Title:
System and method for providing a semi-custom-fitted house ball to a customer of a bowling center
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for providing a semi-custom-fitted house ball to a customer of a bowling center are provided. In one embodiment, a plurality of house balls in a variety of weights is provided, wherein each of the house balls comprises a thumb hole sized to receive a removable thumb insert of varying sizes, and wherein at least one house ball of a given weight comprises a different finger hole drilling pattern than at least one other house ball of that given weight. In another embodiment, a method for identifying a suitable house ball for a customer of a bowling center is provided. Other embodiments are disclosed, and each of the embodiments can be used alone or together in combination.



Inventors:
Shockley, Richard L. (Loganville, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/893507
Publication Date:
02/19/2009
Filing Date:
08/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/54
International Classes:
A63B43/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PIERCE, WILLIAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BGL (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system of house balls for use in a bowling center, the system comprising: a first plurality of bowling balls of substantially the same weight, each bowling ball of the first plurality comprising a respective thumb hole sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes and respective finger holes, wherein at least one bowling ball of the first plurality has a different span between finger and thumb holes and a different finger hole diameter than at least one other bowling ball of the first plurality; and a second plurality of bowling balls of substantially the same weight but of different weight from the first plurality of bowling balls, each bowling ball of the second plurality comprising a respective thumb hole sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes and respective finger holes, wherein at least one bowling ball of the second plurality has a different span between finger and thumb holes and a different finger hole diameter than at least one other bowling ball of the second plurality.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the fingers holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls are not shaped to receive removable finger inserts of varying sizes.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the fingers holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls are free of finger inserts.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the fingers holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls have a diameter less than 31/32 inches.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the fingers holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls have a depth greater than 1.5 inches.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the fingers holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls have a depth of 2.5 inches.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the thumb holes of the first and second pluralities of bowling balls have a diameter of 1.5 inches.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the thumb holes of the first and second pluralities comprise a component shaped to releasably secure a removable thumb insert.

9. The system of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of removable thumb inserts of varying sizes.

10. The system of claim 9 further comprising a tray to store the plurality of removable thumb inserts of varying sizes.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein at least one bowling ball of the first plurality has at least one of the following: (i) a different thumb hole pitch than at least one other bowling ball of the first plurality and (ii) a different finger hole pitch than at least one other bowling ball of the first plurality.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the first and second pluralities of bowling balls have first indicia indicating weight and second indicia indicating finger hole drilling pattern.

13. A system of house balls for use in a bowling center, the system comprising: a plurality of house balls in a variety of weights, wherein each of the house balls comprises a thumb hole sized to receive a removable thumb insert of varying sizes, and wherein at least one house ball of a given weight comprises a different finger hole drilling pattern than at least one other house ball of that given weight.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the finger hole drilling pattern comprises at least one of finger hole diameter and span between finger and thumb holes.

15. The system of claim 13, wherein the fingers holes of the plurality of house balls are not shaped to receive removable finger inserts of varying sizes.

16. The system of claim 13, wherein the fingers holes of the plurality of house balls are free of finger inserts.

17. The system of claim 13, wherein the fingers holes of the plurality of house balls have a diameter less than 31/32 inches.

18. The system of claim 13, wherein the fingers holes of the plurality of house balls have a depth greater than 1.5 inches.

19. The system of claim 13, wherein the fingers holes of the plurality of house balls have a depth of 2.5 inches.

20. A method of identifying a suitable house ball for a customer of a bowling center, the method comprising: providing, from a plurality of removable thumb inserts of varying sizes, a removable thumb insert having a size suitable for a thumb of a customer of a bowling center; determining a finger hole drilling pattern suitable for the customer; and providing the customer with indicia information of a house ball having the suitable finger hole drilling pattern.

21. The method of claim 20 further comprising charging a fee to the customer for rental of the provided removable thumb insert.

22. The method of claim 20 further comprising offering the provided removable thumb insert for purchase by the customer.

23. The method of claim 20, wherein the determining act is performed using a fitting ball comprising at least one thumb hole sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes and a plurality of finger holes of different finger hole drilling patterns.

