bowling would have a unified governing body, standardized rules for EVERYONE who sanctions, and strict equipment and lane specifications for every sanctioned bowling center to follow.  I have felt that, up to now, bowling should not have been considered for the Olympics.  But, if the sport wants that kind of status, I think the guidelines I have outlined could be done so that bowling is on par with other international sports.  Bowling is the #1 participation sport in the world, it is time we get it recognized for the great sport that it truly is, and get bowling in the Olympics!  Thank you for reading, as always the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect the opinions of the MSUSBC or any of its members.   Please feel free to comment on anything you read in the blog, and I will make sure I get back to you ASAP, thank you.

-James Goulding III



Bowling Balls: The Story Of A Flooded Market by James Goulding III

Bowling Balls:  The Story Of A Flooded Market

by James Goulding III

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season, I know I did.  This blog installment deals with the subject of bowling balls, and more specifically the amount of bowling balls produced by each bowling ball company.  We have all had that moment when we are looking forward to the purchase of a new bowling ball, and look into what might be the best fit for your game.  The problem is, this process can take on a life of its own due to the slew of bowling balls out there, with all different types of cover stocks, hook ratings, core combinations, etc.  It can be more of a hassle to find a new bowling ball, when it should be a fun and enjoyable process.  Why do bowling ball companies feel the need to push SO many bowling balls out in a short period of time?  I don’t know if I have a specific answer for that, as I am sure the ball companies have people with a better marketing background than I have (o.k. so I have NO marketing background, you get my point).  They must have a handle on what people want, or what they THINK they want, but it really seems like a lot of overkill on the market to me.  Without further a due, I am going to go into detail about EXACTLY what has been put out on the market.  My criteria for the following list is to list bowling balls that were put on the USBC approved bowling ball list for the period of one calendar year, which in this case is January 2009 – January 2010.  The list can be found here:  http://usbcongress.http.internapcdn.net/usbcongress/bowl/equipandspecs/pdfs/approved_balllist.pdf

So, here is the list, in descending order of the bowling ball company and the number of bowling balls they released in ( ) next to their name, from the time period of one year from January 2009 – January 2010:

 Profi Shop   (39)

AMF   (25)

Brunswick   (20)

Storm   (19)

Ebonite   (18)

US Act   (13)

Hammer   (13)

Roto-Grip   (12)

900 Global   (12)

Columbia   (11)

ABS   (10)

Track   (9)

Caffeine Sports   (6)

Bowlers Paradise/Elite   (5)

Lane #1   (5)

MoRich   (5)

AZO   (4)

Dyno-Thane   (3)

ARK International   (3)

Hard Ball   (3)

Lanemasters   (3)

CAL Bowling   (2)

Lloyd Price Brand   (2)

Lord Field   (2)

Motiv   (2)

Revolution   (2)

Seismic   (2)

Vision X   (2)

Visionary   (2)

DQA   (1)

High Sports   (1)

Kinetic   (1)

VIA   (1)


Total = 258 bowling balls from 33 Manufacturers

There were 258 bowling balls produced in the last 12 months from 33 different companies.  That is an average of 21 – 22 bowling balls per month!!!!!!  That just seems crazy to me.  Is there really a need to make THAT many new bowling balls every year?  The list includes ALL types of approved bowling balls.  Reactive resin, particle, urethane, polyester, everything.  Also, this list contains many companies that are either not U.S. based, or don’t sell their bowling balls in the U.S. at all.  So, for the sake of argument, let me create a new list, one that has the bowling balls you are most likely to see in your local pro shop window, shopping on the internet, or in a catalog at the bowling alley.  This list will contain equipment approved by the USBC and the PBA Tour for the calendar year of January 2009 – January 2010.  Here is the approved ball list, in descending order, with the company names followed by the number of balls they had approved in ( ) next to their name:

AMF   (25)

Brunswick   (20)

Storm   (19)

Ebonite   (18)

Hammer   (13)

Roto-Grip   (12)

900 Global   (12)

Columbia   (11)

Track   (9)

MoRich   (5)

Motiv   (2)


Total = 146 bowling balls from 11 Manufacturers

There was a total of 146 bowling balls produced in the last 12 months by 11 different companies approved by the USBC and PBA for use in competition.  This equates to about 12 bowling balls per month, or on average about 1 new release per month per company.  This is, in my opinion, still a staggering amount bowling balls to be on the market in a short period of time.  It seems that no matter what the economy does, bowling balls keep pouring out of these companies by the dozens, with no conceivable end in sight.  How is the average league bowler supposed to make up their mind and decide on the (1) ball they might get per season with so many choices?  They can ask their local pro shop for help, but not even the best of shops can know the ball reaction and characteristics of 146 different bowling balls, and how each one would either work or not work for a specific bowler.  How are tournament bowlers supposed to limit their bowling bag to a solid 5 or 6 ball arsenal with so many choices?  These are just a few of the problems with having SO many bowling balls out there at once.

Another problem is how and when bowling ball companies decide to slash prices on what they call “older equipment” (even if it is only 2 – 3 months old) to make way for new stuff coming down the pipeline.  Pro shops buy a certain amount of balls from their distributor at a set price, and need to sell the balls at a price slightly above what they paid so that they can make money and stay in business.  What happens many times, though, is that the ball companies will cut the price of certain balls they are dis-continuing, but the pro shop is stuck since they bought the balls at the higher price point.  So, the shop either loses a smaller amount money on the ball and sells it cheaper, or lets it sit on the shelf, take up room, and they lose A LOT more money on the ball.  Bowlers can buy the dis-continued ball from an internet retailer for the cut price, and pro shop basically gets screwed on the whole deal.  That is another issue I have with all these releases by bowling ball companies, they don’t think about how their need to release the next “big thing” on the market affects those who actually buy and sell their product.

