I’ve bowled in USBC Sport sanctioned leagues for several years. I went in to the league with my eyes wide open, that is to say not expecting to score the same as I would on a house shot. My goal was to become a better all-around bowler. I believe I accomplished that. I actually enjoy bowling on Sport conditions since they provide quite a challenge by forcing me to see spares as a pivotal part of my game and placing a premium on repeating shots in general.
My observation has been not everyone has that same outlook and approach. I’ve seen many bowlers go into such a league or event without realizing the significant difference an Oil Pattern makes. Sad but true, many bowlers who have spent their time in just a house league really do not have an appreciation for how difficult the game can be. That’s probably one reason why touring Pros don’t get the respect they deserve. I’ve also seen many bowlers get completely fried because they are not able to just spray the ball all over the place and rack up strike after strike. Many try it and don’t come back because it’s too hard and they are content with their house average. Let’s face it…our ego gets bruised when we carry a 210+ average and find we struggle to shoot 170 on tougher conditions. As I’ve told my scratch Juniors when they bowl on Sport conditions…”your house average lies to you, it makes you appear better than you actually are.” Of course I explain why to them. Like so many, they hear and accept it but, really don’t believe it until they experience the difference.
I believe Sport Bowling is good for Bowling in general. But, it may be too late or perhaps too much of a shock since for years we’ve allowed really easy conditions to prevail. We have all grown used to the expectation of scoring extremely well without putting in the work required to get to that level. I know of many bowlers who bowl 3 games of league a week, no practice, and carry a 200+ average. …Something does not add up…what’s wrong with that picture?
Let’s face it Bowling centers make money because people walk in the door to bowl. The customers expect to see the high scores. If they don’t they complain and will likely go somewhere else where they can shoot the lights out. So, centers cater to them by putting easy conditions on the lanes. It’s a vicious circle. The problem is Sport conditions are really not appropriate for many bowlers but, house conditions are way too easy. So, something has to give.
The USBC has researched the problem and their solution is to provide three “certified” house patterns named “Red”, “White”, and “Blue”. The intent is to position these patterns in the gap I mentioned before defining a standard for centers to follow by meeting everyone in the middle. I think the idea is fantastic for Bowling. This Summer Jon Van Hees is running a single ball league at Cranston and using these patterns. Also, Strike F/X will be sponsoring a Men’s money league using one of these patterns. I’ve had the opportunity to bowl on them and find they are very playable. The blend on the patterns is much better than the standard house shot but, they are much more forgiving than a Sport pattern. This is definitely a step in the right direction. So, I say “hooray for the Red, White, and Blue.”
As a matter of fact I’d take this one step further. I would love to see tournament competition adopt the use of these patterns and publish which one they will be using. This will set the bowlers expectation and provide a standard to measure against. To be honest, I hate walking in to a tournament and bowling on a condition that is absolutely ridiculous because some lane man thinks he knows how to engineer a pattern. Or worse yet, bowl in a tournament that actually favor certain styles while locking out some others. This kind of stuff makes me nuts almost to the point where I don’t want to bother competing. I think it would be better for everyone if we follow USBC’s lead and use these new “standard” patterns.
If you are interested in checking them out, here is a link to where you can find more information