Bowling….In a Perfect World

I Just recently bowled the Proprietors Cup in Dayton, Ohio, and after reading all of the posts on Facebook, I decided to do some of my own venting.

What do we have to do to truly bring back the sport of bowling? Some people say positivity. Some say to trust the guys in charge of USBC, BPAA, and PBA to do their jobs. Others say to eliminate house patterns and to limit the technology in bowling balls. I can go on for hours with what I’ve read. What is the real answer? I don’t know, and I am not sure anybody knows…but what I do know is that there are a lot of people who are trying to make bowling better and don’t get the credit they deserve. Instead they get negativity towards the smallest of things instead of getting applauded for their efforts.

Billy Eysoldt (TD of the Proprietors Cup) spends all year chasing sponsors and promoting his tourney so it can continue to grow like it has. This past weekend paid over $100,000 in bracket/side pot payouts and had a prize fund of $95,500. Everyone, including myself complained about the temperature in the center at one point or another this weekend. Complaining doesn’t make it cool off. With 190 entries and with it being 90+ degrees outside and glass doors on either end of the center and the middle of the center, it was bound to be hot. There’s just no way around that. Could they have cranked the AC way up, sure. But the last few times I bowled a tournament where the center tried to do that, the AC blew up and we didn’t have any AC. For example, I’m sure quite a few people remember bowling the Opposites Attract mixed doubles tournament in Maryland in 2013. That is another great event, and probably the best mixed doubles event in the country besides the Luci. Two years ago the bottom of my shoes were wet because it was so humid and moist in the bowling center after the AC went out from them cranking it up. But back to the Proprietors Cup, the bowling center provided us with about 5 big powerful fans throughout the bowling center. I really don’t know what else they could have done. If you didn’t feel the breeze from the fan, it’s probably because someone was standing in front of it hogging it to themselves. Once again, not Billy’s fault. As for the pattern, it was advertised as a “modified” house shot and it’s been that way for three years now. People know what to expect walking in, they still pay to bowl, and then they still complain after. People say it’s a lefty fest. I say, they just play the lanes better than we do for that pattern. And that once again is nobody’s fault but ours. There was some OB this weekend. Lefties in general like to play straighter, which helps develop the lane correctly for them. They all stay left of 10-12 while guys on the right side start at 20 with surface. Not the patterns fault. Our side could have been just as easy. Rob Gotchall bowled 300 game 1 of competition playing straighter. It was the only 300 in the field game 1. Game 2 another 300 was bowled by a righty who was also playing straight. There was insane amount of lefties in the field, so to say they wouldn’t have gone through the same transitions is ridiculous. An interesting statistic found by Jerry Kessler would be that out of the last three top 5’s in the Proprietors Cup, there have been 8 lefties and 7 righties. We all complained about the breakdown being so bad on the right this past weekend and that the lefties didn’t have to go through that, yet since more lefties seem to be in the finals every year wouldn’t they actually go through more transition than the righties in the finals? And yet they continue to win. The finals are bowled on fresh so my answer would be yes. And the only thing that makes sense to me is they just play the lanes better than we do in that event.

Another event that is ran fantastic and got bashed this year was the Inside Bowling Open, also known as the IB Open in St. Louis. A $56,000 prize fund that pays out over $50,000 in brackets and side pots. I have spoken with Mike Flanagan (IB Open TD and Director of Public Relations for Storm Bowling) and he was quite shocked at some of the comments from this past years IB Open. He received a lot of heat about how they were walled up for the left this year. I bowled the IB Open the last two years and I gotta say, for me, they played pretty similar both years. Friction right of 5 and a mile of oil in the middle of the lane. Overall they were a little tighter this year. But both years I threw and scored with the exact same ball, with the exact same layout, at the exact same surface. Two Years ago only one lefty (Anthony Pepe) made the top 16. This past year, there were a few more. Just because a few more made it doesn’t mean they walled them up for the left! Matt McNiel won this year throwing a ball made in like 1995. Maybe he just had the right idea that nobody else in the field tried? He’s also a pretty darn good bowler if you look at his accomplishments and is more than capable of winning titles on patterns that aren’t “walled up”.

I just feel like we need to look at some different points of views before jumping to conclusions and also before we start posting things on Facebook. I am definitely the pot calling the kettle black here but it’s something I have really been working on as I start to learn more and more about the industry. These tournament directors could easily stop running these great events…and then what? What will we have to bowl? The next time you go to post anything even remotely negative, stop and think about that…One of the main problems with bowling, is US!

Touching on a new topic, my opinion of what I would like to see done to bring back the old sport is a regulation of the current sport. In my opinion, house characteristics and topography is the main factor that dictates scoring pace. Good topography equals good carry and visa versa. If we got rid of house shots and sport shots, there would be no house bowling and no sport bowling. Why not just have one single flat pattern about 40ft or so and just call it bowling? All the ball companies can keep making their balls, all the oil machine companies could stay in business and keep making machines, all the oil manufacturers could stay in business and keep producing oil at the same rate. The only thing that could happen is people realize that they’re not as good as they think they are and maybe they’ll realize how great our professionals are. The thing about bowling right now is that anyone can do it. And that really is the beauty of our sport. But it is also its downfall in my opinion. It’s a double-edged sword. Why would I want to watch something on TV for two hours that I can do? Or would I rather watch Tiger Woods make that next great shot, or Nadal make that next great serve, or LeBron dunk a basketball over some 6’6 tall guy. Television is a place for entertainment. People don’t care to learn the difference between house shots and sport shots. Why not just have the bowling center dictate scoring paces instead of the pattern? Just like golf courses. Each lane in the center can play a little different on something like a 40ft flat pattern just like each golf hole plays different. Each lane would have its hazards. I don’t know. I’m by no means an expert on this subject but it’s just a topic I’ve been thinking about lately and this is one idea I came up with.


Lets work together and take bowling in a new direction. Sorry for the rant.


3 thoughts on “Bowling….In a Perfect World

  1. William T Vaughan IV says:

    Very well said! The problem with bowling is bowlers. Entitlement and being spoiled by “easy”. Thank you for speaking up.

  2. Jim Nemeth says:

    Interesting insight Matt. Our sport has become a paradox within itself as simply put, bowlers can not get out of their own way. We criticize success and failure in the same sentance. Good start identifying and offering solutions

  3. Cliff Connors says:

    Your idea of 40 foot flat pattern all the time would have a number of effects:
    1) You would own and carry with you a lot less bowling balls! (might be somewhat negative for the ball companies, but we would still buy a lot of balls)
    2) Everyone would know what to expect; reading lanes would become about reading the inherent characteristics of the house and the individual topography of each lane (and houses with better installations — tighter tolerances — would be higher scoring. So if a proprietor wants higher scoring, hire a team to come in and level them out!); there would be less complaining about conditions generally
    3) Should greatly reduce righty/lefty issues
    4) Would absolutely help the Olympics effort to have a standard playing field, and to assure that the lane man cannot determine the winner
    5) In team events where you don’t move pairs, it will become a team effort to break the lanes down advantageously like at nationals (a positive thing in my opinion). Wouldn’t it be nice to bowl City and State tournaments with that mindset!

    Only negative I can see is that some of the creativity in accommodating your game to the different patterns would be lost. But that is WAY more than made up for by the 5 benefits above! So I totally support your idea Matt!

    Some related ideas:
    a) Could have always flat, but a range of lengths to account for different surface friction levels
    b) Could have the length increased a bit (42 feet minimum?) so that high ball speed does not continue to become more and more essential to success at the highest levels… This would be a great benefit to keep juniors, women, seniors, and smaller people competitive if they have all of the other skills.

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