- 1. Brunswick TZone Indigo Swirl Bowling Ball (10-Pounds)
- 2. Pyramid Path Rising Pearl Ball
- 3. Pyramid Path Ball
- 4. Hammer Black Widow Legend Bowling Ball
- 5. Ebonite Maxim
- 6. Brunswick Rhino Ball
- 7. Brunswick Lizard Eye Glow Viz-a-Ball
- 8. Columbia 300 Nitrous Ball
- 9. Ebonite Maxim Ball, Black/Purple/Gold, 10-Pound
- 10. Columbia Nitrous Red/Gold
- Bowling Ball Selection Tips
- Top Bowling Ball Brands
- Life-Expectancy of Bowling Balls
Bowling is a sport loved by many. Some play it casually, some play in a weekly league, and others take it very seriously. No matter what level of player a person is, having a personal bowling ball can make a huge difference.
Balls that are provided by bowling lanes are going to be sized pretty generically, and most balls will have chips or even small cracks in them. Owning a personal ball allows for customized finger hole drilling, and consistency with the same ball each time.
Below is a look at some of the top bowling ball options in 2020. With balls in different price ranges, many will be surprised that the investment isn't all that much to have a very dependable ball to turn to each and every time. Some of the top bowling balls are going to actually come in well under $100 for shoppers.
1. Brunswick TZone Indigo Swirl Bowling Ball (10-Pounds)
Brunswick is one of the most well-known names in bowling, so it should come as no surprise that this is the first of three different bowling balls from this brand. As the most affordable option, this is a nice, light ball for someone who is beginning with bowling or is a bit on the smaller side.
Right away, the look and feel is going to be something people notice compared to all the options at a local alley. It is versatile enough to be used on different types of surfaces, which is always beneficial for those who are only casual players.
Once a person is a little bit more into bowling, an upgrade might be necessary. With that being said, casual bowlers will get more than enough out of it.
Unique, high quality design
Perfect for straight ball bowlers
Not the most durable
Many will want to eventually move up in ball weight
2. Pyramid Path Rising Pearl Ball
The Path Rising from Pyramid comes in sizes 8 to 16 pounds, giving people a chance to purchase it to fit their own individual needs. It has a distinctive finish, almost resembling a marble in a total of seven different colors.
It is labeled as an entry level performance ball, but even intermediate bowlers should get quite a bit of use out of it. It doesn't have much of a hook naturally, but the ball has a 1500-grit/polished factory finish that allows for a true bowl each time.
Depending on how a person drills the holes, more hook can be added. Versatility is huge with this ball, because it can be customized to fit a person's unique style of play.
1500-grit/polished factory finish performs great
Ball can be used by many different levels of players
Lacks natural hook
Color looks slightly different in person compared to online photos
3. Pyramid Path Ball
The Pyramid Path is going to be similar in a lot of ways to the Path Rising above, but with the price difference being around $40, shoppers should expect a little bit less out of this one. While it is a lesser version of the two, it might be ideal for certain players.
A polyester coverstock is going to provide a very straight shot. This is mostly to help beginners with aim. It is very hard to recommend this ball to anyone trying to put a little bit of spin or hook on the ball.
With a two-year warranty, it is a nice beginner ball for people to feel fully comfortable beating up a bit if they have to. This is a workhorse type of bowling ball. Nothing too crazy or fancy, but still a significant step up from anything found at the local alley.
Pyramid quality at a fraction of the price
Perfect for those trying to bowl straight balls
Two-year warranty shows how durable it is
Polyester coverstock isn't the best
Not suitable for anything past beginner level
4. Hammer Black Widow Legend Bowling Ball
This is the most expensive ball to make the list. Most people are trying to stay on a fairly strict budget when looking at lists like this, but the more serious bowler might want to gloss over the cheaper models and jump straight to something like this.
The Black Widow Legend is the first in the line of many from the company to use a hybrid coverstock. This coverstock does a great job in helping the ball move naturally, especially on the backend of a bowl.
