Ted Thompson

Changing Lanes

With the invention of the Kegel LaneMapper, came a study about bowling lane topography like no other in the history of the game. Truth be told, when lanes were made of wood, and resurfaced in a timely manner and taken care of by craftsmen, topography was not really an issue. But with the proliferation of synthetic lanes and overlays, along with lanes getting minimal attention today, topography is much different and more influential than in past times – and the Kegel LaneMapper has been able to show it.

We now know what lanes shapes favor different type ball rolls. We know exactly why the same oil pattern can play completely different from one center to another. We know that different lane shapes can affect the durability of an oil pattern, or lane conditioner. And we know that different types of lane constructions are not created equal, nor do they change equally. It’s within this last statement this edition of the Inside Line will focus on – how synthetic panels laid on top of wood lanes can change with seasonal changes.

All lanes look flat, but they really aren’t.

We’ve always known that wood lanes change from summer to winter. In the days of regularly resurfaced and maintained wood lanes, we saw depressions go from the minus .010” range to maybe the minus .020” to .030” range in the winter months – a depression increase of 10 to 20 thousands of an inch. In climates where seasonal changes and humidity differences were greater, so were the changes in the lanes.

But today, because of the aforementioned lack of attention lanes receive, we are seeing changes much greater from season to season - especially in climates that have greater seasonal differences.

A big part of Kegel's original Mission Statement was “we study the game of bowling”. It was a mandate from the late John Davis. This edition of the Inside Line will focus on some of that study from bowling centers around the world, and we will show how much, and how fast, bowling lanes with synthetic overlays can change in shape.

Real World

Our first example is from a bowling center located in the northern hemisphere. Being in the north, there can be significant differences in humidity from summer to winter - it is humidity that makes wood change in shape.

The graphic below is a lane with a synthetic panel on top of existing wood lane (overlay) in the summer time when the humidity is highest. Humidity always enters wood in the area of least resistance and with a wood lane humidity enters the wood from the bottom of the lane.

Synthetic overlay measured in August when humidity is high.

Synthetic overlay measured in August when humidity is high.

We call this a ‘bird wing’ shaped lane because the wood lane pushes the panel up between the screw rows (2L, 20C, and 2R boards) causing a hill around the 10 board. This lane shape will cause hang spots outside of second arrow, and “hook” inside of second arrow. Medium length patterns are most difficult on this lane shape.

The wood lane underneath the synthetic panel "pushes up" the panel between the screw rows causing the shape of the lane to resemble a bird wing.

The wood lane underneath the synthetic panel "pushes up" the panel between the screw rows causing the shape of the lane to resemble a bird wing.

What is also interesting is the lanes in this center pass the plus/minus .040” specification at every distance on the lane, in the summer time.

The below graphic shows what the lane looks like during the transition from summer to winter, or winter to summer. In the fall time, the humidity has decreased causing the moisture in the wood lane to also decrease - everything is contracting and the panel takes shape of what’s underneath it. In the spring time the process is reversed. Medium oil patterns begin to play easier - actually all oil patterns begin to play easier.

As the humidity begins to lower, the moisture in the wood lane begins to release, making the wood lane contract. Measurements taken in early November.

As the humidity begins to lower, the moisture in the wood lane begins to release, making the wood lane contract. Measurements taken in early November.

Where the lane gets the most abuse, the head area, the depressions begin to exceed the minus .040” specification. The toe screws holding the wood lane together, and the screws that hold the wood lane to the levelers below, are getting loose, or back out all together in many instances. The lane acts like an accordion.

It must be noted that when the heads are cut out and replaced with a substrate like MDF, we do not see these huge depressions. Synthetic panels on top of a substrate like MDF, HDF, or PSL, do not seem to be affected near as much during seasonal changes.

Below is what the above lane looks like in the winter time, when the humidity is lowest. In some instances, bowling centers may even turn the heat on, which lowers humidity even more. It's at this point in the year most of the moisture has come out of the wood lane and the depressions are the greatest. This is also when oil patterns tend to play the easiest; everything “ramps back” to the pocket.

When the humidity is the lowest, the depressions increase the most.

When the humidity is the lowest, the depressions increase the most.

What may be thought provoking for some is, every distance on this lane has now exceeded the minus .040” specification. We have seen this in more than a few instances.

Oil patterns on a lane with depressions of this magnitude will also tend to break down quicker, when playing outside of center. This happens because there is more pressure (gravity) pushing up against the ball when outside of center so it's easier for the ball to "poke through" the oil film on the lane - the “shot” will tend to go inside quickly because of that. Think of a car rounding a curve on a banked road or race track - the banking is there to help a car navigate the turn.

This is when lofting the gutter often comes into play on competitive longer patterns - the ball will “see the lane quicker” as the pattern breaks down on the uphill slope. So players quickly move to and play the downhill side of the depression as long as they can. Physics dictates that the ball will retain energy longer on the downhill side of depression and then hook off of the uphill side easier. Once deep inside, bowlers with high rev rates, high axis rotations, and high tilts will benefit the most on this lane shape - that's physics at work also.

The Kegel Slope Graphs make the slope differences even more apparent:

Same lane over the coarse of seasonal changes.

Same lane over the coarse of seasonal changes.

The Slope Graphs are revolutionary in bowling because they are the first illustrations that show the severity of the ‘rise and falls’ on a bowling lane. Slopes to the right are in the blue color spectrum – the darker the color the more severe the slope to the right.  Slopes to the left are in the orange/red spectrum - the darker the color the more severe the slope to the left. Read more about Kegel's Slope Graphs.

How fast can lanes change?

The following graphic shows how a synthetic overlay pair of lanes can change over the course of 28 days – from May 17th to June 13th. This center is also in the northern part of a country and one floor below ground level – so if anything changes are less than a center on the ground floor or above. The foul line is at the bottom of the graphic.

A pair of synthetic lanes with overlays changing during a 28 day period - from May to June. The foul line is at the bottom,

A pair of synthetic lanes with overlays changing during a 28 day period - from May to June. The foul line is at the bottom,

What to notice here are the slopes on the outside part of the lanes – reds on the right are slopes towards center and blues on the left are slope towards center - so the lanes here are predominantly depressed at the beginning of this time frame.

Over the course of 28 days it is clear that the depressions are decreasing. The reds become lighter in color so the movement towards center is less influential, and some areas of the lane are even turning to blue in color, which indicate slopes to the right. Hang spots are caused by these "outward slopes". What we noticed during these 28 days was "the oil pattern" became tougher as the lanes flattened out - gravity always wins on planet earth.

If we talk about the raw data, the lanes were changing (swelling up) about 6-7 thousands of an inch per week as it takes in moisture. In 28 days the depressions went from the mid-minus 30 thousands of an inch to less than 10 thousands of an inch. And the process will reverse itself come fall time as the wood releases all that moisture.

Gravity always wins on planet earth.

How this can help you – the proprietor, the bowler, the coach, the federation, or the tournament organizer.

With synthetic lanes it’s even more crucial to see these slopes because it’s the only way we can really understand what’s happening with ball motion – is it friction or a significant slope causing the ball to hook too much, or not enough?

