With the sport of bowling seemingly hanging on by a thread, evident from the declining league registrations nationwide and the cancellation of the 2014 and 2015 U.S. Open, the United States Bowling Congress has decided that they should step in and put the figurative “last nail in the coffin.”
Anyone who watches bowling on TV, or even goes in to watch your weekly league bowlers, can see the rise in two-handed bowlers, or even one handed bowlers that “cup” the ball to produce more rotation and get more hook.
Regulars to PBA telecasts like Jason Belmonte and Osku Palermaa use the two handed approach, which allows them to generate many more revolutions on the ball than a typical one-handed bowler.
The secret to this is that they do not put their thumb in the ball, but instead they cup the ball on their forearm with their fingers in the ball and then balance it with the other hand. As they release the ball, both hands allow for more hook.
Even though the thumb is not used by these bowlers, it is still drilled into the ball for them.
Additionally, as the old rule states, a maximum of one balance hole is allowed in a ball. The balance hole allows you to take weight out of one side of the ball, creating more hook and a different axis point when you deliver the ball.
Because of this, the USBC has decided that it needed to change the rule on gripping holes in a bowling ball.
The old rule stated that a bowling ball could have up to five finger holes and one balance hole, but each finger hole had to be able to be shown to fit the hand and not randomly placed on the ball.
The new rule now states that a ball can still have five finger holes and one balance hole, but if you are a bowler that does not use a thumb hole, your thumb hole now counts as your balance hole.
This rule change has come about because it is believed that two-handed bowlers are utilizing the thumb hole as an additional balance hole and giving them an unfair advantage.
A lot of bowlers are confused about this new rule and even more are enraged at how the USBC could decide to limit bowlers even more and upset its customers at a time when bowling is struggling to stay afloat.
The consequences for violation the rule are not even clear, stating that if a ball is found to be illegal it is merely taken out of play.
Many bowlers are also concerned because every ball they have ever had drilled this way is now illegal and will result in thousands of wasted dollars sitting in their ball bags with no use.
Nevertheless, rules are rules, and no matter how much we don’t like them, if we want to play the game, we have to follow the rules.
I just hope that the USBC sees that their problem isn’t with the 1 percent of bowlers that throw two handed, but with the structure of the sport itself, and that they should focus on fixing that first.