Hammer Not Urethane NU Bowling Ball Review

First Impressions
The Hammer NU feels like a superman but every superman has his Kryptonite.

Tamer Elbaga (Lefty)
Style: Tweener
RPM: 330 rpm
PAP: 5 & 3/8 up
Average Speed: 18.5 mph (at release)
Axis tilt: low
Axis rotation: medium/high
Test Equipment: 14 Pounds
Layout: 4 x 35

Bryan Hoffman (Righty)
Style: Stroker
RPM: 280 rpm
PAP: 4 1/2 & 1 1/2 up
Average Speed: 18.5 mph (at release)
Axis tilt: high
Axis rotation: medium
Test Equipment: 14 Pounds
Layout: 5 x 40

Tyler Church (Righty)
Style: Power Player
RPM: 450 rpm
PAP: 5 1/2 & 1/2 up
Average Speed: 19 mph (at release)
Axis tilt: med
Axis rotation: medium
Test Equipment: 14 Pounds
Layout: 5 x 45

“Keep in mind that coverstock accounts for 70% of ball reaction, but the core creates the dynamic shape of the reaction. Your driller will alter the shape to suit your game.”

THS: 42ft, 23ml
Sport: TBD

The Hammer Not Urethane uses the LED symmetric core inside the Not Urethane coverstock.

15 pound = RG of 2.55 diff of .020
14 pound = RG of 2.56, diff of .020
Coverstock finish: 500, 1000 grit Siaair

Hammer somewhat lightheartedly mocks the PBA and it’s new Urethane hardness by releasing a ball that’s not urethane. Novel concept. Call it the Not Urethane and you catch people’s attention. The purpose hear is to create a ball that will not be subject to the 78D hardness rule while still offering a urethane like ball reaction. At the outset, it looks like Hammer has done a great job with something that really serves a nice purpose despite not really being urethane and at closer examination doesn’t truly roll like traditional urethane. Everyone will naturally want to compare it to the Purple and I’d say that’s fair but they are probably more compliments if anything as opposed to replacements. The NU gets downlane easier than your typical diggy urethane cover in friction and is a little more responsive downlane. This all lets you know it’s not really urethane as they clearly articulated. I’m on our typical very walled house shot. I couldn’t quite play pointing it to the pocket. It needed some belly, even it only a couple of boards. The big thing for me was that once I got lined up, I could really play within a nice window. It didn’t feel very narrow. I had an area between 9 and 12. I intentionally tried several different trajectories, angles, friction in that window to see how forgiving it is. Wanted to really see if a bowler were to spray it how much room do they have to still have a nice look. I was very impressed with the NU in that regard. While I coudn’t point it out of box, at this stage, I did have that direct and belly look to the pocket. Really was quite fun.
But here comes the bad news. That little nugget of how the ball improved in terms of look as I tested it had to do with the cover lane shining. So what? Well the NU lanes shines crazy fast. To the point that I’d want to hit the surface after every single game. So out of box, it hooks and then calms nicely for a game or 2. By that 3rd game, I really didn’t understand what was going on. It felt like the pattern blew up but it was a lane with a single game on it. No, the issue was it lane shined so much, there just wasn’t enough grit to get the ball going and it still doesn’t really bang downlane like a typical reactive ball. So if you can find a spot to play with it lane shined, you’re in the money. If you need it to maintain some surface, like I would, I was a little frustrated by the quick cover change. This isn’t the only ball that does this but I needed to explain the impact to you.

Power Player’s Perspective
Tyler was next and I have to say the Hammer NU looked quite good for him on this house shot. We almost had 2 tests in a way. As he started out with the ball still having surface early on, he could actually be quite deep for something you’d potentially consider as a replacement for a urethane reaction. The NU really feels like an extremely smooth and control reactive. It probably does this reaction better than any ball we’ve seen to date that I can recall. He was relatively deep early on and maybe the only real watch out was to be careful not to get it outside too far downlane. So if the ball is getting to 5-7 beyond 35ft, it’s got no chance to make it back. He struggled to find the same zone I had and saw lots of over/under while trying to find it. Then the ball calms down while at the same time he squares up more and Voila there it was. As he goes through the 2nd arrow, he had several boards room at the breakpoint to get the ball to the pocket and carry. After this testing, we moved to a different pair for testing and comparison. Without touching the surface for that, it was pretty lane shined and really over/under. Part way through that test, we hit it with 1000 pad and it came back to life. Frustrating. For the amount of good there is with the ball reaction, something is taken away with the quick laneshine.

Stroker’s Stance
Finally we have Bryan and here are some shots with the Hammer NU. Again, you can see that it really isn’t urethane shape. I know I keep referencing that and it’s somewhat obvious since it’s literally in the name. However, clearly, Hammer was after a similar control shape of urethane while not making it urethane. It is certainly smooth but yeah it’s not exactly replacing a urethane shape. For Bryan, you can see the length it gets and a small bit of shape downlane. It’s OK, easy to keep you close to the pocket. But I’d say Bryan is not likely to have use for this shape on house or sport shots. He is accurate enough to not really muck around with the weakness urethane or really smooth weak shapes offer him. Benefit doesn’t outweigh the detriment generally speaking. And hear again, you see how much softer the ball looks after about one game’s worth of lane shine which even makes the use case much smaller for him. Just for context, here’s a quick look at the Purple and you can see how much different the urethane shape is. It’s either early in the friction with a long walk to the pocket or it goes 60 feet in the oil.

Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, I feel the Hammer NU offers something new and exciting for people who want a very smooth control shape out of reactive. If you want urethane shape, you’ll really have to look elsewhere as this is not a replacement for the Purple Hammer. The other point is the lane shine issue which I can’t seem to get around so have to ding it, especially given that it’s already a very weak reactive. Lane shine might work for some and if it does, I’d probably say leave it there.