You are an accomplished bowler with enough talent and skill to compete on any lane condition.
But in this era of high-tech equipment and even higher scores, how can you separate yourself from the rest of the pack?
Why not try plastic?
That’s the only choice if you want to compete in the fourth annual Troy Bowling Association Plastic Ball Open Jan. 26 at Hometown Lanes.
Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, plastic balls were the rage. Before then, everyone used rubber bowling balls, and there wasn’t much difference between them. The softer ones could hook a little bit more, but the plastic generation of balls, like the Columbia Yellow Dot, really opened up the lanes, by comparison.
In fact, the legendary Mark Roth, who revolutionized the game with his five- and six-step cranking style and big hook, dominated that era by using plastic equipment.
But even though the plastic balls gave their owners a bit more hook and power, that type of equipment came nowhere near the scoring punch of today’s reactive resin bowling balls, which are even much stronger than the urethane equipment that first gave the everyday bowler an almost automatic hook.
That’s where the Plastic Ball Open comes in. All of the area’s top bowlers have plenty of skill, but the question is, can they score when they don’t have the latest equipment available to get the job done?
“Plastic balls level the playing field,” said TBA board of director Eric Morrell, who helps run the annual event. “And the key thing is that we won’t use a typical house pattern, either. Even with plastic balls, you can still score very well on a house pattern if you move your shot to the gutter, where the ball will hook, but this pattern is more like the pattern that existed in the 1970s and 1980s. With the pattern that will be used for this tournament, a plastic ball won’t work the same. It’s a wider and flatter oil pattern.
“When I’ve tried a plastic ball on a house condition, I’ve had to move at least 10 boards right, but even then you have to throw the ball very direct. Even the power players won’t have that much of an advantage. They will need to slow the ball way down, because if they try to throw the ball with any speed, the ball will go into the gutter.”
Morrell said that using plastic balls will put the emphasis on filling frames.
“Spares are very important with the plastic balls on this pattern,” he said. “It depends on how many bowlers are competing, but it may take just a 590 triple to cash.
Usually, you’ve got to shoot a 700 to have any chance these days with all the high scores.
“The scores are usually pretty high at Hometown Lanes, but that’s because they offer a very consistent shot. Still, if you went there using a plastic ball, you wouldn’t score quite as well, even on a house shot.”
The format will be three games of bowling. Only plastic balls with a durometer (hardness) reading of 82 or higher are allowed. No sanding of bowling balls will be allowed, and no bowling ball cleaners will be allowed. All bowling balls will be checked for hardness and weight upon signing in.
Entry fee is $22, and there are only 72 spots available. Entry blanks are available at www.troynyba.org.
Left-hander Alex Weglarz is the defending champion. Other past winners include Sonny Dorstek and Doug Johnson.
JUNIORS GET READY
The inaugural Gazette Junior Team Championship is set for April 21 at Sportsman’s Bowl.
This unique event will test the depth of our area’s strong junior programs because each four-person team will include at least one major, junior and prep bowler. At least one girl must be included on each team. This will be a handicap event.
Start getting your teams together now. All local centers from the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York are eligible, and there is no limit on how many teams can be entered from each house.
The winning team will gain possession of a permanent trophy to be displayed at its bowling center for a year, and the winning team members will each receive trophies.
Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to the event.
HUCK FINN CORNER
The Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York/Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” shifts to the 50-and-over set this weekend with the Joe Donato “seniors-only” tournament.
There will be three qualifiers. The first will be Saturday at 3 p.m. at Sunset Recreation, while the other two will be Sunday at Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. The finals will follow.
Entry fee for the Saturday qualifier is $40, plus the Huck Finn membership fee if not already paid. Entry fee for either qualifier Sunday will be $50. Re-entry is $40.
Top prize will be $750.
Call Jeff Segel at 439-7268 for reservations.
There is plenty of other Huck Finn news.
Steve Wagoner and Matt Sherman will bowl in the finals of the “TV Tournament Time” Huck Finn special event. They bested a field of 48 last weekend at Saratoga Strike Zone. It will be a three-game match, just like the old “TV Tournament Time.” Top prize will be $800. The runner-up earns $400.
