Thursday, January 05, 2006

Evaluating my equipment

I love spending money so the first stop on this adventure was the pro shop. My ball was in need of repair anyhow due to some large gouges taken out of it by a faulty ball return. On a friend's recommendation, I visited a fantastic pro shop near where I live. Interestingly enough, it's the only pro shop I've been to that wasn't inside a bowling alley. Instead, it has a small stub lane without any pins that just extends a little past the arrows. It's enough that you can test throwing your ball and check it for fit.

Given that lane conditions change from night to night, between bowling alleys, and even in a given night as their being bowled, having multiple bowling balls makes sense to me. Of course, the problem is, I don't really know how to read lane conditions yet and I'm not sure I could readily tell the difference between two balls with the same weight and coverstock type. The learning process has to begin somewhere though so I asked the proprietor of the pro shop what type of ball he thought would compliment my current reactive resin ball. He recommended a particle ball for extremely oily conditions.

In addition to the particle ball, I decided quite a while ago that I wanted a non-hooking spare ball. Being a southpaw, I leave the 7 pin fairly frequently. The only way I've been able to pick it up somewhat consistently with my reactive ball is to change my hand position slightly so that I'm almost rolling it over the finger holes and throw it extremely hard and fast. This doesn't seem like a good long term strategy. Even if I become extraordinarily proficient at this technique, eventually I'll hurt myself throwing the ball so hard. The best solution definitely seemed to be a plastic spare ball.

So, by the time I walked out of the pro shop, I'd spent $407 with tax and bought two bowling balls with drilling and finger tip inserts as well as a 3-ball rolling bag. It was a big expenditure for me but I did buy a lot of things at once.

It took about a week for the balls to be received, drilled, and ready for pickup. When I went to pick them up, the guru at the pro shop had me throw my ball on the stub lane and carved my thumb holes into more of an oval shape to fit my thumb. I was immensely impressed by the fit. I thought my old ball fit perfectly until I picked up the new ones. There was a huge improvement. Now that I had my new balls in-hand, I was able to drop off my old ball - by the time I paid for redrilling, resurfacing, new fingertips, and the repair of a couple of deep gouges, the bill came to about $80 - expensive, but cheaper than replacing the ball and it came back looking as good as new.

The last piece of equipment I ordered was a new pair of bowling shoes. I love my old bowling shoes but there are two houses in town where I'm sticking badly. It's not just throwing my game off but it's also causing quite a bit of pain in my knee. The new shoes I ordered have replaceable/swappable heels and soles so that I can change them according to the approaches I'm bowling on.

All told, I'm now at well over $500 but I hopefully I'm done buying equipment for a couple of years. I'm packing the following:

1) Plastic spare ball
2) Reactive resin ball
3) Particle ball
4) Shoes with replaceable soles/heels
5) My old shoes in case of emergency
6) A bag with wheels that holds everything
7) Towel, bowler's tape, ultra-slide, extra socks, etc.

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