Monday, December 28, 2009

Get a New Blackberry for Christmas?

With the new Storm2, you can play a PBA pro on a PBA lane pattern

PBA Bowling 2, BlackBerry Storm2’s OpenGL Game Now Available

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sport or Recreation; Reality or Perception

There has been talks for years of trying to get bowling into the Olympics. Bowling on the same par as track & field, soccer, swimming and the decathlon? Gymnastics gets the most television viewers for the Olympics but with its subjective scoring, I don't consider it a sport.

However, the perception of bowling is probably what is keeping it out of the Games. I am not referring to an individual's perception of bowling, or taking a general survey of the population. I am no sociologist, but I think there is an institutional negative perception of bowling. USBC has now decided to focus on the SPORT of bowling; advanced coaching and more equipment specifications as some examples.

There is a lull period in college football right now; the end of the season and before the bowl season. This void needs to be filled with other televised activities. This institutional perception was made aware to me while I exercised at the gym one Sunday afternoon. There were many televisions around the facility displaying different channels. Besides the NFL game, I noticed the other events being televised; billiards tournament, darts tournament, and a poker tournament. If you include the PBA show earlier in the day, you have included every event you can see in a 'family fun center' or 'recreation center' or whatever we call 'bowling alleys' these days. Thus, my view is that society groups these events together.

The purpose of television programming is to broadcast shows and events that attract viewers so as to sell advertising. That works for me. I'd rather watch darts, billiards, bowling, and poker than gymnastics.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Help Mark Roth

News from

  • New items added to the Mark Roth Live Online Auction
  • Charity Tournament to be held for Mark Roth
  • Charleston Traveling 8-Game Year End Tournament held
  • Greater Charleston USBC Youth City Tournament Results
  • Greater Charleston USBC holds Hall of Fame and Annual Awards Banquet
New items added to the Mark Roth Live Online Auction

Want to own a piece of bowling memorabilia while helping support a legendary pro bowler? Check out the live auction going on right now at - autographed jerseys, balls, and photos have just been added by recently crowned PBA title holder Bill O'Neill, legends like Tom Baker, Ryan Shafer, Norm Duke as well as Ryan Cimenelli and Jason Belmonte and many more. Check it out today, auction ends on December 6th!

Charity Tournament to be held for Mark Roth

In addition to the live online auction, we are teaming up with John Howe and Royal Z Lanes in Columbia to hold a Old Dog Young Dog tournament charity tournament for Mark Roth. One bowler must be over 50 and one under 50. The Tournament will be held on December 26th at Royal Z Lanes in Columbia, SC. Check in begins at 11am and bowling begins at 12pm. Prizes are - $900 1st place singles (based on 30 entries), $1800 1st place doubles (based on 20 teams). Go to for more information!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I thought we already had these ...

900Global has introduced a radio controlled bowling ball. A real life bowling game like Wii when you can use your controller to guide the bowling ball after it is delivered down the lane. On some of today's lane conditions, it appears that some balls are being easily directed to the pocket by some mysterious control. It must be radio control as it does not matter what board, or arrow, the bowler uses on each subsequent shot. I like to see how good a 'poker face' a competitor has I observe his facial reaction after an errant shot is dead flush in the pocket. Is he showing gratitude, relief, discovery, or no emotion at all? I need to know if he realizes that his 'look' to the pocket is better than he thought. I don't want him to get more comfortable. I don't mind if he wants to explore his area on the lanes. My opinion is he will sacrifice some carry if he varies too far from his intended target.

900Global has signed Walter Ray Williams, Jr. to its professional staff. For the conspiracy theorists, is the new remote control ball the reason WRW can play the outside part of the lane when no other pro bowler is out there?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I once made a 3 point shot and hit a home run

The Birmingham News has a news story on Alabama's Heisman hopeful Mark Ingram. Touting his multiple athletic prowess, the story proudly states he has bowled a 248 and shot a round of 69 on the golf course.

Well, bowlers will tell you that this is not equivalent. Ask any bowler and he would tell you that he would rather have a 69 golf score than a 248. For me, it is the old saying of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." With the 69 being the hard to collect 'two in the bush,' most bowlers see 248 scores on some league nights like leaves falling off a tree.

I know that some hero worship by local sports media is expected sometime, but this local story is a little over the top. I am not the only one to see it as one on-line commenter to this story added more parody:

He's the only known specimen to win 3 free games of putt-putt in one 18 hole round. He sunk that hole-in-one so hard on #18 that came in and out of the windmill 2 times before sinking itself for the third time.
One must realize that this kind of reporting is the reason there is little, if any, bowling coverage in newspapers. Sundays during football season, your paper probably has its own Alabama section, Auburn section as well as the normal Sports section. As a former member of an Association publicity committee, this reason was given as to why there is no bowling coverage. There is no space available to it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

The Internet turns 40 on September 2. Well, that means that AlabamaBowling.Com has been around for one-fourth of that time. Alabama's bowling web site is 10 years old on September 1.

As a computer systems engineer by profession, I don't use my right side of the brain too much. That is why the design of the main AlabamaBowling.Com web site has not changed. You can compare the current version of the site to this view from May 24, 2000. I've always believed that 'content is king.' To grow the site, I focused on statistics, stories, bowling associations, tournaments and other keys that would make the site be an authoritative source for information related to bowling in our state. Granted, I could use help with design ideas or a better graphic layout. I welcome your ideas.

