Tough Lane Conditions and Sport Bowling(Update From Previous Blog Post) by James Goulding III

Tough Lane Conditions and Sport Bowling (Update From Previous Blog Post)

by James Goulding III

First off, this is a combination post updating  the previous blog I posted about the do’s and don’ts of houses putting out tought shots, and whether or not they should be sport sanctioned, and using this blog entry to better explain what to do if you find yourself in a no-win situation on the lanes (shot wise).  I also outlined (in my previous blog entry) the pitfalls of NOT sanctioning sport, and what can happen when the pattern does not get tweaked to play evenly from side to side.

That being said, I would like to apologize to anyone (from my local bowling center) who took offense to my stance in the previous blog entry.  It was not meant to personally attack any specific employee or person, I was merely throwing my thoughts out there on a topic I felt needed to be addressed.  The REASON I felt it needed addressing is that on league where I bowl on the tough pattern, we are losing bowlers.  This is fact.  I do not want to see this league (or any league for that matter) go down in size and lose bowlers, so I wanted to interject MY opinion not only to the bowling center, but online to any bowlers out there who may read the blog and can relate with a similar experience(s), so that maybe some solutions to GAIN bowlers can be had.  I also felt that this particular pattern wasn’t being laid out evenly (scoring wise) from left to right, so I thought I might be able to get opinions on how other centers or bowlers might think about it, and possibly grab some ideas I could bounce off my local center to get the shot to play more even from side to side.  This is not saying that whoever is laying out the current shot is incompetent or anything like that (actually I applaud the bowling center AND lane man for having the guts to put out something tough), I was just hoping to draw attention to the actual shot being put out, and maybe garner a possible tweaking to the shot to get it to play more evenly.  But, now that I have had a chance to step back and look at it, I want the house to leave the shot alone completely, and not tweak it at all.  I will get into that later in my blog entry, so stay tuned!  I think everyone at that particular bowling center does a fantastic job of catering to the bowlers, and it really does feel like family when you bowl there.  From the good food, the cleanliness of the center, to the superb upkeep of the machines and lanes, everyone does a great job of making the place run like a well oiled machine, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.  That is all, really, I did not mean to step on anyone’s toes with my previous blog entry, or upset people, and if I did, I apologize for that.

Now onto the guts of this blog entry.  Two season’s ago, we filled the house (with the tough pattern) and had to turn away bowlers because the league was full, and we were bowling (then) on a standard typical house shot, nothing too hard or sport sanctioned.  Last season we went to a tougher pattern (voted on by the league), which was still scorable and played very fair from side to side, and still filled the house.  But, when it came to the start of the league season this year, we lost two teams.  I can not say for sure if it was the tougher shot or the tougher economic times that did it, but we were two teams short nonetheless.  This season, the pattern is playing even tougher than last season (the house decided what they were putting out this season), and my fear is that we will lose more teams for next season.  I do not want to see that happen.  THAT is why I want the league to go sport sanctioned, to give the bowlers who throw on the current tough oil pattern the benefit(s) that come along with sport bowling, from the special awards and average scale adjuster, to being able to say that you bowl on a tough pattern that is also recognized by the USBC for being sport compliant.  It adds some legitimacy to a house putting out a tough shot, and shows they care enough about the bowlers to sanction it as sport complaint every week.  Take it from someone who has bowled on MANY sport and PBA patterns, this pattern on our current league plays (in my opinion) tougher than a standard sport shot.  But, it is not sport sanctioned, so for the once a week bowler who comes in, he (or she) sees their average 20-30 sticks lower, and they say “why do I want to do this?”, and many can not blame them for not wanting to bowl on it.  I, though, LOVE the challenge, but I am also a very competitive bowler who likes a lower scoring pace, so it brings back shot making and spare shooting to the game of bowling, and makes it less about a carrying contest.  I will bowl on whatever the house wants to put out and enjoy the challenge.  But, for bowlers who have been accustomed to higher scores and plenty of miss room on the lanes, going to a shot that plays tight and lower scoring can be a bitter pill to swallow.  You are going to always keep your *hardcore* bowling junkies around no matter what shot you put out, but there are FAR less of those type of bowlers than there are the ones who want to come in, throw their three games, pop off an honor score or two a season, average 200 and go home every week content with their effort.  The house shot bowlers out number the hardcore’s by a wide margin (probably 10:1 or higher), so I think that if at the very least a house says they will sport sanction a tougher shot, maybe they can win over some of those house shot bowlers by explaining the benefits that come with sport bowling.  Not only does it make you a better bowler (sport bowling), but it makes you better prepared for bowling in the nationals where the scoring pace is lower, the competition is better, and you will be able to compete better on a national stage, since you have seen a tougher shot all season long.  So, maybe by explaining all of those things, bowling centers can convince a regular league that bowls on a tough shot (like the one I am on) to go full sport sanctioning.  But, the benefits of doing so HAVE to be expalined in detail to all the bowlers to gauge how they feel about it if you have any shot of retaining them for the next bowling season.  I DO NOT want the league to go back to an easier pattern where 20 bowlers average 220+, but if we do not go sport sanctioning, maybe there is some sort of middle ground the house can reach that will keep the house bowlers around, but not alienate the hardcore bowlers (like myself) who enjoy the challenge of a tough shot.  I hope that helps clarify where I stand on tough shots going to sport sanctioning, which was THE key point in my previous blog entry.

