Knowing Your Pre-Shot Routine by James Goulding III

Knowing Your Pre-Shot Routine
By James Goulding III

Hello again bowlers, and welcome to another entry in the bowler-2-bowler blog series. I am sorry for the delay in posting, but sometimes life catches up with you, and other times I only want to write on the blog when I feel I have something of value to offer everyone, and not just putting pen to paper with mindless dribble “just for the sake of it”. I think this time it is a combination of both of those factors, but here we are with a topic not talked about much when it comes to factors that influence a bowlers score, and that is the pre-shot routine. There are a few areas of this I would like to break down and discuss, so let’s get started!


Being prepared mentally on and off the lanes is probably THE most critical phase of bowling, even more so than the actual physical act of throwing the bowling ball down the lane. What good does it do for you and your game if the only thing you are thinking about on the approach is the new video game you just bought at the store for your Playstation 3? This leads you to missing your mark and throwing bad shots, and the worst part is, if you do not realize what you are doing wrong mentally, you may mistake a bad shot for a bad read on the lane, and all of a sudden you are fishing around for a line when you probably had the right one to begin with. Before you ever step on the approach, you need to clear your head of the distractions off the lanes, and visualize what you want the ball to do as it goes down the lane and hits the pins. This technique is something the PBA pros constantly work on, and it can work for anybody to help improve your scores. The thought process here is that by thinking about throwing good, consistent shots, you will help train your mental game to match your physical game and achieve the greatest outcome possible out on the lanes. Try it the next time you go bowling, you will be glad you did.


I know what people are thinking when they read that, something like “duh, I KNOW I am at a bowling alley”. Well, not quite. What I mean by “know your surroundings” applies to each specific night of league or a set in a tournament. You may be bowling on a pair of lanes that typically hook more, so you should know that you may want to start with a weaker bowling ball at the beginning of the night. Or, the approaches in a certain bowling center, and especially on the lanes you are bowling on, tend to be sticky so you can change the heel or sole on your bowling shoe to compensate before falling on your face on your first shot. Those are just two examples of knowing your surroundings, but I could list many. Basically, a good rule of thumb is to keep a journal of key points you should know about each bowling center, and specific pairs of lanes in that center, especially if you bowl league there on a weekly basis. Knowing the tendencies of a pair of lanes, or approaches, gives you a leg up on your competitors and can help to positively influence your game for the entire set. This works well even for tournament bowling in a center you rarely see, because by having that kind of “inside info” about certain pairs of lanes will have that much more of an effect the next time you visit there for a tournament in the future. Any way that you can maximize your score just by knowing and remembering little things around you, can help you achieve your goal of bowling your absolute best each and every time out.


Ok, so don’t take that comment out of context, but it is actually a very important part of a pre-shot routine, and that is checking everything in your bowling bag before you leave the house to hit the lanes. Make sure you have the essentials such as bowlers tape, skin patch, rosin bag, micro fiber towel, extra heels and/or soles for your bowling shoes, and a shoe brush. I like to keep other things such as bowling ball cleaner, sandpaper, bevel knife, crazy glue, insert remover, and extra pairs of finger inserts in my bowling bag, too, but you don’t have to keep all of that stuff with you all the time, though it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for ANYTHING. Trust me, there is nothing worse than tearing open your thumb, and not having any skin patch to fix it, or forgetting your extra heels at home when the approaches are so slippery or sticky you can’t slide correctly. It only takes a minute or two to inventory your bowling bag before leaving for the lanes, but it is time well spent I can assure you. Also, don’t forget to inventory the bowling balls you are bringing in those bowling bags, because you may like to use different bowling balls at different bowling centers, so you don’t want to bring the wrong equipment with you on any given night. This is where keeping that journal I told you about earlier comes in handy, as you can flip it open, see what has been working well for you lately at a certain house, and go with it. Even though peeking into your bowling bag once a night doesn’t seem like the most glamorous thing to help your bowling game, trust me it can go a very long way to determining how the rest of your night goes.

In closing, I would like to think that I have covered some thought provoking areas of the pre-shot routine that usually get skimmed over and rarely talked about, but can make a huge difference in your scores out on the lanes. Being mentally prepared, knowing your surroundings, and checking your bowling bag, are all things that YOU can do before you ever step foot on a bowling lane to give you the best chance possible to score your highest. After all, nobody wants to bowl badly, so why handicap yourself by being lazy before you ever hit the lanes? Chances are, if you can’t take the time before throwing the ball to care about your scores, your opponent is, and you have already been beaten before you have even thrown the ball. I hope these tips about the pre-shot routine help, and please let me know what you think with your comments and feedback. As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members. Thank you for your time, and good luck and good bowling everyone!

James Goulding III
M.I.S.T. Tournament Director


No Matter What Hand You Use…Just Throw The Ball, by James Goulding III

No Matter What Hand You Use…Just Throw The Ball

by James Goulding III

Hello again fellow bowlers, and sorry for the delay in posting.  It was a crazy end to summer and beginning of the new bowling season, so bear with me as I try and get back on track with posting.  This month’s installment was inspired, in part, by some recent comments and activity I have been following on a local level, but its roots are as old as the sport of bowling itself.  I am talking about the age old debate over which hand is easier to use when it comes to bowling, right handed or left handed, and the pitfalls bowlers fall into (mentally) by using this as an excuse for their own bad bowling.  If you ask any number of righties out there, a majority of them would probably say that most lefties have the advantage because they have less traffic, so the shot should stay more stable for a longer period of time.  But, if you ask a group of lefties, they would probably say righties have it easier due to the fact that a team of good right handed bowlers can “set up a lane” by all playing different parts of it with different types and surfaces of equipment so that the shot opens up, and the scores increase as the night goes on.  Which one would be right?  I don’t know, and I have been bowling now for over 20 years, but I will say there is a common theme that I wish all bowlers would follow, and that is to just shut up and throw the ball.

