Exploration into the world of high-tech bowling leads us to the scratch and tournament bowlers — competitors with a higher degree of expertise who are willing to invest their dollars into multiple bowling balls and their time into practice, instruction and advice.
Brad Buckert, owner of Begin’rs to Pros bowling stores in Rochester, said today’s scratch bowler — defined as someone who averages around 220 or better on “house” lane conditions — should have a minimum of six bowling balls plus a polyester spare ball in his or her arsenal.
Ball No. 1 — “Just like the typical league bowler, the scratch bowler starts with a benchmark ball (drilled with the pin at about a 1:30 position on the clock either next to or just above the ring finger), Buckert said. “He or she normally uses the benchmark ball to figure out the lane pattern and/or to use on the fresh lane condition.”
Ball No. 2 — Scratch bowlers also should own a pin down (under fingers) solid reactive symmetrical ball, Buckert said.
His ball choices for both the first and second balls out of the bowler’s bag include the Storm HyRoad, Track 503C or 300T, Ebonite Game Changer, Columbia OutBurst, Hammer Arson, Storm Marvel or 2Furious or a Brunswick Revolver series.
Ball No. 3 — Buckert said the next ball would be a pin up (above fingers) pearl symmetrical reactive ball.
“This ball is needed for the transitions that happen on a typical house shot,” he noted.
Ball choices here could be Ebonite Cyclone, Columbia Eruption, Hammer Grape Vibe, Storm Marvel Pearl or 2Fast, the new Storm Frantic (available on Oct. 25), or the Roto-Grip Nomad Dagger or Rising Star.
“These balls will handle just about everything thrown at you during a freshly-oiled typical house shot and in most cases the freshly-oiled medium length and medium to lighter volume Sport conditions,” Buckert said.
Sport League oil patterns are much flatter than house conditions. In other words, Sport lanes have less oil in the middle of the lane, which means there is not as much “miss room” or forgiveness on the outside boards of the lane. These patterns force the bowler to be more accurate and have a more controllable ball reaction.
Buckert brings a new term into the mix when talking about balls for Sport conditions — radius of gyration or RG. The bowling ball’s RG represents how fast the ball “revs up” off the bowler’s hand. The lowest RG (2.46) revs fastest and higher RG (2.80) revs slowest.
“These balls should be lower RG (2.46-2.50) to medium RG (2.51-2.55) balls,” Buckert said. “They will give the bowler an earlier and more controllable reaction for the tougher flatter Sport patterns.”
Balls No. 4 & 5 — Tournament bowling creates a need to add a couple more bowling balls to the arsenal.
“Many tournaments today use exotic oil patterns, and most of the big money events feature very difficult lane conditions,” Buckert said. “The scratch bowler will have one or two asymmetrical bowling balls for longer patterns and/or high volume conditions. Generally one will be a solid coverstock and one will be a pearl coverstock. The solid can either be pin up or pin down and the pearl is general pin up.”
Solid asymmetrical choices include the Storm Virtual Gravity Nano, Roto-Grip Theory, Hammer Taboo, Ebonite Mission 250K, Columbia Ransom Demand, Track 715A or a Brunswick C-System Alpha Maxx.
Pearl asymmetrical ball choices include the Storm Virtual Gravity Nano Pearl (just arrived on Oct. 13), Roto-Grip Mutant Cell Pearl, Hammer Epidemic, Columbia Encounter, Ebonite Signals or the Brunswick Ulti-Maxx.
Ball No. 6 — “I think the other ball that should fit into this arsenal is a weaker coverstock symmetrical ball for drier conditions,” Buckert said. “These are usually drilled with pin above the fingers to help them get more length.”
The Storm Tropical Heat, Storm Tropical Breeze or Brunswick Slingshot fit the bill here.
‘Specialty Balls’ — Buckert said the most prolific tournament players have all of the above “plus a few more specific balls and/or drillings to help with the multitude of tougher tournaments conditions.”
These are what I call ‘trouble balls’ or ‘specialty balls’. They are designed for a specific ball reaction to score better on a certain condition or when the lanes transition a certain way.”
Balls that are in this category include the Storm Victory Road (pearl version), Storm Reign Supreme or Storm Reign or the new Roto-Grip Bandit.
“The reason I selected these balls is because they have the potential for the most angular backend motion,” Buckert said. “This is needed when the tougher conditions force the bowlers (mostly right handed bowlers) to move very deep inside on the lane and sometimes even having to loft the ball over the gutter cap.”
Buckert said that what these balls do better than any other bowling balls from all ball companies is “get down the lane and turn the corner harder.”
“They are higher RG (2.56 or higher) and, most importantly, they all have higher density flip blocks on the bottom of the core that allow them to change direction stronger — be more angular into the pocket — than the other balls from even the deepest of angles.”
Buckert is able to stay on top of his “game” by watching some of Rochester’s best bowlers in Sport leagues at Clover Lanes on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
“Each week, I’m able to watch all types of bowlers try to beat these tough conditions,” he said. “It also allows me to know what bowling balls and what drilling patterns work best for all types of bowlers on these patterns on the fresh oil and, of course more importantly, for all of the transitions that the lane condition goes through.”