Knowing the shape of the lane at different times of the year will tell you the answer, and it will also tell you how an oil pattern will play, develop, and breakdown.

For instance; when the wood underneath the synthetic swells up in the summer your pattern will play longer or it seems like carrydown comes out of nowhere – the ball has a hard time moving towards center, when the lane is sloped towards the gutter.

This lane swelling can also "make the shot" go more inside as bowlers stay away from the hang area towards the outsides.

This is especially important to any one bowling center when trying to provide lane conditions for their weekly league customer base. If your center has lanes that change as much as these examples, you may need different house patterns for different times of the year so the house playing characteristics stay more similar.

It’s also important to know if a bowling center wants to “experiment” with a different oil pattern or try a new chemical product. If you don't which way your lanes are changing, or how much, it will be difficult to know why things are playing the way they are.

It’s important for tournament organizers or federations to know so when they ask for a pattern months in advance they have a better idea of what to expect come tournament time. Testing an oil pattern in one part of the year and expecting things to play the same at another time of year will often make the question "what happened" arise.

It’s important for coaches and bowlers so they can properly prepare for an upcoming tournament, or make the proper adjustments when the bowling ball is not reacting like they think it should.

Technology can definitely make life easier when used in the proper manner – the Kegel LaneMapper is one of those advances.

When used it can definitely help a bowling center get know their lanes better and use oil patterns that compliment the predominant shape of those lanes to provide more consistent playing conditions for their customers.

Or better yet, the LaneMapper can tell you where and how to correct your lanes if needed so they are "fair" for as many styles as possible.

In a game like bowling, providing equal opportunity for as many different playing styles as possible should be the goal. It worked before and although history may not always repeat itself, it sure does rhyme.

5 Must Know Things about Oil Pattern Taper

Oil pattern taper, the amount of lane conditioner in the front part of an oil pattern versus how much is at the end of the oil pattern, has had to change significantly as bowling ball technology has changed. Lane conditioner (lane oil) has two main functions; to protect the lane surface, and to provide smooth predictable ball motion for as many styles as possible.

1 - History

When bowling balls were balanced, the rotation of the bowling ball was very stable and there was essentially one oil ring on the surface of the ball. Front-to-back oil taper with balanced balls is very different than what is needed with modern high flaring balls, which have multiple oil rings on them.

Remember, with high flaring balls, the oil pattern breaks down from back to front and with low flaring balls it’s the opposite, oil patterns break down from front to back. As a refresher, here is an article on that explains how oil patterns breakdown differently between the two types of bowling balls: Breakdown and Carrydown – Then and Now.

At the same time that bowling balls were going through changes, lane surfaces were also changing – “it’s very hard to hit a moving target” was something John Davis used to say often when referring to the art of lane conditioning.

As we have shown often in seminars and online articles, regularly maintained wood bowling lanes are the most consistent type of lane surfaces from lane-to-lane, and bowling center to bowling center. There may be some lengthwise level differences from center to center, but the overwhelming majority of wood lanes were cut with a slight depression, which allowed statements like “the oil pattern taper should be 3:1” to be more valid.

With synthetic lanes however, lane shapes are all over the map, and blanket statements about front-to-back taper, or any oil pattern statement for that matter, can often do more harm than good for people trying to find the best solution for their bowling center.

In measuring hundreds of bowling centers around the world with the Kegel LaneMapper we have found the lanes in any one center follow the same trend as it relates to lengthwise levelness. The only exception to that rule is when bowling centers have added sections of lanes over time.

So if we simply talk about oil pattern taper as it relates to the lengthwise level of a bowling lane, if a lane went downhill we could easily increase the front-to-back taper ratio to help the ball slow down to achieve “good ball motion”. Conversely, if the lanes in a bowling center predominantly go uphill, we might decrease the taper of the oil pattern so the ball would slow down less in order to provide good ball motion for the majority of bowlers.

When lanes were made of wood and resurfaced often, and bowling balls were essentially balanced, it was that simple – but not today.

Today’s synthetic lanes can be crowned, they can be depressed, they can be depressed up front and crowned down lane or the opposite, they can be high right, high left, and anything in between. We very often have seen synthetic lanes that are shaped like a seagull wing; crowned outside and depressed in the middle.

Add the fact that your customers have bowling balls that are still balanced (low flaring) to the very unbalanced kind (high flaring), providing that perfect front-to-back taper can be a challenge.

Of course your daily house pattern is most important for your center, and getting that one pattern “right” can be accomplished, but applying a tournament pattern, or one of the many named patterns out there, and having players expecting it to play similar from center to center is like expecting to win the lottery.

2 - House Shot Patterns (Recreational Type)

Most daily patterns used in bowling centers around the world are of the easy variety – a lot of conditioner in the middle and not much outside. For these type oil patterns, it is most important to control the amount in the mid lane and at the very end of the pattern to 1, minimize carrydown and 2, to open up the outside portion of the lane.

The graphic below is of a typical oil pattern taper when only non-flaring balls were in use. The goal then was to protect and apply conditioner only in the head area and let the conditioner “bleed off” the oil transfer system the rest of the way down the lane to the end of the oil pattern. From 8’ to the end of the pattern was typically a front-to-back taper ratio of 3-4 to 1 and that was with a maximum of 20 units in the head area!


Today’s oil patterns with today’s high flaring balls require a different type of taper, and much more volume. If we start with 80 plus units in the heads, there might still be 50 plus units in the middle to the 30 foot range. We do this in order to provide the bowler with a lot of hold area and decent ball motion, along with providing durability to protect the lane as long as possible.

To get that amount of oil throughout the pattern, the buffer brush must be loaded much more throughout the oil pattern with possibly a much more drastic drop off of conditioner towards the end part of the pattern. The amount towards the end of the pattern should decrease at a rate according to the type of lane conditioner in use and/or lane topography.

Below is an example of a typical daily oil pattern taper using high flaring bowling balls. As you can see, much more conditioner is used throughout the entire pattern.


The outside portion of the pattern has very little conditioner because most centers want to provide the bowler with a lot of mistake area outside of target. So even though we may want some taper there to allow the straighter player to start more to the right, most are concerned about not having too much conditioner towards the outside area in order to provide the largest margin for error possible.

3 - Challenge and Sport Oil Patterns (Competitive)

When designing competitive oil patterns, the goals of a specific oil pattern can vary greatly. If the pattern must play good on the fresh, because of a match-play format for example, finding that perfect taper for game one might be in order. That type pattern will usually be a higher front-to-back taper ratio in order to get the ball to read the lane sooner within the oil pattern.

If the goal is for the pattern to keep players in a specific zone for a longer time, front-to-back taper might not be as important as making sure the end of the pattern holds up for more games. That type of pattern would most likely have much less taper and play more difficult on the fresh, and then become easier as depletion towards the mid and end part of the oil pattern occurs.

A perfect example of an oil pattern with very little front-to-back taper is the 2015 US Open pattern that was used in Garland Texas. The amount of oil in the middle at 8’ on this pattern proved to be in the high 50 unit range, at 22' in the mid 60 unit range, and at 2’ before the end of the oil pattern (41') was in the mid 30 unit range. The front-to-back taper in the middle of that oil pattern was about 1.75 to 1 from 8' to 41', and 2 to 1 from 22' to 41'.

