Just when you think there’s a case of mass apathy among bowlers about the general goings on within the U.S. Bowling Congress (USBC), the powers that be in Texas issue an edict to the community and the ball manufacturers for a change – and the uproar has been deafening.
The Rules and Specification Division of the USBC made a change to ball chemistry and drilling specifications that has set the game on its ear.
Firstly, after a two-year study of ball motion and mechanics, the USBC has mandated that manufacturers ‘de-tune’ their reactive resin products to decrease the oil absorption rate of coverstocks. In short, they’re mandating that balls hook less. It’s been a fixture of the modern game to produce coverstocks with the greatest ‘hook potential.’
This potential has given drillers a wide berth to create layouts with mind blowing motion and hitting power. In conjunction with high-tech oiling machines that can put out patterns for play that direct the ball to the pocket, scoring has reached points never seen in recent times – points the USBC has now said are too high.
In a sport with dwindling participation because of increasing costs to play and ever increasing dues for membership, one has to question why the USBC is taking steps to lower scoring? Happy players are scoring players and scoring players spend money on beverages, food and equipment, go figure. Bottom line here is scoring could be more problematic in the future.
The second edict to the manufacturers is to design their balls to conform to a new balance standard.
Currently, balls must have no greater differential from side to side of more than 1 ounce … the new standard will be 3 ounces, and balls will no longer be permitted to have a ‘balance hole’ to achieve that standard.
Some of you will notice when your ball is drilled there’s an extra hole to the right or left of your gripping span that was placed there after drilling to bring that differential back under specification limits. In 2020, balance holes will no longer be permitted and any old equipment still in play with one must have it plugged.
I really don’t see that this will be a problem, other than being an additional cost to the players to keep their favorite ball. The added weight of filling the weight hole will in the great majority of balls; still render a ball well under the 3 ounce limit.
The reason for this mandate to eliminate the weight hole is widely accepted (while not admitted) to be an effort to put restraints on players with a two-handed delivery, by greatly limiting their layout options and circumventing the side to side and top to bottom weight restrictions.
I don’t agree that such a wholesale change was necessary but such is the architecture of bureaucracy. My personal opinion is that whatever changes the manufacturers have to make in their coverstock formulations to appease the USBC will be well within the capabilities of the lane machines to compensate for and scoring may even go up with balls out there having three- ounces of imbalance. Good drillers will jump all over this latitude.
The USBC might have thought they had slain a dragon, but in fact, they have created a new monster, so stay tuned.
These changes go into effect for the 2020 season.
As always, if you have any questions, direct them to my email at email@example.com or see me at the local center almost any day of the week.
Wilson is a U.S. Bowling Congress Silver Instructor and an International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association ball technician.