In the beginning, bowling lanes were made out of wood and oiling was important to protect the wood. Over time, most bowling centers switched to synthetic lane surfaces which are much more durable and require less maintenance. Nonetheless, oiling of the lanes has continued regardless of the surface. That is because the amount of oil on the lane, and where the oil is placed on it, has a big impact on how bowling balls act as they roll down the lane.
There is not a lot of oil - generally less than a thimble full - but today's sophisticated lane oiling machines are capable of spreading oil thinly and precisely in a pre-determined pattern. The pattern in use plays a bigger role than ever in determining the scoring pace; easier patterns are higher-scoring and more challenging patterns create a lower-scoring environment.
Many Level 3 and Level 4 tournaments and even some youth tournaments will use a challenging pattern. Knowing how to adjust to whatever pattern is on the lane will be critical to your tournament success. Our FREE guides to understanding oil patterns can help: