So you’re ready to take the plunge? After months or years of using the house bowling balls, you want to step up and buy your own. That’s great.
We bet you can’t wait to walk into your regular bowling center carrying your new bowling bag. When you unveil your prized possession to everyone around you, its shiny finish will reflect the smile of it proud new owner.
What says, “Real Bowler!” more than someone who owns their own ball?
Can You Spare a Minute, First?
The only thing that can ruin that moment is to realize your new ball isn’t a good ball for you or your game style.
Imagine someone making their approach; realizing as his arm swings back that there is just a little too much weight pulling him away from the pins.
It completely throws off his foot placement. Soon he is sprawling across the foul line as his new bowling ball spins one way and then the next. It teeters along the alley’s edge before falling into the gutter just short of the ten-pin.
He probably should have read this article before buying his new bowling ball. Don’t you make the same mistake! Read on to find out how to buy the best beginner bowling ball.
Why Should I Buy My Own Ball?
There are advantages to owning your own ball besides the “cool factor”. The biggest reason is the custom drilling of the ball to match your particular hand.
Bowling Center (or House) balls are drilled to match the most common size and style of hands. Even if you are “normal”, the holes in a house ball are likely to be slightly too close or too far apart to match your fingers.
A custom-fitted ball will allow for a more natural and controlled handling of your bowling ball. There will be less strain on your fingers and wrist. You might even be able to manage a slightly heavier weight.
Owning your own ball also means that you don’t have to adjust your game every time you bowl with a different house ball. You will be able to define your game style once and for all.
So What Do I Buy?
There are thousands of bowling ball options out there for you to choose from. The first thing to do is to eliminate the obvious bad choices.
Why are you buying your own ball? Are you trying to step up your game to a league-worthy state? Or do you plan to bowl socially with friends for fun and just want to avoid the hassle of looking for a decent house ball every time out?
Have you been playing with new hook techniques and find the house balls just don’t respond? Whatever your reason is, there is a ball waiting for you to take it home.
Bowling centers use polyester bowling balls as house balls. These are also referred to as plastic balls. Professional bowlers call them spare balls because they roll straight. These pros use polyester balls to pick up tough spares.
These balls tend to roll down the alley in a straight line toward whatever you aim at. For some beginner bowlers, especially those who just bowl for fun, this is good enough.
Another beginner who may find a plastic ball sufficient for his needs is one who bowls at the same alleys every time and finds the plastic balls move enough to reward him with decent scores.
Local alleys use some tricks to help plastic balls thrown at a normal speed move toward the pins. If you are happy with your house ball scores and bowling style, why switch?
The final factor that may push you toward a plastic ball is the price point, which is significantly lower than other styles of bowling balls.
Stepping It Up
There is another ball being marketed as an entry-level ball. Just remember that when they say, “entry-level”, they are talking about folks who are trying to step their game up to a new level.
If this includes you, then a urethane ball is probably your best choice.
Polyester and Urethane refer to the coverstock of a ball. That is, polyester and Urethane is what the outermost part of the ball is made of.
Urethane is softer and stickier than polyester. This helps it grab the alley better and create friction. Friction is what makes the ball grab the wood and turn, creating what you see as a hook.
The difference between the hook potential of a plastic ball and a urethane ball is like night and day. A beginner playing with hooks will see dramatic results with a urethane ball.
When you think about rolling a ball, you probably think you want a ball that is completely balanced and will roll true over a distance.
Bowling technology says otherwise. The insides of a bowling ball are not always balanced.
The core of a bowling ball has two, three, or even four parts. Four-part cores are considered two-part cores. Although we share that with you, please do not ask us why it is so.
A beginner bowler playing with a hook should stick to a pancake or balanced core. The urethane coverstock will provide enough added hook potential for now.
Unbalanced cores require different techniques and style adjustments that overwhelm a typical beginner. It simply won’t be enjoyable.
Think of it like jumping into a college-level Advanced Physics class when all you learned in high school was Basic Algebra.
Most Pro Shops are manned by bowling experts and professionals who want you to own a ball that works for you and your game. They want you to enjoy bowling and trust them enough to come back when you are ready for a better ball or other accessories.
Beginners will likely be encouraged to buy a Urethane or polyester ball. The balls we recommend below fall into those categories.
Should a salesperson suggest a resin ball or a dynamic, unbalanced core, leave. This is someone who is more interested in his or her sales numbers than improving your game.
New drivers do not buy Ferraris as their first car unless they have a serious amount of money to waste. Professional resin balls are the Ferraris of bowling balls.
Weight a Minute!
Bowling ball weight is the biggest concern of many new bowlers. Opinions vary from those who preach that the heaviest ball knocks down the most pins to those who say the lightest ball can be rolled faster, knocking down more pins.
They do agree, however, that your new ball should not be too heavy or too light. Also, it should knock down the most pins.
Weight and speed combine to increase impact. A slow, heavy ball or a fast, lighter ball are more likely to leave pins standing than a mid-range, normal-speed ball. You want to find the weight that allows you to maintain your optimal delivery speed
How Do I Tell?
One method is to hold a ball in two hands as if you were presenting it someone. Then hold it straight out as if you presenting it to someone.
If you can hold the ball for a few minutes without too much pain or tremulousness, it is about the right weight.
If you can hold it like that for five minutes, it is probably too light. If the ball is on the floor and you are lying next to it crying and grasping your elbows or upper arms, it was probably too heavy.
Overall, the new bowling ball of someone looking to have fun can be a polyester ball. These also happen to come in a wide variety of fun colors, designs and logos. Balanced Urethane balls are best for those beginners seeking to add hook to their game.
Here are a few of the best-selling balls for beginners:
Brunswick T-Zone Series (Polyester)
Brunswick is a leading manufacturer of bowling balls and equipment
Available in multiple colors and a full range of weights
Good price point for straight, recreational, and novice bowlers
Ebonite Cyclone Series (Urethane)
Ebonite is another leading manufacturer of bowling balls
GB-10 Coverstock is a great step-up ball from polyester
Added hook ability, but not too much for beginners to master.
Pyramid Path Rising Series (Urethane)
Pyramids first entry-level bowling ball has a good price-point
Totally symmetrical core allows for widest variety of drilling options
Symmetry makes it a good ball for straight lines and hooks.
Final Words Before We Split
Pro Shops are your best bet to find your perfect bowling ball. However, if you should you decide to buy your ball at a discount center or chain store, do not let them drill the finger holes for you.
We strongly recommend bringing it into the Pro Shop for your custom drilling. While spacing is the key, we could write another whole blog about other factors and considerations these professionals can talk about.
Okay...We Gotta Roll
No matter how satisfied and certain you are that your ball is simply awesome, do not try to knock down thirty pins with your first throw.
Remember that even though the holes are custom drilled, they are still different from the last hundred times you bowled. If you increased your ball weight a little, that will be a new experience for your wrists and arms, too.
Throw a few slow balls to start and gradually settle into your normal game. You should do this every time you start a session, but especially with a change of bowling balls.
Oh! And be sure to open your bag slowly and raise your ball to a height where everyone can bow down and pay homage to your new baby before you place it on the return rack. It’s only right.