Tag Archives: pro shop

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

Bowling Ball Maintenance: The Key to Success

Bowling Ball Maintenance: The Key to Success

by James Goulding III

 

I hear many bowlers complain that their bowling balls lose reaction, or that they just can’t get that same look they had from a bowling ball after only 15-20 games with a ball.  Many times, bowlers will go out and buy a new piece of equipment, only to run into the same problems over and over again, without addressing the real problem, which is poor equipment maintenance.

How many of you would expect your car to last more than a year if you never changed your oil, or did any routine maintenance on your vehicle?  No one would do that, it would be crazy to even think it.  But, many of those same people who are so diligent about taking proper care of things such as their car, home, or work space, are also the ones who are guilty of poor bowling ball maintenance. 

I have been in the bowling industry as a competitive bowler, coach, or pro shop worker for over 15 years, and I have YET to have a bowling ball “die” on me, unless it happens to split in half due to a variety of factors (i.e. cold temperature, improperly cured resin, etc.).  This is because I always take proper care of my bowling equipment, and if you do the same, your bowling balls can out last the 5 years worth of payments on your new car.  Here are a few steps you can do at home to keep the reaction alive in your equipment:

1) Clean the bowling balls immediately after each session.  This is THE most important step to lengthening the life of your bowling equipment.  If you do not have the money for a commercially available product, such as Ebonite or Track ball cleaner, here is a simple formula for you to make up your own bowling ball cleaner:

Take a squirt bottle, and fill it up halfway with Isopropyl Alcohol (I use the 91%, but anything >70% will suffice).  Fill the other half up with Simple Green cleaner (very cheap, available in large sizes everywhere).  Mix this together 50/50, and it makes an excellent bowling ball cleaner to use at home in between bowling sessions, and it is a much cheaper alternative to brand name cleaning products. 

**Now, if you are at the lanes, or during tournament or league competition, and want to clean your equipment, I always suggest using a commercially available USBC approved product, because those are the only ones certified to be used in sanctioned competition.  Otherwise, use the home cleaner away from the bowling center, after your league session, when you get home for instance, and NOT during competition. 

The quicker you apply the cleaner after your bowling set, the better chance you have of getting the oil out of the cover stock before it seeps in too deep.  This will greatly increase the life of your ball, and reduce the need for a complete oil extraction, which can be costly and time consuming from your local pro shop.

2)  Use a hot water bath to get the oil deep out of the cover stock.  There are various methods to do this, but the general idea is to get the oil out of the bowling ball that regular cleaning can not get out.  When the lane oil seeps into the oil absorbing cover stock material, you can get most of it out each time with a general bowling ball cleaning agent, but there is always some lane oil that goes beyond what the cleaner can extract.  Over time, this deep oil in the ball will cause the cover stock to weaken, and lose some reaction if not properly taken out of the bowling ball.  Here are the steps I use with the hot water bath method to get the oil from deep within the bowling ball:

A) Sand the ball to around 400 grit to open up the pores and allow the lane oil to be extracted.

B) Fill a bucket up with hot tap water (< 140 degrees F), and put in a drop or two of dish soap to help break up the lane oil and pull it out of the ball.

C) Submerge the ball in the bucket of tap water and leave it in there for about 15 minutes.  You will notice the film of oil rising to the surface of the ball, and in the water.  This is normal and is a good sign that you are getting the oil out of the deepest parts of the bowling ball.

D) Next, take the ball out of the water, wipe it off with an oil and lint free towel, and repeat the process 2-3 times, or until you no longer see any more oil on the surface of the ball after the 15 minute period of time.

E) Finally, after you let the ball dry out for a 24-48 hour period of time, bring the surface of the ball back up to the desired level, and you’re done.  You should only have to do this every 50 games or so, if you are diligent about cleaning your equipment after each set.  If you start to notice a significant loss in ball reaction before 50 games, you may need to adjust this process to do it more often (cover stock porosity varies greatly on bowling equipment, so keep that in mind), just find a comfort level for yourself and go with it.

3) Baking the ball to bring lane oil out of the bowling ball.  This method should ONLY be done by a pro shop in a controlled oven made specifically for extracting oil from bowling balls.  Many people try this at home, and it can have devastating results to your bowling equipment.  Any time you bring a bowling ball above 140 degrees (F), you start to remove and harden the material that holds the ball together (plasticizers), and this will make the ball brittle, thus hardening the resin to the point where the bowling ball is useless.  Once this happens, the ball can not be saved, and has to be discarded. 

This process is so hard to regulate in a home oven, that I tell ALL bowlers who seek this process to leave it in the hands of a pro shop who has the material specifically made for baking bowling balls.  You can do a good enough job at home with the hot water method to maintain your bowling balls properly without having to resort to baking the ball in the oven.

Well, those are my general tips for bowling ball maintenance.  I hope you found it informative and helpful, and realize that with proper care, your bowling balls can last you 500 games or more, no problem at all.  This will help keep money in your pocket, and keep that “new ball reaction” longer.  Take care everyone, and good luck out there!  Please feel free to comment, and I will get back to you ASAP, thanks!

– James Goulding III

www.msusbc-maine.org

www.lausbca.org