Handicap qualifying for the Huck Finn Scratch/Handicap combined show continues at area bowling centers through Sunday. Bowlers pay $10 and then use their regular league scores. Only bowlers with averages of 219 and lower are eligible.
The scratch part of the show will have its qualifiers Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. and Jan. 20 at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. at Town ’N Country Lanes. Entry fee is $35 for the Saturday qualifier and $40 for Sunday, plus Huck Finn membership. Re-entry is $35.
STRIKES AND SPARES
* Jalen Scott-Jones of East Providence, R.I., defeated Amber Dominic of Latham, 266-203, to win the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour tournament at Alpha Lanes in Troy. A record-tying 49 bowlers competed in the sixth event of the season. Scott-Jones earned a $325 scholarship, while Dominic got a $200 scholarship. Other scholarship winners were Austin Van Buren of Altamont ($150), Jovanni Scaccia of Schenectady ($100), Qwadaris Rembert of Providence, R.I. ($75), Jonathan Bowman of Peru ($50), Justin Carl of Albany ($50), Chris Hanson of Ballston Lake ($35), Mike Hartman of Earlton ($35), Casey Schoonmaker of Albany ($30) and Morgan Ruggeri of Johnstown ($30). Due to NCAA regulations, Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, a sophomore at Nebraska who finished fifth, could not accept her scholarship prize. The next CDYST event will be Jan. 26 at Burnt Hills Lanes.
* The Crossroads Center for Children No-Tap Tournament will be held Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. at Rolling Greens Lanes. All handicaps for the five-person team event are based on 75 percent of a 1,100 team average. Multiple participation is permitted, but no more than three entrants can bowl together again on a different squad. One in 10 teams will earn prizes. Entry fee is $60 per team.
* The Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York’s second annual Adult/Junior Tournament will be held from Jan. 19 through Feb. 10. Teams will qualify in their own center, plus at Middleburgh Lanes, Sportsman’s Bowl and Spare Time-East Greenbush. There will be two divisions: a team total average of 360 and under for Division I and a team total average of 361 and over for Division 2. One in eight teams advance to the semifinals at Spare Time-Latham Feb. 17. The TV taping will be Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at Hi-Way Recreation in Wynantskill, and that show will air March 3 at 11 a.m. on Fox 23.
* Sportsman’s Bowl will host a Coach & Kids Team Tournament Jan. 20 at noon and 2:30 p.m. Entries close Sunday. The teams consist of three juniors and a coach. Competition will be divided into Class A (team averages from 561 to 875), Class B (401-560) and Class C (400 and under). Handicap will be 100 percent of the difference between the highest average team and the rest of the field. Call Sportsman’s Bowl at 355-4330 for more information.
* The third annual Towne Bowling Academy Handicap Team Tournament, sponsored by Ebonite, continues with qualifiers Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Jan. 18 at 9:15 p.m., Jan. 26 at 2:30 and 6 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Top prize will be $4,000 per team, with $2,000 for second. There will be an $800 bonus for the best mixed team. A singles event will run concurrently using your team scores. Top prize for the singles event will be $450. Entry fee will be $140 per team, and handicap will be 85 percent of 225. Maximum handicap is 50 pins per person. Call Towne Bowling Academy at 355-3939.
* The 21st annual Michelob Ultra Scratch Challenge will be held this weekend at AMF Pin-O-Rama Lanes on 1724 Genesee Street, Utica. Entry fee is $75, and re-entry is $65. Qualifying will be four games. Top prize is $3,000 guaranteed. Call (315) 735-7543 for reservations.
* The 19th annual Capital District 600 Clubs tournament will take place on Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. at Del Lanes. Entry forms were distributed to Electric City 600 Club members. Contact Marianne Hogle on 393-8907 if you need a form.
* The 10th annual 500 Club Snow Ball Scotch Doubles tournament is set for Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. at Sportsmans Bowl. Contact Marie Moorhead (399-3063) or Hogle for more information.