I would like to see a system where the USBC limits the number of bowling balls they will approve from companies to 5 or 6 a year per company.  The companies can make more bowling balls, but the USBC would only approve 5 or 6 of those for competition.  If you did that, you could cut down on the amount of bowling balls out there by a significant amount.  For example, if you take the 11 companies above that are both USBC and PBA approved, and limit them to 6 balls a year maximum, then it would mean you would have 66 new releases every year instead of the 146 you had this past year.  That cuts down on number of balls by 80, or 55%!!!  That is a huge improvement, in my opinion, compared to the current “ball of the week club” mentality the bowling ball companies stuff down our throats now.  There would be less overlap (reaction-wise) between bowling balls, consumers would have an easier time making the proper choice of equipment for their game, and pro shops wouldn’t have to worry as much about bowling balls being dis-continued and losing money to online retailers who buy up the remainder of supplies from distributors.  This is a win-win situation for everyone.  I think that the bowling ball companies would still sell plenty of product to turn over a profit even with a limited number of the type of bowling balls being produced.  They could save money on the cost of creating a whole new mold design for each ball, and by limiting that to 6 balls per year, that would be a huge savings in research and development costs.

In closing, I would like to say that I enjoy buying bowling balls just as much as the next bowler, but I think there should be a limit to what is being thrown out there to the public to choose from.  I know I would still buy the same 4 or 5 balls per year even if there were only 66 balls to choose from, instead of the 146 there are out there from the last calendar year.  The market is flooded with so many balls that seemingly overlap left and right, so by limiting the number of possible bowling ball combinations companies can make, you help ensure a higher quality of product, and help restore competitive balance to the market.  The smaller companies like Motiv and MoRich can keep up better with the big boys like Brunswick and Ebonite, and I think that is a good thing overall for the sport of bowling.  Also, pro shops will have a much better knowledge base as it pertains to each new bowling ball release since they will have a smaller sample size to review, and they can have a better idea of where prices should be set for the bowling balls they DO purchase from distributors.  As always, the opinions expressed in the blog are my own, and in no way reflect the opinions of the Maine State USBC or any of its members.  Thank you for reading, and feel free to leave a comment or question on anything you read in the blog.



Keeping Equipment Clean: One Key to Success. By James Goulding III

Keeping Equipment Clean:  One Key to Success

by James Goulding III


Getting good coaching, watching video, and working in a pro shop have all been valuable tools that have helped me become a successful bowler.  But, there is also another part of my game that is important on a weekly basis, and that is taking care of my bowling equipment so that it takes care of me on the lanes when I need it.  What I mean is, I can’t expect to bowling balls to perform at their peak all the time if I am not willing to put in some time of my own to make sure factors such as lane oil, rubber marks, track grooves, and such don’t take away from the balls performance.  A little bit of extra time spent on cleaning and maintaining your bowling equipment goes a long way to not only keeping your bowling balls working at their optimum level, but also extends their life so that it saves you money on buying new equipment in the long run.  I am going to discuss a few areas where bowlers need to pay attention to, which is daily maintenance, bi-monthly maintenance, and annual maintenance.


When I write this, I don’t mean go in your bowling bag every day and do the following steps, but rather after each time you bowl a league set, tournament, etc. before the next time you bowl.  First off, I recommend all bowlers use a microfiber towel to wipe the bowling ball off.  This type of towel gets the oil off of the surface of the ball, without scratching the coverstock or leaving marks. 

Secondly, you should take a USBC approved bowling ball cleaner with you in your bowling bag, and use it to thoroughly clean your bowling equipment IMMEDIATELY after you are done bowling, before you get home.  I can not stress enough the importance of getting the lane oil and dirt out of the coverstock as soon as possible, as with the porous coverstocks on resin bowling equipment, it takes no time at all for the oil to “soak” into the cover and stay in the ball.  This causes loss of hooking action, and possibly premature ball death due to it being contaminated with lane oil deep in the coverstock.  By simply cleaning the ball as soon as you are done, you have a very good chance of removing most of the oil from the outer surface of the ball, before it has a chance to soak in and cause long-term damage to your bowling equipment.

Lastly, invest in a ball carrier to put each of your bowling balls in before you put them in your bowling bag.  These carriers are fairly cheap (in the $10 range) but by putting your ball in them, you are protecting it against anything sticking out of your bowling bag that could damage it, as well as protecting it from getting cracked in case you accidently drop it.  Also, if you have a locker, it prevents the ball from rolling around and getting scratched up from any rocks or debris in the locker. 


Calling it bi-monthly maintenance is a “loose” term, what I mean is the following steps should be taken every 50  games or so (which would be bi-monthly if you bowl twice a week).  What I am referring to is giving your ball a hot water bath so that you remove any lane oil that has been soaked into the deeper parts of the coverstock.  Using the towel and cleaners works good to get MOST of the oil out of your ball night in and night out, but to get the oil that is missed, you need to do something that can extract the oil out where the cleaner and towel can’t reach.  This is where the hot water bath comes in.

First, I recommend you sand your ball down to about a 400 grit surface before putting the ball in any water bath.  This can be done with regular 400 grit sandpaper, or a maroon scotch brite pad, or even a 500 abralon pad will suffice.  What this does is it opens up the pores of the ball, allowing the oil to escape out when the ball is submerged in the water bath.  If you do not have any sandpaper, doing the bath is technically “better than nothing”, but you can always go to your local pro shop and ask them to sand it for you before you do the bath, so doing that would be an option as well. 

As far as the actual bath goes, the biggest thing to remember is to make sure the water temp. does not exceed 140 degrees.  If your water is hotter than 140 degrees, you run the risk or removing plasticisers in the ball, which will harden the resin and ruin the bowling ball.  If you are not sure how hot your water temp. runs, as long as the water is not too hot to put your hand in for an extended period of time, that should suffice for the water bath.  Using an actual thermometer is best, but use you head, don’t just “drop” the ball in the water if it is too hot to handle.

