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Questions on RG, synthetic lanes and the helicopter release – August 2009

Q: I like a low-RG ball with the pin under my finger. My rev rate is around 280 with medium speed. On fresh to medium lane conditions, I prefer to play the outside line. I recently purchased a ball with a high RG rating to combat the weak 10-pin. Should I drill this ball with the pin under the ring finger or above for more late reaction?

A: If you are planning to play outside, I really don’t believe that a ball with high-RG is
beneficial. Most of the great outside players — Norm Duke, Walter Ray Williams and Mika Koivuniemi, to name a few — tend to throw the ball relatively straight and use the outside angle of entry to carry the pins. The outside line is most effective when you can develop a shot that doesn’t hook through the nose, but rather stays in the pocket. Back-end hook is not beneficial when playing this line. As for the weak 10, a slight move on the approach should enhance your carry ability.

Q: Do synthetic lanes ever develop a track? A friend of mine says they’re too hard for that.

A: Yes, synthetic lanes can develop a track. That’s why the lanes at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno were replaced a few years back. Synthetic lanes are actually a wood product, although very hard and compressed. Wear areas can be caused by the abrasive action of the balls going down the lane and creating friction. Sometimes, after many years, a center will employ a buffing procedure to remove the track that is created.

Q: Can you tell me the advantages and disadvantages of throwing a spinner?

A: Perhaps the biggest advantage is the ability to get the ball through the front (head) portion of the lanes without resorting to a lot of speed. However, a spinner is a bit harder to control because your fingers are not directly behind the ball during the release. Also, you may have problems with getting the ball to hit with enough power to carry the pins. Among pro bowling’s more accomplished spinners: Tom Baker, Wayne Zahn and Larry Lichstein.

Q: I recently heard a discussion on Phantom Radio about 1973, when Don McCune had the soaker. Since you bowled in that time period, what is your opinion on that situation?

A: It needs to be pointed out that what McCune did to the bowling ball was perfectly legal at the time — no different than the first golfer who used a metal driver. It was simply an advance in technology, and there were no rules against the practice. That said, McCune totally changed the game, and the manufacturing of bowling balls. Up to that time, very little was known about why a ball did what it did on the lane and upon contacting the pins. The soaker led to much more research being done, and to
USBC (then ABC) developing a modern testing facility.