If you read my review of the Roto Grip IDOL, you know it was not a great ball for me, with just too much power and hook for my slow speed and moderate revs at age 56 with a creaky 3-operation wrist.
But I’ve always had some quirky taste in bowling balls, having not liked both the HY-ROAD and IQ SOLID — two of the most popular balls in history. Yet, I love other versions of those balls, including the HY-ROAD X, IQ TOUR PEARL and IQ NANO.
So I was looking forward to seeing how the IDOL PEARL rolled for me.
And I have not been disappointed, though it’s not going to be another IQ TOUR PEARL, my all-time favorite ball for soft shots.
For my IDOL PEARL, I tried a drilling I have not used in a long time, with the pin under my bridge and the pin straight down and just above my thumb. I simply was looking for a different shape that might give me something special in my arsenal.
With my PAP of 4 7/8 over and 5/8 up, the ball numbers are 4 13/16 pin-PAP, 6 1/2 MB-PAP and 4 3/4 pin buffer. With the new USBC rule option and no extra hole, it has 1 1/2 ounces of thumb weight.
This is a ball that knows exactly what it wants to do for me and does it.
I tried the eTrax-P18 Pearl at the 3,000 grit polished box finish all the way down to a 1,000-grit CTD pad and got the same basic shape: a direct line to the break point, then a quick move followed by a forward roll into the pins. It’s as if it gets to a point and bounces off a sideboard.
The IDOL PEARL is a stellar ball for softer shots, providing a trajectory that controls over-under reaction and a move through the pins that either tells you it’s perfect or tells you to find another solution.
It also means it may go 257, 268, 4-bagger to start the third game, and then suddenly stop striking. This is a good thing to me, as I always prefer balls that don’t leave me guessing whether I can just make a release tweak and it will strike. The IDOL PEARL says unleash me, or it says put me away.
The one thing that keeps it from being a truly incredible ball for me is that I get the same shape pretty much no matter what release tweaks I try, not that I have as many in my bag of tricks as I once had.
I like balls that I can control more by how I throw them, but that doesn’t make those I can’t bad — just less versatile.
Compared to the IDOL, the IDOL PEARL gets down the lane a lot easier and makes a stronger move. (Just like you'd expect.)
My IDOL PEARL acts like a stronger version of my ALL-OUT SHOW OFF, providing similar motion with more total hook.
I know a ton of people who liked the IDOL and I’m sure all of them will like the IDOL PEARL, while those like me who struggled with the massive power of the IDOL should like the IDOL PEARL.
This should be an especially great pearl for power players, as I’ve seen my friend and sometimes doubles partner crush it with the IDOL PEARL. He can get left and throw it right and it returns, whereas his IDOL sometimes burns too much and won’t return.
His shape is more of an arc than my hockey stick, which I'd attribute to his high rev rate and more standard strong drilling.
The one condition I would not recommend the IDOL PEARL for is a fresh Sport pattern — you definitely want something with more control for that condition. But once a Sport pattern transitions, the IDOL PEARL may be a great choice.