Now it comes down to what I touched on earlier, and that is my previous blog post saying the shot does not play evenly from side to side.  I have looked at the graph of the current oil pattern, and gone into detail how I think the shot could be tweaked to make it play better for righties and lefties alike.  Anyway, I am posting now saying that I DO NOT want the house to touch the shot on the left side of the lane (or the right side of the lane) AT ALL.  The only way I would like to see it (the shot) modified would be if we had an impromptu meeting where the house says the shot needs to be tweaked to make the league sport compliant.  Since the league is not going to vote to swap to a sport sanctioning mid-season, I can not see that scenario playing out, which is why I am now saying to leave the shot alone.  The reason(s) I have come full circle on this are simple, really.  For starters, I want the satisfaction of being able to say I can hit whatever they want to throw out there, even if I feel like I am at a disadvantage night in and night out.  Since I ALSO feel that righties are at a disadvantage on many easier scoring patterns, I think that if I have to work harder than they do on this tougher pattern, it is only fair.  Secondly, I do not want any fellow bowlers calling into question my integrity and saying I am whining about the shot playing tough.  I would hope that my reputation, as well as my skill set, speak for itself, but in case anyone dares to question either, I am willing to keep bowling and competing on the pattern as it is laid out currently, and will take more satisfaction in bowling well in the process.  I am actually approaching the second half of the season with a great attitude (which every bowler should have), a new strategy, and hope that the shot does not change at all for the remainder of the season (unless we go full sport sanctioning and the shot needs to be tweaked to do so).  There is a certain level of satisfaction which comes from bowling well with you back against the wall.  I am sorry for keeping the blog entry so personal, but I feel that it needed to be done, and hopefully there are other bowlers who have had similar experience(s) and can draw on something I may have brought up in this blog entry.

In closing, I would like to think that things I have touched on in my personal experiences since I brought up this subject in my last blog entry can be applied for MANY bowlers out there.  I know there has to be some of you who feel like you would like to see your league go to sport sanctioning, and maybe something I said helps you to convince your local center and league to do so.  If it does, great!!!  I like to hear that bowlers are interested enough in the sport of bowling to change it for the better, and maybe with the dialogue this blog creates, we can achieve just that in the future.  Also, I hope that at my local center (where the shot is tough), everyone there knows that I love bowling there, the employees are great, and the bowling atmosphere is unmatched, so keep up the good work!  If anyone has any questions for me, please feel free to approach me either at the lanes, or leave a comment on the blog.  I WILL get back to you ASAP.  If anyone has suggestions for me , please feel free to leave those as well, I like both the positive AND negative feedback.  It is good to know that people care enough to not only post praise, but criticism of you as well.  As always, the opinions and comments in this blog entry are my own, and in no way reflect the opinions of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing many of you on the lanes, and talk to many more of you on the blog.  Happy Holidays!!!!