What I am saying is this, bowlers need to stop making excuses, and two of those instances are highlighted in the following:  a) When your opponent bowls well and beats your brains in, and b) When you bowl bad and can’t seem to find a good line, or carry, etc.  I will deal with scenario (a) first, as it is the one that drives me nuts when I hear other bowlers complain about it. 

No matter how much you may not like to lose, it is going to happen at some point, and probably more often than not, even if you are the best of players.  So, get used to it.  I don’t mean you should be praising up everyone who beats you and sound like some care free lunatic running around, but use some common sense and just give your opponent their due when they beat you, that’s all.  To me, there is nothing worse than a sore loser who constantly shows bad sportsmanship, and that can be a stigma that never leaves you no matter how much you try and change it down the road.  Some people will always look at you as a poor sport, so try and create good sportsmanship habits now before its too late.  This relates to the left handed / right handed debate because one of the first excuses that always comes out, if the person that beat you uses the opposite hand as yourself, is that they beat you because they were left handed (or right handed).  This is the ultimate slap in the face to your opponent, as they can not help which hand they use, they are just trying to make the best shots possible, and you are tearing them down just because you think they have it so much “easier” than you do on their side of the lane.  Unless you actually bowl on their side of the lane, you don’t have a clue as to whether that side is easier or harder, so just shut up about it.  It’s a dumb argument, and lame at best.  Why even go there and create drama?  Be a good sport, congratulate your opponent on a good match, and try and bowl better next time out.  The sport of bowling comes down to who can knock down the most pins in any given 10 frames, so you need to find out how to do that better than the person you are bowling against no matter what hand you use to do it, it’s just that simple.  Concentrating less on how they are doing, and why they are doing it, will make you a better bowler, as you have shifted your focus from your opponent back onto your game, and you can make corrections quicker and more accurately this way.  Sounds simple right?  Well it really is when you think about it, and removing yourself from the negative mindset of finding ways to tear down how your opponent beat you, by tearing down your opponent themselves, will allow you to fully reach your potential on and off the lanes as a bowler.

Now, with scenario (b) from above, bowlers will also fall into the trap of blaming carry on losing, whether that be their own bad carry, or complaining that their opponent caught “all the breaks” and carried everything.  This is just sour grapes to be honest, and makes you sound like a 4 year old who couldn’t have a cookie after supper.  Whining, putting, and stomping your feet are all unattractive qualities, but some that far too many bowlers possess, as I have seen over the years.  If you had poor carry, there is a reason for it, plain and simple.  Bowling is a game that can be explained by physics, and if you could not carry strikes on a given day, then there is a scientific reason why it happened, and not just because the bowling gods were not on your side that day.  You need to have the ability to clear your mind of distractions, and find a way to get the ball to carry strikes for you.  The great Pete Weber once told me “there is ALWAYS a line out there, you just have to find it”, and he is 100% right.  There is always a proper way to attack a lane, and it is up to you as a bowler to find the correct way to do it before your opponent does, period.  But, if they figure it out before you, and happen to get dialed in and beat you, that doesn’t mean you should go around telling everyone that he (or she) “got lucky” or that you “couldn’t catch a break”.  No, they figured it out better and faster than you did, so tip your hat to them, and vow to do the same to them the next time you face each other.  This shows good sportsmanship and also shows your opponent that you will be ready the next time you face them since you didn’t make any dumb excuses this time around.  I know as a bowler I never fear the person who whines when I beat them, but I do keep an eye out for the ones who just shake my hand and say great match.  I know those bowlers mean business, and I may have just caught them on an off day, so I better be on my guard next time out.  You see how much more respected you become when you show class and sportsmanship, not only for your opponent, but also for the sport of bowling in general?  Trust me, when your opponent respects you it helps you out because there is a fine line between respect and fear, and if you happen to jump out to a lead on someone and they know you aren’t the type to fold or make excuses, it makes it harder for them to come back and beat you as they know you are a rock out on the lanes.  So, it pays to grind out tough matches and give your opponent their due when they find a line and carry better than you on a given day, because the next time out, if you concentrate on your game and get the focus off of them, it can be you who wins the match with your superior mental game.

In closing, I would just like to say that my term in the beginning of “just shut up and throw the ball” may sound harsh, but I hope that you now understand exactly what I mean by that.  Don’t make excuses on the lanes for poor play, and don’t down grade your opponent based on what hand they throw the ball with, or how they do it.  Just show the same respect you would want them to show you, and you will find much more enjoyment out of the sport of bowling.  None of us can win all the time, and it’s just as important to be a good loser, as it is to be a gracious winner.  Once you master those two parts of the game, then you will truly be a good all around bowler and person on and off the lanes.  Thanks for reading, and remember the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will try to respond as quickly as possible.  Good luck and good bowling everyone!!!

James Goulding III

M.I.S.T. Tournament Director

USBC Annual Fees: A Raging Debate by James Goulding III

USBC Annual Fees: A Raging Debate

by James Goulding III

Welcome again everyone to another blog installment on bowler-2-bowler.  I have been thinking about this subject ever since reading (and blogging about) the USBC annual meeting back in May.  At the meeting, there was a proposal that the annual USBC dues that every sanctioned bowler pays should go from the $10 yearly that it currently is, to a fee of $15.  This is the national amount, not including whatever your local association charges on top of the USBC amount.  This proposal was voted down, so the national USBC dues will continue to be $10 for the 2010 – 2011 bowling season.  Many people have varied, and sometimes very passionate, feelings on the USBC and the amount they charge for yearly fees, some good and others not so good.  For this reason, I have decided to weigh in with my very own feelings on the subject, and also try to propose my own solutions that could appease the many differing opinions on the debate about what USBC should charge bowlers on a yearly basis.

