A Look Back At The Grind That Was The PBA Tour Trials

The Bowling Grind That Was The PBA Tour Trials

By Michael Cousins

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I want to take a look back at a tournament that was widely considered one of the toughest, most grueling, frustrating, and demanding tournaments of all-time. Today, we are going to look back at the PBA Tour Trials.

When the PBA went to a fully exempt tour several years back and many players lost their tour exemption, they started running an event every summer to earn an exemption for the upcoming tour season.

This event took place over several days, on all of the original animal patterns. Bowlers had to be physically fit, physically sharp, and mentally tough to get through the week and earn their PBA Tour exempt status.

For many bowler’s, they were literally bowling for their livelihood, which obviously added to the already extreme pressures of the week. If they bowled well, they’d have a full-time job for the upcoming year. If they didn’t, they’d have to bowl PTQs every week in hopes of being eligible to bowl the PBA stop that week or, in some cases, find a new day job.

Can you imagine the pressure of having to strike to keep your job? To say that their was a lot of pressure on the competitors would be a gross understatement.

As a kid, I dreamed of bowling this event one day. When they got rid of the exempt tour — and therefore Tour Trials — I was devastated. It just seemed like such an incredible experience. Growing up, I looked forward to following and watching Tour Trials every single summer.

You got to watch some of your favorite players attempt to earn their exemption back. Additionally, you got to see some talented, lesser-known players step up and earn their chance to compete at the highest level; seeing that year’s PBA Tour Trials class was always fun, and you really rooted for those guys the next year on tour.

Many of today’s greats competed in and earned their exemptions at the Tour Trial event.

If you look on YouTube, you can find a couple of videos showcasing just how pressure-packed and stressful this event truly was.

I’m sure if you asked many players that competed, they’d tell you they’re glad it is gone. And I totally understand that take. The PBA Tour today is far easier to get the chance to compete on. Many of the events are open, and because of this, many young, new faces get the chance to make names for themselves without having to stress of worry about Tour Trials.

But, if you were like me, and got a chance to grow up during the Tour Trials era, you know exactly how entertaining the event was to watch as a bowling fan.

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