A recent commenter to this blog suggested that most league bowlers want a good and consistent shot. Is that what makes a good league? Is that your main criteria in choosing in which league(s) you bowl? After thinking about these criteria, here is my list of what makes a good league.
First of all, if I am going to commit to a 32 to 36 week league, I am going to bowl with people I like and get along with. I bowl on a team of my friends. I don't see how this could not be top on most people's list.
I want to bowl where the better bowlers are bowling. Those leagues are more fun and can be more frustrating. Good sets have more meaning, and bad sets hurt just a bit more. Each week can be a big match. I tend to focus more. I get more motivated than just another league night. Chicken or the egg? Bigger prize funds tend to develop with the higher competitive leagues. Is it because sponsored leagues draw the competitive bowlers or do a large group of competitive bowlers draw sponsors?
Bowling Center Facilities
I like a bowling center that is brightly lit. I like a clean center. You are not afraid to go to the rest room while there. The bowlers' area is not littered with popcorn or other food from open play or birthday parties. There should be lots of room in the bowler area for seating. The pinsetters should be well maintained. It should be obvious that these machines should work flawlessly and not damage your bowling balls nor break down during the league session. This leads to a long night. The center should have a good central air/heat capability. That leads to good approaches; not too slippery and not too tacky. I prefer wood approaches, but that trend is going away. Some centers install synthetic lanes but leave the wood approaches. I like that combination. Since I don't normally eat at a bowling center, I'm not that interested in the snack bar/restaurant area. This is a major profit area for the bowling center. This should be obvious by the prices.
Most of the time, you do not interact with the bowling center staff. However, when something goes wrong or you need some information, this is where you will form your opinion on this part of your customer service.
I think most bowlers choose their leagues based on lane conditions. This would be first but is last on my list. With high quality competition, does it matter what the lane conditions are? Everyone is bowling on the same shot. Granted, I hate when my pair is bone dry while all other pairs are not. A commenter to this blog stated that most bowlers want a good and consistent shot. I interpret that as meaning that most bowlers want an easy league shot. A good shot does not have to be easy. Why does it have to be consistent from week to week? As long as lane 1 has the same shot that lane 20 does is the most important thing to me for a league. If the shot was consistent, we would still only have a double ball bag, with one ball for hooking lanes and one ball for slick lanes. Isn't that the way we did it back in the 80's? Now, league bowlers are coming in with 4 bowling balls. We have 10-15 minutes of practice and a reasonable theory on where the shot is each week. That is better than what we get in most tournaments.
Obviously, you can't get all of this. Smaller associations are only 1 or 2 bowling centers. Larger associations have many bowling centers, but driving distance is also an option in choosing a league.