Bowling ball costs vary based upon the different types of bowling balls you’re looking at, with a wide variety of balls on the market ranging from budget-friendly options for beginners to pricey performance bowling balls for the professionals on the lanes. If you’re new to the bowling ball market, you may not know exactly what you’re looking for and what a proper price range for your bowling ball needs really is. It’s easy to overpay for a ball that outstrips what you need from it, and it’s also just as easy to underpay for a bowling ball that doesn’t have the oomph you need to take your game to the next level.
In order to find the right bowling ball at the right value, you have to have a working knowledge of the types of bowling balls that are available to you. Once you get a handle on that, then you can start looking for different bells and whistles (or the lack thereof) within that certain type of bowling ball and start zeroing in on a price range for the exact ball you’re looking for. It can be an extremely tricky and time-consuming endeavor, one that leaves even an expert bowler perplexed. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you narrow your bowling ball search onto the right one at the right time for you.
What Are The Different Types Of Bowling Balls?
The search for your perfect bowling ball starts with picking from three different cover stock types, each with their own inherent advantages and disadvantages. Bowling ball costs for these different types of bowling balls have their own wide ranges based on performance and need, so we’ll cover that in a subsection in just a little bit. For now, here are the four types of bowling ball cover stocks you’re going to run into on the market:
Plastic bowling balls are the most popular option on the market for beginner and intermediate bowlers thanks to the usual lower price point and the durability of the material. Plastic bowling balls are also a fantastic second ball to have for an expert bowler needing to straighten his or her shot on spares. While plastic bowling balls lack the hook potential and back-end firepower of the other two cover stocks on this list, they make up for it by being much easier to control. A beginning bowler who is unable to find their mark off the bat can use a plastic bowling ball to help minimize their mistakes and maximize their scores at the lanes.
Urethane bowling balls are the perfect next-step bowling ball for someone who is moving from a beginner level to a more intermediate understanding of the game. Urethane’s durability can be just as remarkable as that of plastic bowling balls, but the difference lies in the material’s ability to create more friction between the ball and the surface of the lane. Its ability to cut and jut through different oil compositions at the lanes allows for much higher hook potential than that of its plastic brethren. Bowlers who are just learning what a hook can do would do fine with a urethane bowling ball, as it provides solid corrective control while allowing you to play with your shot and refine your hook for maximum pin carry and explosiveness.
Reactive resin is the top cover stock for advanced bowlers. While the bowling ball costs of this particular type of bowling ball are pretty high in comparison to the other two materials on this list, the cost is counterbalanced by maximum hook potential, high friction, and the opportunity for creating wild pin action. The reason that beginners should likely stray away from a reactive resin bowling ball is that they are extremely sensitive to lane conditions. If you aren’t able to read that and tailor your shot to maximize a lane’s setup and oil density, you won’t be able to get the most out of a reactive resin bowling ball.
Underneath the reactive resin bowling ball umbrella are three different types of cover stock – reactive solid, reactive pearl, and reactive hybrid. They all react easily to different conditions, but have different perks based upon a bowler’s throwing speed, hook sharpness, and general approach.
Particle (or Proactive)
Stay away from particle bowling balls if you’re not an advanced bowler (or approaching that level), as their textured surfaces can be extremely hard to tame for even the most seasoned of lane patrons. The bumpy surface of a particle bowling ball ups the friction quotient to its absolute peak, maximizing hook potential and minimizing the room for error. If your shot is a well-oiled machine and you’ve got your hook down pat, you can use a particle bowling ball to increase the overall violence and sharpness of your shot and back-end reaction. These balls dig into the lane in crazy, unexpected ways. So, you have to be a bit of a bowling lion tamer to use them to their fullest capacity.
Different types of cores
Beneath the surface of these different types of bowling balls lie three general types of bowling ball cores – symmetrical, asymmetrical, and pancake-type. A symmetrical bowling ball core decreases flare potential and leads to a smoother hook with less of a sharp finish on the back end. Asymmetrical bowling ball cores increase hook sharpness and overall potential, respond faster to friction, and generally cause more back-end havoc than a symmetrical core can. Finally, a pancake-type bowling ball core is considered to be more of a symmetrical core because its lower hook potential and track flare, but its odd shape is built to cut down variance and heavy rolls in favor of a much more controlled line of shot.
How Much Does A Bowling Ball Cost?
Those looking for a more precise overview of the best bowling balls in every price range would do best to start with our Best Bowling Ball Ultimate Guide 2019. However, the general price range for a bowling ball differs when it comes to the different types of bowling balls you’re looking at. An entry-level plastic bowling ball usually sells for $40 to $60, with some of the higher-end ones approaching and exceeding the $100 mark. If you’re looking for a vanity bowling ball with a particular logo, it can hit $150 easy.
Entry-level performance bowling balls (usually made of urethane, some of reactive resin) range from $75 to $150. They’re a fantastic starter kit for a bowler who has graduated from the beginning level and wants to toy around with hook potential, the possibilities of added friction, and greater back-end smash.
A quality reactive resin bowling ball for a true intermediate or advanced bowler will set you back anywhere from $150 to $250. While that’s near the higher end of bowling ball costs you’re going to pay, the refinement and overall oomph of these balls (along with their usual durability) are worth every dollar for a serious bowler.
Some particle bowling balls will exceed the $250 mark and should be approached with caution, unless you’re a top-level bowler who knows exactly what you’re looking for.
Overall, the Average cost of a bowling ball is in the $90 to $140 range and the value of a ball in that range always depends on one simple question – how much are bowling balls worth to you? You may want to spend less if you’re looking for a casual bowling fix, but you may want to spend more if you’re an aspiring professional bowler with parts of your shot which need to be fully maximized. With that being said, we want to highlight the best options for every price range when it comes to the three most popular cover stock options – plastic, urethane and reactive resin.
Plastic Bowling Balls
Under $50 – Pyramid Path Bowling Ball
As the budget-friendly beast on the market, the Pyramid Path’s pancake core and polyester coverstock makes it the perfect straight-shot beginner’s bowling ball – especially if you’re starting your bowling odyssey with limited expendable income. Easy to throw and easy to control, the Pyramid Path is the type of bowling ball which anyone can pick up and use to their advantage. Available from 6-16 pounds, this ball is a cost-effective option for bowlers of all ages.
Under $80 – Brunswick TZone Bowling Ball
A gorgeous mid-level plastic bowling ball which provides power for straight shots while still giving you enough hook potential to play with, the Brunswick Tzone Bowling Ball is one of the most widely-reviewed and well-received plastic bowling balls on the market. Its symmetrical core provides equal mass distribution on your shot, helping you find your mark and hit it with consistency. It’s also extremely durable and wear-resistant, making it a very solid investment at a minimal price risk.
$80 and over – Hammer Black Widow Spare Blue/Orange/Smoke Bowling Ball
Want a perfectly straight spare shot which maximizes your power and gives you some room for error in setting your mark? The Hammer Black Widow Spare Bowling Ball does the trick. While it does have some hook potential on drier lanes, the Black Widow’s main objective is to slice through all lane conditions and provide pinpoint accuracy on spare shots. It’s super consistent and built to last, rolling evenly through the lane over and over to help you finish the trickiest spares.
Urethane Bowling Balls
Under $90 – Storm Mix Blue/Silver Bowling Ball
The Storm Mix Bowling Ball is the perfect urethane option for a beginning bowler, providing consistent straight-line power with an extended durability thanks to its urethane cover stock. Its lightweight core and symmetrical weight block make it a great ball for a recreational bowler or an advanced bowler looking for a budget-friendly spare ball. If you’re looking for shot replication and a ball that won’t lose its touch in tough lane conditions, the Storm Mix is for you.
Under $140 – Storm Pitch Black Bowling Ball
If you’re playing on wood lanes or on lanes with shorter oil patterns, the Storm Pitch Black’s classic build and style makes it the right choice for anyone looking for a consistent and repeatable shot. The solid urethane cover stock is porous, keeping it from skidding on the lane as you set your mark and shoot. Its symmetrical Capacitor core regulates flare potential and provides great overall performance on spare shots. It also has enough hook potential for someone just starting out with hooks and not wanting a crazy, unpredictable back-end finish.
$140 and Over – Roto-Grip Hot Cell Bowling Ball
The Roto-Grip Hot Cell Bowling Ball has more punch and more push than any urethane bowling ball on the market. It’s truly the best of both worlds as it provides consistent mid-lane traction before exploding through the pins in a similar manner to a reactive resin bowling ball. Featuring a strong cover and a fan-favorite asymmetrical Nucleus core which creates fantastic back-end action, the Roto Grip Hot Cell is a tournament-level urethane bowling ball which does it all.
Reactive Resin Bowling Balls
Under $90 – Hammer Rip’d Bowling Ball
Currently on clearance on several sites for under $90, the Hammer Rip’d Bowling Ball is a budget-conscious performance bowling ball which offers ideal lane length and a sharp back-end reaction on drier lanes. The shiny Aggression Hybrid CFI cover stock can cut through oil of any density, and its asymmetrical core allows for sharp hook potential without sacrificing control. If you want a great introduction to reactive resin bowling balls with more bells and whistles than the price point would convey, this is the right ball to avoid exorbitant bowling ball costs.
Under $140 – Hammer Black Widow Bowling Ball
The Hammer Black Widow Bowling Ball’s cover stock is known for its durability and ability to garner lane traction with ease. Its asymmetrical Gas Mask Core has been proven time and time again to increase hook potential and utilize hook sharpness for maximum pin carry. It caters to different shot types, allowing players who start farther left to get just as much value out of its back-end finish as someone who starts mid-lane. Simply put, it’s a well-reviewed reactive resin bowling ball which can give any bowler with a bit of experience something to work with.
$140 and Over – Brunswick Kingpin Max Bowling Ball
The Kingpin Max lives up to its name, maximizing hook potential with the combination of an asymmetrical core and its Enhanced Composition Adhesion cover stock. Its patented Brunswick DynamaCore balances power with accuracy, giving you a clean shot no matter how wide you hook it. The Kingpin Max digs well mid lane, unleashing the power of that friction with a violent back-end motion. Any good hook shot will benefit from this ball, no matter what the lane conditions.
How Much Is A Custom Bowling Ball?
Customizing a bowling ball with holes suited for your fingers will usually add $50-75 on top of the base price of any ball you choose. As we showed before, bowling ball costs vary based on the different types of bowling balls you’re looking at. However, if you’re an advanced bowler who needs maximum hook potential and a ball custom-fit to your hand, you could be looking at an investment which closes in on and exceeds $300. It truly depends on what you’re looking for and what you need for your own particular shot.
Potentially exorbitant bowling ball costs can drive some players away from buying their own ball and towards using house balls. However, there are so many different types of bowling balls at varying price points which can serve any bowler on any budget. Don’t overpay if you don’t need to, and don’t underpay if it’s going to hurt your game in the end. Do the research (and use our guides to your advantage), and you’ll find the right bowling ball at the right value for you.