Is Bowling Expensive? Here’s The Truth


Compared to ballet, football, dance, or even swimming, bowling is not as expensive as one might think. Whether you consider doing it for a sport or simply enjoying it as entertainment, you don’t require much to start. 

Bowling can be very inexpensive. You can choose to buy your own equipment at reasonable prices, or you can rent it from your local bowling alley. The more serious you become about the sport, the more you will need to invest in quality equipment, and the prices will escalate.

When you become more serious about the sport, you will probably invest in a ball and bowling shoes, but let’s look at what other expenses you’ll come across on the road to becoming a bowler. 

Why Can Bowling Be Expensive?

Surprisingly, adopting bowling as a sport or a hobby is not that expensive. As with all sports, when you start to invest serious effort in becoming a professional, you will try to procure your personal equipment; this is where you will have to dish out the dough. The most expensive will be your bowling ball and your shoes. Starter bowling ball costs range between $90 and $140, and there is a vast array of ball types from which you can choose. The selection of coverstock all depends on your bowling style and your commitment to the sport. 

Shoes are another necessity for ambitious amateur bowlers and are custom-made to each person; whether you are right-handed or left, shoes have interchangeable soles that match your technique and the surface you will be bowling on. Bowling shoes could cost you between $24 and $70 for proper shoes. If you become serious about the sport, it will go as high as $150 – $164 for the top-of-the-range footwear. Renting shoes at the bowling alley is also an option; you will spend about $3 – $4 per game renting the bowling house shoes. When you become a regular player, it’s clear that it will be more economical to invest in a pair rather than continually renting them.

When you become a serious competitor, your bowling will take you to different locations for tournaments, and you will require your own equipment with you. Getting your bowling gear to your destination will require a few additional items, like a suitable carrier to transport your sportswear to and from the venue. Depending on the type of bowling bag that best suits your preference, it could cost you between $20 – $100 for a reasonable tote bag or roller.  Once again, if you like the top-of-the-range equipment, the price could climb much steeper.

Is Bowling Worth The Cost?

This question is where serious fanatics will look at you in stunned silence and disbelief because, for any bowler, the answer to this question will definitely be YES! Here are a few reasons why such a huge part of the populace enjoys and dares to spend so much money on the sport.

  • It’s a family game, one that family members of all ages can enjoy. 
  • Bowling is a simple game, and the rules are uncomplicated and easy to learn. 
  • The game is an ideal way to relieve stress. What is more satisfying than knocking down those pins?
  • It doesn’t matter who hit the pins; everyone will cheer.
  • Bowling alleys are open at any time, come rain or shine. Whether you want to spend some time with your friends, family, or colleagues, there is always an available lane for you.
  • Why not catch dinner while you play! Bowling houses usually have an in-house bar and grill. 
  • You don’t need any specialized equipment. Most places rent out the shoes required to play the game.
  • You have an all-in-one place to celebrate special occasions. You have entertainment, you have food and drink, and you’ll most certainly enjoy the company. 
  • And lastly, you get some exercise while having lots of fun!

5 Reasons Why Bowling Is So Expensive.

Bowling alleys used to be fairly simple. The focus used to be on your technique and the game, which made it ideal for league competitors. From the 1980s, old-fashioned bowling houses have gradually been transformed into what they are today, where the focus shifted onto the entertainment aspect of bowling. 

  1. Fancy bowling alleys. To draw people in, bowling alley owners today focus on making a trip to the bowling alley all the more entertaining. Screens are digitized, and servers bring you your food and drinks; bright lights almost make it look like a nightclub. All these things cost money, and you pay for the entertainment value of the experience. 
  2. Renting the space. It is very difficult to predict how long a game will last, and bowling houses have to consider that while you’re occupying that lane, no one else will be able to. They have to make sure they earn enough revenue to cover the cost of you taking up the space. While you’re there, though, you will probably get hungry and spend more money on refreshments, increasing their income. 
  3. Equipment hire. If you don’t deem it worth the effort to purchase your own shoes and a ball, you will need to rent your equipment from the bowling alley. Most places are relatively cheap with their rates, but if you visit the bowling house quite often, over time, those small amounts add up to a handful of cash you could have saved if you had simply bought your equipment. 
  4. Popularity. As people’s interest in this hobby grows, the prices of the arenas tend to go up. Bowling is a pastime that can be played by any age and is thoroughly enjoyable. As activities increase in demand, alley owners view this as an affirmation to increase their prices. People won’t notice because they still feel the need to bowl. 
  5. Leagues. When you become a regular bowler, chances are you will find yourself a league of players you’ll meet each week at the same time. Bowling alleys often have special deals for leagues because they are guaranteed that portion of income every week. And although you save a bit on the entry fee, you will most probably end up spending more on snacks during the night. Accumulate these individual evenings’ activities, and by the end of the month, you paid the bowling house a good portion of your paycheck. 

Is bowling still popular in America?

In the 1940s, there was a major increase in bowling alleys built in America. The invention of the automated pinsetter led to the construction of more than 20,000 lanes across the country. Popularity multiplied during the next two decades, and even the White House installed its bowling alley. The sport of bowling swept the nation until the 1970s, when it finally started to lose its fame. 

Between 1998 – 2013 the number of bowling alleys through the U.S. fell from 5,400 to 3,976; that is about 26%. And gradually, the past time has shifted from the blue-collar to the white-collar audience, from the old-fashioned bowling alleys to the new modern bowling houses. Today bowling is still popular among Americans, with more than 45 million people visiting a bowling lane at least once a year. 

Unfortunately, there has been a decrease in league bowling. So many serious league bowling alleys have been converted into more of a party-orientated setting. Less sanctioned tournaments are being televised. The face of bowling is changing, and it will require a lot more tenacity and ambition from you if you want to become a serious bowler. 

What Do You Need To Bowl?

As it were, you went bowling with a few friends one night, and after a few repeat excursions, you decide to become serious about bowling. You will need some equipment. 

  1. Firstly, you will need a bowling ball
    1. Choose the weight of the ball according to what is manageable for you. Average balls are between 12 – 16 pounds, but you should pick one that is about ten percent of your body weight if you are unsure. 
    1. Find out what type of lane you have at your most frequent bowling alley (dry, medium-dry, or oily lane conditions) and choose a coverstock that matches those conditions. Picking the right coverstock will make sure the ball’s gripping action on the floor is dependable. 
    1. Also, choose carefully when analyzing the ball’s hook potential. It all depends on whether you prefer your bowling ball to have a sharp or slow back-end reaction and what works for your bowling style. 
    1. When you have your ball, visit your nearest pro shop to have it drilled to fit your hand. If it fits comfortably, it will give you more control over the ball and decrease the risk of injury.
  2. The other important item is a pair of bowling shoes. Bowling shoes have special soles that protect the bowling alley’s flooring and prevent you from hiking in dirt and dust from the streets. They can be made from either leather or microfiber, and their soles are generally interchangeable. One side will be the braking shoe that provides more tractions to stabilize you when you roll, where the other side will be the sliding shoe that will aid you in your delivery. 

Undeniable Reasons Why You Should Buy Your Own Bowling Equipment.

Whether you play for the fun of it or as a serious contestant, having your bowling ball and shoes have numerous benefits.

  1. Cost. Frequently renting your shoes from the bowling house when you play means that every visit will cost you about $3. On its own, this is not that much, but add it up over time, and you will be amazed at how much you could have saved if you had simply invested in a pair of decent shoes. Purchasing a pair of $30 bowling shoes to fit you comfortably will pay for itself in about ten visits to the bowling alley. 
  2. Comfort. If you are a hygiene freak like me, you will sneer at the thought of reusing a pair of shoes that about a thousand other people have worn. Even though the bowling house carefully disinfects every pair of shoes, the thought is still cringeworthy. Your personal pair of shoes will not only be worn solely by you but will also be fitted exactly to your feet for premium comfort and performance. You will have more control over the style, the quality, and the look. 

The same argument can be made for your personalized bowling ball as well. Purchasing a ball means that you will have it drilled exactly to the form of your grip. You will not have to readjust to a new ball every time you pick one up from the feeder at the bowling alley.

  • Technique. Having your own for both the ball and your shoes allows you to become acclimatized to the same equipment with regular use. You can focus on your technique and perfecting your game rather than adjusting to a new ball with every roll or a new pair of shoes each time you visit the bowling house.
  • Optimize. As your game improves, you will realize the difference in the quality of your equipment, and you will seek out a better performance shoe or bowling ball. You will gladly spend a bit more to improve your game on a pair of shoes with better traction on the floor or a bowling ball with particle coverstock that will react more easily in the lane. 

What Happens With Your Old Bowling Balls?

Unfortunately, bowling balls are too complex to recycle, and we have to find other inventive ways to dispose of or redistribute them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Giving them to a recycling center for the use of artists or other like-minded individuals. They will find imaginative ways to incorporate your old bowling ball into their artwork.
  • If they are not cracked or broken, they can be used by a zoo or animal sanctuary as toys for some larger animals.
  • You can always sell your old balls to someone looking for a bargain on a more expensive ball, and some pro shops also buy second-hand bowling balls. 
  • It is a great idea to donate your old balls to one of the following places:
    • School bowling league
    • Local VA center
    • Retirement center for arts and crafts
    • Your local thrift stores
    • Or your local bowling alley
  • Use your old bowling ball in an art and craft project, or simply style it as a lawn decoration if you’re feeling adventurous.
  • If you have a cracked bowling ball and it’s irreparable, you have no choice but to dispose of it, unfortunately. Numerous pro shops can also recycle or dispose of these for you. 

Can You Make Money With Bowling?

I’m convinced that most professionals bowl competitively merely for the fun, excitement, and camaraderie of it. Compared to other sports, bowling doesn’t make nearly enough to subsidize their earnings, and they will possibly need to keep an additional job or source sponsors to make ends meet. Unless you reach the top levels earning about $200,000 a year, your annual salary will likely be between $98,500 and $16,000. Plenty of bowling leagues offer cash rewards or prizes at the end of the season, but you will need to participate in tournaments if you are serious about bowling. All attendance levels, however, normally require sizable fees to join. Although it’s not a lucrative employment opportunity, it is still a lovely hobby to have, and if you’re good enough, you can still claim fame. 

Conclusion

Bowling is one of America’s favorite pastimes and is becoming more popular as a hobby and a sport. But is it a cheap night out, or does it end up costing you more than you bargained for? Unless you are getting serious about bowling and want to invest in your own equipment, bowling is one of the cheapest sports around and will guarantee you hours of fun and laughter. It can become expensive, but it is totally up to you. 

Sources

http://superdome.ie/leisure-activities/7-reasons-why-bowling-is-fun/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/05/10/bowling-final-frames-roll/27070351/

https://www.bowlingseriously.com/bowling-today.html

https://www.bowlingball.com/BowlVersity/how-to-choose-the-right-bowling-ball

Tim C, M.D.

My grandfather and my mother both taught me bowling in the early 1970’s. I spent the next few decades working my way up to the top tiers of local amateur bowling leagues, and continued to participate in college at the club level. My wife and bowled in coed leagues before kids, and then taught our kids bowling as they grew up. Now I’m here to answer some of the web’s common questions about bowling rules, techniques, equipment and more. To see more about the site, check our About Page

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