Dennis Booth still can’t wait to get to the bowling center twice a week, but he’s a realist who understands that even in today’s high-scoring conditions, his body can’t perform the way it used to.
The self-taught bowler and Mont Pleasant High School graduate celebrated his 75th birthday Thursday, and he’s still putting up some excellent numbers most of the time he steps on the lanes. On other occasions, not so much.
“It’s more of a struggle as you get older,” said Booth, who worked for the New York State Thruway Dept. for 31 years. “There is no question that age makes a difference. Your speed slows down, and you’ve got to be more precise to be successful, I think. Keeping up the speed is hard at my age. You can’t force the speed, because it makes other things go wrong.”
Ever the competitor, Booth averages a very respectable 220 in the Tuesday Nite Classic league at Sportsman’s Bowl, but he’s down to 187 in the Volunteer Firemen league at Sunset Recreation in Albany, and he’s not happy about it.
“The guys these days have no clue about what the scoring conditions used to be like in the old days,” said Booth, who began bowling at the now defunct Woodlawn Lanes. Later, he competed at both Revere Lanes and Mont Pleasant Lanes, other bowling centers that are long gone, and at Boulevard Bowl and Rolling Greens, where he was a three-time average champion in the old Schenectady League. His last scoring title was in 2011.
“I used to bowl in six leagues over five nights,” he recalled.
Booth, a left-hander who lives in Colonie, has nine perfect games and six 800 triples, but he admits the scoring these days is so inflated that it’s hard to compare eras.
“When I was in my early 20s, they gave out $25 for every 700 triple you bowled at Woodlawn Lanes,” he said. “I threw two of the three 700 triples that they had all year at those lanes. That’s the difference in scoring conditions.”
Booth still feels competitive at Sportsman’s, where he fits in with many of the top scratch bowlers, but he says bowling at Sunset, owned by his brother-in-law, George Hoffman, is a lot tougher.
“They do a great job at Sunset, but the shot at Sunset hooks a lot more, and it’s very difficult for me to play inside. It’s not natural for me,” he said. “I’ve had two 400 triples recently, and it’s very frustrating for me. But the funny thing is, I competed in a NEST [New Era Senior Tour] event recently at Sunset, and I cashed. I kind of backed into it, though, because I’m in the oldest age group, and I managed to qualify out of my age group. Then, I found the line and won my first game. At least I was competitive.”
Booth once averaged as high as 231 at the old Rolling Greens on Hamburg Street before Scotia Lanes became the new Rolling Greens, but now that average wouldn’t draw much attention in scratch leagues where most of the best bowlers are averaging better than 240.
“It’s a shame the way the scoring has changed bowling,” Booth said. “Most of the bowling centers don’t have as many bowlers as they used to. I still look forward to bowling every time, but the game is definitely changing. It’s too bad for those of us who really love the game.”
STRIKES & SPARES
The tandems of Bill and Travis Heaphy, Joe and Hillary DiBiase, Jim and Joni Petronis and Bill and John Pulver advanced to the TV semifinals in the Huck Finn Family Doubles tournament last weekend at Sunset Recreation. That TV taping will be Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. That show will air Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. on MY4 TV.
The next Huck Finn tournament, for scratch singles, is set for Nov. 29, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., at Uncle Sam Lanes. The finals follow at 1:30 p.m. TV taping for those qualifiers will be that same day at Uncle Sam Lanes at 4:15. It will air Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.
Sportsman’s Bowl hosts the next Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Matt Thompson, competing for East Greenbush Bowling Center, rolled his first perfect game Sunday in the senior boys’ Eastern division of the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League at Boulevard Bowl.
The New York State Stock Car Association’s bowling tournament FUNDraiser will be held Dec. 5 at Kelly’s Imperial Lanes in Amsterdam. Registration is at 12:30 p.m., followed by bowling at 1. The format will be five-person team, 8-pin, no-tap. Entry fee is $75 per team. Call Bob James (399-0937) or Clem DaBiere (207-5208) for more information.
Hometown Lanes will host the Women’s Capital District 700 Tournament Saturday at 1 p.m.
Town ’N Country will offer its annual Turkey Shoot Thanksgiving morning at 10 a.m. There is a $25 entry fee. The format is four games across eight lanes. Handicap is 80 percent of a 240 average.
Also at Town ’N Country, there will be a Scotch Doubles Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Entry fee is $25 per couple. There will be instant prizes with color pins, as well as split and strike jackpots.
Kingpin’s Alley Family Fun Center in South Glens Falls, will host the annual New Year’s Day tournament. Top prize will be $1,500 guaranteed. This year, Ebonite International is the title sponsor. Squad leaders and the tournament champion will receive a new Ebonite ball. Entry fee is $100 before Dec. 1 and $125 after Dec. 1. The squads will be 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day. For more information, call 793-9606.
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