The Pros & Cons of Plugging & Re-Drilling Bowling Balls

plastic bowling ball

I bought a used bowling ball not so long ago. The finger holes are too big and too far apart, so I wanted to find out if it was worth plugging up the old holes and having the bowling ball re-drilled to fit me.

What are the pros & cons of plugging and re-drilling bowling balls? The pros are that it’s less expensive than buying a brand new bowling ball and it doesn’t hurt overall performance as long as coverstock maintenance is maintained. The cons are that continuously plugging and re-drilling a bowling ball can cause cracking and core damage.

There are many reasons a person would need to get a bowling ball plugged and re-drilled. The most common reason is that they believe they could get better performance with differently placed finger holes.

Can you fill bowling ball holes?

Yes, you can fill bowling ball holes. You could do this on your own or take them to a pro shop and have a professional do it for you. If you prefer to fill your bowling ball holes on your own you will want to slightly overfill them. You’ll want to use a strong epoxy resin since you’ll be throwing this ball very hard and very fast. The epoxy resin you would need can be found at craft stores or even on or

You’ll want to use a type of putty around the hole before filling it with the epoxy resin mixture. This is because you’ll have to overfill the holes in order not to have any flat spots on your ball. Other materials you will want to have on hand will be different grits of sandpaper, a large file, and if you’re comfortable, a grinder of some sort. Again, only if you feel comfortable using this equipment, I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THAT ANYONE DO THIS.

If you decide to plug your own bowling ball at home you will want to make sure that after you are done you restore the coverstock. The performance of the bowling ball could possibly become diminished and your game will suffer greatly if the bowling ball is not properly cleaned and polished(if the bowling ball is supposed to be). If you regularly perform coverstock maintenance on your bowling ball I believe you will be fine. If you arent comfortable or knowledgeable enough to perform your own coverstock maintenance take it to a pro shop, and maybe reconsider plugging your own bowling ball.

It’s suggested and recommended that you take your bowling ball to a pro shop and have a professional do it. So how much does it really cost to have a bowling ball drilled? the cost of this service varies from pro shop to the pro shop but ideally would be no more than $40 to $60. So you will want to call and ask around unless you have a pro shop you frequent. Whatever the price, it will still be significantly lower than buying a new bowling ball and having it drilled, which could top $150.

You don’t want to continuously have your bowling ball plugged and re-drilled. It may be cheaper than buying a new bowling ball, but continuous plugging and re-drilling could weaken the strength of the coverstock on the bowling ball and cause cracking and core damage. Once the structure of the original core has been altered, there is no way to bring it back. Your bowling ball, whatever it was when you bought it, will never be the same again.

You want to understand this especially if you want to plug and re-drill your own bowling ball at home. If you don’t know how the bowling ball core is positioned(which I don’t believe eve pro shop workers know) you could actually ruin your bowling ball.

plugging a bowling ball at home

Can you re-drill holes in a bowling ball?

It is certainly ok to re-drill holes in a bowling ball. One reason you might want to do this is that you may have been gifted an old bowling ball from someone and your hands are different sizes.

When this happens you need to get the bowling ball plugged and re-drilled to fit your fingers and style of throwing(if you have one).

However, not all bowling balls are quite right to be plugged and re-drilled. Since there are now so many options to buying used bowling balls online, if you decide to purchase one in hopes of just having it plugged and re-drilled you have to first make sure the ball is in good enough condition to even withstand the process.

The ball must first be plugged and the coverstock restored to as close to the original condition as possible. Just because a used bowling ball looks good doesn’t always mean it is good. Tiny cracks and nicks on the ball are a good indicator the ball isn’t worth getting plugged and re-drilled. You will also want to look out for people looking to get rid of dead bowling balls.

I recommend you take your ball to your local pro shop. For the amount of work and tools it requires, it’s just best left to professionals. You could have your bowling ball plugged and re-drilled while at the alley playing a game.

You can do this yourself but it isnt safe or recommended unless you have the proper equipment and experience to do so. You could possibly ruin your bowling ball and hurt yourself while trying to save about $40. Not worth it in my book.

The amount of time it takes to plug and re-drill depends on the plugging material and if you do it yourself or take it to a pro shop. The plugging materials are largely different types of resins that can be purchased online. The resin has to cure before drilling can be done. Wait times can be anywhere from 1 hour to 24 hours or more.

Before getting your bowling ball re-drilled you will want to make sure you speak to the pro shop owner or employee who will be working on your ball. Explain to them why you want to get your bowling ball re-drilled, what you’re looking to get out of it, and to make sure the condition of the ball is in good enough condition.

Does plugging a bowling ball affect performance?

If you have either an old bowling ball or you recently bought a used bowling ball and the finger holes don’t fit just right or you have a weight hole that must be filled, you may be wondering if plugging the ball would affect the way the ball performs. You should be happy to know that as long as you maintain the cover stock of your bowling ball you shouldn’t have to worry if plugging in the old finger or weight hole(s) will affect its performance. 

Based on the finger or weight hole size and the depth, drilling is what could affect the way the ball reacts. If the bowling ball is drilled deep enough and removes part of the core it would change the shape of the weight block used to make up the core of your bowling ball. From that point, it doesnt matter if you bring the coverstock of the bowling ball back to its original position, it wont perform as its intended to.

You should be able to see if the weight block of the bowling ball has been compromised but looking directly into the hole. However if the ball has already been plugged you would have no way of knowing how deep the hole was. If this is the case it’s best to avoid bowling balls like these, even if they’re free. Unless you’re just using the bowling ball for fun and dont plan on joining a league or trying to become a professional.

The best thing to do with a plugged ball is use a determinator to locate the bowling balls PSA (preferred spin axis) and make sure you locate the current Center of Gravity. The CG placement is just to make sure the ball is legal by USBC standards. Once you locate the PSA, you can use that point and the hanger Pin to lay the ball out for you.

This should be done by a pro shop, for obvious reasons. These guys know bowling balls, or at least they should since it’s their job. They’ll be able to let you know if the bowling ball is worth plugging, if the weight block has been compromised and if itll perform like its intended to. Take their word for it. 

Many bowling balls become discontinued and even they may have a ball or too that they’ve had to plug and resurface because they love the ball that much. They’ll understand the trouble you’re willing to go through and help you get the ball just right. 

How many times can you re-drill a bowling ball?

There is no set number of times you can or should re-drill a bowling ball. Obviously you want to re-drill it over and over to the point it looks like swiss cheese.

Related Questions

What is the purpose of the weight/ balance hole in a bowling ball? The weight or balance hole is not a finger hole. It’s used more for bringing a top, bottom or side heavy ball to a more static legal weight. Many bowlers also use these to help with helping their balls hook.

How much weight does drilling a bowling ball remove? When you drill a bowling ball, depending on how wide and deep you drill the hole, it will remove between 1 and 2 ounces of top weight. Have the pro shop weigh the ball to make sure it is still of legal weight.

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