First off, I think I need to classify bowlers into (4) different categories, so that anybody reading this can see why it is so difficult for the USBC to please every bowler with the decisions they make.  Here are the (4) categories I have come up describing bowlers as it pertains to USBC and their dues program:

1) These bowlers are the ones who bowl every season and rarely will ever challenge for an honor score in their lifetime.  But, as it pertains to USBC dues, while they might complain they pay too much, these bowlers actually have somewhat of a valid point because the only service the USBC offers them is sanctioned lane conditions.  It’s not like they are going to be soaking the USBC for the cost of a 300 ring every season, so going up on dues will not sit well with this crowd.  I think the USBC knows this represents a major faction of bowlers out there, and they do not want to risk losing a ton of members by going up on dues, so to appease this crowd, they cut back on the available awards and keep the costs the same.

2)  These bowlers are the ones who constantly complain that dues are too high, even though they have the ability to grab multiple honor scores every  year.  The cost of (1) plaque that the USBC gives the bowler in this group costs them more than double the dues for a season, but these type of bowlers still complain that they should get more awards and at a cheaper rate.  Easy house shots have inflated their egos to the point that they lose all rational thought process when it comes to the amount of money it takes for the USBC to produce the awards for which they seek.  This is a relatively small percentage of bowlers, but a significant enough amount that the USBC had to scale back the awards program because they were going to go bankrupt if they kept giving away awards basically for free.  There is no way the USBC can ever truly please these bowlers, no matter what they charge or the awards that they offer on a yearly basis.  You never want to be lumped into this category if you are a bowler, and if you are in this category, please feel free to change your ways and exit at any time.

3)  These bowlers are happy with the current awards system, and will contend for USBC awards on a regular basis.  These bowlers may think that the USBC dues are a little high, but they don’t put up a stink about it.  These bowlers put their faith in the USBC that they make the best decisions for the sport of bowling, and even if the dues go up, they will pay to play.  There are a small number in this category, so the USBC doesn’t cater to them or their needs (per se), and will make decisions not based on the wants or needs of this group specifically, but will cover this group most of the time when they make decisions about the sport of bowling.

4)  This is the smallest group, but one that I fashion myself to be in.  This group will bowl and pay the USBC dues no matter what the cost.  This group feels that the recognition of an achievement is more significant than the ring or plaque that describes it.  The USBC could charge $40 a year for dues, and this group would pay, because they love the sport of bowling, and will do whatever it takes to make sure they continue doing it.  The USBC could eliminate the awards program altogether, but as long as they still recognize personal accomplishments on a national level (and database), then this group will not complain about it.  Unfortunately, this group is small in number, so it is hard for them to get their voices heard over the roar of the other groups who are in the USBC’s earshot.

Those are the (4) groups I think cover most bowlers out there as they pertain to USBC dues.  I personally have no problem with the USBC scaling back the awards program (like they have done now) and keep costs in line at $10 a year.  They are a business, after all, and if they do not generate sufficient funds to stay afloat, then there will be NO MORE awards for bowlers, because the USBC won’t be around to give them anymore. 

I get frustrated when I hear bowlers whine and complain that they are giving the USBC their money and getting nothing back in return.  That is the biggest load off poo I have ever heard.  For starters, IT’S ONLY $10 A YEAR!!!!!  Many bowlers complain like they have to pay $1,000 a year to bowl in a sanctioned league.  Of course these same bowlers will go out and spend over $500 for a couple of new bowling balls to try to achieve the awards that they complain are too expensive at a $10 fee once a year, so there is quite a bit of irony in there I think.  I guess some people think that the USBC has a stash of plaques, patches, and rings, and they are all FREE to produce for the USBC.  Well, let me tell you, it costs money for them to give out these awards, and paying a measly $10 is peanuts compared to what bowlers probably SHOULD pay to compete in USBC sanctioned leagues.

I would also be fine with the USBC telling bowlers they have to go up on dues from say $10 to $15.  But, and let me stress this, the USBC should do some research before a rate hike, and sell it to the bowlers.  I think they should do a cost analysis and see what they would need to charge to bring back some of the awards they eliminated, and still keep the quality of awards they have now, and give that final total to bowlers and let them know exactly what is going on and why.  Remember, the biggest group of bowlers are the ones who win the least amount of awards, so a rate hike would need to fly with this crowd for the USBC to stay viable.  So, by explaining to everyone that the cost increase for dues is to solely expand the awards program for ALL bowlers, the USBC might get away with a rate hike and not lose too many bowlers in the process (I still think it would be crazy to quit bowling just because you don’t want to pay a one time $10 or $15 fee once a year, but hey, that’s just my opinion).

I just feel like many bowlers don’t realize that their $10 they give the USBC each year isn’t just for awards.  They offer bowlers the opportunity to bowl on sanctioned lane conditions, ensuring that any and all scores you throw are legitimate.  Also, they require each bowling center to pass an annual inspection covering all aspects of the game, from lanes to pins, and approaches to pin decks.  This way, bowlers can compete against one another on a level playing field night in and night out.  The USBC also provides coaching classes, so that bowlers have certified coaches available in their area to help improve their bowling game(s).  Also, the USBC has a state of the art research and development facility to stay on the cutting edge of bowling technology, and to ensure that the playing rules accurately reflect the changing landscape of the sport of bowling.  The USBC rulebook gives leagues and tournaments guidelines to follow so that all competition is conducted in as fair of a manner as possible.  If you felt your $10 was too much at the beginning of this blog post, do you still feel that way after reading all the different services that the USBC provides?