Available in weights ranging from 12-16 pounds, this ball has a great look and feel to it. The Gas Mask core is something Hammer Bowling is known for, and it really helps the ball plow through pins late that other balls can't deliver on.
Be warned that this ball won't perform well if a person is not used to handling a more advanced option. It takes some getting used to with the speed and the amount of hook that can be used. Once a person settles in though, it delivers in a big way.
Best overall ball for more advanced bowlers in this review article
Hybrid coverstock performs as it should
Three year warranty makes for a smart investment
Some struggle with the ball on lightly oiled lanes
5. Ebonite Maxim
The Maxim is a straight ball. Some people might pick up a small amount of hook, but this ball is going to work best for the straight bowlers. With a polyester coverstock, it mostly goes where people want it to.
As a spare ball, this is perfect for beginners and intermediate bowlers. This should really only be used for beginners as #1 option. It's just not going to deliver even a little bit of hook that most rely on.
Works well as a spare ball
Two year warranty
Stays true even after heavy use
Very straight ball
Pancake core is not for everyone
6. Brunswick Rhino Ball
The Brunswick Rhino Ball is a very popular choice for those who feel they have graduated to at least an intermediate level. With better specs, the ball can allows a person to get a solid amount of hook each time they bowl it.
Shoppers can pick between five different colors, and sizing goes from 10-16 pounds. The ball has a R-16 reactive coverstock, and a 500 siaair/royal compound/royal shine finish to it. The ball can definitely hook a decent amount with this setup, but it is still easy to control.
For an intermediate option well under $100, it is hard to beat the Rhino Ball. It is one of the best reviewed balls on the market today.
Pro quality coverstock and finish
Affordable for the specs
Provides a controllable hook
Some have had issues with durability
Certain colors/sizes tend to go out of stock frequently
7. Brunswick Lizard Eye Glow Viz-a-Ball
The Lizard Eye Glow Viz-a-Ball, without question, is going to grab the attention of everyone at the bowling alley. Be prepared to get some stares and questions. With that being said, the ball is more than just looks. It also performs very well, and is built for a consistent player who wants a unique look.
With a plastic coverstock and a somewhat mediocre finish, some might be a little disappointed that the specs are not as good as the Rhino Ball featured above. It does have a nice Brunswick quality to it though.
The ball can hook fairly easily, but not quite as much as the Rhino Ball. Really, this is more of a ball to have a little bit of fun with, without giving up too much on performance. The ball really glows under a blacklight, which is perfect for late night and party bowling.
Glows in blacklight
Performs well given the specs
Paying more for looks than performance
Doesn't age particularly well after extended use
8. Columbia 300 Nitrous Ball
Another performance bowling ball, the Columbia 300 Nitrous Ball does a lot of things very well. It has excellent specs, is priced very affordably and continues to pick up great reviews as an often overlooked option.
Columbia isn't as well known as some of the other companies putting out bowling balls, but this one is perfect for the intermediate players. The ball can move a bit, but power bowlers can get a lot of value out of it as well. The heavier balls really crash into the pins well, exploding on impact in a way that others in this class can't.
Most would label this as a medium hook ball, but it all comes down to how a person drills the holes. It is a solid reactive ball with a nitrous core, a Boost/R coverstock and a 500/2000 Abralon Polish with a Powerhouse Factory Finish. All of this screams a professional level with quality, and it should last years for most bowlers.
Ball has solid, consistent hook
Can be tailored for each bowler's strengths
Specs are high quality
Heavier balls have less of a hook
Only available in two, very similar looking colors
9. Ebonite Maxim Ball, Black/Purple/Gold, 10-Pound
The Ebonite Maxim is another entry level type of bowling ball, designed mostly for smaller players. At only 10 pounds, it is easy to pick up and play with, even for those who have no real experience.
The coverstock isn't anything special, as it is made of polyester and plastic. The 3 piece core is decent, but mostly, this is a ball to learn the basics with and grow as a player.
