Lane Conditions
Lane Condition Q&A  [1-20]  [41-60]  [21-40]  [41-60]  [61-80]  [81-100]  [101-120]

Gregory September 22, 2007
Walnut Creek

Hi Walter Ray,
You've been my favorite bowler for a long time. Some of the best bowling I've ever watched was you throwing the Crush R red ball from Ebonite.

Do you think there is a ball that works similar to the Crush/R today, and, do you think it would be worth buying, drilling and throwing? I've looked at the Puma, I think from Ebonite, and, it has a similar design. I won a couple local tourneys with the Crush/R about 10 years ago, ball, and, scored well, but, it was on wood lanes, and, I had a lot of room. However, the ball did seem to be VERY forgiving. Any suggestions?

My next question is about bowling on what is a typical HS, but, I am left-handed, and, it's at Diablo Lanes. The shot is dry outside 5, but, on the left side, it still has out of bounds. I used to work with surfboard resin, and, when the resin was catalyzed, a wax would rise to the surface. To polish the board, we would first sand each board, flattening the surface, then polish it. Does the finish on bowling lanes work in a similar fashion?

For some reason, the right side has much more room, outside 10, deep, then we do on the left side. Often if the ball goes outside 10 on a swing, it either stays way left, gutters, and, rarely comes back to the pocket. The same is not true of the right side, where the crankers can go outside 5, and still bring it back.

Another issue came up yesterday. I watched the owner, Eric Hattrup, bowl VERY well, thanks to being an excellent bowler, and, on this day, he was bowling a bye, with no lefties. He scored very well, and, last year, in a similar situation, I threw up the boards using a Manhattan Rubber ball. For 3 games, I averaged 228, on a 185 average in that league.

Here is my observation on lane conditions, and I would like your feedback. In the above situation, throwing a reactive ball, you are constantly changing your own shot, since the ball continues to eat the oil up. With a rubber ball, if you are accurate, it seems I can minimize the changes I have to make, due to the shot not breaking down as much. I've also noticed bowling in the PBA experience league we have, that I might get a shot lined up on one of the patterns in practice, and, after a few shots, the shot was gone.

With our house shot, the only reactive ball that really seems to work is a Tropical Storm, or, the Morich Desert. However, bowling 4 games in the league, the missed shots, leaving splits, reduce scores enough so I might well be better off staying with a non-reactive ball, and not having to move as much? What do you think? When you have no one else on your side, might you be better served staying with a non-reactive ball, urethane or rubber, and reduce the change in the shot?

I really have a hard time staying on the left side of the head pin in these leagues, with anything but my rubber ball. I've got 6 balls, 5 made for moderate to heavy oil, and, only the Manhattan stays consistently on the left of the head pin.

I'm standing 20-25, throwing in the 7-15 with resin. With the Manhattan, I can stand 15, throw 7, and be in the pocket near everytime. I throw around 17 miles an hour, hit the ball hard, and, have modeled my style after a combination of you, and Parker Bohn the Third. I try and hit the ball pretty hard, but, stay accurate, with accuracy being more important, and, try and create area, but, not too much.

Thanks for your time. Sorry I didn't have time to make this shorter.
Gregory Santilli

Hi Gregory,
There are many good bowling balls out there today. I had a lot of success with the Crush/R, but on today's heavy oil lane conditions (on the PBA tour), it might not be as effective. League conditions very from center to center and some are easier for left handers while others are easier for right handers. That also applies to where the hook areas on the lanes are. League conditions are typically more dry than out on tour, so using a harder shelled ball is a definite answer in some cases. A harder shelled ball isn't going to absorb the oil as fast as the softer porous reactive balls of today, so the lanes should stay the similar for a much longer period. The main disadvantage is that the harder ball isn't going to give as much angle to the pocket, so you need to figure out the pluses and minuses of each.

Lana September 9, 2007
Traverse City

The bowling alley we bowl at just switched from wood lanes to synthetic. How does this affect a right or left handed bowler?

