Is Bowling Expensive? Let’s Break Down The Costs!

When you’re into bowling, you’ll most likely have someone question you at some point asking “is bowling expensive?”.

Is bowling expensive? No. In general, bowling, whether for sport or fun is not expensive when compared to other sports like ballet, dance, football or swimming. The game can be played with rented equipment and no special uniforms are required. Bowling can even be even more inexpensive if you play a lot and you buy your own shoes.

Bowling doesn’t have to be expensive if you just want to go on occasion and have fun. If you want to take it seriously and compete however, things change.

Why are bowling balls so expensive?

Bowling balls can range somewhere between $40 and $300, depending on their build materials and overall quality.

For you, as a player, it all depends on how committed you are towards your game and the development of your skills.

At a starting level, odds are that you won’t find bowling balls aren’t all that expensive, as you’ll very often find polyester or plastic ones for accessible prices. It’s likely you’ll start with one of those, as they are widely available online and in local bowling alleys as part of the basic experience.

The ones available at your local bowling alley(house balls) are good enough for you to start realizing the complexities of the game and there’s nothing wrong with them, but they do lack extra performance. What that means is that more often than not, as time goes by, you’ll start to notice that your game will be affected by the basic bowling ball’s lack of delivering great results to help you evolve your technique as time goes by.

Typical house bowling balls

House bowling balls are fun indeed, but limited. Ideally, in bowling, you’re aiming for consistency and the ability to deliver your game exactly how you want it when you need it the most.

Just as with anything, the more performance you expect from an item, the more it usually will cost. It’s as true regarding bowling balls as it is regarding anything in life, there’s no way around it. With bowling as you grow as a player, you will discover what is known as CORE MATERIAL and COVERSTOCK.

The coverstock, core material, finger holes and design you choose are what make bowling balls expensive.

When you start browsing the market for a better bowling ball to develop your game, you’ll soon realize that they are available for all tastes and budgets and come in a diversity of materials, as well as performance types based on the core material and coverstock.

What more expensive, better bowling balls promise is that your game will gain from your improved ability to gain that much-needed consistency.

To make things more appealing, you’ll find customizations for your own bowling ball. From fascinating colors and decals, you can go as far as even customize your finger’s length and thickness on its holes to get the perfect grip. There are endless ways to make it look and feel unique.

You’ll soon find yourself considering a better and more expensive bowling ball based on its promise of delivering solid performance that will improve your game.

Just as with any sport or activity, the theory claims that a better item can often deliver an edge not only over your competitors but also over any limitations that simpler material should deliver.

Ultimately, it’s up to the player to realize what actually benefits their game and whether or not his/her level of commitment is deep enough to justify an investment that may sometimes seem excessive.

What equipment is needed for bowling?

To get started in bowling you don’t need much, so we’ll only discuss the absolute basics that you can rent from your local bowling alley. You can purchase these items yourself either online or from a local pro shop usually located in the bowling alley.

The first thing you’ll need to bowl is a ball. A good starter bowling ball is made from plastic. It’s what house bowling balls are made from and is a great introduction to bowling balls.

The next thing you will need to bowl is shoes which can start as low as $40. You can rent shoes from your local bowling alley or you can buy a pair. I know you might be wondering why you would need special shoes in order to throw a ball down a lane but let me explain.

House bowling shoes

Street shoes are worn everywhere and therefore will track everything you walk on onto the bowling lane. That’s not good since it helps to glide when bowling, plus it looks cool when you get the glide down right. Imagine getting your car washed and the attendant picks up a rag off the ground to wipe down your car.

I bet you just felt the horror of even the thought of that. Well, think of your street shoes like that in a bowling alley.

You walk on dirt and small stones and goodness knows what else…you can bring that onto a bowling lane that’s covered in oils. You’d damage the lane.

Bowling shoes have leather or microfiber soles to help with the gliding motion when bowling. House bowling shoes are always leather. You can buy your own leather bottom bowling shoes or microfiber.

For a good guide on the right type of bowling shoes to buy check this short video guide below.

how to pick bowling shoes

Why buying used bowling equipment may not be a good idea.

If you arent one to use rented equipment from your local bowling alley than you’re probably considering buying your own equipment.

From the last section of this article, you learned what equipment is needed for bowling. While lots of things can be cheap even brand new they’re not made to be the best. It’s more like starter equipment.

Start with this cheap stuff and if you like the sport then you’ll buy the more expensive stuff later.

If you’re anything like me, you’re ALWAYS looking for the best deal when buying something. Some sports equipment is fine if buying used, bowling equipment, however, may not be.

A good pair of brand new bowling shoes could cost upwards of $100, depending on your style. If you decide to buy a used pair you have to consider, were these only worn in the bowling alley? Did the person before me have sweaty feet or even athletes foot? Will these be ok to wear on the lanes?

All things you wouldn’t have to worry about if you brought new shoes.

Buying a used bowling ball can be both good and bad. The only really good thing when buying a used bowling ball though is that you could get a really expensive ball at a rock bottom price.

The bad could be that the ball is defective in some way, which is why it was sold. Also, many bowling balls have holes drilled for the people who buy them. Your hand may not fit. So if you find an expensive ball at a great price but your fingers don’t fit the holes or the spacing is to narrow or wide, is it really a great deal?

So like I said, buying used sports equipment is fine for some sports, just not really for bowling.

Related questions 

How much would it cost to put a bowling alley in my house?
According to on the west coast in California and on the east coast in Florida, it will cost an average of $110,000 upwards to $200,000 +.

It really all depends on the types of finishes you’d like, the type of space you’d like the alley in, and how much customizations you’d like as well.

You should also note that depending on where you live and the access to the space of where you’d like your home bowling alley to play a part in the cost of installing it. If your home is on a mountain top and the only way to your basement is down a lot of stairs, get ready to pay much more.

Always get an in-home quote if you’re serious about having a bowling alley installed in your home.

If you’d rather build a crude version in your backyard for a fraction of the price check out this YouTube video

What do you do with old bowling balls?

One thing you could do is check with your local pro shops to see if they buy old bowling balls. If they do you could sell it to them and make a few bucks. You could also gift it to someone you know who wants to get into bowling and needs a ball. 

My mother gave me her bowling ball and I love it…it means a lot to me.

Another idea is to use it in a craft project. If you’re not crafty or know anyone who wants or needs a bowling ball(ask a few people you know because you’d be surprised) then ask if you could donate it to your local bowling alley. Just don’t throw it away.

Recent Posts