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The Intricacies of High-End Bowling Balls and My Mistaken Understanding of a “Strong” vs “Weak” Bowling Ball; From the Perspective of An Above Average, but Ignorant Nonetheless, Bowler

I purchased a Hammer Scorpion, one of the stinging-est, badass-est bowling hook balls made…. erm, now that I know how to throw it and under which conditions to throw it. For what we normal Friday night league people bowl on, the “house shot” as it’s called (meaning the standard league oil pattern), the Scorpion is definitely a heavy hitter. It excels on medium oil patterns (it says medium to heavy, but it only works well on heavy if you’re a rev-dominant bowler, which I am not). I can line up on 24, shoot for the 10 arrow (or one board left depending on the oil) and I can pocket shot that combo for a game, game-and-a-half. I love that ball, and that shot. It’s comfortable for me. I thought I wanted something that hooked a little stronger in the oil, though.

[BTW This post is from a lefthanded perspective]

Unfortunately, I can’t move right with the Scorpion because I’ll get into too much oil and the ball will simply skid down the lane, failing to get into a roll and I’ll be light to the pocket or miss it altogether, leaving a split. I can move a few boards right, but eventually I’m tracking through too much oil. Knowing I had this problem, and not knowing much else, I went into the pro shop and told the proprietor I needed a “stronger” ball.

He set me up with the strongest in Brunswick’s line, the Quantum Evo solid. I took it to the lanes and was ready to roll it through the oil after the Scorpion used up a lot of the oil on the left side of the lane. I set up with my right toe big toe on 30 and shot for 15… and the ball never came back. Dead split 1, 3, 6, 7, 10. I was a little incredulous… resin reactive cover, asymmetrical core… “strongest” ball Brunswick makes… what was the deal? How could it not hook through the oil into the pocket? I struggled with the ball for a week…

Then I saw this:

I made a mistake when I asked for a stronger ball when what I thought I wanted was a weaker ball… say the Quantum Evo Pearl (it’s the polished version of the Solid).

Cue up last week’s Friday night and I learned an invaluable lesson about weak and strong bowling balls. In the first game and a half, I burned up the left side with my Scorpion. I threw a 199 and started on a great second game. Three frames in I’d moved as far right as I could before I got too far into the heavy oil. I pulled out the Quantum Evo Solid and moved right… and it worked. At first. My second frame with it was disastrous. I didn’t slow my swing down enough to allow the ball to get it back. Same with the fifth. I tried to go back to the Scorpion but that cut straight across the headpin or got bogged down in the heavy oil. Things went downhill from there.

One of the guys on our team who has decades of high-level bowling skill and knowledge suggested I move left a few boards with the Evo and give that a go. Dead into the pocket. I missed in the tenth but then went into the practice games and moved left a few more boards, almost back into my initial spot with the Scorpion and destroyed the pins. I went for two more games before scorching the left side to a point I couldn’t get either ball far enough down the lane to hit the head pin, let alone the pocket.

This gets into the weak/strong bowling ball discussion. I had a serious problem getting my ball from the skid phase to the roll phase because I can throw hard but lack the revs to make the ball hook through the speed. If I want to move right, into the oil, I have to slow the ball down (my normal line isn’t an arc, the ball starts left and hooks into the pocket). However, in the practice phase of the night, I used the “strong” ball to excellent affect in the line that I’d burned up with the hammer. Once the Quantum Evo started hooking too soon (which is what a strong ball is supposed to do), I switched back to the weaker Scorpion and threw the ball in more of an arc, starting the ball farther left, letting it drift into the dry so it could grab, then come back. This was exactly what I needed.

To keep this simple, because three bowling balls are enough to juggle right now (two hook and a straight spare ball), I’ve actually got a great arsenal – I just didn’t know how great until this last week. I use the Hammer to break down the left side of the lane, the Brunswick Quantum Evo Solid to cliff it, then switch back to the Scorpion to get through the oil, into the dry and back into the pocket.

To put a nice little bow on this post, if you’re still kinda confused, have a look at this last video where they resurface a resin reactive ball, taking it from shiny to dull. Most important, look at what happens to the arc of the ball as they sand it, or make it duller…

As the ball gets “stronger” through the resurfacing process, it doesn’t fade to the gutter as far as the shiny “weak” ball does. That’s what is meant by “the strong ball starts its hook earlier” so it can’t get as far right (or left as the case is with me). The ball uses up its energy to keep from fading toward the gutter (which is why it over-hooks at the end, the bowler revs the ball too much for that rough surface to be useful under the conditions he’s throwing it).

That last video was a key that finally unlocked my understanding of looking at the hook of a ball lengthwise rather than side to side… and why my Scorpion and Quantum Evo react the way they do. How will that translate to actual bowling? Time, and a ton of enjoyable practice, will tell.

Happy Friday, my friends.