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#21295 - 10/29/05 10:37 AM Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Tyveil Offline
Team USA Contender

Registered: 10/20/03
Posts: 463
A/S/L: Kansas
After over 2 years of bowling at my local lanes I just found out they do infact have wood lanes. I thought they were but was never really sure (since we have no other local lanes to compare them too). I talked to the manager last night about when they're going to go to synthetics and he says the owners wife really likes the wood surface. They play many tournaments per year and they always do real well when they get to a house that has wood lanes, while other bowlers struggle. So, bottom line, it probably won't change.

What do you all think about wood lanes? Should all lanes be going to synthetic?
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Registered: Fri Aug 27 2004
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A/S/L: Mountain View, CA
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#21296 - 10/29/05 11:46 AM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Sheldon Offline


Registered: 02/08/01
Posts: 199
A/S/L: Grumpy Old Man / Northwest VT
If the wooden lanes are in good to excellent condition; then there is no reason for the bowling center to rip them out and change to synthetics. It is a major expense to do so; and it would be a financial burden in most cases to make the change. Wooden or synthetic lanes last many years especially when cared for properly.

If the lanes are in bad condition, then the owner has a decision to either get one of the national companies that do repairs or replacements in to find out how much it would cost to repair or replace either part of the lanes or entire lanes.

Usually the first part (called the heads) of the lanes goes first, because it is this part of the that is subjected to the thousands upon thousands of impacts from 16 lb. bowling balls. If the heads are in bad condition, the heads can be changed out to synthetics or repaired with new wood.

Wooden lanes actually require much more maintenance than synthetics in order to keep them in good condition. Wooden lanes also require that more oil is put down as some of the oil is absorbed each time into the wooden lanes and this does not occur with synthetics as the surface is similar to Formica.

However, if a change has to be made, synthetics are the way to go. I recognize that you and all the bowlers have nothing to do with a decision which will be made a some future date.

Synthetics are much easier to bowl on as there is much less friction between the surface of the lane and the ball. They also present other advantages to bowlers as they are smooth and do not get any irregularities that occur with wooden lanes. Every lane in a wooden house can have differences which occur from years of use.
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#21297 - 10/29/05 09:58 PM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
gauchoy2k Offline
Junior Master

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 34
A/S/L: 35/yes/NYC
My team just moved from a wood house to a synthetic house with 1 year old lanes.Our avg all jumped up. I was told that this always happens when changing over.Am wondering if this is true.

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#21298 - 10/29/05 11:18 PM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Tyveil Offline
Team USA Contender

Registered: 10/20/03
Posts: 463
A/S/L: Kansas
Well, I do know that when I went from Synthetics to Wood lanes, my average instantly dropped over 30 pins. I didn't realize that I was bowling on a different type of lane at the time and just thought I had lost something in my game. Now I'm thinking it was probably because we have Wood lanes.

I looked at one of our bowlers average from 4 years ago when he bowled on Synthetics (in a town about 1 hr drive from ours). His average there was 217, he had multiple 800 series, 2 299 games, and 3 12-in-a-row awards. His average here is nowhere near that (maybe 180).
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#21299 - 10/30/05 12:46 AM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Smooth Stroker Offline
Legend

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 1905
A/S/L: 45/M/Long Island
The real difference between wood and synthetic in my opinion is the moves you make. I believe you can average just as much depending on your game. It is a big adjustment, hence the average drop. I believe that after a certain amount of games, your average would begin to go back up. You get used to the bigger moves you have to make on wood. You have to make the moves quicker too. I've seen as many 300 games bowled on wood as I've seen on synthetics. The real downside to wood for the bowler is that your ball will get beat up faster on wood. My ball tracks out much faster on wood lanes than they do on synthetics.

I've seen the average drop for someone moving from wood to synthetics. My teammate, who bowled on wood most of his life, struggled all summer on synthetics. He lofts the ball, to get the ball over the burnt heads of wood lanes. This is somewhat of a disadvantage on synthetics. He is missing out on that nice oil in the heads that helps your ball get down the lane. So, his ball reacts too early on synthetics. Because of his loft, he has to use a really weak pearl when most others are using stronger balls. His ball reaction is eratic. He is a lifetime 210 average bowler struggling to reach 200 this season.