Some will also use this ball for straight bowls in order to pick up spares. This is an excellent option for that, as it is very easy and lightweight to control. There are times in which a bowler really doesn't want to have a ton of hook on the ball, and that is where this one comes in handy.
Affordable beginner ball for those getting into the game
Can be used as a spare ball
Beautiful color and design
Several reports of cracking after moderate use
Does not hook at all
10. Columbia Nitrous Red/Gold
With a very distinct red and gold color, this Columbia Nitrous is very similar to the one listed above. Coming in four different weight options, people love the strong backend of this each time the ball is bowled.
The nitrous core is really what a lot of people love about this model. The core does a great job of plowing through pins and keeping the ball very refined throughout the roll. The coverstock and finish on the ball is also very professional, which is to be expected with a ball in this price range.
There is really not much to say about this ball in a negative way. The company has done a great job with the overall design of the ball, delivering an affordable option for the intermediate players who want similar setups to those who play professionally.
Beautiful color and design
Professional-level specs at an affordable price
Ball comes in four different weights
Not everyone will love the one color option
Doesn't handle dry lanes well
Bowling Ball Selection Tips
Bowling is a fun, sociable, and healthy activity. One of the key factors of being a good bowler is, understandably, selecting the perfect bowling ball. Every bowler has different needs, size and style requirements that need to be met before they can truly enjoy everything the game has to offer. Many people, especially those just starting out, struggle with how to choose the right bowling ball. From weight, coverstock, reactive resin, cores and holes, there are a surprising amount of factors to consider.
One of the most important aspects of bowling-ball selection centres around the ball’s weight. If your ball is too heavy, you’ll be struggling and not producing your best results in the lanes. If the ball is too light, you might be off balance with how much power you need to launch the ball.
Most pros recommend that when it comes to selecting a bowling bowl of adequate weight, the rule is that the ball should have 1 pound to every 10 pounds of your body weight. This is a good formula to use as it accounts for the fact that every person has different weight requirements and needs to be met. For example, for a 120-pound person, a bowling ball between 12-to-13 pounds should be adequate for that perfect bowling ball that you can control with enough power to take out those taunting pins.
Bowling is all about balance. Another way to ensure you have a bowling ball that is not too heavy is to simply try and hold the bowling ball out with your arm outstretched. If the ball is a good weight for you, it should not make you feel off-balanced. After trying a few bowls, if you are having a hard time controlling the ball, keeping it centred in the lane, and taking out those pins, that is a good indication that the ball is too light. Bowling is all about balance: balance of the bowler and balance of the perfectly-weighted bowling ball is key.
The coverstock refers to the coating on the ball, and many people forget that this can have a strong effect on the ball and its amount of hook. There are different types of coverstock, and plastic is a common one. Plastic has little friction so will allow that ball to sail down the lane.
The next most common coverstock is urethane. This coating is more expensive but gives the ball more friction for gripping the lane. This type produces more hook and is ideal for bowlers who like to take out those pins from an angle. Urethane, however, does yield less control as it grips the lane more. Depending on the conditions of the bowling lanes, some more oiled than others, plastic and urethane coverstock both have their merits and downfalls. Many professional bowlers will take more than one ball with them to important games to account for the differing conditions of the lanes.
Reactive resin refers to design elements of the ball. Reactive resin coverstocks come in pearl, solid, and hybrid, and each one has its benefits.
Solid reactive resin is known for facilitating a smooth and even roll and on lanes that are well-oiled, they create more friction. The downside of this is, again, more friction equals less control, so that is something to be considered, especially for beginners who are attempting to cultivate that control.
Pearl is not as reactive to oily lanes and gives bowlers more leverage. What this results in is a ball with more hook, which is challenging to master so better suited to intermediate-to-advanced bowlers.
Balls with the hybrid reactive resin coverstock have a combination of pearl and solid. In hybrid bowling balls, you can often tell because each side of the ball features a different coverstock, often discernible as contrasting colours.
Different bowlers of different levels will have different needs. For beginners, the solid reactive resin coverstock is recommended as it will move easier down the lane and not require as much control.
