Another outing

My brother had some time after we got my food shopping done today, so we once again hit the lanes for a few games before lunch. I was just in the 170s and 180s, while my brother had a first game in the 140s before falling off. The pro shop opened up while we were bowling, and I felt it was time, so I brought the High-Voltage in there for oil removal, and I will pick the ball up on Wednesday night before league.

During lunch, I told my brother I felt ready to make the move up to a mid-performance ball, so I will likely be getting a new ball once my stimulus payment is firmly in my main account. I’m looking for a ball with a stronger core and possibly a hybrid coverstock if one is in the mid-performance range (hybrid means a combination of solid and pearl reactive material), for the reason that I’ll be using it mainly on the house shot, but I also want a ball that is decent on the Coke Classic League shot for tournaments.

New acquisitions

I had to wait quite a while for the pro shop to open, and when it did, it was just Brian Frank in the shop and not Ray, as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I purchased two items: a new USA Bowling Pro Shops shirt, which I plan on having embroidered with my name on the back at a local shop tomorrow (expect photos when this work is done), and a KR Strikeforce two-ball tournament tote. I purchased the latter item because I recently joined the Boston Bowling Meetup Group, which meets for tenpins about every other month at Lanes and Games in Cambridge. I see this as a chance to expand my horizons and bowl in a different house and on different conditions than I’m used to. The next tenpin meet is next month, and I hope to be able to join them for that.

Equipment failure

It was a pretty normal practice today (though with me scoring a bit under my league average), but, after I finished bowling, I discovered that the back support of my wrist device (the Brunswick Command) had snapped in half, so I’ll have to get a new one when I next visit the pro shop (probably Wednesday night before my league).

As I’m the only person willing to do it, Bev gave me the task of keeping the PBA Tour schedule poster on the side wall of the control desk updated with the winners, with my duty today to get the poster caught up (easy, as I had remembered all of the winners). I noticed a couple of errors on the poster, however: 1) there’s a space for a Women’s Series winner for the Ultimate Scoring Championship when the space is really supposed to be for the Chameleon Championship; 2) there’s also space for a Women’s Series winner for the National Bowling Stadium Championship, but there will be no Women’s Series event at that stop.

PAP redux

With the thought in mind of getting an oil ball, I went back down to the lanes (and pro shop) today to have my PAP remeasured, keeping in mind that I shouldn’t turn the ball (release definitely will affect PAP), but rather swing through the ball and let it roll off my fingers. Brian (Frank, not Shea) was doing the work this time, and his measurement should be considered more accurate, as he was actually watching me bowl much of the time when it was being taken. The updated numbers (including the drilling of the High-Voltage) follow:

PAP: 4 7/8″ over, 1/2″ up, 3 1/16″ leverage
Drilling (traditional notation): 3″ x 4″
Drilling (dual-angle notation): 82° x 3″ x 45°

Working with Brian, I also found a line I could play on the winter house shot (I made sure I was on a lane with the house shot so as to not wreck the Tuesday Scratch Sportmen’s lanes’ oil)…stance about the 16 board straight up to 7 or 8 at the arrows, and I had a nice looking strike for the last shot Brian needed. We’ll see if it holds up in league tomorrow night. The decision to buy the oil ball has also been delayed, as I was getting something like the reaction I was looking for all this time on the new line.

Addendum to “Getting technical”

Doing my research on drilling angles and what they mean for ball reaction, I learned that a 10° drilling will roll the soonest of the effective drilling angles, and a 90° drilling the latest, so my 50° drilling rolls up at a mid-point, late if anything. Also, for asymmetrical balls, the CG is replaced by the PSA (Preferred Spin Axis) point.

Note: I highly recommend reading this page on the MoRich site if you want to learn what all of the numbers in a dual-angle noted drilling mean. 😀

Getting technical

This is the promised later post. 🙂

A PAP measurement is described as a distance right or left of the center of the grip (depending on the hand bowled with) and a distance up or down from that line (resulting in the Vertical Axis Line, or VAL). As Jon determined from looking at the flare lines and measuring the ball, my PAP is 3 3/8″ right (since I’m right-handed), 1/2″ up. There is also a 2 11/16″ leverage point. I’m told this gives me a spinner type of track similar to that of PBA professional Ryan Shafer.

