There are many reasons to purchase your own bowling ball. Having a bowling ball that fits your hands will result in less fatigue, more enjoyment of the game and typically, a higher bowling average. It is not uncommon for experienced bowlers to have a number of bowling balls for varying lane conditions. The more oil there is on a lane, the more the ball slides, so the bowler needs several balls in their arsenal, one for dry lanes, one for lanes with more oil, and generally a ball to pick up spares.
With hundreds of balls to choose from, it's important to understand how a bowling ball is constructed. Three parts of the construction of a bowling ball affect the balls hooking potential: the coverstock (what's on the outside of the ball), the core (what's inside) and how the ball is drilled in relation to the weight block.
The coverstock will determine how the ball reacts to the oil on the lane. If the ball is slick, it will slide over the oil and not hook very much. If the ball has particles on the coverstock, it will have more friction on the lane and has a greater hook potential. Let's look at types of coverstock first.
Part 1 - Types of Coverstock
Plastic or Polyester Covered Bowling Balls
Reactive Resin Covered Bowling Balls
Part 2 - The Core and Weight Block
The above images are some samples of weight blocks used in various bowling balls. The core and weight block used in bowling balls have changed over the years. All bowling balls have some sort of weight block to offset the weight removed when the ball was drilled. The original weight block was a symmetrical shape and was placed under the palm of the hand. Today, many bowling balls are constructed with asymmetrical cores which are designed to allow the bowling ball to roll earlier or skid longer. The asymmetrical weight block inside the ball aids this reaction. When comparing different cores, check out the radius of gyration and differential. A ball with a higher R/G will slide further before it starts to hook. A ball with a higher differential will flare more and be more reactive to the lane.
Part 3 - Drilling the Bowling Ball
When choosing a bowling ball, get the advice of a professional bowling ball fitter. This person will help you purchase a bowling ball that fits you, your bowling style (ball speed, rev rate, axis rotation, average) the oil condition of the lanes where you bowl, and is the correct weight for you. They will drill the ball making sure it fits your hand, and ensure the weight block is positioned correctly for your bowling style.
"Don't wait for your ship to come in;
swim out to it."