24. The method of claim 20, wherein the finger hole drilling pattern comprises a finger hole diameter and a finger-hole-to-thumb-hole span.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Bowling centers provide house balls for customers who do not own a bowling ball. House balls typically come in different weights, with the finger and thumb hole diameters, as well as the span between the finger and thumb holes, increasing with increasing weight. However, most conventional house balls of a given weight have the same thumb and finger hole diameters and the same span between the thumb and finger holes. Typically, a variety of different house balls are provided on racks in a bowling center, and a customer engages in trial-and-error to find a house ball with the desired weight, finger and thumb hole diameters, and span between the finger and thumb holes. Because of the inexact nature of this process and because the desired house ball may not be available, some customers may choose an ill-fitting house ball, which may cause them to bowl a poor game and become discouraged from returning to the bowling center. Even if a customer finds a properly-fitting house ball, he may find the house ball selection process so time-consuming and frustrating that he may be discouraged from becoming a frequent bowler.

SUMMARY

The present invention is defined by the claims, and nothing in this section should be taken as a limitation on those claims.

By way of introduction, the embodiments described below provide a system and method for providing a semi-custom-fitted house ball to a customer of a bowling center. In one embodiment, a plurality of house balls in a variety of weights is provided, wherein each of the house balls comprises a thumb hole sized to receive a removable thumb insert of varying sizes, and wherein at least one house ball of a given weight comprises a different finger hole drilling pattern than at least one other house ball of that given weight. In another embodiment, a method for identifying a suitable house ball for a customer of a bowling center is provided. Other embodiments are disclosed, and each of the embodiments can be used alone or together in combination.

The embodiments will now be described with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a system of house balls of an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a bowling ball of an embodiment with an outer sleeve secured to a thumb hole.

FIG. 3 is a side view of a removable thumb insert for use in an embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a removable thumb insert for use in an embodiment.

FIG. 5 is an exploded view showing assembly of a removable thumb insert into a bowling ball of an embodiment.

FIG. 6 is an illustration of a tray of an embodiment of removable thumb inserts of varying sizes.

FIGS. 7A and 7B are illustrations of a fitting ball of an embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

By way of introduction, the embodiments described below provide a system and method for providing a semi-custom-fitted house ball to a customer of a bowling center. Each of the house balls are provided in a variety of weights. Unlike conventional house balls where a ball of a given weight have the same thumb and finger hole diameters and the same span between the thumb and finger holes, the house balls in each weight category of these embodiments have a thumb hole sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes and varying finger hole drilling patterns. As used herein, the phrase “finger hole drilling pattern” refers to finger hole diameters and/or thumb-to-finger-hole spans. The combination of different patterns of span and/or finger hole sizes and the use of a thumb insert fitting a customer's thumb allows a bowling center to provide a customer with a semi-custom-fitted house ball every time he bowls. By providing a customer with a proper-fitting house ball, the customer may bowl better and enjoy his experience more than if he used a conventional house ball. A service delivery system is also provided that can eliminate time spent by a customer in searching for a suitable conventional house ball (if one is even available). All of these benefits can encourage the customer to visit the bowling center more frequently and may even encourage the customer to purchase his own bowling ball from the bowling center.

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 is an illustration of a system of house balls of an embodiment. This system comprises a first plurality of bowling balls 10 (the top row of three balls) of substantially the same weight and a second plurality of bowling balls 20 (the bottom row of three balls) also of substantially the same weight but of different weight from the first plurality of bowling balls 10. For example, the first plurality of bowling balls 10 can be 7 lb balls, and the second plurality of bowling balls 20 can be 8 lb balls. It should be understood that FIG. 1 is being used merely for illustration purposes and that a typical bowling center could have more than three balls in a given weight category and could have more than two weight categories. For example, a bowling center could have a variety of 7 lb to 15 lb balls. It should also be noted that the phrase “substantially the same weight” is being used because different balls in a given plurality may not weigh exactly the same. As will be discussed below, the three balls in a given plurality have finger holes of different diameters, and this diameter difference can cause one ball to weigh slightly more or less than another ball in that plurality. Nevertheless, the difference in weights is small enough that each of the balls can still be considered an X lb ball (e.g., despite the slight weight differences, each of the balls in the first plurality 10 would still be considered 7 lb balls).

As shown in FIG. 1, each of the balls in each of the pluralities 10, 20 comprises respective thumb holes 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26 and respective finger holes 13, 15, 17, 23, 25, 27. As will be discussed in more detail below, each of the thumb holes 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26 is sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes. In one presently preferred embodiment, the thumb holes 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26 all have a diameter of 1.5 inches and a depth of 3 5/16 inches. In other embodiments, a different diameter and/or depth can be used. Also, while the size of the thumb holes are the same in all of the bowling balls of this embodiment, in other embodiments, different bowling balls can have different thumb hole sizes but still be sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes.

Although the thumb holes 12, 14, 16, 22, 24, 26 of all the bowling balls are the same diameter in this embodiment, at least one bowling ball of the first plurality 10 has different finger hole diameters than at least one other bowling ball of the first plurality 10. In the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 1, each set of finger holes of the three bowling balls in the first plurality 10 has a different diameter, with the finger holes of the left-most bowling ball being larger than the finger holes of the center bowling ball, and the finger holes of the center bowling ball being larger than the finger holes of the right-most bowling ball. Additionally, at least one bowling ball of the first plurality 10 has a different span between finger and thumb holes than at least one other bowling ball of the first plurality. This is illustrated in FIG. 1 with the span S1 of the left-most bowling ball being larger than the span S2 of the center bowling ball, and the span S2 of the center bowling ball being larger than the span S3 of the right-most bowling ball. Although span is measured in FIG. 1 between the top edge of the thumb hole to bottom edge of the finger holes, it should be noted that span can be measured using different reference points. It should also be noted that the diameter and spans shown in FIG. 1 are exaggerated for illustration purposes and may not be the same size and/or position as on an actual bowling ball. Also, while the distance between the two finger holes is the same from ball-to-ball in this embodiment, in other embodiments, this distance varies between balls.

As with the first plurality, the bowling balls of the second plurality have finger holes with different diameters and different spans between the finger holes and thumb holes. It should be noted that the finger hole diameters and spans of the bowling balls of the first plurality 10 can be the same as or different from the finger hole diameters and spans of the bowling balls of the second plurality 20. For instance, in the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 1, bowling balls in the same column have the same finger hole diameter and span. However, in other embodiments, the finger hole diameter and/or span of one plurality of bowling balls would be unique or only shared with some (but not all) of the other plurality of balls in the system. Further, in addition to finger hole diameters and spans, the pitch of the thumb holes and/or finger holes can also vary.

It should be noted that while the thumb holes of the bowling balls of these embodiments are sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes, the finger holes are not shaped to receive removable finger inserts of varying sizes. Instead, the finger holes are just openings in the bowling ball and are free of finger inserts. Accordingly, the size of these finger holes is different from the size of finger holes that are shaped to receive removable finger inserts. Specifically, the size of a finger hole that is shaped to receive a removable finger insert is usually 31/32 inches in diameter with a depth of 1.5 inches. This large diameter, which is larger than the largest finger tip diameter of a typical bowler, allows various sizes of finger inserts to be inserted into the finger hole. Also, the depth of 1.5 inches allows a bowler to insert his finger up to his first knuckle. This provides an “advanced (or fingertip) grip,” which is used by advanced bowlers to provide more control over the bowling ball. In contrast, a finger hole of a conventional bowling ball has a depth of 2.5 inches, which allows a bowler to insert his finger up to his second knuckle. This provides a “conventional grip,” which is an easier grip for a casual bowler. Accordingly, it is presently preferred that the finger holes of the bowling balls in these embodiments have a diameter less than 31/32 inches and a depth greater than 1.5 inches, which are the typical dimensions of a finger hole that can receive removable finger inserts. As discussed below, the diameters of the fingers holes of the bowling balls of these embodiments will vary from ball-to-ball in a given weight category, but, in a presently preferred embodiment, the diameter of the largest finger hole is less than 31/32 inches. Also, while any finger hole depth of greater than 1.5 inches is preferred, in a presently preferred embodiment, the finger hole depth is about 2.5 inches.

The number of different weight bowling balls and the differences in finger hole diameters and spans can be specified to suit the purpose of any given bowling center. Although any arrangement can be used, the following is a description of an arrangement of house balls of one presently preferred embodiment. These details are being provided merely for illustration purposes and are in no way intended to be a limitation on the claims. In one presently preferred embodiment, span increases at approximately ⅛ inch increments, and there are three span selections in five different weight choices (7 lb, 8 lb, 9 lb, 11 lb, and 13 lb balls) and four span selections in four different weight choices (10 lb, 12 lb, 14 lb, and 15 lb balls). Finger hole diameters increase in proper sizing steps in accordance with the increasing span distances. This distribution provides a bowling center customer with a very comfortable fit that is similar to the design of a custom-fitted personal ball purchased from a professional ball drilling pro shop. Table 1 provides a summary of the arrangement and dimensions of house balls of a presently preferred embodiment. The measurements are shown in inches, and “F” and “R” stand for forward and reverse pitch, respectively. The “Thumb Insert Distribution Data” will be described later.

