Hammer Epidemic

by Bob Johnson 0

52.5 Hook 15.5 Length 17 Breakpoint Shape

Core Design: The Bio Hazard core shape has thoughts of breakpoint angularity and little else. Its inverted shape and added flip block delay the ball’s axis rotation, enhancing its back-end power move. The core boasts a 2.51 RG, a .050 Diff and a mass bias of .012.

Coverstock: The Epidemic infuses up to eight vibrant colors in this Level Five reactive blend coverstock. Oil traction is average for a polished cover while response time off friction is very quick and strong. Hammer sands the cover at 2000-grit prior to the factory-applied high gloss polish.

Manufacturer’s Intent: “Epidemic is by far most angular downlane ball in our line right now,” says Hammer Brand Manager Jeff Ussery. “With its new Level 5 Reactive Pearl coverstock, the Epidemic has a very aggressive move at the end of the oil pattern.”

Test Results: The Epidemic is Hammer’s prettiest and strongest skid/flip design ever, say I. The core/cover marriage is all about back-end angularity. The motion reminded me of a kicked-up version of the original Hammer Black Widow Pearl from the summer of 2007. The Epidemic can be played 1-2 boards closer towards the friction when compared to a like-drilled Infection (Feb., 2011), but don’t ease off the speed. That the Infection surface is at 4000-grit helped it read the lane slightly earlier as well. The big difference was the quickness the Epidemic displayed when encountering friction.

When to Use: Bowlers desiring above-average hook with an angular breakpoint shape on most medium volumes of oil will be well served with this new beasty-boy. That the surface is sanded at 2000-grit prior to polishing helped the Epidemic navigate through moderate oil carrydown with ease. Down-and-in players should choose long pin distance drilling of 5.5 to 6.25 below the fingers to promote a more end-over-end core roll at the end of the pattern. When trying to open up the lane, higher pin drillings above the fingers will quicken the backend response off friction, and potentially increase angularity. On heavier patterns, lower grit surfaces near 1000 grit changed this beauty into a super-hooker with a 59 hook rating.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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