I have tried some of the hotter trends in Internet lore; most just didn't seem to work with the normal visitors. I have implemented a discussion forum, hoping to make the site more interactive. Maybe it was too early, but there was no input or discussion being generated. I tried to syndicate the content before RSS became popular. It was not worth updating the headlines if so few people were adding it to their personal or bowling web sites. Some of more popular functions were the contests. I may try that again. Lots of you enjoyed entering simply a name and e-mail address to win a free bowling ball. As I mentioned in the web site privacy policy, I never did anything else with that information. It ended up being deleted.

While there were some idea failures, there have been many successes. Catering to associations to make more of their information readily available on-line has always been a staple of this web site. Once the USBC was created, this was highly encouraged. League standings were posted before or other secretary web sites were doing it. As a personal service, I posted a variety of formats. The league secretary programs export to simple image formats, but I was also posting submissions from league secretaries in Excel, Word, Txt, and PDF. Most of the information from associations' yearbooks are available on the web site. Some associations leverage this more than others. This is the bread and butter for AlabamaBowling.Com; information that can't be found other places. Associations list their honor boards, all city teams, officers, local tournament as well as information that can also be found at This includes final averages and league standings. While some associations are doing a good job of getting the information on-line, they are not adequately promoting the existence of the web site. Luckily, most bowlers know about AlabamaBowling.Com, they 'accidentally' stumble upon the association web site.

After ten years, I still welcome your suggestions. This blog is a new idea. Another web 'fad' that allows opinion and discussion. Please, join us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Ball or the Bowler?

As a swim parent, I have enjoyed watching the major swim meets , when they are actually televised. Whether it is the Olympics, SEC Championships, or the recent World Championships, the drama is exciting for the individual as well as the team.

Hey, this is a bowling blog. Hurry up and tie it together. It seems that the technology versus the athlete debate has come to a head even in the sport of swimming. Remember the mini-controversy and publicity generated over the Plastic Ball Championship? My initial observations on this subject were more directed to the amount of lane oil used today versus the the amount used in the 80's and early 90's. I initially ignored the debate over the tools used. Wood rackets for tennis, plastic balls for bowling, wood drivers in golf seem to be the "good ole days."

What has swimming got to do with this? Well, it seems the swimming's international governing body has banned the new high-tech polyurethane swimming suits that became popular right before the 2008 Olympics.
After months of debate by representatives of FINA’s 201-member countries, suits made of polyurethane-based materials—and suits made of any material extending below the knee and above the navel for men and above the shoulder and below the knee for women—will be outlawed from sanctioned competition. The prohibition doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2010, but it’s already created ripples in the swim world.
The world championships held in Rome last month had 43 world swimming records broken during that meet. Look at the similarities with bowling. Over the past 15 years, season averages are rising fast. 220 was incredible and rare in the early 1990's. Now, a 230 average won't make you one of the top ten bowlers in Alabama. I will make the prediction that by 2020, there will be two 250 average bowlers in Alabama. Newer technology and the center proprietors' willingness to attract, keep, and satisfy the sagging number of league bowlers will lead to this breakthrough.
Almost immediately there were protests from representatives of supersuit manufacturers such as Jason Rance, vice president of marketing for Speedo, who warned that banning the ­high-performance polyurethane suits could “throw the sport back two decades.

Well, can you imagine if the USBC banned an existing product line from a major ball manufacturer? It has happened before. How many remember the Columbia Shur-D? This ball was too 'soft' according to hardness specifications. The Plastic Ball Championships threw the sport back one decade. That was how long the last champion was crowned throwing a plastic ball.

PBA Experience Leagues are only working the lane condition part of the equation. I would love to have a Yellow Dot tournament. Nice idea, but it is too costly. It is hard to get tournament entries now, much less enough bowlers with plastic bowling balls.

Why would you want to buy a wood driver again?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A New Kind of Bowling

by Konnor George
On July 9, 2009, I arose at 3:30 a.m. to begin the 8-hour drive to Indianapolis, Indiana, host of the 2009 USBC Youth National Tournament. Little did I know of the experiences that awaited me at the Racing Capital of the world. Upon arrival, our crew quickly unpacked and relaxed after our long day of driving. Expo Bowl was our next stop that day. Practice was needed at the host bowling alley of the tournament. We did not want to bowl badly without a taste of what was to come the following day.

On July 10, 2009, another early awakening. After a quick breakfast, we arrived at Expo Bowl. Our team was fairly early; the alley was quite empty. We proceeded to get signed up, and then myself and 3 others: Justin Srygley, Matthew Gregg, and Clayton Whitfield, all posed in our Youth Nationals team photo. At 7:00 a.m., we began to bowl on our lanes. The rush of adrenaline as the “Star-Spangled Banner” could not be ignored. Bowling was in the air. If you loved bowling, and you were a competitor in it, there was no better place in the world to be at that moment than at Expo Bowling Lanes in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Blue #3 was the oil pattern of the tournament. First came relief to our minds; we braced for a sport shot. However, after the first ball, I, as well as my fellow teammates, discovered this pattern was just as difficult, if not more, than a standard sport shot. The lanes were drenched in oil, and no quick drying oil for that matter. Those three games were an awful sight to the eyes of all of us. 180 and 200 averages meant nothing as we bowled 140-170 on that ghastly pair of wet, oily lanes. At the end of our team event for the Youth Nationals, we arose with disappointed faces. Never had bowling let us down as it did that day. Fortunately, however, not all of our bowlers felt so down. Chris Stockard, who won the Pepsi Youth Tournament at Vestavia and rode with us to Indiana, shot a 631 with a 215-213-203 during the team event. And, as I have to admit, he had the privilege to ride his “high horse” that day. We could not let this blunder affect us. We had to shake it off, and move on. Singles and Doubles awaited us in the late morning of the following day. After a time of swimming, movie watching, and a late night, we braced ourselves for Day 2 of the Youth Nationals.

On July 11, 2009, a break came amongst us. Bowling began at 10:00 a.m.; few more hours of sleep. Upon arriving at Expo Bowl for a third time since our arrival, a fresh start beckoned us. It was a new day. We would be bowling our Singles and Doubles on a pair of used lanes. Simply adjust and keeping focused was the key to bowl well. At 10:00 a.m, my Doubles partner, Matthew Gregg, and I started to bowl. Our whole group experienced another wave of horror as we all bowled below our means. Low 400’s and 500’s was the forecast for our bowling series. More disappointment. “Great”, we were thinking. Singles followed on the pair to our right. “Alright”, I thought to myself, “One more chance.” I began to bowl in the Singles portion of the nationals. Bitter sweetness cast itself upon me in that set. It is true that I did bowl my highest series in my singles, but only with a 534 to call my best. Not a single 200 game thrown. However, they were plentiful. Justin Srygley, with his 130 average, bowled a 215. That I, with a 202 average, could not seem to do. Matthew Gregg bowled a 221 with a 180 average, Kellen Kling a low 200 with a 160 average, and Chris Stockard with a 213 AND 215 AND 203. And I, Konnor George, 202 average, not ONE 200 game. Only a measly 189 game to my name. I have never felt so pathetic than I did at that moment in time. I came with high hopes and bold determination, but crashed and burned in my attempt to bowl well. I just did not have it in me. My lack of focus and of adjustment was my downfall. “You need to be focused, relaxed, and prepared to bowl on the National level” is what I told myself. I only wish I could have followed that advice. Another night of relaxing and packing followed, as we prepared to leave Indianapolis.

At 6:30 a.m. on July 12, 2009, our crew packed up our Ford Explorer and began the 8-hour drive home. The USBC Youth Nationals were over. We had left our imprint upon the Nationals, and now the opportunity would be bestowed upon the bowlers of the following week. However, my experiences will last forever. I may not have bowled my best, but I surely learned a lot about bowling, and bowling at the National level. That is what counts. My bowling will be changed for all the better, and so much better than that, because of my 4 days in Indianapolis. Next year will be here soon, and I will be ready. My time of recognition and glory is within my grasp. I will take my poor, lousy bowling this year to learn. To plan. For next year, a brilliant set of games awaits. Look out 2010. Here I come!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bowl Like The Pros Report

Only July 12, 2009, Redstone Lanes hosted the USBC program, Bowl Like The Pros. Scheduled to appear was Chris Barnes, Brian Voss, and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard. My dad and I went. No matter what your average, there is always a next level, there is always someone better, there is always a desire to improve. Upon entering the parking lot, we saw Brian Voss unloading equipment from his SUV. Shannon O'Keefe pulled in next to us. As she was not advertised to be there, I was thinking that more pros would be appearing. As we entered the facility, I realized what 'scheduled to appear' meant. However, I had no problems with the substitutes for the Huntsville event.

Brian Voss, while in the U.S. Army, had been stationed at Redstone Arsenal in the late 70's. He recounted stories of his time in Huntsville. He was the leader of the event and took charge of the clinic. After having everyone warm up for five to ten minutes, Voss started going over drills he wanted everyone to do. We all started with the one-step approach, a la the Tony Reyes trick shot. Then we did a two-step approach. Brian's point was no matter how different everyone's approach seems, most of the pros finish the same way as far as timing. During this time Shannon stopped on each pair and worked with each individual. Here she is giving some tips to my dad.

Wes Malott finally arrived as he had been in Indianapolis the day before. He was working with the youth during the Junior Gold championships. During each of the drills and individual coaching, there was a camera with laptop connections for bowlers to have their approach captured on video. A representative from Storm gave you a quick analysis. For $10, he would e-mail the video file to your e-mail account. As of this posting, I am still awaiting this file. I'm sure other software is needed to convert this video file from the proprietary camera capture software to a well-known format used by Windows Media Player, Quicktime, or Real Player.

What did I learn from this video? I learned that I am not a Gold or Silver coach. Egotistically, I thought I looked good. I could use a better knee-bend or armswing. As a matter of fact, I would like Shannon O'Keefe to teach me to have her armswing and finish. But, I was told that I need to work on allowing gravity to do its thing with my armswing. I am trying to 'control' my armswing. Watching the before and after videos, I couldn't tell the difference, but it sure felt different. Now, I have something to target my practice sessions.

Near the end of our nearly 2 hour bowling practice/drill sessions, the three pros gave a lecture on reading lanes and making adjustments. While waiting on our lunch to be served, they had a Q & A session. The more interesting discussion was how Wes Malott's targeting scheme was something more unconventional than any other professional.

After lunch, an exhibition match involving the professionals and local celebrities was started. It involved a baker match mixing the pros and celebrities. Brian Voss was doing color commentary while bowling during the match. It was not that exciting as half of your bowlers looked like the typical Saturday night bowler. We did see all our pros throwing left to right on the lanes as I am sure the typical house shot involves more friction than their normal tournament shots.

What did I learn? I learned that these clinics are worth the money, no matter your average level. The pro will work with you at your level. I would recommend not being shy. When the coach or pro arrives on your pair, talk to this person. Ask questions. Have them watch you. Have them watch your correction to make sure you understand what the coaching tip. Take advantage of video tools or any other one-on-one opportunities. This is your time and money. Make sure you take advantage of it. Follow up with your local pro shop which offers certified coaching. Collaborate with them on your new knowledge. Let them work with you to continue your road to perfection. Everyone needs coaching...especially me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Commercial Success

Looking back near the end of ABC's run of the Professional Bowlers Tour, one should have seen the end coming. Nearly all the commercials being run were of bowling products. Gone were the Quaker State oil and Miller Beer commercials.

The success of any show or other entertainment vehicle is measured in advertisement dollars. Obviously, with the large number of people who watch the Super Bowl, the networks charge high rates for commercial time. If professional bowling on television is to be a viable success, there must be companies willing to advertise on the programs. On ABC, there seemed to be nothing but Brunswick, Columbia, or Dexter commercials. Sure, that is targeted advertising, but bowlers buy Buicks just like golfers who watch Tiger Woods on TV.

With the new PBA on ESPN, we are seeing non-bowling products being advertised, which is a good sign. Now the bad sign. Must we see the same three commercials over and over? The GEICO commercials are clever. But they get old when you see them six times in a 90 minute telecast. I know the PBA sales staff is trying hard to get more sponsors. The more variety you see for commercials, the more successful the PBA.

The new PBA also wanted to make stars out of its bowlers. Seeing them in commercials endorsing non-bowling products is a good way to increase their visibility. WRW in Denny's commercials and the new Lumber Liquidators ad with Parker Bohn III are a good start. How about Chris Barnes drinking a Pepsi? Of course, ESPN uses them also for self-promotion. Remember all the coverage Pete Weber had under the persona of 'PDW'?

So, you can gauge the success of the PBA by watching the commercials. The more variety of products you see on the small screen, the more prize money, the more respect, and a better image for pro bowling should follow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Red, White, and Blue House Conditions

How easy is easy?
The USBC is developing a set of 'standard' house shots; 3 categories classified as red, white, or blue.
The group of patterns is designed to provide bowlers a better description for the difficulty of traditional "house" conditions.
How many times have you ever used or heard the words 'difficulty' and 'house conditions' in the same sentence? Granted, some house shots are easier than others. In my opinion, all houses in Huntsville have an easy shot. I guess now the USBC is trying to assign a 'degree of difficulty' for house conditions. Nice idea, but it has been done before. Kegel has had a series of 'Recreation' patterns.

Identify and Classify
It seems that now we need to know exactly what pattern is on the lanes before we have put on our bowling shoes. With the success of the named PBA sport patterns, is the USBC trying to do the same with the house shot? One of the biggest misunderstandings about bowling from the average person-on-the-street is the concept of oil patterns. This is invisible to the eye and invisible to the eye of the television camera. The misconception is that every bowling lane around the world has the same dimensions and thus, the line of attack to the pins should be the same. Have you seen televised bowling from the 60's and 70's? To me, all the tournaments looked the same and all the pros played the same slot shot. If I have a 'trained eye' to this and cannot spot the difference, then how could we expect the person who knows little about bowling to tell the difference in Parker Bohn's or Wes Mallot's line from week to week?

The bowling industry is, once again, trying to compare itself to golf. With golf, you know the layout of the course, locations of trees, sand, water, and possibly pin placements on the greens. You have a general idea where to place each shot for better scores. There are still variables that change each day; wind, temperature, humidity, depth of the rough, etc. Is bowling going this way? When I walk into a league or tournament, will I know the lane pattern? Is it Red, Cheetah, Blue, Scorpion, Route 66, Shark, or Broadway? Then, like golf, you only have to adjust for the conditions; temperature, humidity, lane surface, condition of the lane machine, etc.

However, bowlers will still complain. I have been to a few PBA pattern tournaments where the bowlers were vociferous. "This is not Cheetah!" "I've bowled on Scorpion before, and this is not any PBA pattern!" All because certain bowlers finished ahead of them, who had not done so in the past. I can hear it now. "Yea, he shot 803, but it was on the Red pattern."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PBA Dreams: Easier now?

If you could give the PBA a shot and minimize the risk of time and expense, would you do it? The PBA has announced the World Series of Bowling.

The inaugural event, which begins Aug. 2 and runs through Sept. 7, 2009, promises to be a revolutionary festival of competitive bowling boasting a $2 million prize fund and seven ESPN telecasts. The schedule is available at a new dedicated website,
The PBA is basically bowling half of the season in one one location. In order to save logistical and production costs, the PBA is taping most of the season in one city to be televised in a succession of Sundays.

In my day, in order to fulfill your dreams of professional bowling, you suspended your college education or starting that first job to give the tour a shot. Get a sponsor and travel the country bowling in rabbit squads trying to make the tournament field. I had a few friends who tried this lifestyle. I did not have the confidence and liked graduating college at age 22. Now, thanks to the World Series of Bowling, your travel expenses are somewhat minimized by a month's stay in Detroit and at least half of a PBA season is condensed into a short month.

The schedule includes seven Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour events, five PBA Women’s Series presented by USBC events including the inaugural PBA Women’s World Championship, a rejuvenated PBA Senior World Championship and at least nine side-event sweepers or shootouts providing “something for everyone” in competitive bowling.

Are you willing to give a month to pursuing a dream? My bowling is like a sine wave. If I could catch that month while my bowling is riding the top of the wave, I would love the experience. Otherwise, it would be a month-long embarrassment while my game is at the low point on the graphical wave. I like the "something for everyone" theme. Not all people have a month's vacation, but if us older guys have joined 'fantasy' camps for baseball, this should give the professional bowling experience a lot more reality. If I seriously practiced, and the location was a little closer to Alabama, I would try it. My window of opportunity is closing fast as I approach the 'senior bowler' status.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

No Hand Slapping

Jeff Crowley wrote an article about hand-slapping and the reasons he was against it. With the unconfirmed reports of swine flu in Madison County, it seems that Jeff's opinion carries more weight. Jeff's friend, Norm King of Evansville, Indiana wrote the following piece validating Jeff's opinion. BTW, hand slapping is no longer 'cool' since I am not a hip youngster anymore.
I consider myself to be a reasonably healthy person. Typically, I have contracted respiratory infections, also known as “colds” or the “flu,” only once every few years, in spite of dealing with large numbers of people most every day in my work as a USI professor (just retired!). These ailments are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t help. You just have to wait it out, taking care of yourself and getting plenty of rest. Within the last month, I have come down with two cases of common cold or mild flu. The second one began just days after finally getting over the first. Both episodes were unusually severe. Of course, I don’t know for sure where I picked up either one, but I had not been with large groups of people in several weeks. Except, that is, during the two nights each week that I participate in bowling leagues. And I distinctly remember several recent matches involving individuals, some on my own team, who showed obvious signs of having colds. I noticed because I know how easily viruses can be spread, and everyone wanted to slap my hand–again and again. My wife, Joanne, works for the Vanderburgh County Health Department. She bowls occasionally, and shies away from slapping hands. She knows that physical contact, especially hand to hand, is one of the primary means by which flu and cold viruses are spread. She always carries her little bottle of hand sanitizer; there’s one in her bowling bag!

Here is what the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about the flu and colds: “Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick” ( The flu and common cold are similar, but are caused by different viruses. Generally the flu is worse than the common cold. For more information about the current flu threat, go to and click on the green “2009 Flu Info” button. Now that we are concerned about the spread of the dangerous swine flu, it seems we should recognize that the bowler’s penchant for high-fiving and other forms of hand slapping is risky behavior.

I started bowling in the late 1950's when I was in middle school. There was no hand slapping. While in college (mid-1960's) I bowled for the University of Colorado, and I never saw anyone in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Bowling Conference slap hands. In the 1970's I bowled regularly in one league a week until I gave it up in 1981 due to family and career pressures. Over this time there was no hand slapping at all to begin with, but gradually it became more common to pass around high fives when people got a few strikes in a row. There was always plenty of applause, too. That is, hand clapping. Clapping is like high-fiving yourself. Your germs stay with you instead of being passed around. When I picked up my ball again and bowled in my first league in 24 years at Franklin Lanes in the summer of 2005, I noticed the change. Everyone was hand slapping, even for spares (as if that was reason to celebrate)! Since I didn’t want to be the odd man out, I bought into the hand-slapping culture of modern bowling, just like I bought a new state-of-the-art bowling ball.

Every year there is a mad rush to make a vaccine that will reduce our odds of contracting the season’s most threatening flu bug, and now we are faced with the potential for a pandemic of swine flu. Cold bugs are always out there. You never know when you might catch some, but I bet that bowlers are especially efficient at spreading them due to almost incessant hand slapping. That could also be a way for swine flu to be spread. Let’s quit this risky behavior and build camaraderie by clapping our hands in appreciative and encouraging applause instead. Here’s to your good health!

It seems to be good common sense. Is he paranoid, or the hundreds of people that bought all the hand sanitizer out of every store in Huntsville? Maybe this hand slapping thing is just a social conscience for us to be somewhat human. I can show some compassion for the smallest human contact without invading personal space. I, also, try not to infect anyone with my respiratory germs or touch my own eyes, mouth, or nose. Seems a good balance.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Interesting week

It's never over
Easter Sunday had some pretty exciting television. I'm sure once you were finished with your family activities, you must have watched the PBA Women's Series Championship as well as the Masters. Using the simplified scoring system which counted number of balls thrown to clear the deck, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard was nearly eliminated in the first round with a 17. That averages to 3 strikes and 7 spares. In a regular scored game, that is anywhere from a high 180 to nearly 220 game if the 3 strikes are all together. To barely surviving the first round on the Cheetah pattern, she set the PBA television record for 20 consecutive strikes. She needed every one of them to advance and win the tournament.

Angel Cabrera, in the last pairing at the Masters, was fading while superstars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were surging up the leaderboard. Cabrera birdied 3 of the last 6 holes to get into the playoff. He survives errant tee shot in the first playoff hole to win the Masters on the second playoff hole.

Obviously, the lesson is that it is never over. I have had a miraculous set to qualify or put myself back into contention. I have also been knocked out contention when a miracle 300 was bowled by another entrant to place me below the cut line. Exhilarating or painful, but powerful emotions were evoked.

Keeping an exemption
Georgia's Jason Sterner was just below the cut line at the conclusion of the US Open. Jason earned his exemption as the Southern Region's Point Leader in 2007-08. However, the PBA granted his petition for an exemption due to the unusual events at the US Open that caused him to fall below the cut line. As it seems, Mike Edwards was allowed to replace Pete Weber, who had to withdraw during the tournament. This situation gave Mike Edwards the extra points he needed to qualify for his exemption for the next season.

Lesson here is to know the rules if you are going to write a petition, whether a tournament or league. For the match play leagues, how many are following Rule 100k, paragraph 4? If each team has an absentee bowler, they must be lined up against each other. The rule states how you determine which absentee bowler wins.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Inside Information

We are in the midst of the USBC National Tournament for 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Have you gone yet, or awaiting information on what balls to take and where to play the lanes? Well, I have not been yet, so I don't have any report for you. Remember the old days? You had to ask other bowlers who went before you to give you a report of where they played and what kind of ball they threw. You knew their game from league, so you could guage what you were going to do.

When in the tournament city, you went to the civic center the day before you bowled and watched. You hoped to find a bowler with a similar style to predict your reaction. Well, that was the old days. Now, you have the Internet for additional information from total strangers. I ask friends and colleagues for information. I also read the USBC Open forum on Now, a new source of information that I don't recall viewing from previous years: YouTube.

Now, while at home, I can see other bowlers and judge how I would play the lanes based on low quality video. Of course, if I was posting a video of my nationals performance, it would certainly be edited to show my best shots. Hopefully, that would not be a short video!

You also still have the lane graph that is posted at But, as I have written earlier, who can read these things?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Child of the 80's

I just finished watching the GEICO Plastic Ball Championship on ESPN. Congratulations to Jeff Carter for his first PBA title. As a fellow child of the 80's, I was thinking the exact same thing about Carter's shirt before Rob Stone mentioned the Van Halen reference. How many of you had this image in your mind when you first saw his shirt?

I also enjoyed following the scoring on this tournament during the week and watching some of the 'older' guys like Brian Voss and Pete Weber excelling in this format. Maybe, if they had an open format to this tournament, we could see some of the guys who love the strong arc type roll, such as Wayne Webb or Del Ballard.

Other interesting observations:
Though it was the PBA Cheetah pattern, only half the volume of oil was used. You can easily blame the ball manufacturers for the price of bowling going up. With the advent of resin bowling equipment, proprietors have to use twice as much oil on the lanes as they did 20 years ago. Does that sound correct? Has lane oil properties changed in the past two decades? If not, then there is twice as much oil on the lanes today than the days of the Yellow Dot.

There was a mini-controversy about this tournament. Wes Malott refused to enter because everyone was forced to use the same ball? Come on. I agree with Woody Paige that Tiger Woods would still win many tournaments if everyone used wood drivers. I'm sure Malott is confident enough to know he can be competitive with any ball in his hand. How about this theory? Anyone's ball contracts cause an issue with participating in this tournamen where they could not throw the sponsor's equipment? Notice how they worked around this by holding the sponsor's bowling ball during their interview segments.

1993 was the last year that the champion used a plastic ball in the championship match. That was Walter Ray's 13th career title, his 7th in that calendar year. Did you notice how many revolutions he had during that clip? He, and Norm Duke, are the most versatile players out there in my opinion. Can anyone identify that particular bowling ball he used? I can't find that tournament on YouTube.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Arnie Van Buren has passed

Arnie Van Buren passed away on February 10, 2009 he was 92
Arrangements: Viewing will be Saturday Feb 14 at 12:00 at Elm Wood Chapel and the funeral will immediately follow at 1:00 pm at Elm Wood Cemetery.

Mr. Van Buren was a past treasurer for the Alabama State Bowling Association and was inducted into the Greater Birmingham and Alabama State Halls of Fame in 2002.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How many televised 300's?

Ron Kantowski of the Las Vegas Sun has an article about the USBC building and tearing down a world class bowling facility for the USBC Open Championships. He makes an allegory that uses bad facts.
" more remarkable than watching somebody named Earl or Walter Ray roll a 300 game on TV (there have been 14 of those, but none since 1999)"
Well, there have been 18 televised 300 games. The problem with journalism these days is there is no fact checking. If you don't check your facts for a news story, you might as well write for a blog. A quick Google search for "televised 300 games" led me to this web page. This page references a February 2003 Bowling Digest article which lists all of them at that time. Page 1 of this link shows only 14 televised 300 games. I'm thinking the article reporter stopped his research at this one page. So, his reference was 6 years out of date. The author did not check to see if there were any perfect games rolled since then. If you love finding journalistic mistakes in the print or television media, there are a multitude of political blogs that love to highlight this type of mistake.

No wonder, my children's teachers don't trust a lot of Internet references for papers.

Friday, January 30, 2009

One Lane or Two

Proper lane courtesy? No, that is a discussion for another time. It is now your practice time, one lane or two?

When I was a mere teenager working the counter at a Brunswick house back home, I remember one of the better bowlers insisting on a pair of lanes to practice. Bowling was more popular back then, and I thought he was a little arrogant to ask for two lanes for just himself when the bowling center was somewhat busy. Why does one person need a pair of lanes to practice?