TABLE 1
ThumbFingerThumbFinger
HoleHoleHoleHoleThumb Insert
DiameterDiameterPitchPitchSpanDistribution Data
 7 lb
141/64¼ F¼ F2 5/1611/16
243/64¼ F¼ F2 7/1623/32
311/16¼ F¼ F2 9/16¾
 8 lb
141/64¼ F¼ F2 5/1611/16
243/64¼ F¼ F2 7/1623/32
311/16¼ F¼ F2 9/16¾
 9 lb
111/16¼ F¼ F2 9/163/4
223/32¼ F¼ F2 11/1625/32
3¾¼ F¼ F2⅞13/16
10 lb
123/32¼ F¼ F2 11/1625/32
2¾¼ F¼ F2⅞13/16
325/32¼ F¼ F3 1/1627/32
451/64¼ F¼ F
11 lb
1¾¼ F¼ F2⅞13/16
225/32¼ F¼ F3 1/1627/32
351/64 3/16 F  3/16 F 
12 lb
125/32¼ F¼ F3 1/1613/16
251/64 3/16 F  3/16 F 27/32
313/16 3/16 F ⅛ F3 7/16
453/64 1/16 F ⅛ F3⅝29/32
13 lb
151/64 3/16 F  3/16 F 27/32
213/16 3/16 F ⅛ F3 7/16
353/64 1/16 F ⅛ F3⅝29/32
14 lb
113/16 3/16 F ⅛ F3 7/16
253/64 1/16 F ⅛ F3⅝29/32
355/64 1/16 F  1/16 F 3 13/1615/16
415/1600431/32
15 lb
153/64 1/16 F ⅛ F3⅝15/16
255/64 1/16 F  1/16 F 3 13/1631/32
315/160041
461/64⅛ R04 3/161 1/32

It should be noted that while the above table shows a single diameter value for finger hole diameter, in some embodiments, the diameters of the two finger holes of a given ball can be different. For example, a bowler's middle finger is typically somewhat larger than his index finger. Accordingly, to provide an even better-fitting house ball, the diameters of the finger holes of a given ball can be sized differently. However, for ease of manufacture, it may be preferred to use the same diameter for both finger holes of a given ball. It should be understood that the use of the same or different size diameters of finger holes on a given ball should not be read into the claims unless explicitly recited therein.

As mentioned above, each of the thumb holes in the first and second plurality 10, 20 is sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes. In this embodiment, the thumb hole is an “oversized” diameter (“oversized” in that it is larger than the largest thumb diameter of a typical customer). The thumb insert system used in this embodiment contains two components: a removable thumb insert and a component in the oversized thumb hole that is shaped to releasably secure the removable thumb insert. By using an thumb hole of an “oversized” diameter, the thumb hole will be large enough to fit both the securing component and the removable thumb insert. It should be noted that “removable thumb inserts of varying sizes” do not necessarily have different outer diameters. For example, “removable thumb inserts of varying sizes” can have the same outer diameters but different inner diameters (the different inner diameters being the part of the removable thumb inserts that can fit varying thumb sizes). While any suitable removable thumb insert system can be used, it is presently preferred that the Switch Grip™ Interchangeable Assembly from Turbo 2-N-1 Grips be used. Although the following description and FIGS. 2-5 will reference the Switch Grip™ Interchangeable Assembly, it should be understood that any suitable removable thumb insert system can be used and that the claims should not be limited to any particular type of removable thumb insert system.

Turning again to the drawings, FIG. 2 shows a bowling ball 50 with an outer sleeve 70 secured to the thumb hole 60 of the bowling ball 50. In operation, after the thumb hole is drilled into the bowling ball 50, the outer sleeve is installed into the ball 50. Installation details of the outer sleeve 70 and manufacturing details of the removable thumb inserts of this embodiment are available from Turbo 2-N-1 Grips. As shown in FIG. 2, the outer sleeve 70 contains a broken ring structure 75 that will be used to releasably secure a removable thumb insert. FIGS. 3 and 4 are side and bottom views, respectively, of a removable thumb insert 80 for use in this presently preferred embodiment. As shown in these figures, the bottom of the removable thumb insert 80 contains tabs 85 that are shaped to engaged with the broken ring structure 75 of the outer sleeve 70. As shown in the exploded view of FIG. 5, the removable thumb insert 80 is inserted into the outer sleeve 70 in such a way as to align the tabs 85 with the openings in the broken ring structure 75 of the outer sleeve 70. Once inserted, the removable thumb insert 80 is twisted, and the tabs “click” into place against detents on the underside (not shown) of the outer sleeve 70. The removable thumb insert 80 is removed from the outer sleeve 70 by reversing the above-described process.