When you start running the water, put in a few drops of liquid dish soap (DAWN or equivalent) that will be used ot help break up the lane oil and grease in the coverstock.  Fill a bucket up enough so that the ball will be completely submerged below the surface and then place the ball gently in the bucket.  Some people like to tape over the finger and thumb holes, but I do not recommend doing this.  You are blocking a route of escape for oil and dirt, and the bath does not hurt finger or thumb inserts since it is just water and dish soap.  At this point, you let the ball soak for approximately 15 minutes and place on the counter on a towel ot let the remainder of the water drip off of the ball.  You will notice an oily/water type mixture on the surface of the ball, especially if it has been a very long time since this process has been done (if ever).  Wipe the surface clean using a microfiber towel (or equivalent) until it is dry.  If you are seeing this oily mixture on the surface, you need to perform the water bath again, until you no longer see any oil come to the surface of the bowling ball.  I would recommend changing the water each time to start fresh, and not have any oil floating around in the water when you re-submerge the ball.  Once the ball has only water on the surface (and on oil or dirt), you are done.  It may take 2-3 15 minute sessions to get all the oil out, but it is well worth it.  Give the ball ample time to dry before use again, I would recommend 24 hours to  make sure all the water has gotten out of the coverstock.

Now, once the water bath is complete, you need to take the coverstock of the ball back to whatever the factory finish was on the ball.  This will ensure you get the same type of reaction you are used to out of your bowling ball.  If you do not have the tools at home to do this, take it to your local pro shop and have them complete the process.


This section is going to deal with a few of the things bowlers should do once a season to their bowling balls to make sure they last long, and perform well.  I have covered ways to keep oil out of the ball, but now I will get into what to do when the ball becomes “tracked up” with all the marks from the lanes.  When a bowling ball has more than 80-100 games on it, it loses its polish (if it is a polished ball), and also gets a series of grooves in the coverstock form the places that the ball touches the lane consistently.  This has an adverse effect on your ball motion, and causes it to not perform at a peak level.  The only way to get these grooves out (an re-polish the ball) is with a resurfacing.  This will remove the scratches and gouges and get the ball back to like-new performance.

When I resurface bowling balls, I like to take them down to a 220 grit surface, sanding the ball in (4) different directions in a ball spinner.  The first two directions are having the finger holes and thumb holes both sit horizontally, parallel with the top of the ball spinner.  Once you sand that side of the ball, flip it over 180 degrees to do the other side.  Then when you’re done on both of those sides of the bowling ball, position the ball so that the fingers and thumb are on top, pretty much horizontal (perpindicular) to the ball spinner.  Sand the ball with the fingers and thumb up, and then turn the ball 180 degrees to sand the other side of the ball.  At this point, you are done with the 220 grit (or whatever other grit you might be using).  Sand the ball this way for each grit, until you reach the final grit that the ball came in at from the factory.  Refer to the bowling ball companies website or sheet that came with the ball to make sure you get the correct final surface for your bowling ball. 

Also, if the ball requires a polishing process, polish it in the same (4) directions you sanded the ball in to ensure you are doing things the same way all the time.  Refer to the company recommendations for what type of polish to use on your bowling ball to achieve the correct reaction on your bowling ball.  If you do not feel comfortable doing this process, which can be very time-consuming, take the ball to your local pro shop and have them complete the process for you.  Usually this costs in the $25-40 range, varying from shop to shop and how bad the ball was to begin with for the cost of resurfacing.  That is still much cheaper than having to buy a new ball because your old one “died” from lack of proper maintenance.

The last thing I will recommend for yearly maintenance is to change your finger inserts (if you use them) in your ball.  Over the course of a season, the inserts become worn out, causing them to feel big or slippery since there is a good chance there is some lane oil and dirt mixed into the rubber inserts.  It costs between $5-10 for a new pair from your local pro shop, and should be done at least once a season (probably more if you bowl more than twice per week).  When it comes to your thumb, also make sure you change out your thumb tape regularly, because the sweat from your thumb, as well as the oil and dirt from the lane, causes the tape to lose its grip.  Those two simple steps can go a long way to making you feel comfortable all the time in your bowling ball.

Well, that is all I have for tips to keep your bowling equipment in tip-top shape.  Today’s bowling balls are more aggressive and condition specific than ever, and hopefully with the methods I discussed earlier, you can keep those bowling balls running at peak performance, and able to be used for the right conditions they were intended for.  The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and do not reflect the opinion of the MSUSBC.  Thank you for reading, and feel free to comment on anything you see here, I will try and respond as quickly as possible.  Good luck, and good bowling!

Is Your Equipment Legal – By David Charron

Recently my local association had a meeting in which they discussed the need to monitor equipment at both the Local and State level. The argument they made for wanting to do this was a simple one; some members of My Local Association feel that bowlers must be using Illegal Equipment to be able to achieve the scores and accolades of the recent past. This association is considering purchasing an electronic scale for the purpose of weighing equipment prior to any Local Level Sanctioned Tournament and also any State Level Events which are to be held in our Local Association Facilities. I am going to break this down into sections of discussion at this is a very broad and bold statement being made by my local association.

