After reviewing feedback from industry partners, the United States Bowling Congress Equipment and Specifications Committee has revised the implementation dates for the new bowling ball specifications announced two years ago. The Equipment and Specifications Committee determined the specification allowing increases in static weights for bowling balls without balance holes began August 1, 2018 to allow for a smoother transition for bowlers.
Starting Aug. 1, 2018, bowling balls weighing more than 10 pounds are allowed to have up to three ounces of static side, thumb or finger weight and up to three ounces of top or bottom weight.
The specification eliminating the use of balance holes went into effect Aug. 1, 2020. Bowlers had a two-year window to work with their pro shops to ensure their equipment meets specifications that went into effect on Aug. 1, 2020.
With the elimination of balance holes as of Aug. 1, 2020, bowlers may have up to five holes for gripping purposes and all gripping holes must be used on every delivery. A bowler who chooses not to use a thumb hole will need to mark by scribe, engraver, or tool their intended center of palm with a plus (+) mark to indicate their grip orientation. Bowlers who do not use their thumb for delivery and decide to use the higher static weight specification cannot have a thumb hole – it would be classified a balance hole.
The Equipment and Specifications Committee did decide the gripping rules that became effective Aug. 1, 2020, have an exception for house balls, for bowlers who use house balls and might not have the strength to use all gripping holes. House balls are defined as balls supplied by the center where the competition is taking place, have a polyester or basic urethane cover, a differential RG of less than 0.025 inches and the ball is not specifically drilled to fit the bowler.
The dates for implementing the new specification for the oil absorption rate of bowling ball coverstocks did not change. The initial step on the oil absorption specification began Aug. 1, 2018, when bowling ball manufacturers were required to submit oil absorption data as part of the USBC bowling ball approval process. The specification requiring a bowling ball’s oil absorption rate to be more than 2 minutes, 15 seconds (2:15) for the ball to be approved will take effect Aug. 1, 2020. However, because all current bowling balls will be grandfathered in regardless of oil absorption rate, the Equipment Specifications Committee determined the production of balls that do not meet the 2:15 oil absorption time limit must be stopped as of Jan. 31, 2022.
These new bowling ball specifications are designed to sustain the playing field both currently and in the future.