Below are two graphics of the 2015 US Open oil pattern – the 3D and 2D graphs. Lane tapes were taken at 8, 14’, 22’, 27’, 32’, 36’, and 41’.


The pattern goal of that event was to try and keep the players from lofting the gutter, which was accomplished, but we cannot discount what was done with topography at that venue as well. Our studies show topography is always a factor in how oil pattern plays, develops, and breaks down. In this case, the USBC made topography public so we know lane topography definitely was an additional reason the pattern held up so well. (The why will be a future article!)

4 - Lane Conditioners

The lane conditioner you choose also must be factored into your oil pattern’s design. Lane conditioners are developed with specific characteristics and your oil pattern should complement those characteristics in order to benefit from them.

For instance; FIRE and ICE were created for increased durability and both require less conditioner at the very end of the pattern than many of our previous conditioners. If there is too much conditioner at the end of the oil pattern the ball will read the carrydown much more than if, for example, the same amount of Prodigy was at the end of the pattern.

If using our newest lane conditioner, Curve, more conditioner can be applied at the end of the oil pattern simply because it’s a higher friction conditioner, and that will help the ball slow down. Also, the ball won’t “see” what is carried down beyond the oil pattern as much as it would with FIRE or ICE. The trade-off however is durability.

5 - Topography

Now that we have those other factors covered, we can touch base on topography some more and how lane shape affects oil patterns. As we touched base earlier, wood lanes have very similar topography; all are slightly depressed (lower in the middle than the outsides) with the main differences from center to center in lengthwise levelness.

Yes we have more wear issues with wood lanes, which can be corrected with a resurfacing or re-coating, but with synthetic lanes we have more diverse shapes on the lane than ever before in the modern history of the game. Those shapes can vary from lane to lane, and even within the same lane. This makes finding that perfect oil pattern on synthetic lanes across any one bowling center more challenging than ever.

For lanes that are predominantly crowned, lowering the amount of conditioner in the mid lane and at the end of the pattern will help the ball lose energy at the proper rate, which will help provide truer ball motion. Crown lanes tend to act like lanes that go downhill, so anything you can do to help the ball slow down will help your bowlers with good ball motion.

For lanes that are severely depressed, and if you wish your bowlers to play right of center, additional conditioner in the mid lane and at the end of the oil pattern helps reduce friction slightly, and therefore helps the ball not lose energy as quick. Think of depressed lane like a banked curve on a race track – the inside part of the lane is lower than the outside part of the lane so the ball is rotating up the hill causing it to use energy quicker, along with normal force helping the ball move more to center.

For seagull wing shaped lanes, and believe us when we say there are many overlays like this, shorter patterns will need increased front-to-back taper in order to get the ball to read the lane earlier. Yet longer patterns on this lane shape will need less taper simply because from 10-10 the lane is depressed - once the ball gets towards the middle and end part of the pattern it sees the lane more, and sooner, as the oil depletes.


In the article titled Breakdown and Carrydown - By The Numbers, we showed how today the front part of the lane never really depletes to the point of excessive friction unless there is a major wear issue – it’s the mid lane and backend that deplete to the point of the ball seeing a great amount of friction.

Sure the front part of the pattern depletes, but if we start with 70-100 units up front, or less like in the US Open example, at the end of play there is still 30 to 40 plus units of conditioner in the front part of the lane, which is plenty to provide a low amount of friction.

In addition, that part of the lane the bowling ball has the least amount revolutions and the most amount of speed - both of those attributes make the ball “see the lane less” than it does at it slows down and revolutions increase.

The point is, front-to-back taper ratios with today’s patterns is not as important as controlling the amount of conditioner in the mid lane and at very end of the pattern.

If you get that correct in your center, the majority of bowlers in your center will have predictable and controllable ball motion, and back end change (carry down) will be minimal. And for the most part, hopefully, you will have happy bowlers.

The Truth About Tournament Oil Patterns and Conversions

The Truth About Tournament Oil Patterns and Conversions

At Kegel we get many requests for converting oil patterns to and from different lane machine technologies. Sometimes it can be for a specific tournament pattern or it may be a named oil pattern. Although we fully realize the intent, we also know that there are many factors other than the oil pattern that determine ball motion, and how easy or difficult lanes play.

Who do you follow? We're not talking about Twitter...

In previous Inside Line articles, we showed how oil pattern breakdown happens with today's high flaring bowling balls and how different styles of play can affect an oil pattern in different ways. In this article, we will show how different groups of players with similar styles can greatly affect an oil pattern by strategically "managing the oil pattern" during practice time and the first game, and the resulting scoring pace for all those that follow these skillful "pattern managers."

The scene was the Men's Team event second block on the Seoul oil pattern during the 2013 WTBA World Championships in Las Vegas. The WTBA rule for practice time for 5 person team event is 15 minutes, then all teams bowl 3 games moving lanes every game. This gives us about 4-5 games per lane by the time each team finishes the 3rd frame of game one.

Our testing and after tapes at many modern day events show that when players play a similar line each and every shot during this time on a fresh oil pattern, over 50 percent of the lane conditioner can be removed from that area throughout the ENTIRE length of the applied oil pattern. This is significant and something all competitive players and coaches must be aware of in today's game.

Here was a test showing how much conditioner was removed in the area of play after each 3 games:


The significance and rapid pattern change is so prevalent in today's game that some Federations even employ multiple coaches during championships- one coach on the lanes helping the players during competition, and another coach "scouting out" the pair of lanes they will be moving to. Just knowing how and where the teams are playing on the lanes in front them can give them valuable information and help them get lined up quicker. In championship events, this can be the difference between winning, losing, or not even getting a chance to win. This played out exactly this way during the 2013 World Championships this year in the men's division.

Here is a graphic of the Seoul oil pattern just before the men's second squad of team event took the lanes - the graphic is with the perspective of looking at the oil pattern from the pins, so the 10 pin side is the left side of the graphic. Also shown below are the Sport Bowling ratios at multiple tape distances before the players took to the lanes:


As a side note, the WTBA Seoul oil pattern is asymmetrical with more oil outside on the left side than the right side, hence the lower ratios on the left side. You may also notice that at 32' this pattern does not fall within the 3 to 1 ratio parameters, but Sport Bowling ratios only use 22' and 2' before the end of the pattern to calculate whether it meets USBC Sport Bowling requirements, and the WTBA does not have any ratio requirements.

During this second block of team play, with these pairs of lanes being right in front of the tournament office, I was able to watch and see how each of the teams on these pairs were breaking down the lanes during the 15 minutes of practice. While watching Puerto Rico and Brazil on 57-58 play more outside, and the teams on 55-56 play more inside, I was wondering how much an effect that might have on the teams coming to these pair of lanes in games 2 and 3, so I planned on taking after tapes as soon as the block was over. Little did I know at the time, the way the teams on 57-58 broke down that pair would help Team Finland make history.

