Thoughts while waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for an opposing league bowler to return to the lanes to take his turn:
Every time I write a bowling story, I recall the advice of the late Barry Gurney, perhaps the top bowler to come out of the San Fernando Valley. “Fred,” he instructed me, “we don’t call them bowling alleys anymore. They’re bowling houses or bowling centers.”
Barry, who died one year ago, was not only a great bowler and a great bowling coach, but he was a much-appreciated critic and coach for my bowling stories. He was a true ambassador of the sport. His goal was to give back to the sport as much as he could and it was mission accomplished. . .
What’s going on at Canoga Park Bowl? Rosie Bates and Marsha Martinez both blasted near-perfect games. Rosie averages in the 150s and Martinez in the 180s . . .
Correction: Those near-300 games were rolled at Winnetka Bowl, the new name for historic Canoga Park Bowl. The 54-year-old bowling center (thank you Barry!) is located in Winnetka. . .
As for Rosie and Marsha, perhaps they were buoyed by the presence of Johnnie Englehart, who bowls in the same Monday night league. Englehart (shown in photo) has drilled more than 50 perfect games and 60 800 series. . .
As for Bill Plummer’s extremely rare back-to-back 300 games, it should be noted that his extremely rare feat occurred at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana, considered one of the more challenging bowling houses in the area. . .
Kudos to the Chicago Tribune for its story this week recognizing a bowling trend. Its headline: “Bowling alleys fight sport’s decline by going upscale. As league popularity ebbs, sites add fine dining, fancy drinks, hip décor.”
Tribune reporter Richard Webner provided good analysis and the story pretty much supported the contention of Bowlmor AMF Chief Executive, Chairman and President Tom Shannon that bowling can be a growth industry.
Webner cited statistics from Tom Martino, president of the Bowling Proprietors’ Assn. of America, that higher-end bowling centers with fancy arcade games and menus are growing “at a rate of about 40 to 50 a year.”
Said Martino: “People want a little more in their lives. They want more variety, the party atmosphere. I just think they want the whole ball of wax.” . . .
So where does that leave league bowling? Even though it’s in decline, it’s not going anywhere and perhaps one day it will enjoy a renaissance.
People still like that sense of accomplishment of making difficult shots and knocking down a lot of pins. And even though a perfect game is unlikedly for the very, very vast majority, it’s something to shoot for.
And rolling a personal best – or even bowling above one’s average – goes a long way to providing a satisfying and exhilarating feeling that can last a day . . . or longer.