10 responses to “Tough Lane Conditions and Sport Bowling(Update From Previous Blog Post) by James Goulding III

  1. Somebody That Cares

    Hi all!!! Thanks for clarifying James. I was beginning to think there was something really eating at you from your earlier post. I see your point now loud and clear. Now I can agree that a tough pattern is not a lot of fun for quite a few bowlers that are not willing to “work” for their scores. I’m sorry they feel that way really. The shot that is being put out is making the team scores closer together with few points separating the top 12 or so teams. It’s never been this way. Usually you have your big guns at the top with the majority of your lower average teams far behind. I guess no one really wants to look at it this way. Come in with their 10 year old bowling ball, throw your 6 something and go home feeling like they accomplished something. Even though they are not even in the top 30 in the league and will most likely lose but it’s ok cause they shot “big”. That is frustrating to me. I bowl in the league you are talking about and hear all kinds of negative comments along with quite a few positives and also some whatevers. It’s sad to see people quit a league just because they can go and average 200+ in some other house but can’t here. Sure it’s frustrating when you think your a 200+ average bowler when you can barely average 180 on a tougher lane condition, but EVERYONE is down not just some. Anyways, I think it’s too late to change anything and get the few bowlers back that we are going to lose on the league but I think from what the house says the shot will be easier next year. If that will make a difference or not I don’t know.

    Onto sport sanctioning the league. I’m sorry to say this will never happen. I know the shot is tough but is not sport compliant. If it was changed to be sport compliant (3:1 ratio max) the averages would go down another 10-20 pins. As it sits now the lanes on our league are on average 3.5 : 1. Now this does not seem like much but there is a huge difference in the way the lanes play compared to 3:1. If you look at the PBA Experience patterns and the averages of the pro bowlers on them, you can see that 3:1 on some patterns is brutal. There is not a bowler on our league that is as good as most pro’s. There is potential but pro’s bowl for a living. Hours a day practicing, any ball they want, and great coaching. I’m not sure if you have bowled on any other night at the same center but the rest of the week’s shot is closer to 3.8-4:1. I bowl on both patterns and average 15 pins higher on the easier pattern. Just a few tidbits of info I have been privied to. So I wouldn’t hold your breath for sport sanctioning of our league.

    I’m out of time. Thanks for reading and hope to talk soon.

  2. Thank you very much for responding Somebody That Cares! I appreciate the feedback. I know that to be sport certified a league has to go to 3:1 or less for a ratio, and I have felt that this pattern has played very close to that in real time bowling. Sometimes we can get too caught up in the numbers, and not read what is going on at the lane level in real time. Also, remember, different houses will play the same pattern differently. I was informed that this pattern mirrors (in some ways) the Chameleon oil pattern on the PBA tour. Now, from my experience, the Chameleon preffered line is almost always near the gutter and straighter to score. On the league pattern, however, there is no way to get way out on those boards as it plays as a strict OOB. Plus, with the shorter oil on the league (37ft.) it makes it even more difficult since it is hard to hold a line inside the 10 board with the short oil pattern. It makes it challenging, not impossible by any stretch, but certainly VERY different than the Chameleon pattern it was loosely modeled after. I think that is just one example of how a pattern may look like it should play on paper, but doesn’t end up that way in real time.

    Also, on the sport note, just because a pattern that is sport sanctioned can only be a maximum of 3:1 ratio doesn’t mean it will play harder than the current 3.5:1 we are playing on now. Actually if you lengthen the oil pattern from 37 to 42 or 43 ft. (like two of the Kegel sport patterns), I think you will see an increase in the scoring pace because bowling balls will have a longer hold down lane, allowing bowlers to migrate in as the night goes on (which is hard to do now). I agree that in actual lane play, shot making is more crucial on a sport compliant pattern, but just because a sport pattern is 3:1 does not mean it will automatically play tougher than what we see night in and night out now.

    I do not agree with bowlers quitting just because a shot makes their average go down 20 pins. Heck, everyone has to bowl on it, and in the long run it will make you a better bowler by helping you to play parts of the lane you never did before. But, the reality is, there is a good chance the league could lose some of those recreational bowlers who have been bowling on easier lane conditions and are accustomed to a higher scoring pace 99% of the time. Would I lie to see the house change the shot to something easier? No, of course not. I would like to see the house come to the league with a few suggestions for the following season, and make at least one of those options fully sport compliant, but use a sport shot that is not as tough as say a U.S. Open pattern, for instance. Just a thought, but I know I will be back no matter what, and hopefully it is on something that is a challenge, but plays pretty fairly from left to right, and vice versa.