Hi Lana,
Switching from wood lanes to synthetic shouldn't make a huge difference unless the wood lanes were in really bad shape. In that case, the lanes shouldn't change as fast for the right handers that should help their scores. I can't really speak for how much different the left side should be, but I would guess that their reactions shouldn't that different. I think the oil patterns that they use are a much bigger influence.

Jason May 15, 2007

My question is how can you tell when the lane is breaking down to the point that you need to move? I have seen some telecasts, where the announcers think the bowler should make a move, yet the bowler is still hitting the pocket, with his starting shot.

Also, what factors or indicators, do you use as a deciding factor for making a ball change vs. making a move (with your feet or your shot)?

I am also curious to see how the lane conditions will breakdown during the outdoor event that you and Norman are going to be bowling in. Also I am wondering what ball choices will be made for that event. I'm hoping that you and Norm get to face Wes and Tommy, because I feel that would be a great match of HOF players vs. Young Guns!!!! Oh yeah, I hope you and Norm win that event, too!!!!!

Thanks Walter Ray, for making yourself and your knowledge available to the fans. I think this attitude by the players is what has kept the sport of bowling going!!!!

Hi Jason,
Lanes normally change very slowly. But sometimes a spot on the lane changes faster and causes a player to make major adjustments to compensate. It is something that you learn from bowling in tournaments and competition. Sometimes, the announcers on the bowling telecasts are drawing from their experience of competition. But they may also be a bit premature about what a bowler should do. They also have the advantage of watching all of the competition and how well a bowler is executing their shots. But the problem with TV matches is that they are so short that they seem to be over before they start sometimes. I think it is really difficult to make significant changes half way through a match (a game) so most players are reluctant to make those changes that sometimes need to be made.

Bowling outside is going to be very different and I hope that my experience of bowling indoors for 30 years will help. Hopefully Norm and I can bowl really well and beat all comers.

Roger March 22, 2007
Huntington Beach

Walter Ray:
I've bowled with you a few times over the years in Fab 5 and pro-am events. Currently, I bowl in two leagues, one a mixed handicap league with my wife, the other a scratch league (with your buddy Mark Baker - among others). My averages are usually between 205 - 210. Here's my question. I usually bowl well the first game, lousy the second game and well again in game #3, (last night my scores were 235 - 175 - 245). I find that I am able to figure out the shot for game #1 with a good deal of success. Then in game #2, the shot goes away and I struggle to find the correct line - usually ruining game #2. Hopefully, I am lined up again for game #3 - but my series and average continue to suffer due to my 2nd game problems when the oil disappears! I have always tried to move my feet and target left, until I am able to keep the ball right and back in the pocket. The problem, (besides ruining game #2), is that I wind up out of my comfort zone and my carry suffers when I play too far outside. Am I doing the right thing by not changing balls and continuing to move left, or should I use a less agressive ball beginning in game #2, which would allow me to remain in my comfort zone? Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Roger Harrington

Hi Roger,
Sometimes it is necessary to make big adjustments when lanes break down (the oil pattern). It sounds like that is what is happening with you. If your bowling center seems to do the same thing week after week, then it sounds like you need to make a move in the 2nd game instead of waiting until the end of the 2nd game. It might be possible to use a different ball, but it may be better to make a quicker adjustment. Good luck. I hope you figure it out!

JUDY March 20, 2007


Hi Judy,
The biggest problem is that he is probably bowling on an easy league condition to get his 200 average. A true "reverse block" is an incredibly difficult condition. I think it would be unlikely that the Teen Masters would do that to those kids. However, it may seem that way to the players if they aren't used to bowling on a difficult lane condition. I would recommend your son works on his game by bowling on tougher lane conditions. I recommend anybody who wants to be the best bowler that they can be, to bowl on tougher lane conditions. If your local bowling center doesn't put out a tough shot, then practice an arrow or two left or right of where you would normally play the lanes. Good luck!

