I have now officially taken in my first PBA tournament. The PBA Regions Member/Non-Member Doubles tournament is now complete and it was a great experience. The level of talent is impressive and you really get a sense for the body control that is necessary to compete at that level. Also, I realized that even bowlers at this level have to compete against the same adversities that everyone else does: luck, changing conditions, and mental focus.
Bowling is definitely an individual sport, and it was apparent that no two bowlers are alike after just one walk down the lanes. 32 bowlers with 32 unique deliveries. Not just different, but completely unique. I saw all sorts of footwork and backswings to go along with variations in follow-through. The range in backswings was crazy, from barely straight back and waist high to a few that looked like they were seriously trying to throw the ball through the ceiling. I saw five steps, six steps, seven steps, and I’m pretty sure I even saw nine (a bunch of little steps at the beginning). At that doesn’t even touch all the little idiosyncrasies that each bowler would go through on the approach. They’re a fidgety bunch! I felt right at home.
Speaking of being right at home… I have determined (via thorough research performed by an independent me) that bowling is perfect for people like me that have moderate obsessive-compulsive tendencies and an addictive personality. What better sport could there be? I get to try over and over again to do the exact same thing. All the fidgeting and routine is awesome. I think it takes a bit of both those characteristics to reach the professional level. To give that much dedication, you need to have above-average dedication and focus. What helps that more than becoming completely addicted to the sport?
Another observation: speed. Similar to Jan, everyone had fairly smooth and surprisingly slow approaches. But… the speed at which the ball flew down the lane was insane. They really generate some power in the legs and those huge backswings really charge up the ball. I did see a few bowlers that had more of a stroker approach, but they were still much more powerful than what I have.
So, for the adversities. These phenomenal bowlers still deal with their fare share of “crap” out there. Splits that shouldn’t happen, stubborn 10-pins on perfect balls, and even the occasional “Brooklyn”. These are sprinkled into a heavy dose of strikes unlike what you’ll see walking into any typical bowling center, but they’re still there. They really show up quite a bit during the warm-up sessions and I’m not sure why. During the five-minute sessions, you’d think it was my Pizza & Beer league based on the leaves. I wonder if it’s just because they’re working to figure out the oil… Either way, as soon as the real action begins, it’s 10 pins a flyin’! You can actually HEAR the skill level when you walk through. A cacophony of strikes.
I took in the entire doubles tournament and had a great front-row seat to watch the single-game championship match. Roto Grips’ Brian Kretzer and Jeff Fehr reached the finals against Alex Aguiar and Parker Bohn III. It was a dramatic match, with Kretzer and Fehr jumping out to an early lead, leaving Aguiar and Bohn looking defeated through five frames. But it wasn’t meant to be, and Kretzer/Fehr left a few opens near the end to lose by 15 pins (or so, I couldn’t quite make out the final scores on the screens… really small type up there). It was really exciting to watch and the players were really fired up. You could feel the passion and energy they had. Wow.
FBG Question 2:
How many 300 games does Brian Kretzer have to boast about?