by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
Most of us know the difference between a solid ten and a half pocket ten, a stone eight pin, and an eight where you’re lucky you did not leave the ten with it. (Lefties please insert seven and nine). I have to admit I get a little annoyed when I am hitting the pocket on every shot and three or four ten pins foul up the score. But then I am a down and in player without a lot of revs on my shots, so I have to accept those back row pins that are left standing at the most inopportune times.
Then I tuned in to the Tournament of Champions tournament Sunday afternoon. All five players in the stepladder throw extremely high rev shots; so much so that they do not even use the most aggressive equipment on the market today. In league bowling, generally the center will dress the lanes with a house shot, somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 feet of oil on the first part of the lane, and usually crowned heavier between the third and fifth arrow. As the night progresses, oil will carry down, and if you are on a pair with the high rev bowlers of today, the lane will start to dry out toward the end of game two. Keep in mind that there are 12 to 15 games bowled, and the pattern dries up and bowlers move left. In the PBA tournament, I suspect that a heavier and maybe longer oil pattern was used, but the pros rev it up so fiercely that the line was gone by the second game! I am also pretty sure that the TV lights may have something to do with the pattern changing quickly. So now we have all of the competitors lining up with the left gutter cap and doing their best to hit the sixth arrow on the way out to the ten board and trying to hold the pocket. What was mind boggling was that I saw solid high rev pocket hits from the pros that left ten pins, so I guess I won’t whine anymore when my dump and chase down the ten board doesn’t always strike.
But I am not sure that the bowling pioneers intended for the game to be played the way some of modern players approach it, regardless of one or two handed deliveries. When I started bowling, the ball return covered the entire length of the approach. There were no returns below the lane surface, you could see the ball coming back all the way, and there was a device on the return near the foul line that slowed it down. There was no way to play the sixth arrow back then. (NOTE: to drock and fish: Yes there were arrows on the lanes when I started bowling, and the balls had three holes in them). Even when they started designing ball returns below the lane surface, They still left the return belt housing about 8 feet from the foul line. The only way to play the gutter cap (for right handers on the right lane, and vice versa for the lefties), is to alter your trip to the foul line in about the third step. I have also seen some bowlers stand in front of the housing and take a couple of phantom steps in place of their normal approach.
The tournament does not seem to have the fanfare of the old days when it was the Firestone TOC, but the finals were more fun to watch than the team stuff that’s been on lately. Osku looked completely lost, Tommy Jones didn’t seem to handle the transition, Sean Rash bowls like Jim Furyk putts, Bel Monte looks like the before in the Barbasol commercial, (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and Pete Weber is still Pete Weber, score another major for a 50 year old! And to what or to whom was Tracy Weber giving the one finger salute? The Weber drama never ends.