High Averages & Honor Scores

The reason for the fact that scores have gone through the roof is many. But the 2 things that immediately come to mind are lane conditions and technology. The days of the Rubber and Plastic Bowling ball are gone. Hence the new age of very technologically advanced equipment, this makes bowling on “House Conditions” much easier than in years past. This quickly brings me to the second and most important point of the reason why scores are so high, Lane Conditions. Let’s face it the typical house shot for an advanced player is somewhat easy. A very good to excellent bowler can easily find an area of the lane to play, which with their equipment will give them 5-7 boards to hit and still get to the pocket, as when the ball sails to the right it hits the drier boards on the lane which create more hook bringing the ball back to the pocket. Thus more balls in the pocket equal more striking equal higher scores. Unfortunately Lane Conditions are not going to voluntarily be made harder by the Center Management, because the typical bowler in this day and age wants to bowl once a week, never practice, and still maintain what they consider to be a decent or competitive average usually somewhere between 185-205. (Adjust this number depending on the skill level of the player) Don’t get me wrong I know there are still bowlers out there who are trying to improve through practice, but those are few and far between. In some recent years, some centers have elected to make the shot “Tougher”, the general result of this experiment by some proprietors has been met with angry “Customer’s”, and they eventually go back to the “Easy House Shot”. They do not lose bowler’s generally to other centers, because unlike other places there is not a lot of competition for local bowlers in Maine, except in Bangor. What usually happens is bowler’s who get extremely frustrated with these “tougher” conditions quit bowling altogether. Proprietors are in the business to make money, they do so by keeping their customer’s happy, they keep their customer’s happy by giving in to the majority and that majority wants to achieve high scores. So forget about changing the lane conditions anytime soon. If you want to test your skill level on “tougher” conditions, I suggest joining a PBA Experience League, or a Sport League.

Illegal Equipment

Let me first say that if anyone is knowingly using illegal equipment, I am the first in line saying they should be suspended from USBC. I think that Association Members at both the Local and State level should be very careful when suggesting that Bowler’s are using illegal equipment without the proof that they are. Making such statements is not fair to those bowler’s, and they could turn around and sue you for defamation. I do not think that there are an abundance of bowler’s in Maine who are purposefully cheating by using illegally drilled equipment. I think in most cases the illegal things that happen in Maine are centered on what happens during competition (i.e. cleaners, abrasives, powders, etc). I would however agree the idea of routinely checking equipment at Tournaments and after Honor Scores is a good one, because I think there are many reasons for illegal equipment and I also agree that there is some of it out there being used everyday. First, I think there are some people out there drilling equipment who truly do not know what they are doing, and have no idea about the rules when it come to balancing a bowling ball. Second, I think some pro-shops are using old un-calibrated equipment for weighing bowling balls. Third, I think there are guys out there who are willing to do anything to make their Customer happy, with no regard for the rules. But still in most of these cases I don’t think the bowler even knows the ball they just purchased is drilled illegally. In our current culture they would never know unless they went to nationals. I know of 3 or 4 Bowlers who recently went to nationals only to find out that their Equipment was drilled illegally, in some instances so bad that they could not be fixed without a complete plug and re-drill. If you care about your equipment, I suggest you pick a very reputable shop to have your equipment done, ask questions, make sure you understand how your equipment is going to be drilled, once you find that Pro Shop stick with it. I have been going to the same place to get my equipment for over 10 Years, I have been to numerous USBC National Tournaments and never have I had a ball rejected. At the bottom of this article you will find some of the Specifications as outlines in the Equipment Specification Manual provided by USBC. There is also a Link to the full manual below.

Local and State Level Events Weighing Equipment

As I stated previously, it is a great idea to weigh equipment both before Tournament Competition and also after Honor Scores are achieved, with a few stipulations. Phase this program into place; don’t just throw it in place. Maybe even provide it as a voluntary project the first couple of years. In order to have every bowler go through a weigh station prior to bowling would require bowler to arrive at least 1 hour before a scheduled squad start time, it’s hard enough to get bowlers to arrive more than 5 minutes before the start of a squad. By phasing it in you give the bowlers the opportunity to get used to it, and understand it before throwing it at them. Remember a lot of bowers don’t even have a clear understanding of the rules, or what a weight hole, side weigh, finger weight, or top weight is. Consistency is going to be paramount here, if someone thinks a ball is out of balance it should be checked, double, and triple checked before the determination is made. At Nationals, a ball goes on an electronic scale, if it is slightly above the tolerance levels it is then sent over to a second more advanced scale system, which more accurately finds the specs of the ball. My concern is that the Local Association is going to buy a used electronic scale much like the first one used at Nationals. But will not have access to the more advanced version should something be close at initial weighing. The other concern I have is those individuals who will be responsible for conducting the weighing, how well trained will they be, if you have Pro Shop operators out there who can’t find the center lines of a grip, and are producing illegal equipment how well versed are these individuals who are going to be charged with the process going to be. While phasing this in, I think there should be a list of Balls, Bowlers, and where they were drilled kept on file which brings me to the next point

Pro Shops & Pro Shop Operators

I think that their should be an organization formed perhaps overseen by the State Assocaiton to come up with a program for accrediting Pro Shops in the state who meet or exceed certain benchmarks while doing this program of weighing equipment. See notes above about finding a reputable pro shop, our State Association is suppose to be here for the bowler’s. Something like this would be helpful to those bowler’s in our state who are looking for a pro shop. The cost for this would be very minimal, a list on a website, and a paper certificate which the Pro Shop Proprietor could display.

Bowling Ball Specifications


 The weight of the ball shall not exceed 16.00 pounds. There is no minimum weight.


 1. The surface hardness of bowling balls shall not be less than 72 durometer D at room temperature (68 – 78 degrees F).

2. The use of chemicals, solvents or other methods to change the hardness of the surface of the ball after it is manufactured is prohibited.

Circumference and Diameter:

A bowling ball shall not have a circumference of more than 27.002 inches (diameter of 8.595 inches) nor less than 26.704 inches (diameter of 8.500 inches).


A bowling ball shall be spherical and shall not be out of round by more than 0.010 inches.

Radius of Gyration:

The radius of gyration of a 13.00 lb. or more bowling ball, about any axis, shall not be less than 2.430 inches nor more than 2.800 inches. In addition, the maximum differential radius of gyration between any two axes of the same ball shall not exceed 0.060 inches. These shall be tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure (see Appendix C).


Each ball must be uniquely identifiable by the following: 1. Brand Name/Logo 2. Ball Name 3. Individual Serial Number 4. USBC Star logo (examples at right)

Center of Gravity (CG) Marking Location:

The center of gravity (CG) of an un-drilled ball must be clearly identifiable by a unique mark or indicator.