I am not saying the USBC is perfect, but I think that for what they charge, they get the most out of our money on an annual basis.  I would be fine with paying double or triple the amount we currently pay, but I also realize that the USBC would lose many members if they did that, so I just try to let people know that their $10 can only go so far as it pertains to the awards program the USBC provides.  I do have a few possible solutions that the USBC could implement, or at least bring up for discussion at the next annual meeting, as it pertains to the amount they should charge bowlers to sanction.  Here are a few of my ideas:

1)  Set a base price for all new bowlers who have never received a USBC award before.  Say that price is $10 for example.  Well, if you achieve say (2) awards during the season, the following year you would pay an additional fee depending on the amount of awards you won.  Maybe that fee could go up by $3 for each award you get.  So, if you won (2) awards the year before, your sanction dues for the following season would be $16, instead of $10.  This type of sliding scale doesn’t penalize those who do not achieve honor scores, and passes the extra cost onto those who want the awards from USBC, and the bowlers who also achieve those awards from USBC.

2)  Give bowlers three different cost options when they sanction with the USBC.  The first, and cheapest, option is to pay for basic USBC services minus the awards program.  You would only pay something in the range of $10 like it is now, you would get recognition of your achievement in the USBC’s database, but not receive any actual award from the USBC for what you accomplish.  The second option would be an upgraded $15 annual fee, and that entitles you to the current awards system that is in place.  You get (1) of each type of award per season, all the benefits of USBC sanctioning, a subscription to US Bowler magazine, and basically keep things the way they are in the current system.  The last option would be an upgraded $20 sanctioning, and that gets you (2) of any award, a subscription to US Bowler magazine, first choice of bowling dates and times for the USBC National Tournament over the $10 or $15 crowd, and all the other benefits that USBC sanctioning has to offer.  I am just guessing at the costs of all of these options, but I think that some sort of tiered system would be a viable way for the USBC to make all types of bowlers happy, from the ones who could care less about awards, all the way to the ones who live to collect plaques and patches.

In closing, I would like to say that the debate over what the USBC charges for sanctioning is far from over.  I have just tried to shed some light on the subject, and make bowlers think about where that $10 goes that they give to the USBC every season.  $10 is a small amount to pay for the peace of mind that there is a governing body trying to make the playing field as level and competitive as possible, while still giving awards back to the bowlers who achieve great things on the lanes that they sanction.  I would give my $10 a year to the USBC just for that, even if they eliminated the awards program altogether.  As long as they keep a national database so that I can look up what I have achieved over the years, then the rest is just gravy.  Actually achieving a 300 or 800 (for example), and having that out there for the world to see, means more than some ring or plaque that will sit in my house will ever mean.  Knowing that what I achieve is legitimate and on a fair playing surface is reason enough for me to sanction with USBC every season, in every league and tournament, no matter what the cost may be.  As always, the opinion expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the Maine State USBC, or any of its members.  Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will try and respond ASAP.  Good luck, and good bowling everyone!

PBA Senior Tour: Entering a Golden Age by James Goulding III

PBA Senior Tour: Entering a Golden Age

by James Goulding III

Hello once again avid Bowler-2-Bowler blog readers!  Sorry it has been a month since the last blog entry, but the hectic end to the current bowling season, as well as a multitude of good tournament bowling has left me with little time to catch up with all things bowling related here on the world-wide web.  I was strolling through the PBA headlines, and one thing caught my eye, which was the current results for the senior U.S. Open which is going on right now at the Suncoast Bowling Center in Las Vegas, NV.  I got to thinking about the senior tour, and how it has gone from immensely popular back in the days when John Handegard, Gene Stus, and the great Earl Anthony ruled the roost, to practically non-existent a few years ago, and now it seems to be making a comeback in popularity.  Why?  Well, let me throw my .02 out on the matter, as reading through the PBA website gave me the idea for this post, and I have some opinions on the matter, so let’s get started!

First off, I think that the PBA Senior Tour is about to enter another “Golden Age” of sorts.  What I mean by this, of course, is the talent that people are going to see out on the lanes in the next few years is going to be as good as it has ever been on the PBA Senior Tour.  Viewers relate to bowlers they have seen on TV their whole lives, and now that many of the great PBA players of the past 20-30 years are getting into that 50+ age category to qualify for the senior tour, I believe the same viewers who followed those great players will continue to watch them do battle on the senior tour.  There are some great players who are now eligible for the senior tour, and some who have had some tremendous success in their limited time on tour already.  Tom Baker, Harry Sullins, Brian Voss, Hugh Miller, and the great Walter Ray Williams Jr. are just a few of the names out there competing, and WRW is still at the top of the heap on the regular PBA Tour, so he is a dual force to be reckoned with!  In the next few years we are going to see the likes of Parker Bohn III, Pete Weber, Ameleto Monacelli, and many other great PBA bowlers become eligible for the senior tour, and I believe this is what is going to make the PBA Senior Tour “must see TV” every tournament.  All of those players have been legends and staples on TV for decades, and now that they get a chance to compete at a high level on the senior tour, well, that just adds more drama and flare to a tour that so desperately needs it.  I just hope that the executives of the PBA realize this in the next few years, and take advantage of the marketing of the PBA Senior Tour by letting everyone out there know some of the “big guns” who are now competing out there.  This really could be a “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour, but without the backing of the PBA front office, it will sadly go un-noticed and these great bowlers will not get the recognition, or financial gain, from the tournament bowling that they deserve.

