by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
I remember when reactive resin balls first entered the bowling market in the early nineties, they immediately picked up the moniker of “cheater balls”. I’m not sure if bowling ball companies got permission from the ABC and the PBA to develop new cover stocks but at some point they were approved for the game and bowlers rushed to buy them. The result was more powerful shots and higher scores, but the down side was the balls absorbed lane conditioner and eventually synthetic oil and lanes were developed so your third game of the evening was not about the fifth arrow.
Golf has undergone similar equipment enhancements. The days of the rubber binder wound liquid core ball are history. Good news for me, because I used to change to a ball that was not all cut up when I got to the green. Now, except for the occasional cart path scar, I am able to knock them into the water while they are still in good shape. In the late eighties, club manufacturers developed metal head clubs to replace persimmon, and irons with square U shaped grooves to increase spin. Once again, enthusiasts rushed to buy the new technology to improve their game. Now if you walk into a bowling center with less than a thousand dollar arsenal you are a rank amateur, and you can easily drop two grand at Golf Galaxy for a set of sticks. In defense, the PBA developed oil patterns to keep scoring reasonable, and the PGA moved tees to a different county so par four holes average about 475 yards, and par fives are measured in tenths of a mile.
Although the PGA allows the high tech drivers they have called a halt to the square grooves. However, to evade a lawsuit by Ping, the Ping Eye II square groove irons from the late nineties are grandfathered. Phil Mickelson has added a 1989 model 64 degree Ping wedge to his bag, and has now been labeled a cheater. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, because everyone who plays golf knows that the key to scoring success in golf is about 80 per cent putting, and there are thousands of different styles and lengths available. So the only certified cheater in the PGA remains Tiger Woods.
Major League Baseball has shunned aluminum bats, but players have been known to add a little cork to the wooden weapons to add a little distance to fly balls. Pitchers are not lily white either; many are known to doctor the ball with Vaseline, razor blades, emery boards, and the like. And I’ve even heard that some players were known to enhance performances by taking human growth hormones and steroids, but I’m not here to talk about the past, unless I get a coaching job with the Cardinals.
And in bowling, the best way to increase your scores is to convert your single pin spares with your 15 year old, eighty dollar spare ball. If you don’t believe it, ask Sean Rash or Mike Wolfe.