The Perfect Bowler

By Michael Cousins

Bowling isn’t a perfect entity. Therefore, its bowlers – even though, at times, they seem to be – aren’t perfect either. The top level players are master shot makers, produce and generate a great deal of power, and pair together confidence and decision making at a very high level. And at times, it seems to the average fan that these bowlers are perfect. They rarely bowl bad, they rarely throw errant shots, they rarely struggle.

And, when it comes to some of them, I understand this thinking, at times. It is hard to imagine Jason Belmonte bowling bad. It is hard to imagine Chris Barnes not figuring it out. It is hard to imagine Parker Bohn throwing poor shots. But, it happens; they’re all human.

But what if they weren’t human? Here me out here.

What if it were possible to create the “perfect bowler,” so to speak? What would that look like? How good would they be? What traits from which players would we have to incorporate? Well, let’s figure it out, shall we?

Power: Well, let’s face it, in today’s bowling, the “perfect bowler” would have to have power, and a lot of it. And no one has ever had the power and strike ball of Jason Belmonte, so if we’re building the perfect bowler, they HAVE to have Jason Belmonte’s rev rate.

Physical Game: There have been a lot of really, really good physical games in the history of our sport, but if I am picking one, I am going with David Ozio every single time. The guy was fundamentally perfect. Honestly, he finished his career with 12 titles, I believe, and even that wasn’t enough for that physical game. If you haven’t watched him in depth, and I mean really, really watched him, please YouTube him. You will gain an all new appreciation for just how good this guy was.

Mental Game: Honestly, this one was tough for me. So I had to reach out to John Gaines for help in this particular area. His response? One word: Duke. According to John, and please remember, John has been around this sport for a long time and has bowled against and with all of these guys, his knowledge and opinions carry a LOT of weight, Duke combines decision making and confidence better than anyone. Ever. In his head, there is no scenario he hasn’t already faced. He’s prepared for every situation before it even happens.

Arm Swing: Weber. This is basically a non-contest. He has the purist, loosest swing of all-time. No one, and I mean no one, comes close here. “Poetry in motion,” to steal a line from Randy Pederson.

Footwork: Also going to have to go with Weber on this one. It is just effortless. The perfect pace. The perfect separation between steps. Just flawless, really.

Versatility: In order to be the “perfect bowler,” the bowler can’t just have a beautiful physical game and a lot of power. They have to be able to play anywhere on the lane and do anything with a bowling ball. In my opinion, Chris Barnes is the single most versatile player in the history of the sport. One could make an argument for some other players here, as well. Norm. Voss. Doug Kent. All three of them would be solid choices here, but, again, for my money, if I need one bowler to bowl to bowl on any condition, I am picking Barnes in his prime every single time.

Shot Making: I am sure a lot of people would go with Walter Ray here, given his “dead eye” nickname. But I am going to take a different route here. I am going to go with Parker Bohn III. From what I have seen, no one, and I mean no one, repeats shots the way that Parker can. It’s just on another level. Truly.

Spare Shooting: The “perfect bowler” can’t just strike, after all. Even they’d miss sometimes, right? And when they do miss, they’d have to cover all of their spares, right? I mean they are “perfect.” So, of course, we’d have to go with Walter Ray Williams Jr. I remember back when they used to show spare percentages on TV on Sunday’s, Walter used to go week after week after week without missing a makeable spare. Even for those guys, that’s impressive.

Intangibles: Earl Anthony. It has to be him, right? The single most dominant bowler of all-time. In the history of the sport, no one, and I mean no one, won as many tournaments as Anthony in as little time as he did it. And from a physical standpoint, there were many, many guys better than him. But he beat all of them. And he beat them a lot. He beat them often. And he beat them bad. Sure he was an excellent shot making, but his dominance wasn’t due to any measurable physical attributes. What made him great was his intangible assets. Assets that very few, if any, have or ever will match.

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