House Shots

Over the course of the week in Nashville for Bowl Expo and the Showcase, I had many – and I mean many – great bowling discussions with some of the smartest minds in our game. But one thing, above all else, stuck.

There have always been “walls.”


After sitting down and talking with some well-respected, experienced, and talented players over dinner one night, they made this readily apparent.

But, yet, there is this misconception that “walls,” or easy lane conditions, are new to the sport and are just now becoming a problem. This is absolutely false.

For as long as bowling has been around, proprietors and lane men have always been capable of “walling up the lanes.” Though this was obviously done differently in the past, the fact remains the same: “walls” aren’t new.

In the 70s and 80s, mechanics could make it nearly impossible to miss the pocket, the very same way today’s house shots are laid out. Sure, the strike percentage across the board wasn’t as high as it is today, as yesteryear’s balls weren’t even close to today’s modern equipment, but pocket percentage could be made to be every bit as high.

Believe me, I know the purists hate hearing this, but I ask you this: in 1958, when the Budweiser team set a record of 3,858 with rubber bowling balls, do you seriously not think that the conditions they bowled on were conducive to scoring? That record would last all the way through to 1994. It survived house conditions, resin bowling balls, and the emergence of power players.

Don’t get me wrong, though, the talent that team had was tremendous. But, in all fairness, there have been a lot of other great five men teams in the history of this sport. Most of which, even on today’s conditions with today’s bowling balls, haven’t even sniffed that 3,858 number.

To this day, that number remains in the top ten all-time. We’re talking about a score that was established fifty-nine years ago. In a totally different era, with totally different equipment, and a totally different style of player.

But please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not trying to diminish their feat. It was, after all, tremendous, and one of the most impressive feats in the history of bowling, but, again, I am just trying to show you that high scoring conditions have always been around.

Are they more common today? Absolutely. But does that mean they didn’t exist before? Absolutely not.

I would never argue that bowling then was as easy as it is today. That isn’t my point at all, and that isn’t the point the gentlemen I was talking with were trying to make.

Across the board, there is no doubt that today’s game, as a whole, is easier than in past generations. That’s just fact. But there is also no doubt that in past generations, in certain instances, in certain buildings, on certain nights, bowling was easy. Just as easy as it is today.

One thought on “House Shots

  1. Rick Miller says:

    I am 59 years old and have been bowling for 55 years. I am right-handed and a down and in player and feel I have seen a lot over the years. I bowl on a house shot and have been averaging 220 or higher for the last 5-8 years. I have bowled in interstate traveling leagues where I averaged 215 -220. I have bowled in my Pennsylvania State Championships for 28 years and averaged 200 for those years. I have also been to the Nationals for 14 years and averaged 190. The nationals I feel are setup for power players not so for the average joe it should be for everyone. I feel I am a good bowler and can adjust mostly by ball speed, hand rotation very rarely do I change balls. I feel things have gotten easier but there are a lot of people that will not come to my house. They are still wood lanes and approaches and some people that average a lot just can not do well or even like it there. Thank you

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