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All bowling balls come from the factory with a certain factory finish. Some are highly polished, some with a smooth dull finish, and some just look sanded. The manufacturer decides what surface to finish a ball with based on a few things. One consideration is finding which finish best matches with the desired performance/reaction of the ball. Another consideration is which finish has the best shelf appeal. There are other factors considered, but what does that mean to you?

Many bowlers believe that their new ball should always be used with the factory finish it came with. Not necessarily so.

If the new ball rolls great with the surface it came with, then that is the surface that best suits the bowling ball, conditions you are playing on, and the way you bowl. If by chance the ball does not roll exactly as you had envisioned or hoped, adjusting the surface could take a so-so ball reaction and turn it into fantastic ball reaction.

Brunswick's newest ball, the Radical Inferno, now comes with an information sheet in the box that lets the bowler know that it is okay to adjust the surface to match the ball up to different conditions. The following is from Brunswick's website.

Radical Inferno
  • Out of the Box: With its High Gloss Polish finish the Radical Inferno will match up well on medium-dry to medium-oily conditions.
  • When dulled: The Radical Inferno hooking action will increase and its arc will become more even, creating a better match-up for oily lane conditions and help blend the over/under reactions seen on wet/dry lane conditions. The testing program for the Radical Inferno has identified two favored surface finishes. One is the Factory Finish High Gloss Polish that is being used on the Radical. The other is a dull, but very smooth surface typical of Scotch Bright White Pad or Abralon grits of 1000 or greater. If you bowl on a lane condition where your Radical Inferno goes too long and struggles to make a strong backend move, Brunswick strongly recommends that you remove the polish from the ball with a burgundy Scotch Bright pad, or similar aggressive abrasive, then use the Grey and White Scotch Bright pads, or the 500 & 1000 grit Abralon pads to create a dull, but very smooth surface finish.

When I was bowling on tour, I would adjust the surface of a new ball prior to throwing it, specifically, when it was factory polished. If I wanted the ball to have a highly polished finish, I would sand the ball down, smooth it back up, and then polish it on a ball spinner. This would always allow me to bring the ball back to the surface that I liked because it was a process that I did and not one from the factory, which can be a challenge to duplicate.

So do you always have to change the surface of a new ball? No, but do have an open mind and allow your pro shop operator the chance to fine tune the surface. You never know, your new ball could roll better with a surface tweak!

Kendra Gaines