Putting a different spin on local bowling

'We’re trying to fill 2 voids'
Jim Burton hopes innovative proposals will entice both scratch and handicap bowlers to try his new “Double J” tournaments.
Jim Burton hopes innovative proposals will entice both scratch and handicap bowlers to try his new “Double J” tournaments.

Two familiar veteran bowling officials are attempting a new twist on a very old game.

Jim Burton, tournament director of the New Era Senior Tour for bowlers age 50-and-over, and Jeff Segel, the former tournament director for the Huck Finn Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York’s “Capital Region Bowling Show,” hope that some innovative proposals will entice both scratch and handicap bowlers to try their new “Double J” tournaments.

Jim and Jeff, the Double Js, are both extremely experienced tournament promoters and organizers. Burton, although he spent most of his life in the Detroit area, is the son of the late George Burton, who was the executive director of the local bowling proprietors for many years. Burton has won numerous high-level bowling tournaments in his career, and is still a competitive force on the lanes among the older set. Segel, who was once an excellent scratch bowler himself, ran the Huck Finn tournaments since they began.

Currently, there are no more NEBPONY televised tournaments. The proprietors are taking at least a year off and will assess any interest in revising their events at a later date. The Double “J” tournaments are an attempt to give local bowlers another chance to compete.

“Actually, we’re trying to fill two voids,” Burton said. “On the scratch bowling side, we’re trying three or four different formats and entry fee to see what the bowlers like the best. We’re trying to experiment. On the handicap or league bowler side, we’re also trying to come up with a tournament format they would like and enjoy. Jeff and I will be offering eight to 10 scratch events and three to four handicap events targeted at league bowlers averaging under 215. Jeff will be running the scratch events with my assistance, and he will assist me on the handicap side.”

The first tournament is set for Oct. 29 at Towne Bowling Academy. There will be one squad of 60 bowlers with two divisions: senior and non-senior. Top prize will be $1,000, based on the full field. Entry fee will be $80. The second tournament will be Nov. 5 at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy. Top prize will be $750, and the entry fee will be $55.

The first tournament for handicap bowlers will be Nov. 12 at East Greenbush Bowling Center. Entry fee for that tournament is projected to be just $45, with an early-signup special fee set for $30.

“We’ve had a solid group of scratch bowlers who still want to compete, and I think there is a core of handicap or league bowlers that we can reach out to, as well,” Burton said. “The league bowler, once he gets a taste of tournament competition, will really love it. I’d love to see a time when we have more than 100 league bowlers competing in our tournaments.”

Burton said that if the handicap tournaments are successful, he will name those events the Amateur League Bowler Association of New York.

Segel thinks he and Burton can teach a bunch of old dogs some new tricks. “I still enjoy being around the game,” he said. “Jim and I were thinking about running some events for the handicap bowlers, regardless of what happened with the scratch bowlers, but I think we can do both. The key is that we’re going to put these tournaments out there and see what happens. If the bowlers don’t support them, we won’t run them. I hope they do, because they will have a lot of fun. We are trying to find the right mix of formats and entry fees that fit what the bowlers really want.”

For more information on the “Double J” tournaments, call Burton (518-209-4748) or Segel (518-496-9700).


George and Pat Hoffman, former proprietors of the now defunct Sunset Lanes, are joining together with Spare Time-Latham general manager Carol Judge to host a fundraiser for Hurricane Irma victims on Sunday. For $20, bowlers can bowl all they want at Spare Time-Latham from either noon to 2 p.m. or 3 to 5 p.m. The fee includes bowling, shoes and snacks. All proceeds will go to Hurricane Irma victims.

Uncle Sam Lanes hosts the next NEST event Saturday at noon.

Junior bowlers will be competing in the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at East Greenbush Bowling Center.

Towne Bowling Academy is the site for Sunday’s Action Bowling Supply Scratch Challenge. There will be a 5-game sweeper beginning at 10 a.m. to qualify for the stepladder final. The field will be limited to 60 bowlers. Entry fee is $75, and top prize is $1,200. Call 518-355-3939 for more information.

In the Daily Gazette league at Sportsman’s Bowl, Bill Douglas, who rolls both right- and left-handed on the same team, registered his third 300 game en route to a career-best 783 right-handed. Lefty Jim Riley also rolled a 300 game in that league. It’s the first time in league history two bowlers recorded perfect games on the same day.

Congratulations to 92-year-old Marie Tribley, who rolled a 186-504 in the Thursday Seniors league.

The Sportsman’s Seniors league, which bowls at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, is looking for bowlers. Contact Dave Mennillo at 382-5463 for more information.

Mark Ray recently recorded his 500th career 900 four-game series in the Vitalo Classic league. He is only the second league bowler to roll that many series. Skip Vigars Jr. had a league-record 621 such series.

Sorry to hear that Playdium Bowling Center in Albany will soon go out of business, joining Sunset Recreation in Albany and Rolling Greens in Scotia as bowling centers closing in the last year alone.

Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.

Categories: Sports

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