How Much Does It Cost to Go Bowling? [and Should You Buy Your Own Gear]

Bowling is a fun sport for all ages and a good recreational activity for families. Rolling the ball down the alley is simple, yet challenging. It is also a fun place to bring a date or significant other. You can have a joyful experience while having more opportunities to converse with your date. You want to know how much it costs to go bowling so you can budget accordingly. So, we've researched the cost of bowling to get the answer for you.

The cost of bowling one game is usually $2 to $5 per person. You also need to rent bowling shoes or bring your own shoes with you. The cost of a shoe rental is usually between $3 and $6. Prices vary seasonally and are more expensive during the winter season. You can find bowling specials during summer months while outdoor recreational activities are more popular. It is common for bowling alleys to have unlimited bowling specials for $10 or $15 for 2-4 hours.

The cost of bowling varies based on your location, the season, and the day of the week. You might wonder why bowling is so expensive, or how long a game takes to complete. Should you buy your bowling ball and shoes? We will answer all of those questions and help you prepare for a trip to the bowling alley.

Man throwing bowling ball, How Much Does It Cost to Go Bowling? [and Should You Buy Your Own Gear]

Why is Bowling So Expensive?

The average cost to open a bowling alley is about $100,000 per lane for new construction or as low as $50,000 per lane if using an existing building. A small 16 lane center would cost $800,000 to $1.6 million to open. This price includes bowling balls, an automatic pinsetter system, a ball return, and a scoring system. The scoring system may need to be replaced and updated every five years to compete in the market. Operating expenses include electricity for machinery, maintenance, cleaning supplies, staff wages, and rent (if applicable).

How Long Does a Game of Bowling Take?

The average length of a game is 10 minutes per player. If you play with three of your friends, then a game will take 40 minutes to complete without any breaks. A game of bowling is ten frames. Each frame involves one turn, of two rolls of the ball, per player. If you get a strike in the 10th frame, then you get two more rolls of the ball.

Every game involves 11 to 21 rolls of the ball per person. A professional bowler will get more strikes to roll the ball fewer times per game. Beginning bowlers are more likely to roll up to 20 times per game. It may take longer to complete a game if players are using the restroom, purchasing food, eating food, or playing arcade games.

Close-up view score monitor in bowling club

How Much Does It Cost To Bowl In a League?

The entry fee for league bowling is as low as $10 per week and up to $17 per week. Entry fees include the cost of three games per week but do not include shoe rental. A bowling league traditionally runs for 30-36 weeks, but some shorter leagues play for 12-16 weeks. The best teams at the end of the season receive prize funds. Prize funds are usually only large enough for the first two teams to recover their entry fees, so it is not a way to make money bowling as a side gig. You may enjoy the prospect of getting your hobby funding reimbursed, but you have to be on one of the best teams for the season.

Cost Of Balls For League Bowling

You don't need to have your ball to bowl in a beginner's league. Your own equipment wouldn't be required in an advanced league either, but it is a requirement to stay competitive within the league. Most bowling balls cost between $50 and $120 without any holes drilled. It costs $30-$50 to drill basic holes in the ball and up to $70 for custom drilling. You can buy a basic bowling ball bag for around $20 or get one with wheels for over $50.

Should I Buy My Own Bowling Ball?

Every bowling alley offers several options and sizes of bowling balls included in the price of a game. You may wonder why it would be worth your money to buy your own ball. You will pay to get the holes drilled into the ball of your choice. The person drilling the holes will measure your hand and make it custom to your fingers. Customized fit gives you more control of the ball and consistency in your game. You can get used to the size and grip of the ball to improve your roll from week to week. Otherwise, you have to adjust to the best ball that is available at the time.

Check out this Brunswich Deep Space Bowling Ball at Amazon.

How To Choose a House Bowling Ball

After you pay for your lane at the alley, you need to choose the best ball of what's available. The traditional rule is to use 10 percent of your body weight with a maximum ball weight of 16 pounds. Next, you need to look at the available options in that size. Then determine which ball fits your finger size and span.

Find a ball that does not have too large of a span. You should be able to fit a pencil under your palm while your fingers are in the ball. If a pencil will not fit, then the space between the holes is too large. Your fingers should fit comfortably in the holes without getting stuck.

Can I Bring My Own Bowling Shoes?

Purchasing your own shoes is advised if you plan on bowling regularly. If you are bowling casually, you can buy some bowling shoes for $40-$50. The cost would be equivalent to the shoe rental cost for 8-10 visits to the bowling center. These shoes will also be significantly more comfortable than the low-end rental shoes at the bowling center.

If you are participating in a competitive league, you can purchase shoes with maximum comfort and easily adjustable for up to $200. These shoes use a BOA system that easily allows you to loosen and tighten your laces. You can comfortably put your shoes on, adjust the BOA knob, and the shoe tightens comfortably while locking your feet into place.

KR Strikeforce Men's Mesh Bowling Shoes

Check out more on Amazon.

Dexter Men's SST Hybrid BOA Bowling Shoes

Check out more on Amazon.

Bowling Alley Special Events & Pricing

Glow bowling or cosmic bowling is popular with teenagers and young adults. The cost is usually $15 per person for unlimited bowling late night on Friday or Saturday. The bright ceiling lights are turned off to see neon lights and glowing pins. Pop music plays loudly. The starting time can be at 10 o'clock or as late as midnight. The length of time is usually 2 or 2.5 hours. This bowling experience is not for everyone, but many young adults enjoy late-night glow bowling.

Close-up view score monitor in bowling club

In Closing

Bowling can be expensive, but there are ways to save money. Buying your shoes can save you on rental fees each time you go bowling. You can use coupons or take advantage of summer rates to save money. Some bowling centers have times offered for unlimited bowling for a set price. If you want to compete with the best, look into buying your ball and shoes.

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