THE STRIKE ZONE / Scott Bailey

March 1999

Why is that extra hole on the side
of the bowling ball?

My friend just bought a new ball that had an extra hole drilled on the side. What exactly is this for?

The extra hole of which you note is known as a balance hole. It initially was used to make a bowling ball conform to American Bowling Congress regulations. The ABC has a static balance rule that says a bowling ball shall not have one side weigh more than one ounce heavier than the other side in relation to the center of the gripping holes.

In the last 10 to 15 years, industry experts have learned that the location, size, and depth of the balance hole can have a significant impact on the performance of a bowling ball. While we are constantly learning new technical aspects in relation to contemporary bowling equipment, there are a few commonly held theories with regards to balance holes, including:

· Everything else being equal, a bowling ball that has a balance hole at least 2˝" deep will hook more than one that does not.

· Everything else being equal, the larger you make the balance hole, the more the ball will hook.

· Balance holes placed between the ball track and axis point will make the ball more controllable at the break point. Balance holes placed below the axis point will tend to increase the "flipping" action of the ball at the break point.

· Balance holes that cause an increase in track flare potential will make the ball roll earlier.

· Balance holes that are smaller and deeper will create more length and a sharper break point than those that are bigger and shallower.

· Balance holes can affect the track of your ball. This is important to remember if you have trouble with the ball tracking over one or all of the gripping holes.

It is important to remember that balance hole placement is a great way to tweak the reaction of your bowling ball. Balance holes will not change the over-riding characteristics of your ball reaction as determined by your physical game; and the ball’s surface, core construction, and drilling layout.

* * * *

I have been reading about Brunswick’s Proactive urethane that is available in several of their new bowling balls. How is this material different than normal reactive urethane?

I have been asked this question several times since the most recent edition of Bowling This Month magazine voted the Brunswick Pro Zone Azure as Ball of the Year for 1998. This was quite an honor for the folks at Brunswick.

As many of you may remember, in the April/May 1998 issue of BOWL Magazine I reviewed Brunswick’s Speed Demon Zone, which at the time was their newest release. In this review, I said that if you have one Zone, you basically have them all.

However, with the advent of Proactive urethane, the Pro Zone series is quite unique. I won’t go into a detailed review since I already examined the performance characteristics of this ball in the October 1998 issue.

It is important to remember that Proactive urethane
does not work on every lane condition.

To answer your question, this new material is much less sensitive to lane oil than traditional reactive coverstocks. Basically, it won’t hook too sharply when it hits the dry boards, and it won’t slide too much when it hits the oil. Imagine a regular urethane ball on steroids. The extra control this type of material offers has made it very popular with today’s bowlers.

It is important to remember, though, that Proactive urethane does not work on every lane condition. It is best suited to heavy heads with light-to-moderate carrydown. Once the head oil breaks down, it will probably hook too early, causing a significant loss of pin carry potential. Brunswick has addressed this problem with new versions of proactive material that produce a more length/flip style of ball reaction. This is suited to drier heads and more carrydown, as well as, deeper inside target lines.

Note: Ebonite has released its own version of this new material in its highly successful Riptide and Tombstone bowling balls.

* * * *

My pro shop is located very far from my home. Without using the polishing machines at the bowling center, is there any way I can maintain the shiny surface of my bowling ball at home?

To achieve a lasting high polish on your ball, it is best to see your IBPSIA certified pro shop technician. If this is inconvenient, you can purchase one of several good polishes currently available. Products such as Ebonite RCS, Storm Reacta-Shine, Delayed Reaction, and Ultimate Active Attack can produce good results if applied properly.

After having your ball professionally sanded and polished at your pro shop (about once a month, if possible), you should hand polish your ball weekly with one of these products. The best way is to apply the polish exactly as you would in waxing your car. With a clean soft towel, rub liberal amounts of the polish on your ball’s surface and allow it to dry into a light haze. After the polish dries, simply buff the ball until the shine is restored. Apply several coats of the polish if necessary.

Although it takes a little elbow grease, polishing your ball in this manner will help it maintain a clean and responsive surface.

Scott Bailey operates The Strike Zone Professional Bowling Store in Vienna.