In golfing terms, Joe VanDerLinden keeps his ball in the fairway.
On the lanes, he simply doesn’t miss the pocket.
The 51-year-old New York State Tax and Finance department employee is having another banner season in both the DV Greco Insurance City League and the Edgewood Independent league with eye-popping averages of 245 and 243, respectively, at Towne Bowling Academy. His accuracy is uncanny.
He’s won the City League average title in five of the last six seasons and also has captured the scoring crown in the Edgewood Independent in all five years he’s been in that league.
“I’m just a down-and-in kind of guy. I take some heat from the better bowlers about my style, but that’s the way I grew up,” he said with a chuckle. “I make my spares, and I keep the ball in play.”
“He can flat-out bowl,” said Towne BA proprietor Marty Capullo Jr., who has teamed up with VanDerLinden in a few local doubles tournaments.
VanDerLinden competes against many of the best bowlers in the Capital Region in the City League. Guys like Jamie and Jay Diamond, Dave and Gary Bingham, Jim Geiger, Mark Ray, Steve Wagoner, RJ Martinez, Ed McGaffin, Rich Strath, Capullo and Tim Banta, just to name a few, are bowling right along side VanDerLinden, and they have a hard time keeping up with his phenomenal average.
“It’s funny, because it takes getting used to having an average that high,” said VanDerLinden. “Obviously, the house shot is very nice over at Towne. I’ve bowled in some tournaments, as well, over there, and I’ve done pretty well. Once you have an average that high for a while, you get more comfortable with it. When you push 240, you don’t think you can do that, but after a while, you see that you can.”
VanDerLinden wasn’t his usual self in the first half of the season, but turned things around near the holidays.
“I sometimes get a new ball halfway through the season, and that’s what I did this year,” he said. “I bought a Storm High Road. It’s been around for a couple of years, but a lot of the guys have been using it. I had Kenny Hall drill one up for me. I’ve known him for a while, but I never had him drill me a ball. It’s a good ball, because it doesn’t matter how you throw it.”
VanDerLinden now has 45 perfect games and 46 800 triples on his resume, but his most memorable performance on the lanes came during the 2011 season, when he nearly broke the national scoring record.
“I averaged 253 that year, and I finished with a 253.1 average. The record was 253.7,” he recalled.
“The last two weeks in that league, I felt a lot of pressure. It’s not like the Monday league, because there were a few lower-average bowlers in the league, and they were all rooting for me. That kind of put some extra pressure on me. In the last two weeks, my wife and my son came to watch me bowl. I felt it on my shoulders at the end of the night.”
VanDerLinden is no longer a kid, but you would never know it by his scoring averages.
“I try to stay in shape by going to the gym,” he said.
VanDerLinden rarely competes in tournaments because of time constraints, but he has tried to qualify for a few Huck Finn events. He owns one Northern Bowlers Association title back at the now defunct Revere Lanes.
“Bowling on the weekends is tough. I do it once in a while, but it just takes so long,” he said.
The Towne Bowling Academy and Carbone Auto Group’s inaugural Kentucky Derby Day tournament, the culmination of the point-system events at Towne BA all season, will be held May 3 at 1 p.m.
Entry fee is $40, and top prize will be a minimum of $1,000. There will be a prime rib dinner included in the entry fee.
There is a minimum of $1,500 added purse money. One in four bowlers will cash. Bowlers must have competed in at least four point tournaments to be eligible for the Derby Day event.
STRIKES & SPARES
Olympic Lanes in Menands hosts the final regular-season Northern Bowlers Association event Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The format will be the usual five-game sweeper. Usually, only bowlers who compete in at least two NBA events are eligible for the season-ending Bob Guild Memorial May 4 at Del Lanes, but this season that organization will allow bowlers to qualify by paying the full $15 membership fee this week. Entry fee is $55. Contact Karl Bieber at 368-5539 for reservations.
Boulevard Bowl hosts the Blizzard Bowl 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Entry fee is $80 per team for the four-person team event. Optional singles and doubles events are available. Call Boulevard at 374-4171 for more information.
At Town ’N Country Lanes, the Average Joe’s Doubles tournament will be held Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Entry fee is $50 per team. Call 456-1113 for reservations.
Town ’N Country also is holding a Bar & Tavern tournament Saturday at 2 p.m. Entry fee is $100 per four-person team.
Dan Rowe of Wynantskill won the final Huck Finn Morris Cramer “King of the Hill” tournament of the season by beating Banta, 196-184. Rowe earned $700. Ron Gardner of Troy beat Chris Smith of Colonie, 236-203, in the other regular Huck Finn scratch event. Gardner won $600.
Pat Boguzski of the Monday’s Funnies league rolled three clean games last week (191, 213 and 190) for a 594 triple.
Casey Schoonmaker of Albany edged Rotterdam’s Liz Kuhlkin, 217-212, to win the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour event at Sportsman’s Bowl last Saturday. A record field of 59 competed. Schoonmaker earned a $375 scholarship. Kuhlkin, who bowls for Nebraska, could not accept a scholarship due to NCAA regulations. Other scholarship winners included Chad Sutliff of Valatie ($225), Jonathan Bowman of Peru ($140), Patrick DeVoe of Delmar ($100), Noah Burke of Albany ($75), Zack Terry of Schenectady ($60), Corey Buckley of Albany ($50), Justin Carl of Albany ($45), Zachary Doty of Nassau ($40), Peter Konrad of Schenectady ($40), Charles Moeske of Albany ($35) and Kyle Thomas of Schenectady ($35).
Ron Miller rolled four consecutive 237 games for a 948 series in the Sons of Italy league at Town ’N Country Lanes.
Veteran senior regional performers Bill Neumann of Rensselaer and Chris Fedden of Albany each cashed in the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Eastern Open in Elmira. They both earned $700.
Just a note of recognition. My brother-in-law Mike Nasters, and his son, Zack, both rolled 300 games within days of each other this week. Zack got his second 300 in the Thursday TNT at Boulevard Bowl and Mike got his first in the Tuesday Night Bombers league, also at Boulevard.