Track: 503A

by Bob Johnson 0

47 Hook 16 Length 16 Breakpoint Shape

Manufacturer’s Intent: “When we designed the 503A, we were looking for something that would complement our other offerings in the 500 series,” says Rich Hanson, Track’s brand manager. “The 508A [February 2012] offered the reaction people expect from our “A” series, with a touch stronger read of the midlane. With the 503A, we wanted to go with the traditional skid/flip type of reaction.”

Core Design: The 503A has the same asymmetric Packman core found in the 503C (July 2011) and 503T (not reviewed). The RG is 2.51, with a .057 differential. The PSA is .003, which is rather low, allowing for symmetric drilling layouts if preferred.

Coverstock: The Gen MA (Moderate Angle) coverstock is destined for use on light to medium oil volumes. Colors are a fusion of black, purple and red. The surface is sanded with 800, 1000 and 2000 grit Abralon and finished with Powerhouse polish. The Ra measurement of 1.55 and 5350 effective surface grit reading are great on lighter oil concentrations. Response time is quick off drier areas, and oil traction is very limited.

Test Results: The 503A impressed us with its ability to negotiate the driest of head and mid-lane sections during our testing rigors. We also were impressed with the breakpoint angle it created on broken-down patterns with clean backends. Hitting and carry power also were quite good when presented with this type of lane condition. On heavier patterns and those with carrydown in play, the 503A had some difficulty making the corner for our group. Our options were to lightly scuff the surface or use a stronger ball such as the 718A (February 2011) or 912T (July 2012). Our preferred layouts for a stronger skid/flip motion positioned the pin above the fingers and the PSA marking about 1 inch right of the thumb hole.

When to Use: Use confidently on light or drier broken-down oil patterns with reasonably clean backends. Higher rev rate players may be able to overcome added carrydown, while the rest of the bowling world will simply choose a stronger ball option. The 503A also matched up well on a medium volume fresh house shot when we played in the friction area of the ball track. On that shot, we preferred our pin positioned near grip center. Track has produced some of the better mid-priced choices in the marketplace.

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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