After 15 minutes of practice and three 5-man team games (15 plus games per lane), here is what the Seoul pattern morphed into on lanes 55-56:


From looking at these after tapes, it is clear how deep inside the bowlers on this pair ended up playing the lanes, which all came from how the initial teams decided to play the lanes in practice and game 1.

Here are the after ratios of lanes 55-56, calculated the same way as before:


The ratios normally get lower up front as the oil pattern gets depleted from the middle of the lane. What makes scoring pace rise as players break down the oil pattern is when all balls come together towards the end part of the oil pattern, which raises the ratios from outside to the middle. In this example the ratios from the fresh oil pattern went from about 3:1 to 3.6:1 at 32 feet and from 2.9:1 to 3.8:1 at 37 feet. This is enough for world class players to increase the scoring pace, and this block was no exception.

Here is the resulting scoring pace of each team for each game of this particular block of games on lanes 55-56::


As you can see by game 3 that pair became more playable because of oil pattern development with both Team Denmark and Team Korea breaking the 1100 barrier. It took longer because of how deep the previous teams played that pair. The reason it took longer is because when teams start in the deeper amount of oil, it takes longer for the ball to reach the "spark point", or in other words, break down the oil pattern enough for the ball to poke through the oil film and get to the lane surface. Once the ball sees the lane surface, it also sees friction. The earlier the ball sees friction within the oil pattern, the easier that pattern becomes because left of that is the created oil line.

And now the pair of lanes where the Seoul pattern was changed into something else, which helped Team Finland make history. The mutated Seoul oil pattern on lanes 57-58:


From looking at these after tapes, it is clear how much more outside the bowlers on this pair ended up playing the lanes, which also was decided because of how the initial teams decided to play the lanes in practice and game 1.

Here are the after ratios of this pair, calculated the same way as before:


While lanes 55-56 went to 3.6 and 3.8 to 1 towards the end of the oil pattern, the players on lanes 57-58 took the ratios to 5.2 and 5.6 to 1! This is borderline what many house shots are in today's game, but like I said before, most of the change happens within practice and the beginning of game one.

Here is the resulting scoring pace on lanes 57-58 of each team for each game during this block of games:


As you can see by the team game total scores, the teams that were fortunate enough to follow Puerto Rico and Brazil benefited greatly, but none more than Team Finland. This second team game with a score of 1225, along with the momentum that gave them and another 1200 plus score in game 3, catapulted them into the Team finals. After winning their semi-final match they defeated Team USA in the finals for the first team Gold medal for Finland in 30 years.

Fortunately, during this championship we also had available Kegel's LaneMap Guide of Sunset Station which shows the gravity influence on the ball based upon topography so we were able to see if one pair was significantly different causing that to be the reason for higher scores this block on 57-58, but that proved to be not the case, as the below graphic will clearly show. Both pairs have very similar characteristics.


Finally, one more look an after bowling graphic of both patterns and the resulting ratios side by side:


A well renowned Kegel laneman and now National Team Coach for Indonesia, John Forst, had a saying; "the applied oil pattern is only the pattern until the bowlers start bowling on it. After that, they are the ones that decide what happens, not the laneman."

In today's vernacular, the Seoul oil pattern, or any other named oil pattern for that matter, is only the intended pattern until players start rolling balls over it, and then that named pattern becomes something else. Some players can turn it into Easy Street, and some can turn it into the Highway to Hell. Keep your fingers crossed you follow players that can turn things into Easy Street.

Breakdown and Carrydown - By The Numbers

In our last Inside Line feature article, Breakdown and Carrydown – Then and Now, we discussed the reasons why breakdown and carrydown are different today. For this edition’s feature article, we will add some data and visuals to support the previous article. The data was taken from the recently concluded European Bowling Tour Masters in Munich, Germany and it shows the same thing we often see in bowling tournaments today.

The event consisted of the top 16 men and women from the 2011 European Bowling Tour point list. On the men’s side there was a mix of styles; high rev players, medium rev players, and low rev players, with fourteen right-handed players and two left-handed players.  On the women’s side there was also a good mix of styles, even though most fall into the medium to low rev rate category, with 15 right-handed players and one left-handed player.

The players on the men’s side were: Martin Larsen (RH), Mika Koivuniemi (RH), Karl Wahlgren (RH), Sean Rash (RH), Gery Verbruggen (LH), Dominic Barrett (RH), Perttu Jussila (RH), Syafiq Ridhwan (RH), Osku Palermaa (RH), Mik Stampe (RH), Paul Moor (LH), Dennis Eklund (RH), Jesper Agerbo (RH), Robert Andersson (RH), Thomas Larsen (RH), and Stuart Williams (RH).

The players on the women’s side were: Rebecka Larsen (RH), Clara Guerrero (RH), Mai Ginge Jensen (RH), Krista Pöllänen (RH), Nina Flack (RH), Patricia Luoto (RH), Wendy Kok (RH), Bianca Wiekeraad (LH), Britt Brøndsted (RH), Joline Persson-Planefors (RH), Jacqueline Sijore (RH), Zandra Aziela (RH), Lisanne Breeschoten (RH), Nicole Sanders (LH), Heidi Thorstensen (RH), Sascha Wedel (RH).

The Data and Graphics - Breakdown

The oil pattern used for the event was Kegel’s Navigation Sport Series pattern The Turnpike. This pattern is almost flat from the midlane to the end of the pattern because the forward application consists of only 2L-2R loads. The shape from the mid portion of the oil pattern to the foul line is built on the return pass.

Here is a graphic of the fresh oil pattern with tapes taken at 8’, 22’, 32’ and 39’ (left side of the graphic is the right side of lane, right side of graphic is left side of lane – you are looking at these graphs from the pins perspective):


 As we have known for many years, apart from the type of equipment being used, how the oil pattern breaks down is dependent on where the players play on the lane. When styles or rev rates are more similar, players tend to play in a more similar area of the lane, causing a much different type of pattern breakdown than when styles and rev rates are more diverse.

During the EBT Masters, all blocks consisted of 6 games with four players per pair, which equals 12 games per lane, plus ten minutes of practice. In comparison, a five person league would be 15 games per lane, plus 10 minutes of practice.

Here is the graphic of the EBT Masters pattern after one block of play by the women:


 Here is the same graphic of the men’s pattern breakdown after one block of play:


You can plainly see (I hope!) that the pattern breaks down significantly different when styles/rev rates are more similar versus when styles/rev rates are more diverse.

Here is a graphic of the before to after bowling between the men players and the women players at each tape distance, 8’, 22’, 32’ and 39’ (fresh oil is behind the after bowling tape):


This graphic clearly shows how the lower rev rate women players “cliff” the oil pattern much more than the men players simply because the women play in a more similar area.

But now comes the interesting part of this breakdown pictorial and data article – the numbers.

What we often track is the oil depletion in percentages from that of the fresh oil pattern. As you will see, the percentages match up to the above graphics. What might surprise you is how much each group depleted. Common thought is high rev players deplete much more conditioner than lower rev players, but is it really so?