Coefficient of Restitution:

The coefficient of restitution of a 13.00 lb. or more bowling ball shall not be less than 0.650 nor greater than 0.750 when tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure (see Appendix D). Coefficient of Friction: The coefficient of friction of a 13.00 lb or more bowling ball shall not exceed 0.320 when tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure at a relative humidity of between 30% and 50% (see Appendix E). The ball may be tested anywhere between 320 grit to 3000 polish.


The following limitations shall govern the drilling of holes in the ball:

1. Holes or indentations for gripping purposes shall not exceed five (5) and shall be limited to one for each finger and one for the thumb, all for the same hand. The player is not required to use all the holes in any specific delivery, but they must be able to demonstrate, with the same hand, that each hole can be used simultaneously for gripping purposes. Any hole that cannot be reasonably shown to be used with a single hand would be classified as a balance hole.

2. One hole for balance purposes not to exceed 1-1/4 inch diameter.

3. No more than one vent hole to each finger and/or thumb hole not to exceed 1/4 inch in diameter. This hole may not exceed 1/4 inch at any point through the depth of the hole.

4. One mill hole for inspection purposes not to exceed 5/8 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch in depth.


The following tolerances shall be permissible in the balance of a bowling ball used in certified competition:

10.01 pounds or more:

a. Not more than 3 ounces difference between top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 1 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

For a ball weighing 10.0 pounds to 8.0 pounds:

a. Not more than 2 ounces difference between top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

Less than 8.0 pounds:

a. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.




I hope this information has been helpful and informative.  Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Hope everyone is gearing up for another great season of Bowling.

New League Season Means Inventory Time: by James Goulding III

New League Season Means Inventory Time

by James Goulding III


Sorry about my lack of posting lately, things have been very busy at home and work, but I will try and make sure I start posting on a more frequent basis from now on.

As we approach a brand new fall league season in another month or so, I find it appropriate to discuss inventorying what is in your bowling bag, to help make sure you’re not stuck missing something at the wrong time when league comes.  I will break this down into three categories: bowling balls, shoes, and accessories.


I can get very technical about layouts, weights, etc., but I will keep the discussion as lamen as possible as it pertains to bowling balls in your bag.  Every bowler should have a 4-ball arsenal at their disposal to combat most conditions in a given league night (I suggest bowlers carry an 8 ball tournament arsenal, but that’s a topic for another day).  Here are the  four general categories to look for in a league arsenal:

1) High flaring, low rg., med to high diff., 2-3.5″ pin (preferably pin under), dull surface (1000 abralon or less) resin (or particle) bowling ball.  This will be your “heavy oiler” in the bag.  This ball will not get a lot of play, but when you need to use it, then you REALLY need to use it.  Pull this ball out on a flood, or when the carry down permits, you should be able to move into the lane and “open up” the oil line.

2) Medium flaring, med. rg., med. to high diff., 3.5-4.5″ pin, high sand (2000-4000 abralon) or lightly buffed surface (rough buff or equivalent) resin bowling ball.  This ball will be your “benchmark” ball, which means it can be played on the widest variety of league conditions.  You can play this ball straighter when there is more oil, or hook it a decent amount when they dry out a little.  This ball will help you determine where and when you use the other balls in your arsenal.  This is THE most important ball in your bag, so make sure it is a very good fit for your game.

3) Low flaring, medium to high rg, med. to low diff., 4.5-5.5″ pin (preferably pin over), polished or pearlized resin cover stock.  This will be your dry lane / light oil bowling ball.  When you find that your “benchmark” ball is checking up early, you can pull this piece out and continue to play a similar line to where you were playing with your previous ball.  This ball will get adequate play in your arsenal (especially if you are right handed), due to the fact that modern bowling balls tear apart the lanes rather quickly, and the shot tends to go away quicker.

4) Very low flaring (if any), high rg., low diff., polyester or pearlized urethane bowling ball.  This will primarily be your “spare” ball to shoot straight down the lane at spares, but it can also serve as a strike ball if the lane conditions become so torn up that your “dry” lane ball is hooking too much for you. 

That covers the bowling ball segment in a nutshell, so let’s move onto the next part of your bag, and that is shoes.


There are so many different brands and types of shoes out there, I am going to focus on a few key things that bowlers should look for in a good pair of bowling shoes:

1) Durability.  You want a pair of bowling shoes that can last you a couple of seasons, so going to K-Mart to buy a $15 pair of bowling shoes is probably not the wisest choice for the serious bowler.  Those shoes are made for recreational bowlers who go bowling a few times a year and don’t want to rent house shoes, not for league bowlers who put a lot of miles on a pair of shoes every bowling season.  Basically, shoes that go in the 75 – 150 dollar range from your local pro shop will suffice, but always make sure you ask a qualified pro shop operator their advice before you purchase a pair of shoes.

2) Comfort.  I can not stress enough the need for a comfprtable pair of bowling shoes.  Make sure you find a pair that fit your feet well, or it will be a long bowling season, and an uncomfortable one at that.  Most shoe companies make “wide” versions and half-sizes so finding a comfortable pair of bowling shoes shouldn’t be a problem.

3) Interchangeable Heels / Soles.  I recommend that bowlers at least explore using a shoe that has an interchangeable sole system to combat changing approach surfaces as weather changes, and finding a shoe with changeable heels as well, is even better.  As weather changes, so do approaches, and having the ability to peel off one sole and stick on another with more or less slide capability can save damage to your knee and ankle from sticking or slipping too much, and also give you confidence that you don’t have to carry around illegal products such as EZ-slide and mess up the approach for every other bowler.  You can simply slap on another heel/sole combo and away you go.