Another reason I say this is going to be a “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour is because history has shown me that these things are cyclical.  What I mean is, a tour like the senior tour, which has an age limit to get in, goes through periods of  drought where there are not many bowlers becoming eligible who may have dominated on the PBA Tour in their younger years, and even though they are getting a steady stream of senior players from the amateur circuit, many TV viewers are more likely to tune in if a recognizable name is on the telecast.  If you look back to the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s, which was the last “Golden Age” on the PBA Senior Tour, you had a flood of talent come up from the PBA ranks, the likes of Early Anthony, Teata Semiz, Gary Dickinson, Johnny Petraglia, and the legendary Dick Weber.  Many people grew up watching these gentlemen dominate the PBA Tour every Saturday afternoon on ABC, and now that they were on the senior tour, the same viewers tuned in to see them dominate once again, and they did not get disappointed.  I, myself, was too young to see the great Earl Anthony or Dick Weber compete on the national tour, but I was able to see both of them bowl on the senior tour, and it is something I will never forget.  If there were no senior tour, then I would have missed out on seeing two of the best bowlers of all time, which is another reason why it is so vital that the PBA keep the senior tour going.  For many younger viewers who didn’t get to see Pete Weber win the Triple Crown, or see WRW become the first bowler to top $200,000 in a single season, for instance, the senior tour allows them to see these guys in a whole new light.  So, like I said earlier, I believe that the cycle is about to be back on the upswing with the ground swell of PBA talent either eligible now, or becoming eligible in the next five years for the senior circuit.  I really do think that we are going to see something special with the senior tour, just like we did back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and I don’t want to miss a minute of the action.

Lastly, I would like to say that the PBA needs to get their heads out of the sand, and get these senior bowlers on TV again!  How are people supposed to even know that Brian Voss may be bowling against WRW for a title if it is not on TV?  I would hate to miss a classic battle between two of the best bowlers of the last 25 years, just because the PBA decides to keep it off of TV to save a buck.  It would be a shame for an entire generation of bowling fans to miss out on some great senior bowling, so maybe with the infusion of talent coming onto the PBA Senior Tour in the next few years things will change for the better.  Every form of professional bowling deserves to be televised, from the PBA Women’s Tour, the PBA Tour, and the Senior PBA Tour, they are all professional athletes and deserve the respect of a national viewing audience to showcase their unique talent on the lanes week in and week out.  Maybe I am in the minority on this opinion, but I feel very strongly about it, and think most hard-core bowling fans would agree with me.  Get ALL of these professional bowlers on TV!!

In closing, I would like to say that I enjoy all forms of professional bowling, but I hold a special place for the PBA Senior Tour in my heart.  I love watching how these great bowlers can continue to compete at a level I could only dream of, and at an age when most people are thinking more about relaxing than grinding out 30 games of qualifying week in and week out.  It takes a truly special talent to do what the senior players do, and I hope the senior tour gains in popularity like never before due to the factors I mentioned earlier in my blog entry.  I think with the infusion of such spectacular talent over the next few years, along with the great bowlers already on the senior tour, this will become another “Golden Age” for the PBA Senior Tour.  As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Please feel free to comment on anything you read, and I will post it up here, and respond ASAP.  Thank you for reading, have a great time on the lanes everyone, and don’t forget to check out the PBA Senior Tour this summer!

Highlights and Rules Changes from 2010 USBC Annual Meeting by James Goulding III

Highlights and Rules Changes from 2010 USBC Annual Meeting

by James Goulding III

Hello fellow bowlers!  Here I am again blogging just after midnight EST in Maine, and I have many topics running through my head.  One of which was the annual USBC meeting which was just held on May 1, 2010 in Reno, NV.  There are numerous changes that come up for review as it applies to league, tournament, and format rules every season, and most of the time bowlers are only informed of those changes when a violation of a newly adapted rule takes place.  Well, to try to avoid such a situation for the upcoming 2010 – 2011 bowling season, I am going to list the approved rules changes as well as some of the other highlights of the annual meeting, and give a synopsis of my personal view on how some of (if any) of the rules changes may actually affect bowlers out there.

Program Changes

  •  USBC will offer a new credit card partnership with Nationwide that gives card users free USBC national membership and other bowling-related benefits.
  • USBC will put the U.S. Women’s Open on hiatus for 2011.
  • U.S. Bowler magazine will be an electronic-only publication, while U.S. Youth Bowler will continue to be mailed to homes.
  • The 2011 USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships will be broadcast exclusively on

James’ opinion on the program changes:

Two of the changes I am fine with, which is the new credit card partnership and the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships being broadcast on  But, I do not agree with suspending the U.S. Women’s Open or eliminating the mailing of U.S. Bowler magazine.  I think that there are some great female bowlers out there who have shown that they deserve every benefit the men receive as far as tournament availability goes.  The fact that women like Kelly Kulick can compete with (and beat) the men proves that point.  The USBC will say that women are allowed to bowl in the regular U.S. Open, but, I believe that women having their own U.S. Open was something special, and I do not agree with suspending it at all.  Also, I enjoy the U.S. Bowler magazine.  There are some really good articles, coaching tips, and bowling ball advertisements in the magazine.  I may still check it out online, but I am much more inclined to pick it up and read it if it comes in my mail rather than having to hunt it down on, which is not exactly the user-friendliest site out there (in case you haven’t noticed).

League Rules Changes

  • Amendment No. LR2 (Approved)
    Rule 102c. Duties of the President, Item 3
    Requires bank statements to be sent to the president.
  • Amendment No. LR3 (Approved)
    Rule 102f. Duties of the Treasurer, Item 7
    Changes the time frame for retaining treasurer records from 120 days to one year from completion of the season.
  • Amendment No. LR5 (Approved)
    Rule 106a. Series – How Bowled
    Allows for each game or frame to be bowled on a different pair of lanes.
  • Amendment No. LR6 (Approved)
    Rule 111c.
    Gives leagues more flexibility for requesting pre/post bowling.

