Custom fit hole-drilling worth the cost? the potential for error?
April 18, 2008 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Bowling ball wanted; I'm seeking advice as first-time buyer.

My local bowling alley has to special order a 10-lb plastic (for straight rolling) one so I must wait til Monday for it to arrive. They took measurements on my fingers but I am petite/fineboned enough (wrists under 5" around) that on a normal game I'd use an 8 lb ball. At least that's my recollection; I bowl infrequently, just read somewhere how much bacteria etc. finds its way into public-use bowling balls' holes, so it made sense to purchase one.

What does a first-time buyer need to know -- esp. has anyone gotten the holes custom-drilled and *not* found it to their satisfaction? And, since it's a $25 markup for the custom, has anyone found it's just as easy to track down a *used* ball that fits just fine?

(FYI they won't drill until I've arrived to pick it up and, I don't pay til they drill. I'm just uneasy that the drilling could go awry).
posted by skyper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am a mediocre (but enthusiastic!) bowler, and getting my own ball custom drilled was the best bowling-related investment I ever made. When the holes fit your hand, it makes a world of difference. You aren't fighting to keep your grip anymore, so the ball feels lighter, your wrist doesn't hurt, your thumb doesn't rub... it didn't help my score much at first, but being able to bowl three games without being in pain at the end of the night was worth it the first time.

Short version: TOTALLY worth the $25.
posted by nicepersonality at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2008

Best answer: Unless your bowling alley is money-hungry and cares nothing for customer service, then if the holes aren't drilled to your satisfaction, they will gladly drill the holes wider if they're too small, or fill-and-redrill/put in an insert if they're too big. Also, don't worry about the weight - you'll find that good ball with holes drilled perfectly for you will feel much lighter while you're bowling than any lane ball with imperfect hole sizes.

Here's the process:
* The will measure your hand with a cool device (they've already done this, I see)
* They will ask if you want the standard grip or "finger-tip grip" - since you're buying a straight ball, you want the standard grip. (you may have already done this).
* They'll give you the ball to try out. The holes will probably be a bit tight at first, as they like to drill small (it's easier to make the holes bigger than to make them smaller).
* Tell them what you think - does your thumb stick? Does it feel weird? Just let them know and they can sand down parts or make other adjustments.
* Then, go bowl a few games. See how it feels. If you don't like something, or something feels uncomfortable, let the pros know. Like I said, any adjustments should be free, or they're a terrible organization.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 AM on April 18, 2008

Seconding the above commenters on your own ball being worthwhile if you bowl regularly. I bought my own ball and had no problems with the service or anything. At first, the thumbhole was a little small, and my thumb made a popping sound when I released the ball. They were only too happy to widen out the holes until they fit at no additional charge.
posted by LionIndex at 9:48 AM on April 18, 2008

I got a bowling ball about 10 years ago, and even though I've lugged it through apartment after apartment, I still LOVE having it when somebody suggests going bowling!

One thing to think about however is whether you want the ball drilled so that your fingers go all the way in or just the tips. I did just tips, and even though its harder (my hands are TINY), it's challenging and more fun I think. YMMV.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2008

Yep, "fingertip grip" is the way to go for real bowling. You'll be able to easily use a heavier ball when it is custom fitted as well. I used a 15-lb ball with no problems as a gangly 13 year old.
posted by ejoey at 6:09 PM on April 18, 2008

Yep, "fingertip grip" is the way to go for real bowling.

Why? Unless skyper knows how to throw with high revs, a finger-tip grip can be very uncomfortable and requires quite a bit more arm strength than the standard grip. There is no "real way" to bowl - you either hit the pocket or you don't. IMO, a ball should be drilled to compliment your current or desired bowling style, rather than adjusting your bowling style to fit a fashionable drill pattern.
posted by muddgirl at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2008

I've always found a fingertip grip to be more comfortable after the initial learning curve, and for me it was the gateway from occasional bowling to more frequent bowling. Different strokes for different folks though. You can always re-drill a plastic ball without any non-aesthetic consequences.
posted by ejoey at 11:26 PM on April 20, 2008

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