When should a bowler change a line or a ball?


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

During the summer of 1982, the punk rock band, The Clash, released what would be their only hit to reach number one, a song entitled, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

At the time, there was apparently a lot of questions concerning the content or the motive behind the lyrics written by Mick Jones, as he would soon leave the band.

As I prepared to write this column though, I wondered if Jones was ever a bowler, because the magical question he is asking in the title of his hit song used to certainly settle on my mind during my competitive bowling days and is certain to flash before bowlers even more now with today’s equipment and lane conditions.

The connection between bowling and this one-hit wonder from the early 1980s, or as I like to refer to it to kids now, back in the 1900s is this.

Should I stay or should I go is referring to where the bowler is lining up to take their strike shot, and now there is another option; go to the bag or locker for a different ball.

When I began really bowling, we had two choices in bowling balls; plastic or rubber.

Plastic went straighter and rubber would hook a little.

All I had ever used was plastic until one Christmas when my parents bought me a rubber Johnny Petraglia LT-48 to give me a compliment to the plastic Brunswick ball I was already carrying. Bowlers really thought they had maxed out with the revolution of urethane balls a few years later.

Back then, with limited ball choices, bowlers adjusted to the lanes by making moves with their feet first, then with their lane target.

Heavy oil or oil carry-down meant less friction and less hook and mandated a move to the right for a right-handed bowler. Less oil or dryer lanes sent the bowler moving in the opposite direction.

Another change in strategy is a bowler’s use of friction between a bowling ball and the lanes. I spent a number of Friday nights before a Saturday tournament, sitting at my grandparent’s kitchen table, using sandpaper on my bowling balls to increase friction and my hook potential the next day.

Today, most bowlers move toward the center of the lane to find the oil and reduce friction to conserve the energy of the ball.

Another key factor in a bowler choosing whether to move or change balls is who’s bowling on the same lanes, what line everyone is playing, and what equipment everyone is using.

While plastic and urethane balls carry oil down the lanes, the reactive resin balls that most people are using these days tend to soak up oil from the lanes like a sponge.

This dries up the lanes, creating friction, and forcing adjustments either in line or ball choice.

One person who changed lines and then his ball to the tune of a 266-759 was Mark Tarkington during last week’s Monday Night Trio league. He actually had a pair of 260-plus games as he also had a 264 effort.

When I asked Mark about his night, he shared that he started with a Storm Hyper Cell Fused but considering the pattern he was facing, concluded that ball was a little too erratic and unpredictable on that night.

He then changed over to a Drive. His keen eye quickly saw that one line with the drive was hooking too early and another went too far, so he changed one more time to the Idol to start a string of 25 strikes of his last 29 shots.

Chris Farrell made some quality adjustments in his attack last Thursday when he fired games of 254 and 252 as part of a nice 726 series.

Joining Tarkington on the leader’s board from Monday night were Jeffrey Barefoot (236-632) and Derrick Spruill (223-612). Brittney Gaumond (233-586), Katie Barefoot (201-505), and Rika Bell (158-437) paced the ladies from Monday.

John Turner’s 213-601 and Casey Delauretis’s 222-583 joined Farrell’s lead for Thursday night’s guys, while Debbie Winslow’s 209-571, Stephanie Winslow’s 215-536, and Brittney Gaumond’s 201-533 led the ladies.

The Bumper Crazy 8 league was led by Connor Cafferello’s 140, Scarlett Manderson’s 126, Dakota Ballance’s 114, Tristan Hardison’s 101, Ariana Mummert’s 83, and Evangelina Delauretis’s 81 game. Val Hardison had the high adult game with a 204.

The Youth Crazy 8 was lit-up by Christopher Vinson’s 276-266-784, Ben Hawkins’ 266-265-732, Thomas Adams’ 251-669, Gaston Pinner’s 218 game, Emily Brewer’s 238-609. Kristy Hall (195-570) and GS Pinner (205-486) lead the adults.

There are still a few spots open on the bumper and youth leagues, so anyone who still wants to bowl on Saturday mornings can join the league this Saturday at 10:00.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling.