Brunswick Melee, Mastermind, Mastermind Genius Ball Reviews

Brunswick has put out a great new line of equipment that includes the Melee, Mastermind, Mastermind Genius, Ringer, Ringer Platinum, and the “new” LT-48. Here, we look at the Melee and the two Masterminds.


Specs here.  Drilling: 90 x 41/8 x 60 which puts the pin just outside my ring finger with the CG in a line towards my thumb with no weight hole. I am a big fan of control drillings, as I do not usually have hooking head problems.

Brunswick Melee

Brunswick Melee

Reaction: Medium hook, very smooth with great continuation through the pins. Reads both the friction and the hold in a controllable and predictable manner, allowing one to play a more direct line on a wet/dry shot instead of having to cross the oil. Might not be aggressive enough for high-speed and/or low rev players. Shot 300 my third game with this ball.


Specs here.  Drilling: 55 x 5 ¼ x 35 which puts the pin about 1” above my ring finger and the CG in line with my thumb, and the mass bias even with and about 2” left of my thumb. I normally shy away from pin up drillings but this cover is so aggressive I figured I needed a little length.

Brunswick Mastermind

Brunswick Mastermind

Mastermind Reaction: Maximum hook, and then more hook. I had to polish before I could get it anywhere down lane. Being in New England there are generally drier conditions (especially in winter where the sand and salt get on the lanes). However, I have been on shots in California where even this would not have been enough. With the polish and a hand position that delays hook I was able to line up well inside the oil line with a relatively slow loop, generating amazing read in the oil, unlimited swing, and fantastic pin carry.


Specs here.  Drilling: 55 x 4 3/4 x 35 which puts the ring finger through the pin – my favorite control drilling. The CG kicks slightly out in line with my thumb and the Mass Bias is below and left of my thumb by about 3”. No weight hole.

Brunswick Mastermind Genius

Brunswick Mastermind Genius

Genius Reaction: The best Brunswick ball I’ve thrown.  Allows me to move just inside the wet/dry line and stroke it out across the oil. Reads perfectly with great recovery when swung to the dry and drives relentlessly when pulled up the oil. I bowled league the first time with this ball and the only misses were on the dry lane when I laid it down too short. Other than that – perfect. I realized at the end of the night I didn’t need my spare ball because I didn’t leave a single corner, which is unheard of for me on a league shot – that’s all I usually leave.

SUMMARY: Brunswick balls are known for strong roll and not a lot of flip, and from what I’ve seen of this line they are true to that heritage.*  However, the difference in this generation is continuation through the pins – these balls get to the pocket and don’t even consider deflecting. This feature gives the bowler the best of both worlds – a controlled shape making it easier to stay in the pocket / follow the transition combined with amazing pin carry. Nice job Brunswick!

DISCLOSURE: While I selected and bought the Melee and Mastermind on my own, Parker Bohn arranged to send me a Mastermind Genius. I am not officially on staff.

* – Most players could probably get both the Genius and the Melee to skid/flip with the right drilling and some surface management.

All Symmetrical Oil Patterns Are Unfair!

I once bowled a tournament at my home house in Bloomfield, CT (RIP) where 14 out of 16 finalists were left-handed.  Somebody asked, “Is this some sort of special left-handers only tournament?”

I bowled NEBA in Laurel Lanes this past weekend.  They put out a sport shot and no lefties made the finals.  See the pattern here.

Were either of these situations “fair?”  No.  What did they have in common?  The oil patterns were symmetrical – that is, identical placement and amounts of oil on both sides of the lane.

The problem with symmetrical patterns is that lanes change over time and there are more righties than lefties.  If the lanes start out hard, the right gets easier and the left stays hard, so lefties can’t keep up and usually miss the cut.  If the lanes start out easy, the scoring on the right deteriorates while lefties keep their great look down the stretch and will often win.  This is why lefties dominated NEBA for a good part of its 50 year history, until NEBA got smart and started re-oiling for the finals.



Here’s the lesson: if you are going to make them hard, make them a little easier on the left (for example, put less oil outside or a little more in the middle). If you are going to make them easy, make them a little harder on the left (e.g. put more oil outside or less in the middle).  You have to experiment, and of course it depends on the lane surface, brand of oil, number of games, and other factors.  But even the worst attempt will improve where it stands today.

Smart lane men already know this (as does the PBA).  But, sorry to say, most people just download the symmetrical pattern (or use the preloaded one in the machine) and press the button, which means it is going to be unfair to somebody.

The lefty/righty issue is hotly debated and has created a lot of hatred and resentment between lefties and righties.  It’s too bad because it is so easily explained.  Fixing it takes some playing around, but it can be done.

And by the way, am I writing this because I missed the cut at Laurel?  Absolutely!  But to be honest and fair about it, it has hurt the right more than the left over the years because even in tournaments the tendency is to wall them up in an effort to “please the customers.”

One last thing – congrats to Tim Banta for besting the venerable Bill Webb at Laurel!

Saving Tony Reyes and 425,000 Other Americans: The Technology Exists TODAY

140 9/11s?  Since 2001, over 425,000 Americans have died on our roadways.  That’s 140 TIMES the loss of life on 9/11.  This is to say nothing of injuries and property damage.  Traffic accidents are now the #1 cause of death for Americans aged 3 – 34.

When Tony Reyes died on Highway 101 several weeks ago there were actually two accidents.  Tony somehow hit the sidewall of the highway, and while he was inspecting the damage he was hit by a passing car.

BOTH of these accidents were preventable with technology that exists TODAY.

Tony probably wandered from his lane and hit one of the sidewalls of the highway. He needed a technology called Lane Departure Warning (LDW) that would have warned him (such as through a vibrating the steering wheel) when that started to happen.  The car that hit him needed obstacle detection – a camera, LiDAR or other sensor that tells the car that it is about to hit something, and intervenes to do something about it with either a warning or by taking control of steering and/or brake.

These and many other safety technologies have existed for years and could be saving many lives. Why aren’t they on EVERY car?

  1. Lawyers.  New car technology has to be perfect before it is released.  If a technology saves ten lives but might cost one, car companies won’t release it due to legal concerns.
  2. Cost reduction.  New safety technologies must be very cheap because consumers won’t pay more for safety features.  This is why you see new life-saving features on high-end cars first.  If we were all rich enough we could all buy cars with LDW.

NHTSA, do your job.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in charge of highway safety.  As evidenced by the body count, I’d say they are doing a pretty crappy job.

The car companies are afraid of NHTSA because they could mandate the kind of safety technology that could have saved Tony.  There is so much great technology that exists NOW to save lives but the car companies don’t want NHTSA to require it before it is fully tested or cost reduced.

As a result of this terrible system many lives are shattered, and not just those killed or injured.

More urgent than walled up lanes.  As bowlers we complain about how the USBC has failed to contain the scoring explosion by inadequately regulating ball technology, lane conditions, etc.  NHTSA is guilty of the same kind of passive negligence but in this case we measure their shortcomings not with lost bowlers, but with lost friends and loved ones.

RIP Tony.