Here is the depletion by percentage on the men’s side of the event, with the square boxed area being a guide to show where the greatest depletion took place:



As you can see, the men took off about 40 plus percent at each distance throughout the oil pattern. After about 4 games of play, the right-handed players and the left-handed players came together in the fronts (8 feet) from boards L10 to L15, causing the greater depletion numbers in that area.

Before that move left, the right-handed men players continually moved towards the inside portion of the lane in their lay down area, yet they were still playing to near the same exit part of this 41’ oil pattern, between boards R5 and R11.

So how many units were left in the oil pattern after play? And what area of the depletion caused them to move left?

Here is a graphic of the before, on the left side of the graphic, and after tape data, on the right side of the graphic:


As you can plainly see, at the 8 foot distance of the pattern, after 12 games plus practice there was still over 60 units of oil on the lane. Only when the left-handers and right-handers lay down point became similar did we see the 50 unit barrier get broken, and that was only on a couple boards.

As we pointed out in the last feature article, the depletion towards the end of the oil pattern is what causes players to move left in today’s game, not “the fronts”.

Now the depletion tape data in percentages from the women’s side of the event, and as before, the square boxed area is a guide to show where the greatest depletion took place:


As you can see, because the women’s styles are more similar, as well as their rev rates, this group tends to play in a tighter area of the lane. This causes more depletion than when everyone is spread out all over the lane.

If you notice, the greatest percentage of depletion is at the 32 foot mark. The reason is, for the women players, all shots are starting to come together at this distance and there is more oil in that area than the end of the pattern - more oil equals more change.

Now let’s look at the same graph of the tape data in units of a women’s block after 12 games:


As you can see by this data, the women actually erased more oil off the lane in their lay down area (8’ tape) than the men did, yet still not enough to make the ball hook early, or make them move left because “the fronts have gone away”.  The end of the pattern however is once again, another story.

The women have “ganged up” on the exit point of the pattern causing the 10-12 units of fresh oil at 39 feet become 5-6 units by the end of play. At 32 feet, the fresh 25-26 units of oil became 8 units after bowling.

This back-to-front oil pattern breakdown is the cause of the players moving left, not the old school front-to-back oil pattern breakdown we used to have before bowling ball track flare became a dominant force.

Also, to give you an idea how much oil is left on the lane by each group at each tape distance after bowling, here is what the tape data showed as an average amount of units at each tape distance:

- The men players at 8’ had an average of 54.35 units left on the lane, at 22’ an average of 31.73 units, at 32’ an average of 19.93 units, and at 39’ an average of 9.84 units.

- The women players at 8’ had an average of 58.79 units left on the lane, at 22’ an average of 30.79 units, at 32’ an average of 18.60 units, and at 39’ and average of 9.40 units.

Carrydown Data

This next graph and data might surprise some people, although it will make perfect sense once explained. I have been watching this in action over the last few years and it is something as lanemen we have no control over.

During this event we took carrydown tapes of the men and we will show the same percentage graphic as before with an additional twist, the carrydown tape in units. We do this so you can plainly see the exit points within the oil pattern of both the right-handed and the left-handed players.

Here is the graphic with carrydown tape visual (left side is right side of lane, right side of graphic is left side of lane – you are still looking at these graphs from the pins perspective!):


Here is the data, depletion percentages plus carrydown in units of oil:


If we look at the blocks which show where both the left-handed and right-handed players played, you can plainly see how much carrydown is on the left side of the lane at the left-handers exit point of the pattern, yet not so much on the right-handers exit point. Why might you ask?

It is actually very simple once we think about it. We know that most spare balls in use today do not flare much, nor do they soak up oil like high flaring reactive resin strike balls that are in use today. So as right-handed players continually shoot spares on the left side of the lane, these non-flaring non-absorbent spare balls leave those long carrydown strips when they exit the oil pattern.

These ball types also do this when players are shooting spares on the right side of the lane, yet the carrydown tapes clearly do not show as much carry down at the end of the pattern.

The answer lies in the amount of high flaring balls going down the lane on the right side of the lane versus the left side of the lane.

Basically, the right-handers strike balls continually erase the carrydown left by the spare balls, but on the left side of the lane there is simply not enough high flaring absorbent balls going down the lane in that area to erase left side spare ball carrydown.

This lane condition change can be beneficial or detrimental to the left-hander. If these left side carrydown strips become dominate inside of target, like on patterns or conditions that allow the outside of the lane to play, it can give the left-hander hold area.

Yet if these spare ball carrydown strips become dominate left of target, or at their exit point, like many medium long or long patterns, it can result in a hang spot or reduced pin carry.

One more thing to be aware of with spare balls on today high volume oil patterns is how they can actually increase the amount of oil at the end of the oil pattern where high flaring balls are not traveling. We saw this happen often in the late 1980’s even where the traffic was when more aggressive coverstocks and larger core urethane balls were mostly in play. The end of the pattern after a couple blocks often had more oil on it than when fresh. It also shows up often in our after tapes in today’s game outside the track area (where most balls are being rolled), which can clearly be seen on the aforementioned data.

The reason for this today and back then is simple, by the mid to late 1980’s the amount of oil on the lane had to significantly increase in order to give the wood lane protection.

The by-product was more carrydown because more oil was being picked up by the ball in the fronts and re-deposited towards the end of the pattern and the dry back end.

This combination led to a great advantage after a few games by high rev big hook ball players as they could simply go around the carry down for return outside of target, and then the carrydown became hold area inside of target for this type player.

We see the same dominant style trend happening again today but for different reasons – this time it’s rapid depletion of the oil pattern from back to front and who can chase the oil inside of target on the lane the fastest.

Normally today, just like in the late 1980’s, it is often the high rev players who can create the largest margin of error and best angle for the best pin carry once the oil conditions are altered simply by bowling.

After reading all this you might be asking yourself what then is the best combination of ball versus lane versus oil that would minimize all this rapid lane condition change? That my friend is another article for another time…

Breakdown and Carrydown – Then and Now

We hear it all the time; “the heads are hooking”, “carrydown is happening quickly today”, “time to move again”, “my ball’s burning up – grab the fire extinguisher!”...ok maybe not the last one. But with the amount of oil needed in today’s environment in order to protect the lane surface and keep the modern ball from hooking into the gutter at the arrows, rapid and chaotic change is often the result. Even the best of players can get confused in today's game over the course of a few games.

In this month’s piece we'll try and give some sense of order to that chaos, but the first thing many will have to do is let go of what you’ve learned and experienced in the past – today’s pattern mutation, carrydown, and resulting bowling environment is different, very different.

Oil Pattern Change

The first thing we need to understand about oil pattern change is how bowling balls with different amounts of track flare change the oil pattern.
Prior to the 1980’s, when bowling balls did not significantly flare, the ball essentially picked up all the oil it could within the first couple revolutions - the first 8’ to 16’ of the oil pattern. It was in the head area where the oil pattern dried out the most, and after that, the oil pattern basically remained unchanged. Only once we got to a point of about 24 games per lane or more, did the rest of the pattern began to “dry out”.

As lower flaring more aggressive coverstock balls were introduced in the mid to late 1980’s, the amount of oil on the lanes had to increase, and oil pattern mutation changed because of that. John Davis' research showed the latter half of the oil pattern actually increased in volume during this era.

Back then the bowling ball picked up so much oil in the front part of the lane, it re-deposited some of that oil towards the end of the pattern, and then a lot more of that oil on the dry back-end. This is the time when carrydown quickly became a big problem.

When ball manufactures figured out that track flare increased the friction between the ball surface and the lane surface, bowling balls became unbalanced again - only this time it was by way of significant Radius of gyration (Rg) differential, It was then, oil pattern mutation, and the resulting ball motion, changed dramatically.

However, bowler "lingo" hasn't seemed to change as much as pattern mutation has, which can cause a lot of confusion and misinformation in our world of bowling.

Bowling balls with track flare (pictured below far right) pick up and erase oil off the lane with every revolution, causing a much different type of oil pattern breakdown. It’s not just the heads that breakdown down anymore, it’s the entire length of the oil pattern that breaks down, and it begins with the first ball thrown on the oil pattern.

In our research, when starting with 80 units in the front part of the lane, our after tapes show that about half the oil has been depleted during a normal league session, which is 15 games per lane. We see the same trend in high level events bowling 12 games per lane.

That means there are still about 40 units left in the heads, but many in our industry still talk about the “heads hooking”. Anyone want to bowl on a pattern with 40 units on the outsides? Of course you don’t - your ball will never hook! So what causes the players to move left in today’s bowling environment? It’s more about the removal of oil from the mid-lane towards the end of the pattern.

Because of oil pattern taper, the mid and end part of the oil pattern has much less oil than the front part of the oil pattern. As the ball erases the oil off the lane, the modern “mountain range” like coverstock can easily poke through that thin film of oil towards the back part of the pattern. This causes the ball to read the friction much sooner there than in the front part of the pattern, and that is what makes players move left, not the oil pattern breaking down in the heads.

What this flaring ball pattern breakdown does to ball motion is simple – the ball simply slows down sooner and therefore hooks more. For high rev and high ball speed players, this pattern mutation falls right into their wheel house as finesse has been removed from the equation for them - its flat out every shot without having to worry about “throwing it through the break point”.

For rev challenged and slower ball speed players, this pattern mutation becomes more difficult to overcome – their bowling balls slow too early and begin to lose axis rotation too soon causing less room for error and decreased pin carry.

Of course this type player could switch to a less aggressive ball to combat the increased friction towards the end of the pattern, but then that type ball is more susceptible to carrydown. It’s a delicate balance for these styles of players.

Can the heads (the first 16 feet) still give the ball the perception it is hooking early? Sure they can, but in today’s bowling environment, more often than not it’s not because of the lack of oil.

With synthetic lanes it’s normally a side hill slope issue where the ball is thrown into a hill and trying to rotate up that hill. This topography issue will make the ball “check up” or move in the direction of the slope, which is more of a gravity issue, with a bit of friction thrown in for the banked curve affect.

For wood lanes or really old synthetics, it could be a severely roughed up lane surface, which therefore is a friction issue. However no reasonable amount of oil will significantly help in either of these situations simply because the depth of the scratches in the lane surface are deeper than the oil film – resurfacing or re-leveling the lane surface is the only solution to combat that kind of "early hook".

In short, bowling balls that do not flare tend to break an oil pattern down from front-to-back, and today's high flaring balls tend to break down oil patterns from back-to-front.

With high flare balls the oil pattern is literally getting shorter in the ball traffic area with every shot thrown, and by moving left we are increasing our launch angles to that area in order to give the ball more time to hook. Of course when missing inside of target, we are now in a "longer pattern" again so the ball holds pocket. This is why sport and challenge patterns get "easier" and scores often increase after a few games.


Carrydown is also much different by balls that don’t flare versus balls that do flare. Bowling balls that do not flare leave long three to four foot streaks of carrydown beyond the end of the pattern. Because the footprint of the bowling ball is so small, a shot hitting these long streaks of carrydown can all of a sudden make a pattern feel like it is much longer, mainly because to the bowling ball, on that single shot, the oil pattern has become longer!

With the amount in the middle of today's oil patterns, it is not uncommon for those streaks of oil to be in the 5-8 unit range.

As noted before, significant carrydown was not a problem in bowling until the 1980’s - especially towards the middle to end part of the decade. With the advent of ever stronger urethane balls, as well as increased dynamic weight blocks, an increased amount of oil was necessary as more and more customers bought these new balls.

And as players began sanding the covers and using drilling techniques to create more dynamic imbalance, more oil was needed to help protect the lane surface and keep these new higher friction balls on the lane, and of course, keep the customers who bought these new balls happy.

It was only then that we saw carrydown become such a significant part of the playing environment in so few games. Prior to that, when fairly dynamically balanced rubber and polyester balls were mainly in use, there was simply not enough oil needed nor used on the lanes to cause significant carrydown issues.

Sure there was carrydown after a few days of play, when lanes were not cleaned but once a week, but nothing like what happened in the 1980’s to tournament organizations like the PBA Tour, who cleaned the lanes every day.

Carrydown that is created with balls that flare however is much different, as well as how these much more aggressive and diverse internal dynamic balls allow players to play the lanes.

Meaning, because the amount of dynamic imbalance is much greater, this increases the range of available hook and allows players to play the lanes in a much wider area than in the past. When balls were more balanced and didn’t hook as much, everyone played the lanes near the same area, causing a much narrower spread of carrydown.

This dynamic imbalance causes track flare, and track flare creates what are called “bow ties” (where the flare rings come together) at only two points on the balls surface. Those two points are the only parts of the ball with oil on it that touches the lane every revolution.

The higher the differential Rg, the wider the track flare is, and the smaller those touching points are. This in turn creates random 2” to 3” strips of carrydown. For instance, using a 40’ pattern as an example, one track flare carrydown strip may be at 41’ to 41’ 3”, another small strip at 41’ 6” to 41’ 9”, and another one at 42’ to 42’ 3”, etc.

Therefore, when a fresh part of the modern flare balls surface comes in contact with these small strips of carrydown, ball motion is hardly affected at all. As these strips build up however, along with the longer three to four plus foot random strips of carrydown created by the many low flaring spare balls going down the lane, the back-ends will “tighten up” somewhat, but not as soon, or as much, as lanes did in the late 1980’s.


There was a very good article written by the PBA that represents what happened in the late 1980’s. It stated how after a few games of bowling the “fronts go away” and significant carrydown happens beyond the pattern at the balls exit point.

When this occurs, the player who greatly hooks the ball can move left and effectively “go around” the carrydown, creating an increased margin of area from that of a fresher oil pattern, and clean dry back ends. Low flare carrydown gives this style of player hold area inside of target.

On the PBA Tour in the mid to late 1980’s it was not uncommon for big hook ball players to average 20-30 pins a game more in the evening blocks versus the morning blocks.

Today however, even though high rev and high ball speed players can often struggle right out of the gate because their ball motion is too “skid-snappy” on the fresh, with today’s expeditious pattern breakdown, and high friction balls, high rev players can hit their stride much sooner. Today it doesn’t take more than a couple games to “smooth out” their ball motion from front to back.