James opinion on league rules changes:

I am actually fine with all four rules changes for leagues next season.  I think that the LR5 Amendment which allows for each game or frame to be bowled on a different pair of lanes is an interesting change.  This could allow for some really neat alternate format leagues that may swap pairs of lanes each game, making it more like some tournament bowling that I have done, like the USBC Masters, for instance.  It is also good to have treasurer records kept for up to one year, just in case a discrepancy arises and those figures need to be retrieved.  I will be curious to see the exact wording of the pre/post bowling rules change in the new rule book, as it is pretty vague right now.  I am not sure what they mean by “more flexibility” for requesting pre/post bowling.

Tournament Rules Changes

  • Amendment No. TR2 (Approved)
    Rule 319a. Conditions that Apply
    Treats all averages, including summer averages the same.
  • Amendment No. TR6 (Approved)
    Rule 320a. Two Lanes Required
    Allows for each tournament game or frame to be bowled on a different pair of lanes.
  • Amendment No. TR7 (Approved)
    Rule 329. Protests and Appeals
    Changes the time frame for protesting rule infractions to 72 hours and the time frame for appealing tournament management’s decision to 10 days.

James’ opinion on the tournament rules changes:

Now that I am a tournament manager, I have a problem with the wording of Amendment No. TR7, which “changes the time frame for protesting rule infractions to 72 hours and the time frame for appealing tournament management’s decision to 10 days”.  Now, the old rule stated that you had to appeal before tournament prizes are paid out, which is normally 30 days, and now will be 10 days, which I think is fine.  But, for example, the tournament I run is the Maine Invitational Scratch Tournament, and it is a one day tournament where prizes are paid out the same day.  So, that 10 day appeal rule for tournament manager’s decisions doesn’t make sense since we pay out the same day.  The old rule said protests have to be filed by the completion of such a tournament, but there is no mention of that language in the rule amendment.  I am going to reserve final judgement of this until the amendments have been applied fully to the new rule book, but, just try to be aware of this possible change it you either a) have a tournament appeal to make, or b) are a tournament manager taking the appeal from a bowler.

USBC National Bylaws Changes

  • Amendment No. B1 (Approved)
    Article VI, Meetings
    Section A. Annual Meeting, Item 2
    Provides for electronic balloting as the final system used for voting, unless the president determines the circumstances require a different method.

James’ opinion on the national bylaws rules change:

I really don’t have much of an opinion on this one, except that electronic balloting may take some human error out of the equation for voting, which is probably a good thing overall.

Here are a few other interesting tidbits from the annual meeting:

  • Darlene Baker, Mahomet, Ill., was named USBC president at the Annual Meeting. She is the first female president in the history of the organization. Baker will begin her term Aug. 1. The remaining board officers will be announced following the June board meeting.
  • USBC once again generated significant financial support for charity. USBC Bowl For The Cure led to a more than $1.1 million donation to Susan G. Komen For The Cure at the 2010 meeting. Contributions to Bowlers to Veterans Link from USBC were nearly $826,000, an increase of more than $100,000 from the previous year.
  • Creation of a new independent corporation to oversee and manage SMART (Scholarship Management and Accounting Reports for Tenpins) funds. The corporation will have its own board of directors comprised of bowling industry leaders with financial backgrounds.



I have been highlighting approved rules changes, as well giving my personal opinion on each type of change, but there are many more rules changes that were rejected that I did not touch upon.  If you would like to check those out, as well as the official summary from the USBC about the annual meeting, please follow the link below:

The only rejected rule change I will talk about is the one that rejected going up on national and state dues for the USBC.  There was a proposal to go from $10 to $15 on a national level, as well as go from $1 to $2 at the state level, and both were rejected.  This is a change that I agree with, to an extent.  Since the USBC has significantly cut down on the type and number of awards given out, I do feel that freezing dues is in order at this time.  I think bowlers would have a hard time stomaching a dues increase when they are getting less recognition of accomplishments from the USBC.  But, I think it would be better if, overall,  the USBC researched how much of a dues increase it would take to get back some of the awards they have cut back on in recent years, and then went ahead with that proposal, instead of just freezing dues and cutting back on awards.  If that means going from $10 to $15 or so, I think most bowlers would be o.k. with that providing that they get the proper recognition again from the USBC in the form of national awards being expanded once again.  That is my take on it anyway.  I know many bowlers who are upset that such awards as the Big 4 and 7-10 split have been removed, as well as the 299 and 298 rings.  Those are just a few examples, but if the USBC actually listened to the bowlers on this subject, I think they would come to a different conclusion than just freezing dues for another calendar year.

In closing, I would like to say that I have tried to highlight some changes for bowlers to look at, and get familiar with, before the start of the 2010 – 2011 bowling season.  It is always nice to be up to date on the USBC rules manual, because you just never know when an obscure rule you never heard of before ends up changing the course of a night of bowling for you.  As always, the opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and do not represent those of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Thank you for reading, and feel free to comment on anything you read in the blog.  I will respond to your questions or comments ASAP, and enjoy the interaction with all of you bowlers out there who care enough to read and post on the blog.  Good luck and good bowling!