Different balls have different cores, and each different core-type can have a significant impact on your game.
Pancake cores are most often found in bowling balls for beginners. They are easier to control and not so dependent upon technique. The pancake core tends to keep the ball straighter, producing more of a rolling experience.
Symmetrical cores are more for advanced bowlers and are most often seen in the traditional light-bulb cores found in the majority of balls. As the core is balanced, it tends to produce a more even roll.
Asymmetrical core is what most bowlers opt for as it allows for more control. The asymmetrical core allows for striking the pins without that perfect centre roll and is more suited for striking from an angle.
USBC-Approved Bowling Balls
The majority of modern bowling balls are USBC-approved; that means that they could be used in professional competitions. Obviously, if you are just bowling for fun, this is not a factor you will need to consider. However, if you are considering going pro, you will need to ensure your ball is USBC-approved.
A USBC bowling ball will have to be adequately balanced and weighted. To find out, you can take your ball to a bowling shop where experts can check it out and tell you if it is up to snuff.
Drilling the Bowling-Ball Holes
For those serious about bowling, having your holes drilled is essential as they will be customized to your fingers. This will produce a better grip, more control, and more comfort during the game. To have your ball holes drilled, take it into a bowling shop and have a professional do the job. They will know which holes are best suited to your fingers and will also be able to gauge where and how the holes are best drilled based on which type of core your bowling ball features.
Top Bowling Ball Brands
Any industry is marked by its best and worst brands, and bowling balls are no exception. When it comes to selecting your first bowling ball, relying on a trusted brand is a good place to start.
Storm has been supplying bowling balls since 1985. In that time, they have become a powerhouse and the preferred bowling-ball brand of higher-end and high-performing balls. Storm bowling balls are recommended for players of all levels.
Brunswick has been producing bowling balls as far back as 1880, and although they switched production gears away from bowling balls for a time, their recent balls have been hailed as very impressive and user-friendly.
The Ebonite name is another brand synonymous with high-quality and impressive bowling balls. Ebonite balls are recommended for players of all levels.
A trip to your local bowling alley will be an eye-opener for beginners. Often, people’s first trip to the alley is marked by amazement at this new and unique subculture. You will likely see some people polishing balls, while others try a wide number in their hands before deciding on that perfect one to use in their game. To newbies, this can be a strange and fascinating ritual to observe that can raise a few questions such as, “Why are they polishing the ball?”
Many bowlers with a little experience under their belt choose to polish their balls for a faster trip down the lane. Advanced players will check out the conditions of the lane and determine which ball they want to use depending on the finish, as well as some of the other aforementioned factors. Lanes that are well oiled will be preferred by players whose ball has more friction, while balls without a lot of friction will prefer non-oiled floors for greater control.
Life-Expectancy of Bowling Balls
Before investing in a bowling ball, you are likely wondering how long they actually last. Does spending more up front mean a ball that will last longer, or do the majority follow a certain timeline? The quick answer is that while most balls last a good five-to-10 years, no one really knows. A ball’s longevity can depend on a number of factors such as its core type, finish, and maintenance. When it comes to maximizing your ball’s longevity, there are a few things you can do.
The most important thing you can do to keep your ball at peak performance for as long as possible is to store it at ambient temperatures. Exposure to harsh weather changes like heat and cold can result in destabilizing of the core, or cracking the finish. Protecting your coverstock by polishing and retexturing is another step you can take to increase your ball’s longevity, and this is best handled by the pros at your local bowling shop.
When it comes time to shop for that perfect bowling ball, remember that every bowler is different and has different needs. The most important factor to consider is the weight, and weight requirements vary greatly from player to player. Ensuring that your ball is neither too heavy nor too light is the best way to determine which is the perfect bowling ball for you.
Wayne Webb is a three year state champion bowling team member. Wayne first started bowling with his father at age 5, and has been a huge fan of the sport ever since. In his professional career, Wayne currently serves as a full-time teacher at Portland High School. Wayne writes for several online publications including Lane1Bowling.com and Bowling Magazine.