Tag Archives: Ebonite

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.

www.lausbca.org

www.msusbc-maine.org

Tournament Bowling: A Lefty’s Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-James Goulding III

http://www.msusbc-maine.org
http://www.lausbca.org