If you are old enough to remember Charlie “The Hand” Bechard keeping score on the now-defunct “TV Tournament Time” bowling program, you are old enough to compete in the 25th annual Charlie Bechard Memorial Tournament later this month at Green Island Lanes.
This popular event is named after one of the sport’s greatest promoters. Not only did he keep score on the “TV Tournament Time” shows — where only his hand was visible to the TV audience — but he also ran several senior leagues, including some of the largest in the Capital Region.
There will be three squads: March 20 at 9:30 a.m., March 22 at 2 p.m. and March 23 at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $23, and handicap is 100 percent of 220. Maximum handicap is 70 pins per game. There will be brackets and jackpots.
There are two age divisions: 50-62 and 63-and-up.
“We had about 75 entries last year,” said tournament coordinator Sonny Dorstek, who manages Green Island Lanes. “We’ve added a Sunday squad, and we’re hoping for a few more entries. We thought about pushing this tournament to a date earlier in the season, but with all the bad weather we’ve had, we might have had to postpone it until later anyway.
“Charlie was quite a character, and it’s hard to believe he’s been gone this long. It’s also hard to believe we’ve had this tournament for 25 years.”
Dorstek, one of the top regional pros for decades, is hoping to get entries from several of the region’s tournament organizations, including Jim Burton’s New Era Women and Senior Tour, the Northeast Bowling Proprietors of New York/Huck Finn “Capital Region Bowling Show” and the Northern Bowlers Association, but most of those competitors will be bowling close to scratch.
More than likely, the tournament field will be filled by senior handicap bowlers like me. I got lucky and won what was then the 50-59 age division a couple of years ago.
Checks should be made out to Green Island Lanes and mailed to Green Island Lanes, 4 Lafayette St., Green Island, NY 12183, or dropped off at either Green Island Lanes, Uncle Sam Lanes or Cohoes Bowl.
NEW BOWLING CENTER
The Capital Region hasn’t had a new bowling center in nearly 50 years, when Spare Time-Clifton Park, then called Clifton Park Bowl, capped off a series of local bowling center openings in the mid-1960s that also included places like Uncle Sam Lanes (Troy Bowl), Cohoes Arena, The Bowlers Club and several others.
It will be refreshing to see how the new Lattitude 360 upscale bowling center turns out at Crossgates Mall.
According to a recent press release, the Lattitude 360 center will include 20 lanes with a “luxury” environment that includes plenty of video screens, colored lighting and leather couches instead of the usual chairs or diner-like booths.
But if you want to keep the bowlers coming, you better have excellent scoring conditions, because even the casual bowler these days won’t settle for low scores.
The grand opening is scheduled for next October, and the facility is looking for both open bowling and leagues.
With the changes in several area scholastic athletic leagues, girls’ bowling looks like it will take a hit.
Several teams, including the Mechanicville girls’ squad, will be looking for another league affiliation or will have to become independent.
Mechanicville has been a member of the Colonial Council, but the Red Raiders are moving to the Wasaren League, which has no girls’ bowling league.
The same problem could be in store for some Big 10 girls’ teams, like Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. Restructuring could affect numerous girls’ programs, which may be forced to bowl as independents or join the boys’ teams.
Section II coordinator Hugo McGroty said he and co-coordinator Bill Neumann simply follow the Section II mandates and run the sectionals strictly by enrollment.
The sad thing is that school bowling is one of the cheapest sports around. It would be unfair if a program like Mechanicville, which graduates two bowlers who will compete next year at Division I collegiate programs and has been a sectional power, had to drop its girls’ program or merge with the boys. We’ll see what happens next fall.
STRIKES & SPARES
The next qualifier for the third and final Huck Finn/NENYBONY Morris Cramer King of the Hill singles match of the season has been switched to Sportsman’s Bowl Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Entry fee is $60. Call Jeff Segel at 439-7628 for reservations.
In-house qualifying for the final Huck Finn handicap show of the season is available beginning this week in your own league. Just pick up an entry form, use your three-game total from your league scores and pay your bowling center $10.
Schenectady’s Derek Lemon beat Albany’s Chris Fedden, 224-200, to win the New Era Women and Seniors tournament at Towne Bowling Academy Saturday. Lemon won $400.
Jovanni Scaccia, bowling out of Alpha Lanes, rolled a 300 game and a 792 triple in this week’s senior boys Western division of the Joey Schmidt Capital District Junior Pro-Scoring League at Sportsman’s Bowl.
Town ’N Country Lanes will host the Average Joe’s Bakers Doubles tournament March 23 through April 27. Entry fee is $50 per team, and handicap is 90 percent of 440. Teams bowl eight games across four pairs of lanes. Top prize is $1,000, based on 50 teams. Dates are March 23 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), March 30 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), April 6 (10 a.m.), April 12 (6 p.m.), April 13 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), April 19 (6 p.m.), April 20 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and April 27 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.).
Also at Town ’N Country Lanes will be the Bar and Tavern tournament March 22 and March 29 at 2 p.m. Entry fee for the four-person team event is $100 per team. An optional singles event is another $5. Handicap will be 90 percent of a 900 team average.
The annual Blizzard Bowl continues at Boulevard Bowl with an 11:45 a.m. squad Sunday. Entry fee is $80 per team. Optional singles and doubles are also available. Call 374-4171 for reservations.
Alpha Lanes in Troy hosts the Robert Guild Trio tournament Friday (9:30 p.m.), Saturday (1 and 3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). Entry fee is $60 per team.
Rolling Greens will hold a no-tap tavern tournament, followed by a full buffet, at 1 p.m. April 6. Handicaps are 75 percent of a 1,100 five-person team average. Entry fee is $100 per team. Call 381-4848 for more information.
Sportsman’s Bowl will host the Schenectady/Scotia USBC Women’s Bowling Association annual membership meeting Saturday at noon. On the agenda will be the election of officers and directors, tournament updates and other news pertinent to the organization. Refreshments will be served.