By Dennis Clark
TERRE HAUTE — You may have seen this week that DirecTV will offer NASCAR fans an opportunity to watch an entire race from the driver’s perspective in all their races next season.
Subscribers will have access to five channels for five different drivers, which will change every week. This feature debuts with the Daytona 500 in February.
Well, bowling — always on the cutting edge — has already taken this one step further.
If you want to experience what it feels like to be a professional bowler — to bowl on lane conditions they face each week on tour — a “PBA Experience” or “Sport Bowling” league is the answer.
This is better than sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for a stock car race, much like in a video game driving a car. This would be more analogous to driving the car in the actual race.
Many bowlers have mastered their usual bowling establishment, but have them bowl at other facilities, especially in tournaments, many times they fall flat on their faces … vowing never to return. Yet, the competitive bowler is always looking for a new challenge.
In the past, the local 700 Club has been the best opportunity of “varying” conditions, hitting all the area bowling centers during its season.
But in “Sport Bowling”, this is done in a weekly league … and best of all, it’s all done at one location.
The five lane/oil patterns utilized on the PBA Tour are colorfully and aptly named: Chameleon, Cheetah, Shark, Scorpion and Viper. Men and women PBA professionals that you watch face these conditions each Sunday on ESPN.
The Terre Haute Bowling Center offered a version of this option last summer, in a 12-week league. According to league organizer Jerry Wence, the head mechanic at THBC, about 20 bowlers competed in this league.
“Our [oiling] machine is a Phoenix S which holds seven different oil patterns,” Wence said shortly after a busy Saturday morning of junior bowling he spent behind the THBC’s 40 lanes. “We put our house shot in one, then the other six patterns [noted above].
“On the first week, we run the house shot then each week after we run the other different patterns. Then at week eight, we started over with the house shot again.”
Wence noted that the bowlers were shown the oil pattern graphically before bowling each week and was a diagram was taped to the computer consoles for reference.
Wence felt the league was a success, saying he’s had inquiries about running the league again this summer. Fear not bowlers, the league will return in the summer league season, Wence said.
According to bowl.com, “We’re developing a video for each pattern that proprietors can show while bowlers are practicing,” said Director of USBC Sport Bowling Steve Wunderlich. “Prominent pros will talk about how they play that pattern, what equipment they use, and we’ll have fliers to distribute for each pattern with a graph, a more detailed explanation of equipment and suggestions on how to play the patterns.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Wunderlich continued. “These patterns aren’t so difficult you’ll never shoot a 200 game. You may find the scoring pace is lower than what you are be used to. It’s going to be challenging, but certainly not impossible. It’s going to do what Sport Bowling set out to do — provide a true test of ability.”
The following are brief descriptions of the five basic PBA lane conditions you’d face during your season:
n Chameleon — oil length is 39 feet. Oil is placed in “strips” requiring the player to play a specific zone on the lane, as compared to “multiple angles”.
n Cheetah — oil length is 35 feet, shortest of the patterns. It is described as a “fast scoring pace”, with the ideal shot being played near the gutter. In other words, no guts, no glory.
n Scorpion — oil length is 41 feet. It has a lot of oil placed farther down the lane, necessitating a more direct line. Scoring pattern is normally medium to low.
n Shark — oil length is 44 feet, longest of the patterns. Most players move to the center of the lane as the ball will not hook back to the pocket if it strays to far outside near the gutter. Scoring is generally high.
n Viper — oil length is 37 feet. This condition allows “multiple lines of attack” depending on type and condition of the lane surface.
A sixth lane condition is called “championship pattern”, faced by the pros in their four major tournaments, including the U.S. Open.
In Indiana, according to bowl.com, there are currently adult winter leagues of this type in Rochester, Muncie and Evansville, while Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette features an adult/youth league.
If you’re looking for a challenge and want to see just how you might stack up against professional bowlers, here is your chance. And we have it in Terre Haute already.
n Seeing is believing — The following special interest news item appeared recently on the Associated Press wire services.
Esther Medley of Centralia, Wash., is legally blind, but when she bowls she can glimpse a bit of the floor to line up with the lane. That’s unusual enough, but Esther is also age 94.