James Goulding III

Maine Invitational Scratch Tournament Manager

Bowling Center Selection: My Personal Experience(s); by James Goulding III

Bowling Center Selection:  My Personal Experience(s)

by James Goulding III

Hello again my fellow bowlers.  We have hit the time of year where we look toward the end of our fall bowling leagues, and make decisions such as which leagues to bowl next year and with what group of people.  It is nice to bowl with friends in a fun, low-pressure league, and it is also fun (on a different level) to put together a team of higher average bowlers and try to dominate a scratch league the following season.  There are so many choices, it can be hard to make the right ones without hurting a bowlers feelings, or possibly sacrificing something you really want to “honor” a commitment to a friend or team-mate.  Those decisions are such an individual thing that it would be hard for me to tell any of you out there which way to lean when forming your teams for the following bowling season.  Instead, in this installment of my bowler-2-bowler post, I am going to sing the praises of two of the bowling centers that I choose to bowl in, and how they are giving back to the bowling community here at the local level, making league and tournament bowling such an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everyone who sets foot in their doors.  Just to clarify my blog post ahead of time, this is going to outline my personal experiences, in the hopes that saying positive things about bowling centers in the state of Maine will promote the sport and grow the number of people out there who may want to commit to bowling leagues, tournaments, etc.  The spirit of my blog post is not an advertisement (per se), but more to the point of highlighting reasons why I like bowling in certain bowling centers, and touting the good things they do for bowlers.  I certainly encourage everyone who reads this that bowl in Maine to add a comment highlighting the things that their local bowling centers do that make it a great place to bowl.  I would love to hear those stories and comments, as promoting bowling in Maine and posting positive things about the sport and our local centers is what this blog is all about!  With that out of the way, here are the examples I promise of the two bowling centers I bowl leagues in, and why I enjoy bowling there.

The first bowling center I would like to talk about is Spare Time Recreation Center located in Lewiston, ME.  This is a 34 lane-bowling center, which makes it tied for the largest center in the state of ME.  The house is uniquely split into two halves (if you will). With lanes 1-18 on one side, and lanes 19-34 on the other side.  In the middle you have the arcade, snack and beverage area, and front desk.  The pro shop inside the bowling center (which is independently owned and operated) is called Moore’s Pro Shop and is my favorite pro shop in the state of Maine (again this is only my personal opinion, I would like everyone who has a favorite pro shop to comment on it and we can start a list for people who read the blog to choose from and follow).  They are a full service shop with competitive pricing and top-notch service.  Please feel free to stop by the pro shop, as they are always there to help you out.  This is a common theme at Spare Time Recreation, which is excellent customer service (in my opinion).  They do an outstanding job of catering to the bowlers needs, and even on the nights where there may be some machinery issues, they do their best to help things run as smoothly as possible.  Spare Time Recreation Center in Lewiston also has a very well run youth program, and run leagues 7 days a week during the fall bowling season. 

They also run a rewards card program, which works like the rewards points you would have on a credit card.  You obtain a free rewards card, and every time you purchase something, you earn money back on the card, which can be accumulated and then used to purchase things at the bowling center.  The best part is, you can also put your league bowling on the card, and earn money back every week you bowl!  I applaud Spare Time Recreation for heading up such a great customer service initiative (again, this is based on my personal experience).

The second bowling center I would like to mention is run by the same group from Spare Time Recreation in Lewiston, and that is Spare Time Recreation Center in Augusta, ME.  This is a 24-lane facility with all the modern amenities that you would look for in any bigger bowling alley.  The thing that I like so much about Spare Time Recreation in Augusta is the way they everyone makes you feel like family every time you walk in the door.  I bowl in a Tuesday night league that fills the building, and it is so nice to go into a place where all the employees know you, and go out of their way to make you, the customer, happy.  They hold leagues every night during the fall bowling season, and are very active in the bowling tournament scene.  Spare Time Recreation in Augusta hosts the Miller Lite Open, which is a large tournament that pays scratch and handicap divisions every season.  They also hold PBAX lane condition tournaments, as well as host a monthly stop for the Maine Invitational Scratch Tournament.   Another nice thing about Spare Time Recreation in Augusta is that they participate in the same rewards card program that is in place in their Lewiston bowling center.  Actually, they have another bowling center in Waterville that is part of the same group, and all three centers participate in the program.  Plus, you can use the same rewards card at all three facilities and redeem your cash back at any of them.  Those are just SOME of the reasons I like bowling at Spare Time Recreation in Augusta, but if you are curious, go try them out for yourself and comment back here what you think about your experience bowling there, too.

Both Lewiston and Augusta have a super strike jackpot that challenges any bowler who is up to the task.  Basically, there are ten different frames you have to throw strikes in during the night, and if you can get all those strikes in the EXACT frames you are supposed to, you win the cash in the prize fund.  You could win 10%, 50%, or 100% depending on how many strikes you get in the 10th frame the last game.  It only costs $1 every week to get in, and some of the pots have reached well over $1,000 before they were won, so it is a lot of fun AND you can make back some serious cash.  This is just another benefit they offer to bowlers that makes them a great place to bowl (again, this is my opinion and feel free to leave a comment about the great things that your local Maine bowling centers do to give back to bowlers).

I just wanted to share some of the reasons why I choose to bowl at Spare Time Recreation Center in Lewiston and Augusta, ME.  As bowlers, we always hear about some of the negative things people say about bowling centers, but I thought this would be a great time to show some of the positive things that a few of Maine’s bowling centers are doing.  I feel that if more people realize that there are some really good benefits to bowling leagues and/or tournaments in Maine bowling centers, they would be encouraged to join and/or enter those leagues or tournaments more frequently.  Promoting Maine bowling is one of the reasons I love writing for this blog, and I hope that people see that my post is in the spirit of promoting bowling throughout the state of Maine by showcasing the reasons why I choose to bowl in two of Maine’s bowling centers in Lewiston and Augusta.  I also don’t mean this to sound like there aren’t any other fantastic places to bowl in ME, but rather I am just mentioning the two that I bowl in every week, and the reason(s) why I do so.  If you have some good personal experiences at the bowling centers you frequent, please feel free to comment on them, and leave those here on the blog for other bowlers to see.  It is always nice to hear about the places that are there FOR the bowlers, and not just hearing the horror stories about the bowling centers you want to avoid.  Please feel free to ask any questions about anything in the blog, and I will get back to you ASAP.  As always, the opinions expressed in this blog entry are my own, and in no way reflect those of the MSUSBC or any of its members.  Thanks for reading, and good luck out there on the lanes!!!

