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.
Initially 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.
Question: Would you knowingly buy a baseball bat made of White Pine or other unsuitable wood?? Of course the main reason you would is because it would be really cheap and EVERYONE loves a bargain. It would look like a "regular" baseball bat, be the same basic color and even the same size. If the answer is yes, I'd buy it anyway. Then honestly, don't waste your time and read any further.
If the answer is, no way, because everyone raised in the USA, from kid to adult, knows that a bat made from that material will split or crack or just break in half after a few uses. Sure it will be dirt cheap and you could probably palm it off to someone not from the USA as what are they to know??
The fact is that more than 95% of bocce balls available in the USA are made in essence from materials like white pine. Why because the USA buyer doesn't know any better and has gotten used to balls that don't roll true, split and chip really easily, turn whitish once the skin gets worn off etc.
Interested?? Read on, or at least look at the pictures.
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 not "legal" but are just over sized 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 etc.
- Almost every bocce set that is marketed in the USA by the "name brands" that sell everything from basket balls to Foosball tables and certainly most of the sets seen in the chain sports stores and on other websites are no longer made from materials suitable for a bocce ball and come out of China.
- They are made using the same low cost material that is used as auto body filler. The stuff used to repair dings after a fender bender. Its a 2 part epoxy resin that has a catalyst that when mixed with the binder hardens. That binder is mostly made from talcum powder. Once set, its easy to sand and to paint. But when scratched will show as white, due to that talc.
- So the "beauty" of those balls is barely skin deep. A few hours worth of play on any natural court surface like, clay, oyster shell etc will knock the skin off and leave you with chalky, whitish, looking balls that are very difficult to tell apart.
- In addition to this turning chalky the softer material means that the balls wear down in size very quickly.
- They more often than not don't roll true, due to the uneven skins and materials in the balls. ( see pics )
- Are very prone to cracking and splitting and most definitely chipping.
- Have short or limited warranties that cover "workmanship" . Note: Our Perfetta Club Pro sets (Made in Italy) and exclusively imported and distributed by Playaboule, is the only set on the market that has a 10 year warranty specifically against splitting and cracking.
- Its not because the balls are made in Italy, that makes them better. That would be like saying Italian wine is better than the wine from the Napa valley. Its the superior raw materials that are used and have been perfected over 40 years that makes the difference so obvious when the balls are put side by side with any of the other sets available, even after a days use. The company Perfetta only makes bocce balls ( they don't buy from someone else and put their brand on the balls ) and as such, has a reputation at stake as being recognized as the preeminent manufacturer of bocce sets, for club, tournament, professional players as well as for families and individuals that wants a well priced product that will give generations of use.
Important: There is a very simple check to see if balls are made with autobody filler material, mentioned above. Look closely at where the groove patterns that are machine cut ( never etched!!! Etching is a chemical process and never used to put the grooves in bocce balls ) in the balls either in a store or if you are lucky at unedited photos on a website and you'll see they they are white and that's the talcum powder showing through.
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 $55 a set for the Chinese 107mm balls ( forget about any other size ) or the Kids balls that are 100mm or smaller, should be no more than $45 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 - $120 Plus a set and often given grand titles like, tournament bocce, competition bocce, expert, platinum or even professional 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. 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 no warranty or might stretch to 90 days. But only against workmanship!! As they say beauty is only skin deep and also say "They don't make them like they used to" and sadly for the most part they don't. Thankfully Perfetta the baooce sets made in Italy, still does.
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. Its a special blend phenolic material made mfro Perfetta. The process uses very high heat and pressure to form the balls in molds. 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 above.
Below are some other examples of Chinese made sets that are very cheap.
Below 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 cutting.
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" (PhotoShoped)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 Tournament set!!. They are advertised as "premium, standard size, regulation size, tournament, professional, competition etc" NONE of those claims are true. They are 90mm dia and have a small 40mm target ball. Yes they are cheap and they should be for the size and materials used. Warranty, there is none.
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