It is preferred that a bowling center stock a plurality of removable thumb inserts of varying sizes. A bowling center can order pre-sized thumb inserts from a supplier, or the bowling center can order “stock” thumb inserts that can be modified (e.g., drilled) to the desired sizes. For example, in the Switch Grip™ Interchangeable Assembly, the inner sleeve contains a solid “slug” that can be drilled to a desired thumb diameter while the inner sleeve is engaged with the outer sleeve in a bowling ball. (This “slug” is shown in stippled pattern in FIGS. 3 and 5.) Such drilling can take place, for example, in a pro shop in a bowling center. As the number and sizes of the removable thumb inserts are related to the number and type of bowling balls that are part of the bowling center's house ball system, a bowling center may wish to use information about their house balls to generate a proper distribution of removable thumb inserts. For example, the “Thumb Insert Distribution Data” shown in Table 1 shows the likely thumb size for any given ball in that presently preferred embodiment. For example, with reference to Table 1, a customer who needs a 7 lb “number 1” ball will likely need a removable thumb insert sized at 11/16 inches. Accordingly, the bowling center may wish to ensure that it has enough removable thumb insert sized at 11/16 inches for many or all of its 7 lb “number 1” balls (and any other balls with a likely removable thumb inserts sized at 11/16 inches (e.g., an 8 lb “number 1” ball)). Of course, by the very nature of the removable thumb insert system, a removable thumb insert of any internal size can be used on any ball (e.g., a customer using a 7 lb “number 1” ball may use a removable thumb inserts sized at ¾ inches instead of the “typical” 11/16 inches). Accordingly, the “Thumb Insert Distribution Data” shown in Table 1 merely is an aid to allow a bowling center to provide a good (but not necessarily perfect) distribution of removable thumb inserts.

As a bowling center may have a very large inventory of removable thumb inserts ready for use (e.g., 400 removable thumb inserts), the bowling center may wish to use a tray, such as tray 100 shown in FIG. 6 to store representative samples of the thumb inserts. The tray 100 allows the representative samples to be strategically placed for ease of access and size selection. Although the tray 100 in FIG. 6 stores 24 various-sized thumb inserts, other trays can be designed to store more or fewer inserts. In FIG. 6, the tray 100 is labeled with the size of the inner diameter of each removable thumb insert. Of course, different indicia can be used, such as, but not limited to, numbers, letters, and colors. Also, if the drillable “slugs” of the removable thumb insert come in different colors, a bowling center may wish to use slugs of a single color for all removable thumb inserts of a given diameter. (The stippled pattern used for the slug in FIGS. 3 and 5 is not used for the slugs in FIG. 6 to simplify the drawing.)

With the components of the house ball system having been described, the following paragraphs present a method for using this system to provide a custom-fitted house ball to a customer of a bowling center. After greeting a customer at a service counter, a bowling center attendant can inform the customer that a “custom-fitted” house ball system is available to allow the customer to experience a semi-custom fit during his bowling experience. The custom-fitted house ball system can be run instead of or along with a conventional house ball system. The bowling center can charge the customer a fee for this service (e.g., for the rental of a removable thumb insert (like the rental of bowling shoes)) or can provide the service free of charge (with or without a deposit for the removable thumb insert). If the customer wishes to use the custom-fitted house ball system, the customer can be directed to a measuring station. It should be noted that bowling centers can design the customer flow in any suitable way and do not necessarily need to use the flow described herein.

Upon arrival at the measuring station, a bowling center technician asks which hand the customer will use for bowling. (Instead of using a technician, a bowling center may decide to allow a customer to perform one or more of the following tasks by himself.) Using the tray 100 of removable thumb inserts, the technical will test various ones of the removable thumb inserts on the customer's thumb for proper feel and size. The optimal size is one that allows for the thumb to rotate inside of the insert with minimal resistance and tension. Ease of exit can also be emphasized during this procedure, as too loose of a fit can cause fatigue on the hand and arms, and too tight of a fit can cause discomfort due to the thumb not releasing from the ball. Once the proper thumb size is identified, the technician can provide the customer with the proper removable thumb insert from the bowling center's inventory (e.g., by using the indicia on the tray 100 or the insert).

