What's a Bocce Ball Made of ??
We wrote this bocce ball set review as a guide. Not all bocce
sets are bad, but some are certainly better, much better than others.
Read on!! We'll add other bocce ball reviews so check back.
we were a little worried that a page like this might be perceived as
negative. But we get calls every day saying thank you for making it
available and please keep it up. So we will. Perfetta Club
Pro Balls are made in Italy (exclusively imported and distributed by Playaboule ) shown in both red and
green on the left (in first pic below) are made from very high grade Bakelite type plastic, yes the good stuff. Balls made in China and imported and distributed by the brand name bocce companies are the 4 ball halves on the
right and in pics further down the page.
At least read the next few paragraphs. Doing so will save you money in the long term and most definitely, disappointment.
This info of course does not apply to our lighted bocce sets as that is
a whole different product and market. Those balls have to be
translucent to allow the LED light to shine through, so are injection
molded of a solid, one piece, special Polypropylene plastic.
following information is for the buyer looking to purchase what is
considered to be a "Traditional Bocce Set". The ones that are seen in
old ( or new ) Italian movies, the game old and usually Italian men
played on dusty back alley courts while arguing, loudly, with each
Let's start out by getting the size of a bocce ball
right. The only sizes allowed for play by the International Federation
for Bocce and the United States Bocce Federation are 107mm for men and
if women prefer they can choose to use 106mm balls. 115mm, 112mm, and
larger sizes are NOT Expert, Competition or anything else even though
that is how they are marketed. They are just big balls imported by
companies that don't seem to know any better.
Sure kids can better handle and play
with smaller balls like 100mm or 90mm or smaller. Just as they can a
smaller football and it too could be made of foam, water-filled plastic
By the way, just
as golf and tennis are not called the sports of golf ball or tennis
ball, bocce is just bocce and not bocce ball.
So would you buy a
baseball made of Vinyl or ever play baseball with a ball made of Vinyl
and expect it to last like leather? Vinyl is the synthetic product that
was to be the low cost replacement for leather. It stormed the market
and clothes to furniture were made from it as it "looked" like leather,
felt sort of like leather and best of all it was so cheap to make those
items. The fact is Vinyl never had the properties of Leather and still
doesn't. It didn't take long for people to realize that Vinyl sure
looked good "off the rack" but, among other not so good qualities, it
soon deteriorated and looked terrible when it did. Now pretty much
anything Vinyl and certainly the wearable kind, is considered as
something the low end or less discerning buyer will purchase.
The same applies to bocce balls. And the adage "they don't make them like they used too" does apply, in almost all cases, to
today's bocce ball manufacturing, but thankfully not all. It used to be
that when wooden balls lost favor ( for obvious reasons) the material
of choice was one of the first "plastics", otherwise known as names like
Bakelite. All bocce balls used to be made of that material and the best
ones still are. Then along came a product that is made by mixing a
catalyst with a binder ( mostly talcum powder ). It is recognized by the
names like Bondo ( was a 3M product ) and is still used extensively as
an auto body filler to repair dings in a car after a fender bender. Why,
its cheap, easy to mix the 2 part epoxy and apply and best of all it
sands easily and holds surface paint well. But scratch that surface and
you get white underneath. All bocce balls that come out of China are
made using that body filler material. Yes the balls look good initially (
like Vinyl ) but they do NOT have the same qualities expected of a
discerning buyer and the balls will deteriorate on any true bocce
playing surface very quickly. Read the sections below why and look at
the photographs for the explanation.
The brand names all used to
import the quality plastic balls. But now almost all import from China
because the prices they can buy them for is so much less. Its not the
cheap labor that has lowered that cost price, its mostly the cost of the
cheap material. Sadly in some cases the retail prices did not change,
even though they now buy for less than half the cost. Calling a product,
tournament, professional, deluxe, competition, etc etc are just words
and are not a right to jack up the price because a copywriter decides to
use them. Especially when the quality of the materials the product is
made from does not allow any of those descriptive words to be used,
very highest end professional bocce balls (
starting at $200 for a set of 4 ) are made from ABS, Melamine and other
recently developed plastics that are super hard and very expensive as
raw materials. As the official supplier and sponsor of the United States
Bocce Federation, we sell those sets too.
can check for this inferior material and its poor characteristics (
read below for more info ) by looking at the grooves cut in the balls or
if the pictures shown online are not doctored, you will see that the
grooves that are cut are white. If the grooves ( many websites that
don't have a clue call this etching which is a whole different process
and never done on any Bocce Ball) look white that's the talcum powder filler showing through.