One lane allows a slower tempo to practice. At over$2.50 a line, practice isn't going to be a lot of lines, so it does not need to be rushed in less than 15 minutes. When I used to get a lane for $10/hour, I would practically kill myself to get as many games in the timeframe as possible. Not much of a quality practice as simply a repeat of shots and getting as much bowling in for little money.

One lane also allows the conditioner to change more quickly if you are the only one throwing shots. "But you are making each lane different on the pair." So? This is not golf. I don't have to rake the sound trap after I was in it. Most people realize that most lane pairs are not equivalent anyway. Yes, they are very similar, but you can notice which lane hooks more or less. The difference may only be one board or you may not adjust your line between lanes, but it is there.

So, if you are alone or with one friend, why do you need a pair of lanes if the center is moderately busy?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bad Beat Stories

Poker players refer to a bad beat as the one, or two cards, that were dealt to make their seemingly strong hand lose. During poker TV shows, they show the probability percentage of winning the hand. When the guy with a 5% chance gets that one card in the deck to win, the guy that had a 95% chance of certain victory will let everyone know in the future the story of his bad beat. Want to see a bad beat? Yes, 4 Aces can lose a poker hand.

I feel like venting. Enough time has passed now to calmly relay my bad beat bowling story. The situation is a Peterson Point style match play league. After a mediocre 205 game, I am behind in series by about 20 pins. I feel confident. I feel that I am balanced at the line, throwing the ball well. I was slow in adjusting to the transition. I feel a big game coming to win series.

My opponent is bowling well, but I am bowling better. I have a small string to extend my lead in the game to the magical 20 pins. I just need more count. I step up on the approach first in the tenth frame. I strike. By my bowling first, I was hoping for this situation to put the pressure on him. It works as he leaves the dreaded 7-10 split. I just won, or so I thought. I let him finish to clear the frame. Yes, you guessed it. He picks up the 7-10 split! I have to double in the 10th to reclaim the victory that I was sure I had a few seconds ago. No problem. I still feel good and in the groove. Coming off my hand, the shot felt good. Before the ball even reaches my intended target at the arrows, I am thinking that was a good shot. Being left-handed, I know it will be flush in the 1-2 pocket. As I thought, it was dead flush. For some unknown reason, the 10 pin was untouched by this explosion of pinfall in a textbook pocket hit. I had a stone 10 pin! No, it was not a weak 10, nor a swishing pocket hit that failed to knock down the 10 pin. It was not a high hit, it was not a light hit. It was not half-pocket hit that could have left a 7 pin. It was a stone 10 pin. Needless to say, with my opponent's fill ball and my failed double, I lost.

I lost to a converted 7-10 and a stone 10 pin, each event within 60 seconds of the other. Time heals the bitterness as I suppressed my emotions until I was alone in the car driving home.

When bad luck happens, you feel the need to tell the story. I hear these types of stories at the bowling center, some in excruciating detail. Here is your chance. Let it off your chest. What is your bad beat story?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New State Team Record

Congratulations to Joe Hudson Collision Center team in Montgomery for setting the team scratch series record at 3703. Team members were Tim Stansel with a 722, John Witcher had a 673, Vince Kutchak with a 733, Steve Bartoszewicz with a 740, and Matt Woods with an incredible 835.

This scores is an average of 740 per bowler. They beat the previous record by over 100 pins. The 3609 posted by Mobile's Bowling Carousel did not stand even a year. In team bowling, it is rare when all 5 bowlers are in the zone. The best teams in the USBC Open strategize, communicate and attack the lane conditions the same way for maximum scoring potential. They usually are working the breakdown of the conditions in a uniform manner that helps the team. That kind of thinking usually works on medium to hard conditions. On easy conditions, once you and your teammates get in the zone, you don't want the conditions to change much. However, I'm sure they communicated when they noticed changes. High scores mean recognizing and adjusting to the changes fairly quickly. Multiply this by 5 and you can see how 3700 is quite an accomplishment.

In today's state tournaments, 3500 (700 per man) will not guarantee you a state title. But, this record could last a long time. How many 5-man leagues are there nowadays? I think there is only 1 in Huntsville. The State tournament may be the only opportunity to break this record. I wish we had enough history and record-keeping to know the 3 and 4 man records. These leagues are more prevalent today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bowling Family Wanted for Wife Swap

Here is your chance at reality show stardom. I received an e-mail from the ABC show Wife Swap. Looks like they want an episode involving bowling. If you like this kind of television genre, go for it.

My name is Jeff Eggleston and I am a Casting Producer for ABC families hit reality show 'Wife Swap.' We are currently casting for our fifth season and we are looking for Bowling Families! (Ones that bowl together, or participate in competitive leagues, or families that own and/or operate a bowling ally)

The premise of Wife Swap is simple: for seven days, two wives from two different families with very different values exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover what it's like to live a different family's life. It's an interesting social experiment and a great way to see your family in a whole new light. It is shot as a documentary series, so NO scripts and no set. It's just one camera that is documenting your life.

Families that appear on the show will receive a financial honorarium of $20,000 for lost wages, time and commitment. And if you refer a family that appears on the show you would receive $1,000.

Here at 'Wife Swap' we look for a two-parent home with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 living at home full time.

