Article Contents

  • 1. Turning back the clock as we move forward
  • 2. A new era: the rise of technology
  • 3. “I just want to say one word to you: plastics”
  • 4. The floodgates open: urethane
  • 5. Fast-forward
  • 6. Looking ahead

Much has already been written detailing the evolution of bowling ball weight block and coverstock design. While this article series touches on some of that evolution, the real intent here is to answer a question: what drives the development of bowling balls? And, more to the point, what is the process involved in bringing a ball to market?

In the five-year period from 2014 through 2018, manufacturers released well over 500 new bowling balls. Some balls were issued by comparatively small companies, but most came from more well-known nameplates, and virtually all could be characterized as high-performance.

The release of all these bowling balls begs the question: why so many? Did some three-piece suits get bored and think a new product would brighten their day? Did someone say, “Hey, we haven’t released a new ball in a couple of months. Let’s get something out there!”

Welcome to Building a Bowling Ball. This two-part article series delves into history, dives into modern technology, and glances into the future.

Here in Part 1, we’ll look at the development of what we now think of as “modern” balls—original urethanes, reactive resins, particles, hybrids, and back to today’s updated urethanes. This requires a look into the thought processes and reasoning behind these balls.

In Part 2, we’ll dive into the details of the modern bowling ball production cycle. What prompts the introduction of a bowling ball? Why is a new ball introduced? Is it because of want or need? Both? What influences the construction of weight blocks and the formulation of fillers and coverstocks? Why is a ball a certain color? How are prototypes made and tested? What influences final decisions? And ...

Phil Regan

About Phil Regan

Phil Regan, a USBC-certified Silver coach, has been teaching bowling since 1964. Retired from corporate life, he coaches bowlers of all levels in the northern California area and competes on the PBA50 and PBA Regional tours. Phil can be found online at www.philreganbowlinglessons.com.