I think it's what your used to and the sudden change that creates the average drop. By the end of last season on wood, my average was going way up thanks to me getting used to bowling on wood.
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#21300 - 10/30/05 12:53 AM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
TJL Offline
League Bowler

Registered: 09/05/05
Posts: 92
A/S/L: 51/M/ Southern Illinois
As Sheldon mentioned, wood lanes absorb oil. Synthetics do not. I would think that alone would make the surfaces very different. While the old wood lanes dried as the night went on, and therefore were slower, the oil on synthetics moves around more. With synthetics, there should naturally be more dreaded carrydown. Some of the new ball coverstocks actually absorb oil, and that probably dries the new lanes a bit, but I think that the oil being moved around is the primary reason lanes break down today. I was looking closely at a lane the other day and I noticed that the oil lays sort of splotchy. I never noticed that on wood lanes.

When I quit bowling twenty-five years ago, all of the houses in my area were wood. As I look over my league sheet today, I see averages over 230, a few over 220, some over 210, and several over 200. Twenty five years ago, on wood surfaces, 200 was a challenge for any league bowler and anyone consistently between 210 and 220, was probably considering turning pro. I don't remember ever seeing a 230 average until I came back to bowling this year.

Today's new balls probably also have a significant impact on averages. Twenty-five years ago, if you wanted your ball to make a hard left turn, you probably studied Mark Roth and other crankers of the day. Today, a stroker can toss a more serious hook than some crankers of the past because of the application of physics in bowling balls. I don't know if today's coverstocks would have made any serious difference on a wood lane. I think their purpose is to react in a specific way to synthetic surfaces.

TJL (Tom)
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#21301 - 10/30/05 01:22 AM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Smooth Stroker Offline
Legend

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 1905
A/S/L: 45/M/Long Island
To me, it's the oil patterns being laid down that is the real story. I could put you on new Brunswick anvil lanes with the new slicker oil they have at this one house and you would struggle to average over 200. At the summer league I bowled in this summer, In the middle of the season they decided to put out a tougher shot and the scores plummeted. If they wanted to keep the scores down, they could easily keep the scores down. Put out a tough shot and only the best bowlers will prevail, no matter if it's wood or synthetics.

A few years ago, in the middle of the season, one house switched over from wood to synthetics. you could bowl on wood on one pair and the teams next to you would be bowling on synthetics. Averages were all over the place. It was very interesting.
I think that if you can put some hand in the ball then yes you would definitely like synthetic better. Provided they put out enough oil of course. If you fluff the ball then you would prefer wood more than likely because your ball will get more help getting to the pocket as the lanes dry out.

As a pretty accurate Tweener/Stroker, I prefer lanes that have an ample amount of oil on it, whether it's wood or synthetics. For my medium ball speed, and medium/high revs, that's perfect.

I think the improvements they have made to the coverstocks has helped the averages immensely. Now bowlers with no hand at all can bowl for power and carry the corner pins.
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#21302 - 10/30/05 12:35 PM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Atochabsh Offline
USBC Bronze Coach

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 6567
A/S/L: 50/F/California
My average always goes UP at least 10 pins if I can get onto wood. Synthetic lanes are not even like bowling to me. Its like bowling on ice, like curling with no one to brush the ice for you.

Erin

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#21303 - 10/30/05 10:48 PM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Smooth Stroker Offline
Legend

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 1905
A/S/L: 45/M/Long Island
It amazes me that curling is an olympic event and bowling isn't. But that is another debate.
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#21304 - 10/31/05 10:41 AM Re: Wood vs Synthetic Lanes
Tyveil Offline
Team USA Contender

Registered: 10/20/03
Posts: 463
A/S/L: Kansas
A lot of good points here. Thanks as always Sheldon, Erin, Tom, and SS. I think the problem with the house I bowl at isn't the wood lanes, it's the man running the oil machine. I'll have to be sure to tell the manager I withdraw my recommendation for the house to change to synthetic lanes smile
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