How to match ball surface to lane conditions


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

At the turn of the calendar, I shared a few New Year’s resolutions; many focusing on bowling ball maintenance.

The primary focus of that column was to keep your bowling ball clean by removing lane oil between shots and by doing a complete ball cleaning at the end of your league session.

This week, I’m going to share with you a few tips for helping to match your ball surface to the lane conditions you will encounter each week.

Not everyone is an experienced tournament bowler, and even less own a high speed ball spinner like found in most pro shops, but with a few simple products, you can learn do your own ball maintenance between trips to your local pro shop.

When I was at the top of my game in the early to mid 1990s, the popular belief to make a ball hook and finish harder mostly came down to static weights of drilling a ball with finger weight to make it go long and side weight to make if turn.

With the science and technology going into balls now, the greatest determinant in ball reaction lies in the coverstock of the ball and the degree of surface applied (or removed) to the ball.

To help you create the bowling ball surface you need to achieve a consistent ball motion conducive to your game, you can screen and maintain your ball surface with a small investment in grit pads, ball cleaner, and ball polish.

A ball spinner would be a great investment to help with this process, but you can do it by hand as long as you maintain consistent pressure throughout the ball.

To be successful with this, it would help to first get acquainted with the various grit pads available at a pro shop or online and what the various grits accomplish.

Here is a simple list of ball care grit pads below which are itemized from producing the earliest roll up to the latest breakpoint down the lane:

- 180 Abralon pad...this pad produces a highly textured surface for maximum gripping power.

- 360 Abralon pad...slightly less texture producing pad but very good on extremely oiled lane surfaces.

- 500 Abralon pad...a step closer to a smoother ball finish with sufficient gripping power.

- 1000 Abralon pad...produces sufficient amount of gripping power on most lane conditions.

- 2000 Abralon pad....produces a medium grit texture providing good skid with back end bite.

- 4000 Abralon pad...the finest texture of all pads and extends bowling ball skid length.

The things to remember when doing your own ball work are the higher the pad grit, the smoother the ball surface and the longer the ball skid; the lower the pad grit, the rougher the texture and the quicker athe ball reaction you will get on the lane surface.

You should always use a ball cleaner before using any Abralon pads.

If after using the sanding pads, you find you need even more distance on your ball to create a skid-snap reaction, you can add polish.

One local who has apparently matched his ball surface to the lanes recently is Mark Tarkington who shredded the pins to a pile of dust last Tuesday during Fellowship League for a 794!

On the night, Tarkington saw each game take a slight dip, but that’s alright when you start with a 268 and end with a 260.

Before you reach for the calculator, I’ll just tell you, that’s a 266 in the middle.

He followed those amazing numbers with a 750 at OBX on Wednesday night, then for good measure he added a 266-756 while subbing during MLK on Thursday night.

That’s a cool 256 average for the week!

Trailing only Tarkington on Thursday night were John Greer’s 224-636, Clarence Burke’s 235-612, and games of 232 each from Lake Krehel and Denwood Williams.

Debbie Winslow’s 205-529 paced the MLK ladies, followed by a 188-508 from Stephanie Winslow and a 185-491 from Brittney Gaumond.

Terrence Riddick and Ronnie Barefoot each added impressive games of 248 and 223 respectively for the men of Fellowship.

Fellowships ladies had top games from Kaytee Simpson (213) and Ruth Odell (168).

Will Swinson’s 238-637 paced the guys from Monday Night Mixed last week, finishing just ahead of Rondell Christian’s 208-599.

Randy Cartwright added a 209-577 to go along with Paul Lacher’s 215 game.

The ladies from Monday night witnessed Debbie Winslow lead the pack with a 205-528, followed by Bonnie Sawyer’s 170-495, Sharon Hoffler’s 182-494, and Linda Barrett’s 175 game.

Ocie Manos turned in the top performance of the ladies-only leagues with her 181-493 during the All American Ladies.

Stella Miller’s 171-461 and Patsy Sanders’ 165-454 capped off the AAL top scores.

The ladies of Albemarle Roller’s witnessed the top performance of Pamela Griffin (177-483) to go along with the 160-460 from Sylvia Holley and the 169-448 from Delli Spaulding.

Bumper bowlers were topped by the 85 game of Tristan Hardison.

Ben Hawkins led all the youth with his 198-519 outing, followed by Thomas Adams’ 183-493 and Bryce Hawkins’ 170-493.

Elizabeth Scaff’s 151-371 again topped the young ladies, just ahead of Lindsay Porter’s 119-319 and Kaylee Winslow’s 127-285.

The youth bowlers completed their winter qualifier for the North Carolina Pepsi Youth Championships with the following youth earning an invitation to compete in the sectional round over the second weekend of March: Kaylee Winslow, Madison Elliott, Lindsay Porter, Colby Judge, Gary Nistler, Ben Hawkins, and Christopher Vinson.

Until next, good luck and good bowling.