Drillings nowadays are often described using dual-angle notation, which is given as the angle of the intersection of the pin-to-CG (Center of Gravity) line and the pin-to-PAP line, by the pin-to-PAP line distance, by the pin-to-PAP/VAL angle. On my ball, it’s a 50° x 2 1/2″ x 23° drilling. What do the numbers mean as far as ball reaction goes? The 50° drilling is often given to those whose PAP is not known. The 2 1/2″ pin-to-PAP means I get a good amount of track flare (the width of the consecutive oil bands on the ball…a wider track flare means more fresh ball surface makes contact with the lane with each revolution), and the 23° means a snappy back-end reaction.

Now that my PAP is known, it means future balls can be drilled to have a different reaction, as the driller can lay out the ball keeping the information on the ball’s drill sheet and my PAP in mind. 😀

Feeling rushed

Before bowling tonight, I took time with Jon in the pro shop to have my PAP (Positive Axis Point, which is the point of the axis of the first revolution after the ball hits the lane) measured, which required throwing my resurfaced High-Voltage in the middle oil for a couple of frames without wiping the ball. I jotted down what Jon put down for the PAP, then had the drilling measured. I’ll make a separate post when I know what all of the numbers mean better, but the a traditional way of noting a drilling is distance from the pin (the white dot on the ball) to the PAP by distance from the center of gravity (found by a small etched logo in the ball) to the PAP. This, for me, is a drilling of 2 1/2″ x 3 1/4″, and the pin is to the right of my ring finger hole, which I’m told makes the drilling strong for just about anyone, and is usually given to those whose PAP is not known.

My Week 5 bowling (BowlSK)

As I note in the series, the third game had a rushed feeling to it, because we were informed by Shawn that they may have had to close the place due to a water main problem in the mall area which resulted in shutting off the water in the area, forcing the closing of the mall. However, the water was back on by the end of the night. Team took first two games plus total for 3 points out of 4 tonight, and it was a rare time that we were giving pins to our opponents.

Result: 189-170-166=525
Average (15 games): 181 Last 9 games average: 175
Next week’s AVG+1 score: 553

Note: I usually get the AVG+1 from, but that site was having database problems tonight, so I did a quick calculation in my spreadsheet log for next week’s score.

I need to get aggressive

I picked up my ball from the pro shop and practiced, and, while the reaction was a little bit better, it was still not what I’m used to. Tony Attardo later told me that they always put down more oil, even on the house shot, in the fall/winter season, so I think it’s time for a more aggressive ball. As I needed one for the Monday night/tournament shot anyway, the decision to get one was just accelerated. I’m looking at the mid-price range, and I’ve had my eye on the Brunswick Copperhead, but the Columbia 300 Noize and the Raw Hammer Anger have also been suggested. In any event, I would have to see if I can get one of the new blue lockers at the lanes, which can fit 3 balls with shelving installed, first.

No reaction

Today’s practice was a continuation of a trend I’ve been noticing for a couple of weeks now…not getting the reaction out of my ball that I normally do, even on the house shot. Noting that to my chat pals, the fact that I’ve had the High-Voltage for about a year now, and that I’ve only recently had it rejuvenated, we agreed it was time to give the ball a resurface. “CoachJim,” however, said he wouldn’t take it to factory finish, however, and that I could experiment, with the gang helping me get the surface to what works for me. A procedure of sanding the ball with 240 abralon sandpaper, rejuvenating, hitting it again w/ the 240 abralon sandpaper, then rough buffing was suggested. I made the rare return to the lanes when the pro shop opened and relayed this to Ray, who said he could have the ball ready when the pro shop opens in the late afternoon tomorrow. It’s not a full resurface, so the procedure will only set me back $20. I plan on practicing again tomorrow just to see the results.

