The business side of lane conditions


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Last week I closed with the question of how bowling centers use oil patterns to promote bowling and ultimately their business.

Just like restaurants want to serve quality meals, and retail businesses do their best to generate return business, bowling centers are in the business of promoting a fun and exciting experience for their customers, whether it be open play guests or league play bowlers.

Most bowling centers use different patterns based on the level of competition, and the basic house pattern that you’ll find at your local bowling alley is actually designed to help you out by facilitating higher scoring.

In a house pattern, there is more oil in the middle of the lane, and less near the outside.

The reason this helps you is if you throw a poor shot that veers off course a bit, it will hit the dry outside portion of the lane and stop skidding, giving it time to make its way back nearer to the pocket and salvage a decent result.

In addition, if you hit your shot too far to the inside, the slickness of the center of the lane will guide it back out to the pocket.

All in all, the basic house shot is a very forgiving pattern that will do its best to help your shot and ultimately, your score.

With any oil pattern, straight bowlers have less to worry about, since their shot hooks very little naturally and the lane conditions affect it less.

It’s bowlers who throw a hook who must work hard to figure out their lane so they can make proper adjustments.

Unfortunately, you won’t always find perfect lane conditions.

Some houses will dress the lanes heavier at the front and less at the back, or little at the front and more at the back.

Bowlers have to watch how long their ball rolls before it starts rotating. This is known as skidding.

If it skids for a long time, then there is a lot of oil on the front of the lane.

If it does not, then the front is drier.

Conversely, if your ball hooks only a small amount then the lane is wet near the back. This is usually caused by oil being carried down the lane by bowling balls.

When bowlers face these difficult conditions, they have to make adjustments in their game by either moving their feet, changing their target, or choosing a different ball.

When dealing with wet (oily) lane conditions, the best option to still generate friction is a reactive resin ball.

On the local scene, last week’s performance of the week goes out to Bobbi Jo Tarkington of Tuesday night’s Fellowship League. Bobbi Jo fired a middle game of 233; but what no one realized was she was just tuning up to put the smackdown on a 255 final game and a career high tying 656 series!

Adding to the amazing ladies numbers during Fellowship was Kaytee Simpson’s 226-573 and Brittany Gaumond’s 184-487. Gaumond also tossed the top ladies game of MLK with a 186 enroute to a 512 series.

A few guys also showed up last Tuesday, led by Mark Tarkington’s 265-702, Lake Krehel’s 246-603, and Paul Lacher’s 246-592. Daniel Odell (234 and 212), Jason Williams (223), Woody Heckstall (214), Stephen Marshall (210), and Mathew Brunoehler (200) all added nice games.

Clarence Burke found the pocket early and often during MLK to crack 200 each game for a 625 league high.

John Bradley pulled in right behind Burke with games of 224 and 232 as part of a 622 series.

Derrick Spruill (226) and Chris Farrell (223) added nice games and kudos to Duane Marx for firing his first 200 game of the season!

Paul Lacher bagged the only 600 series last Monday with a 227-605, followed by Rondell Christian’s 210-591, a 211-587 from William Swinson, and a 204-587 from Denwood Williams.

Ty Chesson had the men’s high game with a 230.

Debbie Winslow had the top ladies performance of Monday night with a 188-542. Winslow also led the ladies of MLK with a 183-517.

Sharon Hoffler followed on Monday with a 171-494 just ahead of Pat Dooley’s 186-479.

Susie Thomas topped the ladies of last Wednesday night during the Albemarle Rollers with a 176-473, followed by Sharon Hoffler’s 170-450.

Perhaps the most impressive numbers from last Wednesday though came from Sharon Hunt.

Sharon tossed a nice 206 scratch game as part of her 273-643 handicap evening. Her 273 handicap game was a new season high for her league.

Ocie Manos and Patsy Sanders paced the All American Ladies last Thursday with a 170-477 and a 175 game respectively.

Stella Miller (474 series) and Carolyn Carolyn Richardson each tossed 165 scores and Sharon Yonek added a 449 series.

The Bumper bowlers were led by Tristan Hardison’s 86-172, Connor Cafferello’s 89-166, Jason Nistler’s 90-165 for the guys and Cheyanne Hardsion’s 87-171 and Ariana Mummert’s 79-151.

Christopher Vinson’s 198-521, Ben Hawkins’ 187-485, Jacob Cooper’s 160 game, and Joshua Davenport’s 459 series topped the youth boys, while Violet Olds’ 139-360 led the girls.

In closing, here’s one final friendly reminder that if you’ve been on this planet for at least a half century, you’re eligible to enter this year’s annual Senior Games.

You need to act fast, though. Entries for this year’s games close Thursday, Feb. 15.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling!