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    by Randy Ooney     

My Nickel’s Worth                     by Randy Ooney


Rule 319


I am sure that the big kahunas of the National USBC have coffee in the morning after they have checked to see if a new Nickel’s Worth article has been posted on the mnbowling website.  The reason I know this is that USBC Rule 319 has been augmented.


First, flashback to last March when I put my tongue in my cheek and explained how I had a 258 average, second only to drock’s 267.  (Past articles 3-15-12 “Averages”.)  Scratch bowling tournaments such as the PBA, CBA, MSC, and others offer no handicap.  Then there are a number of handicap tournaments throughout the state, with various rules regarding the averages that entrants must declare.  It has been the standard for so many years that an entrant must use the highest average from a previous year’s league.  The rumbling in our Twin Cities area is that since a large number of honor scores are coming from Cedarvale and Texa Tonka, that those must be “easy” lanes.  I have not been down south to visit Brent and Scott for awhile, but I am frequently at the center on Minnetonka Blvd. in St. Louis Park.  It’s true that the scoring condition is very good, but I think it’s a bit unfair to tag either of these centers as easy.  The fact is that they offer leagues that attract some of the best bowlers in the state.  Texa Tonka offers two big dog scratch leagues, 96 players weekly in the Twin City Masters, and 50 players in the Phil Bros Classic.  There are bowlers driving 40-50 miles one way to participate.


When I first started league bowling in the 60’s, nearly every center had a scratch league.  Some had separate straightaway leagues each for men and women.  I used to scoff at guys who would only bowl at Hopkins Lanes, and not Aqua Bowl because they didn’t want to have too high of an average for tournaments.  There are still issues with averages that may never be solved.  There are some that only bowl sober when they are in a tournament.  Then there are those from Brickhouse Lanes in Frostbite Falls that discover the tournament house has automatic pinsetters, computer scoring, and synthetic lanes!  I generally pass on most handicap tournaments and settle for the monthly MSC. 


But, getting back to the title of this article and the opening paragraph; the USBC has modified Rule 319 in the rule book. 


  1.  “The bowler is required to submit the previous season’s highest average of:  
  • A single USBC league average based on a minimum of 21 games; or:
  • A composite average of all USBC leagues, including leagues with less than 21 games bowled.”


Here’s the catch: This rule only applies unless the tournament rules state otherwise.  So the stodgy tournament directors that copy this year’s rules from the back of last year’s entry form continue with status quo.  Meanwhile, if you ever go to “Find a member” at bowl.com

You will find composite averages for all USBC members, especially those who bowl in multiple leagues and at different centers.  If and when they get implemented, the days of “I can’t sub for you because I have 18 games in that league and my average is too high”, will be history.


So, Tournament Directors, It’s your move.  I am thinking most organizers are trying to think of ways to enhance tournaments and increase entries.  Perhaps going to a composite average will do it.  It sure seems fair to me when to determine a bowlers overall skill.


Many thanks to my friend Dick Hanson for contributing information used in this article. 



past articles