That covers the shoe segment, and that leaves our last thing to inventory in your bag, and that is the accessories that we all need to carry to league to help get us through those nights when things might be going wrong due to injury, swollen hand, etc.


1 ) Shoe Brush

2 ) Box of 1″ white bowler’s tape

3 ) Box of 1″ black bowler’s tape

4 ) Tape insert tool

5 ) Hand held rosin bag

6 ) Bottle of new skin to repair blisters, cuts, etc.

7 ) Extra set of finger inserts (if applicable)

8 ) Bottle of super glue or krazy glue

9 ) Large towel for wiping down bowling ball, hands, etc.

10 ) Bag of slide soles / heels (if applicable) for your bowling shoes

11 ) Exacto knife or other small razor blade type of knife.

12 ) Bag of hand conditioner for extra grip

13 ) Knee and / or ankle brace

Well, that covers just about everything you could possible need in your bowling bag on a given league night.  Making sure that you do a complete rundown and inventory of all the above items will allow you to be prepared for any and all circumstances that may arise on your league night.  Feel free to comment about anything I have written, and as always, new ideas and suggestions are always welcome.  Thank you for reading the blog, and enjoy the rest of the summer.  The fall and league bowling will be here before you know it!!!

-James Goulding III



BowlingTerminology (Part Two): Bowler Specifications

Bowling Terminology (Part Two): Bowler Specifications

by James Goulding III


In this latest blog entry, I am going to define some common terminology to describe terms used when speaking about things related to what and how bowlers impart rotation on the bowling ball.  Things such as rev rate, axis tilt and rotation will be defined, as well as some terms we use when finding points on a bowling ball that aid in drilling them correctly for each bowler.  Again, this is a compilation of terminology pulled from my own experience, as well as outside resources (such as the FAQ section of www.ballreviews.com).  Enjoy.





Full Roller: Goes from outside of the ring finger, across the center of the grip, and down across the opposite side of the thumb hole.

High-roller/High-tracker: Within a half inch or sometimes hits the thumb or finger holes, but generally stays just outside of the grip area.

Semi-roller: .5 to 3 inches away from the finger and / or thumb hole.

Low-roller/low-tracker: 3 to 5 inches away from the finger and / or thumb hole.

High-spinner: 5 to 7 inches away from the finger and / or thumb hole.

Low-spinner: more than 7 inches away from the finger and / or thumb hole.


In terms of rev rate (less to higher revolutions):
Stroker – Tweener – Power Player (can be power stroker or cranker)

In terms of wrist and elbow manipulation (less to higher):
Stroker – Tweener – Cranker

(From Brian Pursel: Product Manager, Ebonite)

“RPM’s, or revolutions applied, is the speed of the revolutions.  The faster the revs, the greater the turning force is at the break point. To measure RPM’syou will need a low flare ball (spare ball is good), a piece of tape (4 to 6 inches long), and a video camera.  Place the piece of tape running from the bowler’s PAP to above the fingers.  Film from behind, with a close up of the hand at the release point.  As the ball is being released, stop the tape.  Assign the tape a position on a clock (i.e. the piece of tape points to 10:00).  In slow motion, click off 10 frames and freeze.  Count the amount that the tape rotates as hours, as if it was the hour hand on a clock.  Multiply the amount of hours by 15.  For example, the ball started at 10:00. After 10 slow motion frames the tape ended at 5:00, passing 10:00 once.  One complete rotation around (10:00 to 10:00) counts as 12 hours.  10:00 to 5:00 (the ending position) equals 7 hours.  This is a total of 17 hours of rotation.  Multiply the amount of hours (17) by 15.  This equals 255 RPM’s. 

 The other way to measure revolutions is called hand revs.  You will also need the piece of tape and a video camera for this.  Repeat the steps for measuring RPM’s, however let the ball travel 15 feet down the lane.  This is the distance of the fourth arrow.  Note the starting position of the tape and count the amount of times the ball has rotated using fractions, not hours.  Take the total amount of rotations and multiply by 4.  This equals hand revs.  For example, the ball started at 9:00 and ended at 3:00, passing past 9:00 three times.  This would result in 3 1/2 rotations. 3 1/2 X 4 = 14 hand revs. 

Why do we not count the total amount of revs the ball rotates all the way down the lane until it hits the pins?  Because friction will slow down the ball speed and create additional revolutions.  By using the first 15 feet, we are counting the rotations in the presence of lane oil, a very low friction environment.”


The point that your PAP is facing at release (facing gutter 0°, facing foul line 90°).  Higher degrees of Axis Rotation promote skid and delay ball reaction.


The vertical inclination of you axis at release.  This can be determined by measuring your track diameter (for every 1″ < 13.5″ = 6 2/3° of tilt).  The less axis tilt you have, the sooner the ball will go into a roll.  Higher degrees of axis tilt promotes skid.  Being able to change your axis tilt using your release style is a very important tool in your scoring arsenal and in your ability to be able to play the lane condition properly.


The axis of the ball during the first few revolutions that is created totally by the bowler’s release style. The point on the ball that is equidistant from all points of the release ball track.

Ways to find it (PAP):

Least accurate: Draw a perpendicular (90°) line 6.75″ from your track through grip center.  The end of the line will be close to your actual PAP.

Very accurate: Use an Armadillo Axis point locator tool.  Place the Armadillo on your track using the line that most closely represents your track arc and mark the spot indicated by the Armadillo.  You should seek a qualified pro shop for correct use of such a tool.

Exact: Roll a low flare (spare) ball down the center of the lane where the highest concentration of oil is, then using a grease pencil trace your track.  Place the ball in a spinner with the track down and orient the ball to where while it is spinning, and the trace line doesn’t wobble up and down. Then, take the pencil and place it on the top of the ball and move it around until it goes from making a circle to a defined dot, or use a quarter scale/pro sect tool and draw a line connecting your track at points that are 180° from each other.  Repeat the step at a point near 90° from the first line where the 2 lines intersect, this is your PAP.  If you do not have a low flare ball (plastic ball preferably), you can use any ball as long as you use the track that is closest to your thumb and farthest from your fingers. This is the release track, because as a ball flares the track migrates away from the thumb and towards the fingers.


The number of times the ball rolls over its axis in the first part of the lane before it encounters friction or starts to migrate towards it’s PSA (Positive Spin Axis). This is usually converted into Revolutions per Minute in common bowling terms.


This is the total number of times the ball rolls over it’s axis from the point of release to the pin deck. This is not as accurate a representation of “revs” because it can be influenced by many factors, such as when the ball goes into a roll, and the bowlers ball speed, for example.


With a stop watch, check the time it takes from release to head pin.  I suggest at least five times to get a more accurate average.  Here is the calculation:

(40.91) divided by (ave/time) =  ( ) MPH


Well, those are some of the more common terms used when speaking about bowler specifications.  I hope you found the list informative and eye opening, and have a new found appreciation for the more technical side of the game of bowling.  The next time you hear someone say “I need more axis tilt”, hopefully it will make a whole lot more sense (if you didn’t know beforehand).  Also, a big thanks to www.ballreviews.com and www.ebonite.com for information, and a valuable resource tool for myself on this page.   The next installment of the Bowling Terminology series will deal with pro shop terms, and how they relate to, and help manipulate, bowling ball reaction.  Thanks again, and I hope to see everyone bowling well out there on the lanes.

James Goulding III



Bowling Terminology (Part One): Ball Dynamics

Bowling Terminology (Part One):  Ball Dynamics

by James Goulding III


I am writing this blog post to give bowlers some basic, intermediate, and advanced information on terms used pertaining to ball dynamics.  You have probably heard terms like Differential and Radius of Gyration (RG) and never really understood what they actually mean.  I am going to list some of the terms myself, and other experienced bowlers and pro shop operators, use pertaining to ball dynamics.  This list is a combination of terms used by experienced bowlers and ball drillers (like myself), and put together by a member of the site www.ballreviews.com, whose name is Sean Cross.  While I have added my own terminology and expertise to the list (which you can find on the FAQ section of ballreviews), the list was put together by Sean, so I feel he deserves the credit for combining everything together on this list.  Thanks Sean, and I hope everyone can learn from these terms, and effectively use them in their bowling language dictionaries.


Internal or core torque refers to the mass distribution within the core and the internal lever arms created by the core. Core torque is an assigned value of the ball’s ability to combat roll out, the complete loss of axis tilt and axis rotation.  High torque balls are more effective than lower torque balls at delaying roll out.  Core torque can also be one indicator of the type of reaction that a bowler can expect at the break point with high torque balls having the propensity to be more “violent” and the lower torque balls tending to display a more even, predictable transition from skid to roll.

It is the difference between the lowest and highest RG values of a bowling ball. You compute the high rg value and subtract the low rg value, and you have the differential.  There is no minimum for differential.  What differential tells you:  RG Differential is an indicator of track flare POTENTIAL in a bowling ball.  Differentials in the .01 s to .02 s would mean that a ball has a lower track flare potential, .03 s to .04 s would be the medium range for track flare potential, and the .05 s to .08 s would indicate a high track flare potential. These ranges above are not based on cardinal rules. They are BTM (Bowling This Month)  in-house rules of thumb because there are no published guidelines.  Also, differential is a guide to the internal versatility of a ball.  It can indicate just how much of a length adjustment can be made through drilling.  A low differential will allow for only a modest variance in length (from shortest drilling to longest) which may translate into as little as a foot or two on the lane.  An extremely high differential may translate into a length window in the neighborhood of eight feet on the lane.

The planned apparent imbalance in balls due to high tech cores and drilling techniques.  Many people claim that this has created balls that hook out of the box with a lessening requirement to have the skill to impart the hook and power by the bowler themselves.  This is still up for debate, but the increase in scoring pace of the game of bowling over the past 15-20 years can not be ignored.

In the old days, before the advent of modern core design in bowling balls, the center of the ball was, more or less, symmetrical.  In today’s high tech computer designed ball, in the cores and multiple cores designs, you can have cores that are not evenly balanced and distributed within the center of the ball.  This allows balls to be drilled and designed in a manner that the apparent “weight” of the ball can shift depending on the drilling pattern i.e., it is not “static” it is “dynamic”.

The migration of the ball track from the bowler’s initial axis, the axis upon release, to the final axis, the axis at the moment of impact with the pins. The more flare created by the core, the more hook potential for a given cover stock.  Higher differential bowling balls will flare, on average, significantly more than a lower differential bowling ball due to the increased track migration of the bowling ball with the higher differential.

Simply put, the mass bias in a bowling ball occurs when the mass (weight block or portion of weight block) is bias (more dominant) in one direction inside of an object (in this case a bowling ball).  If you took a bulb shaped, single density core and positioned it dead center from side to side inside the ball, there would be no mass bias.  You also would have a ball that is a pin in (< 2″).  In order to kick the c.g.  (center of gravity) away from the pin to create a pin out ball (> 2″), you have to “tilt” the core inside the ball, or place the entire core slightly off center.  This became a common practice among manufacturers as the demand for pin out balls increased.  When this is done however, you create a “dynamic imbalance” inside the ball because the mass is more dominant or “bias” in the direction of the “tilt” or “offset”.  That is the most important factor when discussing the mass bias, it is a DYNAMIC POINT ON THE BALL.  Positioning the mass bias in different positions when laying out a ball will have a great impact on the “motion” the ball will make as it is going down the lane (even arc, hook/set, skid/flip and so on).  