Medley can’t see straight ahead, so her 86-year-old husband Ralph tells her which pins are left after her first ball.
That’s how Medley recently bowled a score of 244, which included eight strikes, at Fairway Lanes in Centralia. It was the second-highest score of the year for her league.
The Medleys have been bowling in the senior league since 1979.
n 700 Club underway — The 700 Club is off and rolling with their scratch single tournament at the Bowling Center on Nov. 25.
In a field of 26 competitors, the winner was Harold Costello, with the rest of the top five finalists being Guy Johnson, Richard Rich, Danny Travelstead and Chris Drake.
The 700 Club’s Division winners were Brian Taylor (Upper) with a 775 three-game series, Mike Fisher Sr. (Senior) with 741 and Anya Fisher (Women’s) at 633. Taylor had high game of 300, Clint Woods nearly as good at 299, with Marc Pruett recording a 279.
The 700 Club’s next tournament is today with the Scratch Doubles starting at 11 a.m. at Imperial Lanes.
n Big scores news — Phil Cooper reports that Troy Williams had a 300 games in the Smith Trucking League this week at Imperial Lanes.
Also, Gordon Geckeler informed me prior to a Terre Haute North boys basketball game I was covering last weekend that Richard Rich had bowled his third 300 game at Vigo Bowl in recent weeks.
n Super Bowl V — Lastly, a very popular event in recent years at Imperial Lanes — this year dubbed Super Bowl V — will be Feb. 4 on, you guessed it, Super Bowl Sunday. Entries are now available. This tournament fills up every year, so don’t delay.
Dennis Clark can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
Wabash Valley Bowling Scores
Affordable Awards — High games: Melinda Clark 225, Just Us 883. High series: Christina Smith 575, Just Us 2,551.
Layton Refrigeration Mixed — High games: Chuck Ross 247, Kathy Stevens 197, Wild Things 769. High series: Jerry Kenzor 676, Stevens 510, Wild Things 2,232.
Great American Car Wash — High games: Mindy Boyll 223, Lami Craft 791. High series: Boyll 560, Waggoner’s State Farm 2,214.
Wolfe’s Auto Auction — High games: Mary Lou Fugate 205, Affordable Awards 802. High series: Fugate 549, Affordable Awards 2,363.
Bush Restaurant Senior — High games: Dave Paulin 258, Sue Chandler 213, Jane’s Gang 826. High series: Paulin 739, Chandler 545, Jane’s Gang 2,298.
Thursday Senior Mixed — High games: Dale Liggett 235, Clarene Fisher 193, The Bush 753. High series: Woody Ferris 592, Fisher 485, Cobras 2,047. (Previous week) High games: Liggett 237, Fisher 208, The Bush 782. High series: Ferris 680, Fisher 528, The Bush 2,214.
Eagles Mixed — High games: Jason Hiddle 275, Pam Gess 225, C and E Environmental 887. High series: Harold Welker 733, Gess 582, Me and the Cap’n 2,470.
Springhill Wholesale — High games: Vicki Beal 202, Jim’s Cleaners 682. High series: Beal 585, Jim’s Cleaners 1,913.
Mic’s Pics — High games: Pam Williams 215, Bell’s Gals 516. High series: Barbara Terrell 566, Bell’s Gals 1,498.
School Staff — High games: Ron Helms 225, Marilyn Daniel 183, Union Hospital 705. High series: Matt Lugar 573, Daniel 517, South Vigo 2,009.
Distributor’s Terminal — High games: Sandy Kelly 210, Swinging Grannies 653. High series: Nan Lammers 541, Swinging Grannies 1,822.
Church — High games: John Smith 246, Joyce Siebenmorgen 178, Foursquare No. 2 764. High series: Smith 634, Siebenmorgen 440, Foursquare No. 2 2,085.
Vigo Bowl Seniors — High games: Andy Carrithers 223, Brittany Foster 235, Team 4 898. High series: Carrithers 615, Foster 635, Team 5 2,557.
