The writer looks back and relives his limited experiences.
By PAUL TRGOVAC
BOARDMAN -- As I got ready to head into Camelot Lanes for the opening day of action at the 80,000 Boardman Challenge, a Generations Bowling Tour event, my mind traveled back to 1978 when I bowled in my first Professional Bowling Tournaments.
I was at one time a regional member of the PBA, and did actually make a check in a pro tournament.
The first was for a whopping 110 in Parkersburg, W. Va., and the other, for 250, was for finishing 12th in the Headquarters Regional Tournament at Amos Lanes in Columbus.
I didn't ever make a dime in a national tournament, but I didn't do that bad, especially one Friday night in Hollywood, Fla. in a little side tournament after missing the cut in the qualifier for the regular tournament. I bowled 299-248-279 for 826 to win!
The interesting thing about this week for me is that many of the bowlers I used to watch and compete against are in this tournament. Bowlers like Mark Roth, Gary Dickinson, Dave Ozio and Pete Couture -- all former champions on the PBA tour.
For me, I don't ever think I will be able to return to the lanes in an event like this. A couple of major operations for cancer has stopped that, but I still can enjoy watching the sport. Much has changed over the last 20 years in the game, but you still have to knock down all 10 pins from 60 feet away with a 16-pound ball, which when thrown perfectly only hits four of the pins, (the other six are hit by the other pins). Then the lane surface is changing constantly as the rolling balls pick up and move the conditioner laid down on the surface. This makes you move, changing the angle you are sending the ball down the lane, and you change bowling balls to find one that works better.
All of this is part of the game of bowling at this level, one that I miss. There is no other feeling like being a part of a sport at the top level.
Ask Joe Nuzzo, who was a full-time tour player, or Rob Theis, Francis Zitnik or Danny Guerrieri -- some of the local guys who have been there.
We have had some guys do pretty well on this level in bowling. Bill Beach of Sharon won the ABC Masters Tournament, the same tournament (now the USBC Masters) that concluded Sunday in Wisconsin. Bill also was a champion on the regular and senior PBA tour. Then there was the late Larry Miller, who won the PBA Senior Championship at Hall of Fame Lanes in Canton. Larry was one of the people who persuaded me to join the PBA, and was one of the great guys to hang with while on the road. Nuzzo had a couple of very good years on the road, and did well the one time he made the show -- the ABC TV finals). He made a final in Torrance, Calif., in 1978, and won two games, including one over Dickinson before losing to Roth who went on to win the event. Nuzzo finished third. Theis and Zitnik also had success on the national stage, as has Bill Bahny on the senior PBA tour.