In addition, as we stated before, carrydown at the end of the pattern with high flaring balls is not as defined as it was in the 1980’s, or when lower flaring urethane balls were in use. Therefore today there is simply not enough defined carrydown to go around and use as hold area.

High rev players tend to get their advantage today more from rapid pattern breakdown towards the mid and end part of the pattern, not carrydown. As most know, low to non-flaring balls today are most often regulated to shooting spares and therefore, those long strips of carrydown are more random across the lane surface - sometime you’ll hit a strip, and sometimes you won’t.

Remember, today you must think different. No longer are we using non-flaring balls on less than 5 milliliters of solvent based lane conditioner like we did in the 1970’s. No longer are we using low flaring balls on 12 milliliters of oil with massive carrydown like we did in the mid to late 1980’s. No longer are we bowling on lanes that are resurfaced every year like was mandated until deletion of the rule. No longer is levelness being maintained regularly like we did prior to advent of synthetic lanes.

The bowling environment today is much more varied, much more complex, and does not always make sense, or play “how it’s supposed to play”.

The best piece of advice we can give you is what the late great PBA National Tour tournament director Harry “Goose” Golden use to say to the players after every roll call; “bowlers, let your ball be your guide”.

Kegel’s Revolutionary Slope Graphs

With the invention of the Kegel LaneMapper™, came a greater than ever extensive study of bowling lane topography. With that study, came a stark realization that gravity randomly affects the bowling ball much more on synthetic lanes versus regularly resurfaced wood lanes.

The reason gravity and topography comes into play more today is because synthetic lanes deviate from flatness more than wood lanes ever did.

Also, although a dry synthetic lane has more friction than a wood lane (smoother surface causes a greater footprint from the bowling ball), a conditioned synthetic lane has less friction than a conditioned (oiled) wood lane, making it easier for an object to move “off line” in a non-flat situation.

For years, people in the game of bowling only talked about thousands of an inch with regard to the level specifications of a bowling lane. In short, a certified bowling lane can not deviate from +/- .040” over the width of the lane (cross-tilts), nor can any crowns (hills) or depressions (valleys) along the surface be greater than the +/- .040” specification. This specification was implemented in 1939 by the American Bowling Congress along with the Annual Resurfacing Requirement, which was made for wood lanes.

Sometime before 1964, the Annual Resurfacing Requirement became the Bi-Annual Resurfacing Requirement. But in 1964 by pressure from the for-profit bowling industry, resurfacing requirements on any time line by sanctioned bowling centers was removed by the ABC, yet the level specifications remained.

The deletion of that rule created a huge asymmetric lane wear issue, which culminated with the PBA creating their own lane maintenance division, and implementing their own lane surface policies for PBA Tour events.

But today, with the large number of synthetic lanes, we have not only asymmetric wear issues, we found bowling lanes can also have severe asymmetric level issues. For Kegel and the LaneMapper project, our next challenge was to find a way to easily show the affects gravity had on a bowling ball on any one lane at any specific distance.

The breakthrough came by creating and defining a brand new term in bowling - Slope per Board™.

Although we explained Slope Per Board in our last Inside Line article, Lou Trunk's What a Shock - Newton Correct, we can't stress enough the importance of looking at a bowling lane in this manner. Remember, the bowling ball only reacts to the board it's on, and could care less about the boards it's not on.

Once we compile all the data of a lane the Kegel LaneMapper is able to give us, cross-tilt numbers and each board’s crown or depression values, we are able to calculate the individual side slope of any one board at any point the lane is measured at. 

For instance, we know a bowling lane consists of 39 boards, and if a bowling lane is tilted high right 40/1000” (1 mm), which is the maximum allowable amount under the specification rules, that would give us a slope per board value of about 1/1000” (.025 mm) for each board on the lane (.040”/39=~.001”).


If we double that cross-tilt to be .080”, which is two times the allowable amount under the specification rules, that would give us a Slope per Board value of .002” for each board (.080”/39=~.002”).

Another instance that would give us that same .002” Slope per Board value, but be within current specification, would be a .040” V-Shaped depression, or crown, directly to the center of the lane. The calculation is a .040” slope over 20 boards, which equals a .002” Slope per Board as well (.040”/20=.002”).

Understand, the ball doesn’t care about the lane being in specification or out of specification. The ball feels the exact same gravitational influence of .002” under each scenario – one scenario twice the allowable amount, and one perfectly within specifications.

However, as soon as we introduce crowns and depressions into the equation, that cross-tilt slope per board value can increase or decrease significantly, and depending on which way the gravitational slope is, it will influence the bowling ball to the left or to the right as it travels down and across the lane surface.

With synthetic lane installations, it is common to see crowns or depressions combined with tilts to produce Slope per Board values well over .005”, which is equal to a cross-tilt that is five times (.200”) the legal specification limit.

The breakthrough came by creating and defining a brand new term in bowling - Slope per Board.

The Slope Graph

Now that we realized the random deviation from levelness of a synthetic bowling lane, we began to experiment with different graphical representations of the data. After some experimentation, we settled on a seven color overhead graph, with varying shades of blue being right gravitational influence (the darker the color, the more influence), varying shades of red being left gravitational influences, and green being neutral to very little gravitational influence on the bowling ball (arrow graphic below).

Our current LaneMap Slope Graphs (pictured left) have been scaled to be much wider than an actual bowling lane so to easily see the left-to-right definition of the lane when a pair of lanes is on one sheet of paper.

To the left is an example of a bowling lane that has some severe depressions the first 28’ of the lane; this is very common with aging synthetic lanes installed over existing wood lanes.

After the 28’ mark, the lane becomes slightly crowned. This is evident from the blue colors outside on the right side of the lane, and the red spectrum colors on the outside on the left side of the lane.

To give you an example how much those front lane depressions affect a bowling ball; if a 15 pound ball is placed on the right side 8th board at the foul line, and it is straightly rolled end-over-end at 18 mph, by the time it reaches the 28 foot mark, based upon this actual lanes levelness in that area, the ball will have moved almost 3” to the left!

After 28’, and the ball being almost to the 11th board, the forces on this lane are basically non-existent, or cancel each other out, keeping the ball near the 11th board the rest of its journey to the pins.

Remember Andy Varipapa's “double hook trick where he spin rolls the ball at the foul line to the right side of the lane, and then it rolls to the left side of the lane, and then back to the right again to make the 10 pin? This is most likely gravity at work on a depressed lane surface - all wood lanes were cut with a depression. It’s only a trick because many assume slopes that are not visible to the naked eye will not affect a bowling ball’s path.

However, our testing has shown these "invisible slopes" can affect the path of the ball significantly. It's possible Andy also knew that, and he might have known spinning the ball would decrease the friction between the ball surface and the lane surface, helping gravity “do its thing”. After all, the Laws of Motion were around long before Andy Varipapa.

It must be noted, in accordance to the Laws of Physics, that a side slope on an oiled lane (low friction) will make a ball move off line more than on a perfectly dry lane because less force is needed to move the ball offline. Think of a car on a side hill on an icy road versus dry pavement; the same physical forces apply to bowling balls.

