BY JOHN BASSETTI
Several weeks ago, the question — What matters the most to me about bowling? — was asked of professional bowlers and equipment manufacturing staff members.
It was done in conjunction with Hammer’s SaveBowling.com crusade to remove the variables and restore the skill and hard-earned mastery of the game.
Concerns arose because better industry equipment and easy oil patterns have taken the skill out of the game.
Locally, bowlers were asked what matters to them.
Chuck Welch, a USBC Silver certified coach, provided a three-part answer.
The first was the perpetuation of scoring integrity.
“I have bowled with or been around many of the area’s top bowlers, and I do not think people really understand how good they are, and how much time they dedicate to practicing their skills.”
Proper coaching was Welch’s second concern.
“Because many bowlers can average 200-plus on conditions that exist today, they do not seek proper coaching or proper practice. Then they wonder why they can’t score well when the conditions demand consistency, accuracy and spare-making.”
Welch’s third area of interest was the importance of keeping youth involved.
“There are many youth bowling programs and leagues, and they are led, for the most part, by volunteers. Leagues should not be a place where you drop off your kids for a few hours,” he exhorted. “Bowling can become a very positive sport for many kids and can help in building their overall confidence to handle new challenges.
“More involvement by parents and other bowlers can help keeping youth bowling growing and that, in turn, will fuel the next generation of adult bowlers.”
League secretary Carol Morrison tossed in her thoughts.
“Through bowling I have met many wonderful people and made some very close friends. It is a good, healthy physical competition which challenges us to try to improve our game. There is nothing I enjoy more.”
Secretary Chuck Zarbaugh stressed the tradition and competition aspect among generations of family members.
“I have family in the hall of fame and it’s been a big part of our lives for as long as I can remember, like watching my uncle, who turned pro at 18, and trying to accomplish the things that he did so we had something in common.
“Now, the most important thing about bowling is that it’s something that I do with my son. I taught him everything starting when he was 5 and watched him learn and get better.
“Then, when he was old enough to bowl with me in my men’s league, he finally surpassed my own skill level, by far. Still, I enjoy spending quality time together each week.”
Hotshot Dan Guerrieri put an emphasis on his tournament bowling.
“Unlike bowling leagues where the proprietors put out their house shot to keep their customers happy, tournament bowling is a whole different game. Demanding conditions are what separate the experienced players from the good league bowlers. Now you can gain a lot of the same experience from bowling the new PBA experience leagues that use some of the same oil patterns used by the professionals you watch on TV.”
Incidentally, Guerrieri had a 300 in Hively’s Doubles at Amron at the halfway point of the season: week 16 of 32 on Dec. 20.
Denny Riley, secretary-treasurer of the Charlie’s Service/Bedford Trails League at Holiday, worries about the survival of leagues.
“At one time our league had 14 teams and last year we were down to eight. This year I made an effort, along with other individuals in the league, to increase the number. We increased it to 10 teams at the start of this year and after two weeks one team quit and we now have nine.
“At Holiday Bowl as well as other houses, there used to be leagues that came in at 9 p.m. every night, and they are long gone, which indicates a shrinkage in the number of people bowling. I’m not sure if it’s the economy, aging of individuals, the smoking ban or a combination of these factors.”
Riley continued: “I’m pleased to see how successful the high school bowling programs have become, but unless some of these “young guns” join a men’s or women’s league there will continue to be shrinkage in the industry.”
Finally, Andrew M. Bouch’s five-point answer was succinct: 1. Scoring good, 2. friendship/night out with your friends, 3. Winning matches, 4. Carrying shots (some houses seem easier) and 5. Consistent oil pattern.