The regular, “house” bowling balls you find on the rack at your local alley can’t compare to the ones you can buy yourself. If you want to become a better bowler and increase your average, it’s important to purchase your own bowling ball.
However, that raises the question, how much does a bowling ball cost?
There are a lot of factors, but in general, bowling balls cost anywhere from about $50-$200.
That is the typical price of the bowling ball itself, but there can be other added costs when it comes to fitting, drilling, inserts, etc. which I will go over at the bottom of this article.
Overview of bowling ball prices
Plastic bowling balls cost ~$50-$150
The difference in price mostly comes down to the aesthetics of the ball. The price shouldn’t affect performance much if at all. An example of a very popular cheap one would be the Columbia300 White Dot. There are more expensive plastic balls like this clear ball with a skull in the middle or the white Storm plastic ball. You can even get ones with your favorite football team’s name and logo on it, like this Seahawks ball.
All of those balls will function virtually exactly the same, so there’s no reason to splurge unless you have the extra money lying around.
Plastic bowling balls won’t hook much if at all. A lot of avid bowlers use plastic balls to shoot at their spares and use either urethane or reactive resin balls to throw strikes.
Plastic balls are a good option if you don’t plan on throwing hook shots. But if you want to get serious about bowling, you should definitely be learning how to hook the ball.
Urethane bowling balls cost ~$75-$150
Urethane bowling balls come in many different styles and have been popular for decades. There are urethane balls with aggressive cores and urethane balls with very weak cores.
An example of a cheaper urethane ball is the Storm Mix, which is a pearl-urethane. On the other hand, we have the Hammer Black Widow, which is one of the most popular balls among both amateurs and professionals.
Urethane balls will hook considerably more than plastic balls, but not nearly as much as reactive resin balls. If you only want a little bit of hook, urethanes can be a great choice because they can easily be used for throwing both strikes and spares. It can give you enough hook to be a good strike ball, but it also won’t over-hook if you throw it at spares.
Another benefit of urethane is that there is less maintenance required, saving you money in the long-run. Reactive resin is porous and absorbs oil. Both urethane and reactive balls should be cleaned after every bowling session. But reactive resin balls also need to be baked periodically to remove the oil that has been absorbed deep into the coverstock.
Urethane balls are a good addition to your bowling ball arsenal, but if you are a beginner, you may have troubles getting the ball to hook adequately.
Reactive Resin bowling balls cost ~$80-$180
Reactive resin bowling balls are the modern, top-of-the-line bowling balls that virtually every serious bowler uses. They have WAY more hook potential than either urethane or plastic balls.
They get the most R&D put into their cores and coverstocks, and are the cream of the crop when it comes to bowling balls.
On the higher end, you have tons of choices. My current favorites are the Storm Phaze II and the Hammer Pink Black Widow. Both of these balls are very popular at the moment and are often being used on a professional level.
If this is your first bowling ball, no matter which reactive resin bowling ball you buy, it will be hard to go wrong.
Generally, it’s recommended to start with an “entry-level” ball such as the Roto-grip Hustle Ink, Tropical Storm, Hammer Vibe, Storm Match-up, or the Motiv Thrill. These balls have a controllable, smooth, relatively weak hook, which can be helpful when learning to bowl.
I’ve seen hundreds of beginner bowlers come and go, and one thing I’ve noticed is that beginners can easily get frustrated and demotivated if they buy a bowling ball that doesn’t have much hook potential.
Sometimes starting with a more aggressive, higher-end ball will make the process of learning to bowl more exciting and fun. On the other hand, these balls are more expensive which can also be a deterrent.
Additional costs are typically ~$20-$60
Virtually all good quality bowling balls both online and in-person are sold with no holes drilled in it. What this means is that you are going to have to have your hand measured and the ball drilled to your hands exactly. This is the main reason why buying used bowling balls is not usually a good idea.
Bowling ball drilling shops are referred to as Pro Shops. They usually sell bowling balls, shoes, bags, and accessories. Pro Shop Operators are bowling experts that typically have many many years working in the industry. It is usually cheaper to buy a bowling ball online, but one of the benefits of visiting a pro-shop is that they will usually watch you throw and give recommendations for which ball to buy.
Most Pro Shops that I’ve seen have some sort of deal or discount where if you buy the ball directly from them, the fitting and drilling will be free or discounted.
All pro shops are different, so it’s hard to say how much the fitting and drilling will cost but what I’ve seen is anywhere from $20-$50.
If you have a urethane or reactive resin ball, it’s important to wipe your ball before every shot. You’ll get more consistent ball reaction, and also increase the life of the ball. Urethane balls don’t absorb oil, so if you leave just a small amount of oil on the ball, it will drastically affect how much it hooks. Reactive resin balls absorb oil, so if you don’t wipe the ball, the reaction won’t be drastically different, but you will have to bake the ball much more often.
Regular microfiber cloths work fine, but there are other bowling specific shammies and towels like these.
It’s also nice to have a few extra microfiber towels laying around for cleaning your ball. They are pretty cheap at Amazon and have many uses outside of bowling as well.
You have a few options here. You can buy bowling-specific cleaners like Tac-Up, Storm’s Reacta Form, Motiv’s Power Gel Clean, etc. These work great, but in my opinion, they are a bit over-priced for what they are.
I recommend making your own bowling ball cleaning solution at home.
Use a 1:1 ratio of simple green and water. I mix it together in large batches and refill a small spray bottle as needed.
Spray the ball down, let it sit for a few seconds, and wipe it off with a microfiber.
The simple green and water mixture does a great job of removing oil and other grime from the ball but leaves a very small amount of residue on the ball. Remove the residue by wiping the ball down with some isopropyl alcohol.
Your ball is now perfectly clean, and it only cost a few cents in cleaner.
There are a bunch of decisions to make regarding what kind of ball you want to use, how serious you want to be about bowling, whether or not you buy from the pro shop etc.
But at the end of the day, even if you go the cheap route, you can expect to spend ~$100 on a quality bowling ball