Donald March 17, 2007

HI Paige and Walter Ray,
I am a big fan of Walter Ray and glad to see him grow into the success that he is. I like his style, as I bowl a similar style. I have noticed on the tour that most of the players, regardless of the arrows that they are playing, seem to all hit the tracer boards(dark brown boards about 40 feet down the lane). That is what Randy and Norm call them on the telecast. Is it wise to use these tracers as yur target, or better to use the arrows, because it seems even though you use the arrows, you still have to hit the tracers. The center I bowl in doesnt have these brown boards, but I have been trying to play that area, and have bowled better, but it seems to make more sense to shoot the arrows, because they are easier to hit. Anything you can tell me would be great. Good luck in the future as always. Also, let Paige know that she has really transformed herself, as she looks like a new person. She looks great. bye bye

Hi Donald, The 'tracer boards' are close to where a lot of bowlers will have their normal break point. However, even in a lot of those telecasts, the players were sometimes several boards off of those tracer boards. It depends on the lane conditions that you are bowling in a how much hook you use. A player that hooks the ball a lot is going to tend to have a break point right of a person who throws the ball straighter. I would recommend targeting at the arrows and watching where your ball goes down the lane and its break point. I don't know that you need to have the ball find a 2 board zone in all lane conditions, because that isn't going to happen.

Frank March 14, 2007

My bowling center is switching from plastic bowling pins to wood center bowling pins. i would like to know in your opinion which pins carry better.
thank you frank

Hi Frank,
I think different players with different types of games like different types of pins. I kind of liked the synthetic pins, but a lot of pros didn't like them. They seemed to fly a bit better, but their center of gravity was a pinch lower so they actually were a bit harder to tip over. I hope you like your new pins. Also, newer pins tend to be a bit tougher to knock down.

Dennis March 4, 2007
Brownstown Township

I'd like to know what type of oil pattern would best suit me. I start off on the tenth board on the left, and that's where I want to hit as my target, with the hopes of it hooking and hitting the pocket. What can you suggest?

Hi Dennis,
I'm don't know what pattern would be best for you, as every house oils differently. If you only want to play one spot on the lane, then find a house with a shot that works for you. However, you will be a much better bowler if you can learn to adjust to the condition rather than trying to play in one place on the lane. Being a really good bowler is more than just being able to throw good shots. It is also about being able to figure out the best place to play the lanes and doing it, even if it is something different than what you would like to do. Good luck and keep at it!

Lisa February 21, 2007

Mr. Williams, Hello I am Lisa Rogers from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I am a senior in high school. I am on my school bowling team as captin. I have been bowling practicly my whole life and have been on the school team for four years. We have 9 other teams that we go against and we are 2nd. We go against the 1st place team soon at a bowing alley that has strong oil on their lanes. That does not help me and a couple of people on my team with the way we bowl. We bowl with a slite curve and everytime we bowl their we don't do well. I was wondering if you could help me. Should I try to bowl a straight ball while I am their or still try to bowl the normal way I do. I've tried moving around to find my mark but sometimes it does not work. I would really appreciate your help on this. I really admire you as a great bowler, and I always look forward on watching you and learning from you. Thank you!

Hi Lisa,
Learning to bowl on different lane conditions is part of becoming a better bowler. I would suggest throwing the ball the way you are most comfortable and figuring out what line works best. It may be that these other lanes are tougher. Watch where some of your opponents are playing and try to play a line which may be similar for the way you throw the ball. When the lanes are tough you really need to pay attention to spares. Good luck.

Matt February 7, 2007
Hey Walter Ray,
My question is in regards to extremely oily lanes. I carry about a 170 average on dryer lanes and about a 140 on oily. I bowl a big hook normally, but I can not get any reaction on the oily surfaces. My bowling league is a year long, in which the lanes were dry the first half and are heavily oiled right now. I need my ball to hook, what should I do?

Hi Matt,
Hook comes about by two things, friction and side rotation. More oil lowers the coefficient of friction which lessens the amount of hook. You need to adjust your line on the lane. You might want to adjust the surface of your bowling ball also by sanding it a bit. It will hook earlier this way, but it may not hook as much on the back end. Another thing to do is slow your speed down to allow the ball to hook more. You might also learn how to put more rotation on the ball which isn't easy. I would talk to your local pro about what might be best for you.