We have also been studying how a rotating bowling ball is affected by these different side hill slopes, and with all the varying degrees of axis rotation, axis tilt, and rev rates of different styles, along with varying amounts of friction, ball weights, and ball speeds, it is very complicated math.

But basically, the Laws of Physics still apply - a ball rotating against the slide slope will deplete energy quicker than a ball rotating with a side slope.

For example, a player like Pete Weber, who has a high degree of axis rotation on his normal delivery, will be affected more on a side hill slope perpendicular to his axis of rotation than a player like Jason Belmonte, whose axis of rotation is much less. It could be a positive or negative effect depending on which way that side slope is and how the players must attack the lanes to find the most room for error and best pin carry.

However, with Kegel's Slope Graphs none of that matters because we are comparing different lanes to one another, with all those rotational and friction properties being near the same for any particular player.

So far the Kegel Slope Graphs have been spot on in real world situations. Not only have we been watching and proving them in action at many high level events and championships over the past two years, from a thousand miles away, after fully measuring a bowling center with the Kegel LaneMapper™ and creating a Kegel LaneMap™ Report and Guide, we can tell a proprietor what lanes in their bowling center have certain characteristics, or which pairs are the highest and lowest scoring, without ever steeping foot inside their center. Every time they are amazed what we can tell them from this data.

In addition, when having these Slope Graphs compiled into a full Kegel LaneMap Report of any bowling center holding a tournament or championship, we can also predict what lane is tighter, what lane hooks more, where a lane will play the fairest, and what pair topography will be least influential, or be the fairest for most styles, and therefore, to hold the finals on.

From our formal and concourse educational seminars, we find understanding these graphs and how it relates to ball motion takes very little time. But to this day, and with all the education on oil patterns, most still don’t understand oil patterns and how they relate to ball motion,

How many times have you heard, “the oil pattern didn’t play anything like it did at home”, or “the oil pattern says we should play here, but it seems to be better over there”?

With Kegel’s LaneMapper and the reports and Slope Graphs it generates, we now know exactly why that happens.



Below are links to download Kegel LaneMap Guides for a few bowling centers so we can show you real world examples on how lanes differ from one another.

The proprietors of these two centers, Werner Knoebl of Dream Bowl Palace in Munich, Germany and Ronald Dol of Dolfijn Bowling in Tilburg, The Netherlands, are very progressive and sport oriented bowling proprietors. It is their feeling that sharing this information makes for a more level playing field.

As any proprietor knows, one of the biggest challenges for the weekly bowler is trying to adjust to radically different lanes.

Kegel LaneMap Guide Downloads:
31 January 2012 - Dolfijn Bowling - Tilburg, The Netherlands : 1.3MB PDF - this report was made available to all players by the organizers of the 2012 European Bowling Tour's Hammer Bronzen Schietspoel International.

2 February 2011 - Dream Bowl Palace BEFORE the March 2011 re-leveling. After the re-leveling, lane play became very similar from lane to lane.

This example is one of the absolute best new synthetic installations we've seen: 20121015 LaneMap Report from Bowl for Fun in Langen, Germany

Weather, Topography, and Ball Motion
What a Shock - Newton Correct!
Topography: What does it all mean?

Contributions to the Game - John Davis

"I have no special gift - I am only passionately curious".  Albert Einstein

Some refer to John Davis as a genius in the field of lane maintenance and bowling. Davis however will tell you the same as Einstein; it was his fervent curiosity that led him to his inventions and a successful career in the bowling industry. His curiosity is even ingrained into his company’s mission statement – “we research the sport of bowling to find solutions, create products, and provide systems to enhance the sport of bowling.”

A recent announcement by the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America (BBIA), a non-profit association formed in Chicago in 1940 to service the billiard and bowling industries, confirmed Davis’ contributions to the game have not gone unnoticed. Davis is the 2012 recipient of the association’s Industry Service Award, to be presented by long time friend and associate Len Nicholson during BBIA’s Annual Convention in La Jolla, California in April 2012.

Starting with The Key™ Lane Cleaning Tool invention in 1981, a simple device that helped bowling centers clean lanes better and more economically, to his most popular invention, The Sanction™ Machine, Davis was never content with status quo. In his mind, there is always a question to be asked, and a better answer to be found.

In 1991, Davis’ company, Kegel, developed and released the DBA® LaneWalker™ - a revolutionary lane machine that moved from lane to lane all by itself. This technology lives on today in the form of the battery powered Kustodian Walker, allowing lane maintenance personnel to focus on other responsibilities while the machine does all the work.

But it is not just bowling products that make John Davis special to the bowling world; it is his unparalleled commitment to the sport of bowling, and to those who play the game.

In 1998, Davis started an organization called The Foundation, a group of expert lanemen who were working towards an ultimate goal of creating fair play for all styles of players. Another goal of The Foundation was to form and train groups of lanemen worldwide that would take care of lane maintenance at every major bowling event throughout the world.

When the bowling world approved the short oil rule, Davis created a tournament called Option One, an alternative to the low difficulty short oil option. This monthly tournament held in their bowling center in Sebring Florida helped the likes of Jason Couch, Ricky Ward, amongst many other up and coming Florida bowlers, develop their games in a way that helped them compete at the highest levels.

In 1997, Davis opened The Kegel Training Center, first known by the name HERBIES – a bowling Center in the Sky. This private ten lane facility was the first of its kind, and featured state-of-the-art technologies that took the bowling coaching and learning experience to another level.

After the company moved to Lake Wales in a new manufacturing facility in 2004, the Kegel Training Center was taken to another level. The 12 lanes in the training center included another industry first – all lanes are fully adjustable, which allows Kegel to control and study the effects of topography on ball motion and oil patterns - Davis’ curiosity at work once again.

In this new training center, Davis’ curiosity quest posed another question to his staff: "What do we have to do to create a program that will result in the best team of junior bowlers on the planet?"

Out of that came the creation of the highly successful Kegel Junior Elite Team – a group of six junior bowlers based on ability, attitude, and love of the game. The program continues on today at the Kegel Training Center with youth bowlers competing yearly for a spot on the elite team.

Furthering Davis’ dedication to the sport, along with then PBA Commissioner Mark Gerberich, Kegel became the first independent lane maintenance company to take care of the lanes on the PBA Tour. From 1997 until 2004, Kegel lane maintenance equipment and staff performed lane maintenance duties for every PBA Tour event.

Since 2001, Kegel staff has been involved in every WTBA World Championship and today Davis continues his unselfish world wide support to organizations like the European Bowling Tour, United States Bowling Congress Championship, and all WTBA zones.

To Davis however, his latest invention, the Kegel LaneMapper, a device that efficiently measures the topography of a bowling lane, might be one of his most important and greatest contributions to the game. Prior to this invention, the tools available to measure a bowling lane could not expeditiously provide the needed information to see how the shape of the lane affects ball motion, and more importantly, “fair play” – which is at the heart and soul of Davis’ quest.

John Davis began his pioneering quest in the game of bowling seeking answers to problems that many experts could not give him. Luckily for many in our game today, his quest continues on not only because he himself still possesses that curiosity, but because he has ingrained that same curiosity trait into the culture of his company.