There are people who will argue that static imbalances (finger weight, side weight etc.) are more important than dynamic imbalances.  My reply to this is that a dynamic imbalance is a real point in the ball, it is constant and does not change unless you alter it by drilling into it with a drill bit.  A static imbalance, or the CG (center of gravity), will change as soon as you put one hole in the ball.  It will change again with each additional hole you put in the ball as well.  While static weights can be used to “fine tune” the reaction of the ball at the break point, it is the dynamic lay out that dictates the roll of the ball.  If a pro shop operator truly understands the principals of the mass bias and how to apply them, they can greatly increase your overall satisfaction with the ball you purchase.   On a ball that doesn’t have a pre-marked MB it’s theoretical position can be found by measuring from the pin through the CG 6.75″.

A Pin-in ball (when the pin is located within two inches of the CG) is excellent choice for control and less overall hook.  A Pin-out ball (> 2″ away from the c.g.) usually can be made to hook more and flip more dramatically than pin-in balls.  They (pin out balls) often give the driller more options as far as fine tuning reaction shapes of the bowling balls for varying styles of bowlers.

This is the final position of the axis after the ball has lost all axis rotation and tilt. The length of time it takes for the ball to reach it’s PSA and it’s post drilling PSA are influenced by the amount of friction, the drill layout, and bowler’s spec’s.

The measurement that tells us the core’s impact on the skid potential of the bowling ball.  It identifies how fast a ball begins to rotate once it leaves the bowler’s hand.  Three designations for the RG of bowling balls are:  low, medium, and high.  A high RG ball goes further down the lane before hooking because it takes longer to begin rotating and stores its energy on dryer conditions.  A low RG ball revs up early and is a more evenly arcing ball used on wetter conditions.  There are three axis on a bowling ball used to measure RG (radius of gyration).  The lowest RG axis (usually denoted by the letter Z) is the axis through the pin.  The highest RG axis (usually denoted by the letter X) is located 6-3/4 inches from the pin through the center of gravity (CG or heavy spot).  The intermediate RG axis (usually denoted by the letter Y) is located 6-3/4 inches from both the low and high RG axis.

Even though all bowling balls of a given weight are about the same size (minimum diameter of 8.500 inches to a maximum of 8.595 inches), these balls are constructed differently.  Some use two materials (one shell and one core), others use three, four or five or more pieces to construct the shell(s) and core(s).  Each of the materials used has a density (which roughly translates into weight per unit of volume).  Zirmonite (as used in the Columbia pin) is denser (heavier by volume) than Bismuth Graphite (used in the core of the Brunswick Zones) which is denser (heavier by volume) than the fired ceramic that is used in the Columbia and Track cores.  These, and the other dense-material cores used by other manufacturers, are all heavier by volume than the material used in the main cores.  The main core material is denser than the foam-like material used as outer cores or inner shells, the purpose of which is to keep some balls in compliance with the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) weight limitation and to help pinpoint a certain RG value.  Then there is the urethane used for the outer shell of the ball, which by density fits in between the core materials.

Even though you may have a bowling ball with as few as two parts or as many as five or more, all balls have one characteristic:  they will act as if all of their weight is located at a point some distance away from the rotational axis.  This distance is the radius of gyration (RG). 

For example, a bowling ball has a maximum allowable diameter of 8.595 inches (maximum radius = 4.2975 inches).  Theoretically, the RG could be any distance from just over zero inches by placing ultra-dense materials in the center of the ball and extremely lightweight filler beyond, to just under 4.2975 inches by placing ultra-dense materials near the outer shell and filling the inner areas of the ball with lightweight foam.

In the first example, the ball would be as center heavy as possible.  In the second, it would be as shell heavy as possible.  The problem with unlimited RG is that the two extremes would produce variations in ball performance that would be enormous.  One would roll immediately and the other would “lope” all the way through the pin deck. 

The USBC (United States Bowling Congress), in an attempt to limit the amount of variation in ball performance that could be achieved through construction, placed minimums and maximums on RG.  The rule states that the minimum RG can be no lower than 2.430 inches and no greater than 2.800 inches.  This means that every ball must act as if its entire weight (mass) is rotating at a distance of not less than 2.430 inches or more than 2.800 inches from the axis.  Since the total span of RGs ranges from 0 to 4.2975 inches, technically all bowling balls fall within the overall medium RG range.  However, when anyone in bowling talks about RG, they are not referring to the total range of possible RGs, but instead only to the RG range allowed for the sport, which currently is 2.430 to 2.800.

In the At a Glance chart, and in ball reviews and comparisons in BTM, the following scale is used for low flare potential balls:

Low RG = 2.430 to 2.540
Med RG = 2.541 to 2.690
High RG = 2.691 to 2.80

There is a slight upward adjustment for high flare potential balls. Determining the RG for BTM and fellow ball geeks, the formula for finding the radius of gyration (usually denoted by the letter k) is:  the square root of the ball’s moment of inertia divided by its mass (k squared = I / m).  What RG tells you: like with everything else in bowling, RG in and of itself tells you very little.  It is ONE indicator of length.  The characteristics of the three types of balls are as follows:

A low RG ball will be easier to “rev up” and it will rev faster, quicker because most of the mass is located relatively close to the center of the ball.  Since it revs faster, sooner, it also wants to hook earlier.  Medium RG balls are intermediate length balls.  They are a little more difficult to spin (takes more power), so most bowlers will see a slight loping characteristic through the heads and early mid lane, followed by a faster revving action and later hook than you would get with the low RG ball.  High RG balls are the hardest to rev up, since the mass is concentrated farthest from the center, and therefore bowlers will see longer lope, much later revving action, and the latest hook from these balls.

Well, there it is in a nutshell.  Hopefully by seeing what these terms mean, you can make more sense out of what goes into a bowling ball manufacturing process, as well as how these technical terms apply to you out on the lanes.  Next time I will explore terminology that relates to bowlers and how they throw the bowling ball (i.e. axis tilt and rotation).  Thanks again to www.ballreviews.com, where I helped to compile the information, and to Sean Cross who crunched all the info together on ballreviews.

James Goulding III