- Almost every bocce set that is mass
marketed in the USA by the "name brands" and are seen in the chain
sports stores and Target, Walmart etc etc. comes out of China.
- The "beauty" of the balls are barely skin
deep. A few hours worth of play on any natural outdoor surface like, crushed
granite, oyster shell etc will knock the skin off and leave you
with chalky, whitish, looking balls that are very difficult to
- In addition to this turning chalky the softer
material means that the balls wear down in size very quickly.
- They often don't roll true, due to the
uneven skins and materials in the balls. ( see pics )
- Are very prone to cracking and splitting.
- Have short or limited warranties that cover
"workmanship" . Note: Perfetta Club Pro sets on the other hand, have a
10 year warranty specifically against splitting and cracking.
- If a ball is listed on a website as Imported
but does not say from where or does not mention the country of origin
at all then you can assume it is from China. After all any copywriter
or marketer would leap at the opportunity to state "Made in
If none of those
things, listed above are is important to you or you are a very
occasional player then the cheap prices of the Chinese made sets, may
be the best deal for you. But don't pay more than $65 a set for the
Chinese 107mm balls or the Kids balls that are 100mm should be no more
than $39 a
set. In both cases of course, "Brand" names of the Chinese imported
balls are always more expensive.
Those you will see listed for $70 - $120Plus a set and often given grand
titles like, tournament bocce, or competition bocce or even Pro bocce
all as a marketing ploy!!! But below the skin you will still get the
"quality" of balls you see in the pics below and further down this page.
The 2 balls to the
far right above are from 2
different Chinese manufacturers and are made from inferior materials.
As you can see, the balls second from the right are filled with
recycled materials. The balls to the far right are solid but made from
low grade materials and are therefore prone to scuffing ( the balls look white afterwards) and cracking.
When cutting both examples of the Chinese made balls the smell was
exactly like the odor given out from auto body fillers. The stuff that
that is known as Bondo and used as ding/dent filler when doing panel
repairs on a car involved in a wreck. Look closely at where the groove
patterns are cut in the balls and you'll see they they are white and
powdery looking. Compare those to the Perfetta Club Pro balls ( The 4 balls on
the left side ) that have a consistent and deep color.
Look at the balls
to the left below. The creamy
material is just ding repair material that binds together the scraps
from recycled materials. The big orangey slug in the middle is off
center and the green materiel on the outside is thinner on one side, so
this means the ball will not roll in a straight line!! Both balls could
be cut with a hacksaw quite easily and the shiny surface was just that,
on the surface. Not surprising these sorts of balls typically have a 90
day warranty and in some cases stretch to 1 year. But only against
workmanship!! As they say beauty is only skin deep.
Below are Perfetta
Club Pro Balls. It took a heck of
a long time to cut these in half as the material is so hard. This
consistent high quality material is why we give these balls a 10 Year
Warranty against splitting or cracking!! Of course they roll true. The
biggest surprise is that even though they are made in Italy, are
clearly a superior ball, from the supplier to the World Bocce Champs
held in Europe, 10 year warranty, they are not much more expensive
than the rubbish that masquerades as a quality bocce ball, as seen
are some other examples of Chinese made sets that are very cheap.
is another very well known and distributed US brand made in China. The
white/gray area is autobody filler. Also the outer skin wall is very
uneven so balls won't roll true. Surface scratched/scuffed very easily.
The darker gray area is the result of cracking the ball apart after
The picture below shows the bag on the
left that comes with the balls in the picture just above. The
description of this bag on websites is Deluxe Heavy Duty bag, yet it is
flimsy and light weight, just as the balls are listed as tournament
quality and competition!!!. The case on the left is how theirs looks
without ball in the case, flat and unsupported, the one too the right is
ours, without balls in the case. The difference is obvious.
Here is an example of a set that is sold all over the web
Thinking that these might be a good deal for our customers we purchased
some sets to inspect. We would never post a product on our site if we
did not see it first and know that it was something we would be proud to
own. No you won't find it on our site, yes they are made in
China, yes one of the photos above is of this set. Its a very cheap set
and is because the balls are
way undersized. This means that about a 1/3rd less material is required
to make them so they should be cheaper, the balls in the photo must have
been digitally "improved" in a big way, because the balls are really a
dull red and green color.
OK for kids but for adults familiar with a correctly sized ball, we
believe you will
be disappointed. Can you believe it some sites actually call these a
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the wording and the images.