Jerry January 27, 2007

Hello Walter Ray,
I have been a fan of yours for alot of years. I have been bowling in leagues for over 20 years. I was carring a 185 average for about the last 8 years. I went to a bowling school last summer that was taught by Aleta Sill and Michelle Mullen and learned a lot. Last year my mens team moved to a brand new Brunswick house that opend up. There were alot of good scores in the league. This year Everyones average is down about 20 pins. We have been fighting with the house to put out a better lane condition. One of the reasons the condition changed was the head lane person left to go to another house. First the house blamed the oil they were using then they brought someone in to teach them the proper way to oil, but half the time when we bowl there is no back end on the lanes and you bowl doesn't finish. Can you tell me where to find pictures or diagrams for house lane conditions. I have been looking all over the internet and so far have only found one pattern diagram.
Thank you
I saw when you broke Earl Anthony's record and that was great.

Hi Jerry,
You need to ask you local bowling center about the pattern that you bowl on. The local USBC has ways to graph lane conditions. Maybe they can help you and the other local bowlers out in that regard. It may be that the lane machine that they have isn't quite as good as they manufacture thinks that it is. Personally I think that is the case with the PBA tour. Cleaning the lanes is a big part of lane maintenance. It may be that the lanes are being cleaned properly. But in the end, bowling is a relative scoring event. If everybody's average is 20 pins lower due to tougher lane conditions, how is your average doing? I get frustrated at the lane conditions that we bowl on out here on tour, but in the end it is my job to figure out the best way for me to get strikes. Personally I think that they lane conditions across the country, including the PBA, are too easy. I like to practice on tough conditions. I think it makes a better bowler out of you.

Terry January 27, 2007

Hi Walter Ray, It's always great seeing you on the tour - My question concerns tournament oil. The oil pattern for the TQR and the weekly tournament are supposed to be the same for a given week (scorpion for both or viper for both, etc). However I notice a huge scoring discrepency between TQR & actual tournament. The PBA members who make the TQR cut seem to average over 20 pins less during the actual tournament. If the oil pattern is the same, how does this happen? I don't think it's all nerves. Do the touring pros, during warm-ups, make concerted efforts to adjust the oil pattern - thus throwing off the TQR qualifiers? Do you have another explanation for this weekly discrepency? Thanks.

Hi Terry,
I think that there are several reasons for the averages being different from the TQR and the main qualifying tournament. Part of it is nerves. Another part is that the exempt players play the lanes a bit differently than the TQR players as their rev rates as a whole are quite a bit higher so the lanes change differently. The TQR has a 30 minute practice session compared to 15 minutes in the tournament. Another reason is that the lanes don't get oiled exactly the same. Even though the machines that the PBA use are supposed to oil the lanes the same from one session to the next, it doesn't seem that they do. From my experience it seems that the outside of the lanes get tighter as the week goes on while the middle of the lane hook more.

Matt January 7, 2007 Lockport IL I am just wondering what is the hardest lane condition for you to bowl on as a pro and the easiest? Hi Matt, The toughest lane condition that we bowl on is the US Open. But I like it because it is so difficult for everyone. The easiest is normally the 'Cheetah' pattern, but I don't really care for it as it is so easy to hit the pocket. I think shot making should be more important than carry.

Quentin December 5, 2006

I have been watching how the newer patterns have been playing as well as played on the new scorpion! I was wondering what advice wiould you give on how to attack the newer patterns I used to go straight up on the old scorpion but now the ball just squirts down the lade going straight down or when I move in it just so happens to check up early at times. What type of ball is good for these new patterns (dull,polished-pearl,or proactive etc)

Hi Quentin,
I think a bit too much is made of the PBA patterns. It really depends on how much oil is used, how well the lanes are cleaned and the lane surface and how a player throws the ball. If you are bowling on a league which uses these patterns, pay attention to the bowlers who are bowling well. Try to do what you do best and make adjustments according to your reaction. The tour tends to use a lot of oil, so using aggressive balls seems to be a good idea most of the time.

Lane Condition Q&A  [1-20]  [21-40]  [41-60]  [61-80]  [81-100]  [101-120]

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