    I think I am going to get out of the realm of offering my opinion on things that should be left up to the bowling centers themselves, such as what shots to put out, sport vs. non-sport sanctioning, and things like that. I was asked to give my opinion on this subject from a few people since I do blogging on this site, but I have received more negative opinions (and feedback on a personal level) than I anticipated, and hurt people’s feelings in the process I believe, and that was NOT my intention of the original blog post. I wanted to try and be honest to give an idea of what I have heard and seen out on the lanes, but I know now that doing so can have many adverse effects on others, so I am taking a step back from the realm of public speaker on this subject. I will go in and bowl like I always do, and grind out the good scores as much as possible, but this will be my last publicly posted words on the subject. All I want to do is grow the sport, and when I think we may have a situation where we could lose bowlers it makes me sad and upset, but from now on I will leave those opinions to myself where they probably belong. I will continue to write for the blog, but I will make sure to keep subjects more neutral and on an even keel if you will.

    Have a wondeful holiday season everyone, and I hope you enjoy the blog. Thanks again for the feedback Somebody That Cares, I really do appreciate it.

  3. I think the answer here for this particular league is to go the route of the Red, White, & Blue patterns which will be made available by USBC over the summer of 2010 for the 2010-2011 Fall/Winter Season. These patterns are based on a Golf theme of Red (Easiest), White (Harder), and Blue (Hardest). These are all modified house shots, but not Sport Conditions. These are USBC tested conditions in which the scoring pace for each would be predictable and would be fair from Left/Right. Although, I truly believe that the lefty has the advantage on ANY condition that does not require the shot to be “Opened Up” to become playable simply because once lined up a lefty does not have to make nearly as many moves and the moves made are much less drastic than on the right side. My average on this particular league is roughly 25-30 pins lower than my other leagues in a different center, but I feel good about my current 198 in this particular league, I feel as though I am doing a fairly good job on keeping it in play and not making too many huge mistakes along the way. I do not EVER think it is a good idea to tweak the shot mid-season, sport compliant or not, averages are established on a certain condition during the season, changing it in the middle may make it more playable for some styles and less playable for other styles, thus possibly setting the current averages and handicaps askew as team compete for points each week. While I agree that something needs to be done to retain bowlers for next season, I think that can still be accomplished by letting bowlers know what the plan for the shot next year is in advance, this information coming directly from the house. Being an officer on this league I have spoken to the center, and they completely understand that something has to be done to retain bowlers, that many are frustrated week in and week out, while others while frustrated understand the shot is difficult and it is not so much about what their individual average is.

    As far as Sanctioning as a Sport League, I do not think your going to get the majority of bowlers on the league in question willing to pay EXTRA money for sanctioning as a sport league with a sport compliant lane condition. Let us remember we have been unsuccessful in getting this league to move fees from $14 to $15 dollars for 3 years now. Enough of the bowlers are already complaining about the shot being too difficult.

    I urge everyone to go and read about the new RED, WHITE, & BLUE Patterns, I think it would be great if this particular league utilized one of these patterns for next season. Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Good Luck and hopefully I will see all of you on the lanes.

    • MSUSBC has approved that they will request bowling centers use the Red, White, and Blue patterns for the 2010-2011 State Tournaments. Seniors and women will ustilize the Red, youth will utilize the White, and the open will utilize the Blue. The reasoning is that the scratch all-events winners receive paid entries into national tournaments. These national tournaments do not utilize a ‘house’ pattern. It’s better to have a winner on a tougher pattern so they might have a fighting chance at the national tournament.

  4. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  5. Hi Jim,
    Just getting a hang for this blog stuff, as you are aware that I have always promoted a sport like conditions to test the skills and knowledge of the bowlers who think they are above average.
    Good to see that some other players want to test these conditions also. Hope you and your family had a great holiday and say hello to your Dad

    John B

  6. Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

  7. Great idea, thanks for this tip!

  8. James,
    I think we need to get back to tougher/challenging conditions. We need to get back to being challenged versus our egos being stroked. As a bowling junkie, as you quoted, I’ll keep trying even if the average goes down. I am one for Sport bowling. I’m watching youth be more adaptive in facing the challenge. The seed has been planted in the youth, we need to join them and continue what they have started.

  9. You made some respectable points there. I looked on the web for the problem and located most people will go along with together with your website.

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