Now that the proper removable thumb insert is provided, the technician assists the customer in finding the proper finger hole drilling pattern. Although this can be performed in any desired manner, a fitting ball is preferably used. FIGS. 7A and 7B are illustrations of a fitting ball 200 of a presently preferred embodiment. This fitting ball 200 has a plurality of thumb holes (thumb holes 210 and 220 are shown in these views, and two others are not shown in these views) sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes containing outer sleeves, as described above. The fitting ball 200 also contains a plurality of finger holes (finger holes 225, 230, 235, 237, 240, 245, 250, and 255 are shown in these views) having various pitches and positioned in various spans with respect to the plurality of thumb holes. This particular fitting ball has four quadrants (a small, medium, large, and extra large quadrant), with each quadrant having three or four patterns of finger holes (e.g., patterns 1-4). The various finger holes have indicia (e.g., L-II, L-III, X-I, X-II, etc.), which matches indicia on house balls with the corresponding finger hole drilling pattern.

In operation, the provided removable thumb insert is inserted into the proper size of span quadrant on the fitting ball 200 and locked into place. The customer then lays his fingers over the finger holes on the fitting ball 200. For this fitting ball 200, a proper fit is one where the crease of the second digit or conventional knuckle is approximately ¼ inches past the edge of the hole. The customer finds the span that closely resembles a true conventional fit, and the ease of exit of the thumb is tested with the fingers installed in the proper holes. After determining the proper span and thumb fit, the technician can recommend the proper weight for the customer to try. The house balls preferably have indicia to indicate weight (e.g., color) and indicia to indicate span size (e.g., an engraved alpha-numeric code). As mentioned above, in this particular embodiment, each weight class will have three or four span options. So, if customer needs an 8 lb ball with #2 small span, the technician can inform the customer to look for a “blue ball with a number 2 on it.” The technician can also assist the customer in finding the proper ball and making sure the removable thumb insert is properly installed. When the customer completes his bowling experience, he returns the removable thumb insert to the service counter. The service counter representative can, optionally, offer the removable thumb insert for purchase by the customer.

There are several advantages associated with these embodiments. By having varying finger hole diameters and thumb-to-finger-hole spans and by using a thumb insert fitted to a customer's thumb, a bowling center can provide a customer with a semi-custom-fitted house ball every time they bowl, which may allow a customer to bowl better and enjoy his experience more than if he used a conventional house ball. Also, by providing the house balls with first indicia (e.g., color) indicating weight and second indicia (e.g., engravings) indicating finger hole drilling pattern, a service delivery system can be provided that eliminates time spent by a customer in searching for a suitable house ball. After being measured, the bowling center technician simply informs the customer of the indicia to look for on the ball (“a blue ball with a number 2 on it”). Once the customer finds the indicated ball, he secures the removable thumb insert into the ball and is ready to bowl.

It should also be noted that the bowling balls described herein are preferably used in a house ball system in a bowling center and not merely for demonstrating and selling bowling balls. Accordingly, these embodiments provide a service delivery model that can enhance experience for a large customer base. In this way, these embodiments can increase a customer's bowling frequency and provide a selling point for a bowling center.

As noted above, while the thumb holes of the bowling balls of these embodiments are sized to receive removable thumb inserts of varying sizes, the finger holes are not shaped to receive removable finger inserts of varying sizes. Instead, the finger holes are just openings in the bowling ball and are free of finger inserts. This provides an advantage over bowling ball systems that use both removable thumb inserts and removable finger inserts. As mentioned above, bowling balls that use removable finger inserts provide a fingertip grip instead of a conventional grip, which is usually preferred by casual bowlers. Additionally, the use of both removable thumb inserts and removable finger inserts can add additional time in the ball selection process, as both the thumb and the fingers would need to be measured and the appropriate inserts founds. Accordingly, using both removable thumb inserts and removable finger inserts can reduce or even eliminate the time savings provided by these embodiments. That is, instead of spending time searching racks of conventional house balls for a suitable fit, the customer may spend the same or more time getting fitted for removable inserts. In other words, the use of removable finger inserts can replace one problem with another. Additionally, keeping an inventory of removable finger inserts can increase the cost of the house ball system, as compared to a house ball system that only uses removable thumb inserts. Finally, as it is generally easier for a customer to find a good finger fit than a good thumb fit on a house ball, the use of removable finger inserts can be of marginal benefit.

It is intended that the foregoing detailed description be understood as an illustration of selected forms that the invention can take and not as a definition of the invention. It is only the following claims, including all equivalents, that are intended to define the scope of this invention. Finally, it should be noted that any aspect of any of the preferred embodiments described herein can be used alone or in combination with one another.