Upcoming tournaments:

  • The Tri-City USBC Women’s Bowling Association will hold their annual city tournament at Westgate Lanes on Nov. 15 and 16, with singles and doubles events. Entries close on Nov. 8. Start looking for flyers this week.
  • The Massachusetts USBC Women’s Bowling Association will hold their annual state seniors (age 50 and over) tournament on Nov. 1 and 2 at Westgate Lanes. It is a handicapped singles tournament, and entries ($35) close on Oct. 17.

A ball to spare

A spare ball, usually plastic and drilled to go straight, is considered essential for good bowlers these days, so I decided it was time to add one to my “arsenal” and headed to the pro shop today. I had to wait for Jon to finish a lesson with someone, but when the pro shop officially opened for business, I picked out a 15 lb. red-black-gold (I liked the red and black in the scheme…my high school’s colors) Brunswick Target Zone (my chosen color scheme is the bottom ball on the page). Jon laid out the ball to be drilled like my High-Voltage is currently, except to go straight, and Brian drilled it. I wanted more or less the same feel as my strike ball, so this ball also has finger grips. I like the feel of the slug in my High-Voltage, but I was told they don’t put them in plastic balls, as they have a tendency to crack the ball.

During my free game, I concentrated on shooting my corner pins. I’m pleased to report that I did not miss a single 10 pin in the game, and maybe only one 7 pin (I say maybe because the pin was already down when I shot at it, making it a “shadow” pin). The frame I was most pleased about was the 4th frame, when I picked both the 7 and the 10 (shooting the 10 first) clean out of the rack. Hopefully, the acquisition helps me improve my spare game. As I have no room in my locker currently for three balls, the old wine U-Dot has been “retired” to the house ball rack.

Pro shop notes:

  • USA Bowling Pro Shop will be running “Learn to Bowl” classes at Westgate Lanes on October 12 and November 9 (both Sundays) from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM for 16 bowlers each class. The cost is $25/person for the 3 hours, and includes video analysis. Sign up in the pro shop if you’re interested in a class.
  • Ebonite International will be running a Columbia 300 and Hammer demo day at Westgate Lanes on Oct. 18, with squads beginning from noon to 5 PM. Bowlers will be able to try out the latest Columbia 300 and Hammer balls. The cost is $10/person and bowlers participating will receive $10 off merchandise in the pro shop.

Making an adjustment

Chatting online with “CoachJim” this morning, I noted to him that I had been inconsistent in towel drills after doing them three times. As he later told me you get benefit from doing towel drills almost immediately, we began to suspect something more was behind me dropping the ball, and the coach suggested maybe making an adjustment to my ball. I did feel like my thumb was coming out a bit too early, so the suggestion was made to take some reverse pitch out of the thumb (pitches refer to the angles at which holes are drilled into balls), which would help the thumb stay in the ball a bit longer. As I didn’t know my ball’s drilling pattern offhand, I had to obtain it from the pro shop later. I’ll post the “before” pattern here:

Span: 4 7/16″ X 4 1/2″*
Thumb: 29/32″ hole, 1/8″ reverse pitch, 1/4″ left pitch
Middle finger: 23/32″ grip, 1/8″ forward pitch
Ring finger: 21/32″ grip, 3/16″ forward pitch

I went to the lanes later in the afternoon to have the ball worked on. I was hoping Ray would be on duty, but instead got another employee, Jon Corda. After talking with him, we decided to go with changing the pitch in the thumb to 0″ forward/reverse. As I noted to him that I had discomfort in part of my thumb, we also went with reducing the left pitch to 1/8″. The change would be made by inserting a slug in the thumb hole and redrilling and sanding. The procedure took about 15 minutes, and by the time we were done, I noticed that the thumb came out of the ball well when relaxed.

The true test, of course, would be bowling a game after making the adjustment, so I had Tim Major turn on a lane and paid for a game (and found out that I now qualified for the $1/game league bowler discount). The ball definitely felt better coming off my hand during the game, and I was able to have the thumb come out a bit later. The upshot was that I had a 201 in my trial game, with the only blemish being missing the 1-2-4 in the 7th frame, which I made up for by striking out in the 10th frame (I had a double in the 2nd and 3rd frames, which would’ve almost guaranteed a 200 game if I stayed clean.). I am happy with my grip now, and will have a plastic spare ball drilled the same way next week.

It is now one week until my return to competitive bowling! 😀

*Span is the measurement of the distances between the thumb and finger holes and is usually given as thumb-to-middle-finger by thumb-to-ring-finger.

Unplanned visit

I made a brief, unplanned visit to the lanes today because I thought I forgot to put my rosin bag back in my equipment bag after my lesson the other day. An inventory of the contents of my locker found that the rosin bag was in there, however. I did add two things to the arsenal: an old dish towel for use during towel drills (which I brought with me), and a shoe brush for when I slip in my slide (a $4 item at the pro shop).

Tomorrow’s plan is to head back there in the morning to meet the Northeast Amateur Tournament staff. It will be my only opportunity to do so for a while, as they plan to take a break during the summer and resume operations in the fall.

Another thing that is now on the “to-get” list is a dumbbell set, as “CoachJim” on the forums recommended wrist curls for me to build strength in my wrist. I should be able to get one at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Tournament note: The Brockton USBC Association will run their first Hall of Fame Classic singles tournament at Westgate Lanes on Sunday, June 29. Entry flyers should be available at every bowling center under the Brockton USBC Association’s jurisdiction.

First coaching session

I had my first coaching session with Ray today. During most of the early part of the session, he had me bowl while filming me on his camcorder from different angles. He also put a piece of yellow tape on the ball just under my finger holes to help determine whether my fingers stayed under the ball.

When we viewed the “before” video, we determined that my timing was good, which was one area I was worried about in making the transition from a four-step delivery to a six-step delivery. Most of my problems were of the leverage variety. The tape showed that my left arm was going well outside of my body and my fingers were coming on top of the ball, the combination of which led to dropping the ball behind the foul line.

Ray had me shoot about 12 shots concentrating on bringing my left arm in, and about 12 more doing the oft-mentioned towel drill, where you concentrate on getting the ball to clear a towel placed in front of the foul line. While Ray was watching me go through the drills, he stopped me and had me try on a wrist brace, which also seemed to help. In filming the “after” video, I had 7 out of 12 strikes; I wasn’t crossing over as much, and I was also carrying my light hits, which had also been a problem. All-in-all, I shall consider this first coaching session “very productive.” I may or may not go back to Ray in about a month, but my summer practices will definitely focus on the two problems that we isolated.

February 2008 TPT @ E. Providence Lanes

Joshua Engelhardt, carrying a 165 average and bowling at his home center, won the February “People’s Tournament” at E. Providence Lanes. Notably for Westgate Lanes bowlers, Brian “Hawk” Earle was second. Good show, “Hawk”…better luck next time! 😀

Plan for today: I plan on making a run to the lanes to get my ball in the “Rejuvenator”. Saturday’s about the only day I can do it b/c it’s the only day I know for sure that the pro shop is open.

Update: The operation took longer than I planned, so I had to take a later bus home. I mentioned to Chris about my problem with the thumb sticking occasionally, and he thinks it may be because I’m squeezing the ball. I do kind of grip it too tightly, now that I think about it, so this is something I’ll work on in practice.

Tomorrow’s plan is to check out the mixed doubles tournament, but when my brother took me food shopping this morning, he was still suffering from a bad cold, which may ruin this plan, depending on how I feel tomorrow. If it’s bad enough, it could also jeopardize practice on Monday.

Addendum to “Having a ball”

I keep meaning to bring this up, but, as an addendum to the “Having a ball” entry, I’d like to mention that, in my bowling past, I had blister problems with my thumb when trying out newly-drilled balls, which went away once I got used to the ball. There was no such problem with this ball, however…maybe a pitch was slightly off when the guy who used to drill my balls did it? Thanks again Chris! 😀

Having a ball

After checking the bank balance and doing a little mental anticipation of possible future spending on other things, I decided that now was the time to make my next major equipment purchase: a new ball!

After consultation with Chris Mark at the USA Bowling Pro Shop on the premises (they are also located at Boston Bowl), I went with a blue 15 lb. Circle High-Voltage, which was on closeout because the ball is no longer being manufactured, but which I was told was still an awesome ball for these lanes. My fit was checked using the U-Dot with modifications (Chris wanted the thumb all the way in the ball), the ball was drilled, and the grips glued into place.

A trial fit of the ball revealed a problem with the thumb…the thumb release was resisting in the back of the thumb. A vent hole was first drilled to see if that would correct the problem, and when it was found that that was only a partial answer, Chris used a sanding bit that attaches a standard hand drill to make the thumb hole larger at the back. We eventually got the problem corrected and I was ready to try out the ball (which was my first brand-new ball, BTW…I had been used to buying all of my balls used).

The nice thing about this pro shop compared with the guys I knew when I was last bowling seriously is that the new guys give you a complimentary game of bowling with any ball purchase, so I was able to try out the new ball without breaking out my sister’s gift card. A lane was turned on, I put on my shoes, got my other equipment ready, and I prepared for my first shot with the new High-Voltage.

I fell in love with this ball from the first shot…a solid strike. As the game progressed, I noticed that the ball had more back-end action than the U-Dot, and I ended up adjusting by moving my feet 2 boards left to the 12 board on the approach. I ended up shooting a 167, with a double in the 6th and 7th frames. I intend to retain the U-Dot for my right-hand spares and on unfamiliar lane conditions, and use the High-Voltage for all other shots. My thanks to Ray, the pro shop owner, and Chris for doing an excellent job on the ball…I hope to be working with you guys in the future. (Note: the 167 will not count toward my “official” practice average, as the only purpose of the game was to try out the ball.)

League found: Checking the other standings sheets, I noticed the Brockton Ten-Pin league, a 4-man league running on Tuesday nights, had a couple of openings, so I intend to join this league after the holidays.

Tournament scene: Along with the monthly “King of the Hill” tournament at Westgate Lanes, an operation called “The People’s Tournament” runs occasional handicap tournaments at Westgate Lanes, as well as the Northeast Amateur Tournament (EDIT: I originally couldn’t find a site on their flyer, but found a full one from them that had their site listed on the back) and the TNBA’s Boston Bowling Senate. Thus, it appears I’ll have as many opportunities to compete in tournaments as I did when I was last active (I used to bowl occasionally with the Amateur Bowlers Tour and National Amateur Bowlers, Inc., but neither tournament club operates in New England currently.)

I’m back!

Well, not back in a league yet, but I took a major step forward today. I had thought from the start of my return that I’d be fully back to form when I had a game over 200. It has happened, and sooner than I expected. In my third game of practice today, I started out with a double, left a 1-2-9 leave that I picked up, shot another double, picked up another spare (this time the 2-4), then had a turkey before leaving the 6-9-10. I had a brain cramp and only knocked down the 9 pin from that leave, but that was really my only big mistake of the game. 218!!! 😀

An earlier sign that I was back to form came in the 6th frame of the second game. In that frame, I left the 5-7 split, but I converted it, my first split conversion since coming back. Summary of the practice: 157-168-218=543

From this point on, with 9 games under my belt since I started practicing regularly, I’ll also be tracking my practice average, both running average for the league season and the last 9 games:

Running average: 150 Last 9 average: 150

Talking shop: The pro shop is usually closed when I am practicing, but the pro shop owner, Ray DiSanto, was in to do some things when I arrived, so I stopped before practice to chat him up a bit while the shop was open. I had told him that I was using my old U-Dot, and he said that ball wouldn’t really cut it on today’s lanes, which he told me were now a synthetic surface instead of the wood I had been used to bowling on. He said a reactive resin ball would be good on the lanes now, and that one can be had for around $100, but that he would have to watch me bowl and look at the track on my current ball before recommending one. I also priced bowling gloves, which are running around $30.

League update: I found the standings sheet for the Friday night TNBA league, but I was dismayed to learn that all of the current teams have a full compliment of 4 persons. My search for a league to bowl in after the holidays continues, but I will definitely join the TNBA league next season.

Final note: Looking at the score sheet I took home, I calculated that if I took it off the sheet in that third game instead of having the open frame in the 10th, it would’ve been a 255, which would’ve been my second-best game ever.

The shoes have arrived!

UPS delivered my new Etonic Strike shoes today. I knew the size I ordered would fit me, but I still had to try them on to be sure. I was comfortable in the shoes, so there will be no need for a return. I may even order regular shoes from, but, knowing my shopping habits, I might still go to a brick-and-mortar store for regular shoes.

As for the week ahead, there may be two bowling outings this coming weekend, one with my brother at Westgate Lanes on Saturday, and Pinz in Milford, MA with the Mass. Imperial Syndicate (visit the “Star Wars” link on my homepage, which is linked in this blog’s “About” page, for more information, but keep in mind the page still refers to the Boston Rebels at press time) on Sunday, so there should be plenty for me to blog about then. I’m especially looking forward to Sunday, as one of the other MIS members happens to be a very good bowler, so we’ll see if I can match up with him (I noted in my post on the MIS board on that I’ll probably need about 80 pins handicap…hehehehehe!).

Bowling balls: More choices

I did some reading on bowling balls on Wikipedia, and learned that there are such things as “particle” and epoxy balls now. As reactive resins were the most recent development that I knew about, this meant to me that there are now more choices. Therefore, my consultation with the pro shop at Westgate Lanes about a bowling ball purchase will be even more important.

First post: Bowling outing with brother, June 30, 2007

Hi everyone. Today is a Wednesday, but I wanted my first post to this blog to deal with my bowling outing with my brother at Westgate Lanes in Brockton, MA (which has always been my home center) last Saturday. This was my first time ten-pin bowling in 7 years, and the time previous to that, I had more or less just come home from my heel fractures. That time, my strike shots were going into the left channel, and I suspect that this was because my legs were still pretty weak from being more or less off of my feet for 5 months.

Last Saturday, things were different: instead of rolling it into the left gutter, my shots were having trouble staying out of the right channel. To me, this was good news, as it indicated to me that my leg strength had come back to a certain extent. I was trying to play my old line, but the ball would skid into that channel. That led to a lot of zero frames in the first game, and, embarrassingly, I only scored in the 20s.

The second game, I got things more or less sorted out. The first ball in that game went for a 7 count, and I stayed pace with my brother all the way through the game. My one strike on the outing came in the 9th frame on a “Brooklyn” (crossover) shot. My brother posted a 101 after the 10th frame, and I was close enough that I could beat him with a spare and 9 count. I had a good shot with my first ball in the frame, but left a ringing 10-pin, which I made rather easily. However, I had a bad shot with my fill ball and only knocked down 5 pins, which meant that I had lost by 3. We only had time for 2 lines, as we had to meet our sister and her family for lunch at the nearby Texas Roadhouse, but I told everyone that I thought I did well enough to think about taking the game up seriously again.


My approach was such that I had to start well to the right side of the lane, meaning I would be in trouble if I had a spare leave on the left side (particularly the 7-pin) . I used the ball I last used in league play, but this was a “vintage” Columbia 300 U-Dot (circa 1990), and I suspect they use more oil on the lanes now than they did when I was in leagues, so the ball now hooks less than it did then. As a result, a new ball, particularly a reactive resin ball, may be in order. Although I could get a good deal on one online, I may want to at least consult with the pro shop operator at the lanes for guidance on choosing a suitable model.

Another equipment-related item was that my old size 9.5 bowling shoes no longer fit, so I had to wear rental shoes for this outing. Having proper bowling shoes that fit will allow me to augment whatever leg strength I have. I have been pricing shoes online, as well, and found a pair of Etonic Strike shoes for under $60, so that should be added to my shopping list.

As my heel fractures have changed my delivery to a large extent (I used to have a classic four-step, but now I find I need a preliminary step or two), I may also want to get some coaching to see if I can make the proper corrections comfortably. I’ve been on a walking program for weight reduction, and it should continue to help me build leg strength.

For future reference, it should be noted that I had an average in the 160s at my peak, a high game of 268, and a high series of 634 (both of the latter for which I still have score sheets from), so if I do commit to a comeback, it will be interesting to see how closely I can approach these marks.