If you are interested, please email me your contact information and tell me a little about your family and how the sport of bowling plays a roll in your lives. Or if you would like to refer a family, please email me their contact information and I will be in touch.
Thank you!
Jeff Eggleston
Casting Producer
100 6th Ave.
3rd Floor, Suite 3 - 29
New York , NY 10013
tel: 646-747-7946
fax: 646-216-4295

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Economic Impact of State Tournaments

The hotbed of bowling is usually located in the Midwest or Northeast areas of the country. We see the decline of bowling here in our state by looking around us. Is your league getting smaller over the years? Where is that companion league that used to bowl next to yours? Remember when second shift of league night filled the house also? In the past few days, two Midwest newspapers touted the cash flow their community was receiving from their respective state tournaments.

Green Bay is hosting the Wisconsin state tournament. This event draws local media coverage because of the economic impact to the city and area. Bold added for emphasis

"When an estimated 10,000 bowlers visit Green Bay the next 17 weekends to participate in the Wisconsin State USBC Bowling Association Tournament, they'll drop more than pins.

They'll also drop $4.4 million into the cash registers of hotels, attractions, restaurants and retail shops, according to estimates by the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau."

By comparison, Alabama runs three week-ends in two of its larger houses in one of its more popular tournament site cities. Birmingham and Huntsville are the two sites where the state tournament gets its most entries. However, that only means 300-350 teams. Wisconsin may have been the home to Bowling Headquarters, but this same story is also covered in Michigan.
"About 12,000 bowlers and 2,300 teams from around the state are expected to visit the area for the Michigan State USBC Bowling Association's 106th state tournament, which continues today and 15 other weekends through May 3."
Because of the downturn in the economy, Lansing business are loving having the influx of tourism.
""You bring that size of a tournament in any area, (and) we look at it to being between $5 and $7 million," said Barney Eagan, association manager for the Michigan State United States Bowling Bowling Association."
The state association should calculate our impact to communities when the state tournament(s) roll into town. It won't be millions of dollars, but local convention and visitor bureaus love to know and report this kind of stuff. With the local CVB working with the association, maybe the bowlers could get some better coupons or deals from hotels and restaurants competing for the week-end surge of bowlers.

Competition is good for us. How many of you actually stay at the host hotels? I usually find better deals at other hotels. If hotels realize that an unofficial multi-weekend 'convention' was coming to town, there are more deals for the bowlers. Some hotels do realize this. Do you see the ad on the state tournament web page for the Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park? They are not an official host hotel but sure are competing for our business. This is good. In an economic downturn, the consumers have more bargaining power. We just have to have a collective voice to be heard.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The 900 Debate

The story coming out of Baltimore is the sport's 12th bowler has rolled the perfect set; 3 consecutive perfect games. I say congratulations to Rich Jerome Jr. for his accomplishment. He is 29 years old in his 11th year of bowling. Doesn't seem fair, does it? He's too young, too inexperienced to have accomplished the ultimate.

Mushtare Debate
I don't think any bowling subject has elicited so much hatred than the 900 series. Do you know the story of Robert Mushtare? He has bowled multiple 900's by the time he was 17. The debate involves his integrity and to a small degree, whether USBC should have sanctioned some of the sets. He pre-bowled them with only few witnesses that happened to be close friends. Read the comments on the Youtube page. Visit websites that are on the Internet solely to mock.

Does anyone clap anymore when a 300 game is announced in your league? Do you congratulate the bowler? "He had the easy pair." "He had the whole left side." "He plays the same shot everywhere. Tonight, that is where the line was." Are we upset that fate did not touch us that night, as it should have? "I could beat him anytime." Well, not tonight, because he shot 300 and you didn't. I have seen sub-200 average bowlers shoot 300. I would have bet against it. There might have been a lucky shot or a brooklyn. But, they did it. Good for them. I hope it means as much to them as a perfect game means to me.

Really not THAT easy
I don't care who you are. 900 is still an amazing feat even if the lanes are completely walled. Nobody is arguing the fact that the lanes were not easy. I think they have to be easy by...A LOT. You still get nervous. You still may not come out of the ball correctly. Pin fall is not automatic. How many solid 8 pin or 9 pins have you left unexpectedly? Lane conditions can break down or oil can carry down.

But technology has helped. Improved bowling ball and pin designs have helped scoring as much as golf club and tennis racket changes have helped their respective sport's athletes. That is why Glenn Allison's 900 series is so amazing. As I recall, he did it with a Columbia Yellow Dot.

"High-tech balls and synthetic lanes have replaced the plastic and wood of Allison’s era. Higher scores and dwindling memberships are dividing purists and recreational bowlers over the sport’s priorities. Even the once-sacred 900 series and the 300 game have become so common that bowling parties have upstaged late-night leagues."

Remember, they inspected lanes, pins, and balls right after an honor score back then. That certainly does not happen anymore.

"If Allison rolled a 900 series in a league tonight, it would be approved without an inspection. Rule changes now allow for season-long certification of lanes, another accommodation that rankles traditionalists."
The debate used to be whether the USBC should retroactively approve Allison's series. The sheer number of perfect series and the Mushtare controversy have overshadowed the original Mr. 900. He shot his 900 in 1982. All other perfect series were shot in the 11 year span from 1997 - 2008.

An honor score is an honor score. I'll take them any way I can get them. Some are more special than others, but I still get nervous for the 12th shot or the one I need for an 800 series.