2010 – 2011 PBA Tour Information: “A Season Of Change” by James Goulding III

2010 – 2011 PBA Tour Notes:  “A Season Of Change”

by James Goulding III

As the current 2009 – 2010 season on the PBA tour winds down to the last few events, it is time to start wondering where the PBA will be next season.  It is no secret that the current economy has taken a toll on everybody, especially businesses.  And, the PBA is no exception in that regard.  There have been rumors of a possible short season schedule to save money next year, or smaller prize funds, or the worst case scenario being that the PBA tour folds up and closes its doors altogether.  Well, some of those questions were answered this week, and some were not so clear just yet.  Much of the information obtained for my blog post can be found on the PBA forums, just follow the link at the bottom of the page.  Here is a brief synopsis of where the PBA tour stands heading into next season:

The Professional Bowlers Association laid out general plans for the 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour season in a meeting with the exempt Tour players Wednesday in Norwich, Conn., site of this week’s GoRVing PBA Match Play Championship.

Highlights of the announcements made by Fred Schreyer, PBA Tour Commissioner and CEO and Tom Clark, Deputy Commissioner and COO:

– The PBA Tour’s signature event, the PBA Tournament of Champions, will feature a record $1 million prize fund, record $250,000 first-place prize and different eligibility rules making it open to any PBA titlist (National, Regional, Senior, Women’s Series) in history.  The Tournament of Champions will air Jan. 23.  This season’s event, which was won by Kelly Kulick in history-making fashion, scored the highest ratings for the PBA in five years.

– The ESPN Television schedule of 23 original PBA programs will begin at the end of November, 2010, and run through April 2011.

– Lumber Liquidators has affirmed its commitment as the PBA Tour’s title sponsor through September, 2011.  Lumber Liquidators has been the title sponsor since the beginning of the 2008-09 PBA Tour season.

– The PBA World Series of Bowling will return, producing nine separate TV shows and culminating with the PBA World Championship.  In a story that captured the imagination of the sports world, the PBA World Championship was won this season by Michigan’s Tom Smallwood.  A USA vs. World special competition will also emanate from the WSOB.  Last year’s inaugural PBA World Series of Bowling had participation from 700 different professionals from 14 different nations.

– For the first time in PBA history, some events will feature three consecutive days of live television (Friday, Saturday, Sunday time slots on ESPN platforms) coverage.  The PBA World Championship and U.S. Open will both be telecast in this groundbreaking presentation.  Previously, only the final championship round of any PBA Tour event has been telecast.

– The USBC Masters once again rounds out the list of four major championships and will be aired live from Reno’s National Bowling Stadium.

– For the first time in PBA history, live telecasts will be in ESPN High Definition.

– The first-ever PBA Playoffs will conclude the season with a six-week series of shows.  The elimination series will have its own separate prize fund and be a key decider in the PBA Player of the Year race.

– The Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational returns for the third consecutive year.  The event, which benefits New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul’s CP3 Foundation, features pro bowler/celebrity doubles teams.  LeBron James, Ludacris, Dwyane Wade and Hines Ward are among celebrities having competed the past two years.

– A new “Xtra Frame Tour” will bring the PBA Tour players to at least five different locations in the USA for non-televised events conducted with a similar format as the current PBA Senior Tour.  The events will be webcast exclusively on the PBA’s official video service on, Xtra Frame.  Xtra Frame has doubled in its subscriber base since this season’s inaugural WSOB.

Further information with more specificity on prize funds, tournament formats, event venues, qualifying tournaments and complete event and TV schedule will be released soon.

Now, there are many details and prize funds still to be determined, but I have to say I was stunned by the news.  I didn’t expect the PBA tour to run for 23 tournaments next year, which is a very welcome change for the better.  Also, I am excited to see three-day live coverage of events like the U.S. Open.  It is nice to see the top 4 or 5 on TV Sunday afternoons, but getting to see what it takes to get there may draw in some non-traditional bowling viewers and help to educate non-bowling sports crowds that bowling on the PBA tour is serious business and a grind to boot.

But, the thing that peaked my interest the most was the 1 million dollar prize fund for the TOC, with a $250,000 first place payout.  I have been saying for years that the only way bowling is going to get mainstream media coverage and be taken seriously as a sport is to have big payouts.  I know this takes sponsorship and participation money, but it finally seems the PBA is on the right track with this one.  Capitalizing on the Kelly Kulick TOC win from this season had to be a major factor in getting enough sponsorship money to make this happen.  Plus, if this ends up being a boon for the PBA next season, it could lead to increased prize funds across the board in seasons to come.

On a personal note, it will FINALLY be nice to see the telecast in ACTUAL high-definition coverage next season!  I have been waiting for this ever since buying my 52″ plasma TV last year, and I can’t wait to watch the first telecast of the season as I drool into my pile of nachos and potato chips!

I think that the PBA tour is trying to revitalize a sport that has always been considered a niche sport, and give it credibility while making money at the same time.  I am glad to see they are working hard to put out a quality product next season, an my only hope is that the payouts for all the other tournaments during the season see similar increases so that professional bowlers can once again be proud to proclaim that they bowl on the PBA tour for a living.  There hasn’t been any additional info as far as the tour trials, or the status of the number of exempt tour players for next season, so when that info becomes available I will try to make sure it ends up on here as well.  As always, feel free to comment on anything you read in my blog post, I will get back to you ASAP.  The opinions in this blog are independent of the MSUSBC and its board members, and are to be used for information and entertainment purposes only.  Thanks for reading, have a great day.