Does Announcing the Pattern Really Affect Scoring?

by Michael Cousins

Every time I check my news feed, I am constantly seeing someone, somewhere discussing the pattern of an upcoming tournament. I see complaints on both sides: “oh, you shouldn’t announce the pattern, it gives some bowlers an unfair advantage.” Or, “you’re not going to announce the pattern? I’m not going to bowl then.”

It seems, to me, regardless of what side of the argument you’re on, that both arguments are lacking substance; keeping the pattern hidden doesn’t limit the top players, and the top players don’t care if the patterns are announced, they’re going to shoe up and bowl.

This year, the USBC Open Championships has decided to go the way of keeping the pattern a secret. This has been met with mixed reviews; some think this will level the playing field, while others believe that it limits bowlers’ options, and others are indifferent.

The average bowler believes that keeping the pattern hidden allows them to compete with the upper tier players. They feel as though, given that the pattern hasn’t been announced, the higher level players won’t be able to practice on them or drill up equipment specifically for the event. In essence, they believe this gives them a chance.

While they are correct about one thing: players not being able to practice on the conditions before they get there does, in part, level the playing field, it does not mean that the average bowler can compete with the top tier players from around the world.

The top tier players are such for a reason: they’re good. And damn good. Whether or not they have access to the pattern before hand is irrelevant; the top players will figure it out regardless. Furthermore, the players still have access to the pattern when they arrive in Las Vegas, via the showcase lanes, which gives them plenty of time to develop a sound, strategic game plan.

As for equipment, some argue that since the patterns are not being announced, the top tier players, the ones on staff, cannot use that to their advantage. This is flawed logic. The top players, the ones on staff with ball companies, are on staff because they are good. And while having access to unlimited, top level equipment can be an advantage if the bowler knows how to use this to their benefit, it is not the reason these players are finding success at the Open Championships.

Have you ever noticed that every year, almost without exception, the same players are in contention for an Eagle? This isn’t because they have practiced on the conditions before hand. This isn’t because they had access to more equipment than the average player. It is because the average player is, by the very definition, average. They bowl leisurely and recreationally. And there is nothing wrong with that. But the top players are, by definition, at the top. And they are there for a reason.

Believing that keeping the pattern a secret will level the playing field is simply wishful thinking. The best in the world are going to figure it out, and figure it out fast. They’re going to be prepared with a variety of equipment and layout options. And they’re going to bowl well. And, as always, they’re going to be at or near the top of the standings when all is said and done.

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