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!!!!