Vigo Bowl Juniors — High games: Eli Perry 244, Sara Shepherd 169, Better than U 782. High series: James Stuthers 551, Jennifer Barnhill 450, Da Patriots 2,150.
Vigo Bowl Preps — High games: Levi Elrod 153, Kianna Sweatt 111, Team 3 505. High series: Elrod 349, Sweatt 290, Team 3 1,348.
Vigo Bowl Bantams — High games: Jevan McCoskey 86, Sabrina Cheesman 66, Dark Dragons 265. High series: McCoskey 140, Cheesman 110, Dark Dragons 500.
Terre Haute Bowling Center
THBC Prime Timers — High games: Richard Stephens and Carl Phegley 256, Jean Liggett 222. High series: Samuel Scamihorn 709, Liggett 598.
Chandler Construction — High games: Bill High 235, Melinda Helmick 221, Feisty Four 756. High series: High 571, Helmick 558, Lucky Strikes 2,046.
Affordable Awards Mixed — High games: Bryan Barton 279, Melissa Dressler 259, Affordable Awards 847. High series: Barton 785, Dressler 759, Affordable Awards 2,302.
Ang Mixed — High games: Shane Mullenix 263, Jodi Moan 232, Shear Madness II 761. High series: John McWilliams 641, Moan 592, Shear Madness II 2,115.
Prime Timer — High games: Samuel Scamihorn 256, Madonna Crooke 186. High series: Scamihorn 678, Charity Wessol 511.
Guarantee Roofing — High games: Jeff Alford 290, Pott’s Tax Service 1,159. High series: David Paulin 764, Pott’s Tax Service 3,297.
Affordable Awards Ladies — High games: Carol Davis 253, The Pro Shop 955. High series: Davis 603, The Pro Shop 2,813.
THBC Minors — High games: Kevin Williams 135, Kadi Troxel 83. High series: Williams 342, Troxel 191.
THBC Majors — High games: Sean Pepper 236, Brittany Gambill 244. High series: Pepper 665, Eryn Remley 654.
Toyota of Terre Haute — High games: Tom Brown 269, Pro Shop 1,102. High series: Tom Rottmann 771, Pro Shop 3,233.
Gartland Foundry — High games: Matt Lugar 257, Elnora Murrell 191, The Next Level 745. High series: Lugar 710, Murrell 542, The Next Level 2,201.
THBC Bantams — High games: Ben Dillion 138, Emma Bly 84. High series: Dillion 364, Bly 215.
THBC Preps — High games: Nathan Pugh 194, Katie Goekler 142. High series: Pugh 538, Goekler 404.
THBC Juniors — High games: Blake Rebeck 221, Brooke McMullen 182. High series: Ethan Truman 531, Madison Peabody 465.
THBC Seniors — High games: Sean Pepper 288, Danielle Overholser 204. High series: S.Pepper 716, Mackenzie Pepper 485.
Saturday Youth — High games: Lance Weir 219, Tiffany Fields 182, 4s a Crowd 567. High series: Weir 591, Ricki Bowker 419, OGs 1,651.
Archie’s Sports Bar — High games: Jim Sullivan 278, Crock/Budweiser 1,218. High series: Rusty Archer 731, Crock/Budweiser 3,428.
WIMS Lounge Monday Mixed — High games: Bill Barnes 278, Toni Orman 205, Split Happens 882. High series: George Vearo 690, Orman 559, Split Happens 2,481.
Tuesday Morning Ladies — High games: Angela French 217, 3 Plus 1 457. High series: French 563, 3 Plus 1 1,326.
Austins Bar Thursday Mixed — High games: Harold Harris 267, Jenny Tackett 235, Austins 1,088. High series: Steve Greene 715, Lindsay Conley 632, Austins 3,025.
Sunday Mixed — High games: Steve Greene 259, Dawn Lawson 215, 2 Tired to Strike 802. High series: Dan Hunt 686, Lawson 576, The Bada Bing Club 2,249.
Smith Trucking — High games: Troy Williams 300, Victory Lane Mortgage 1,181. High series: Williams 762, Al’s Sports Bar 3,353.
John Curry Lanes (Elks)
Thursday Men — High games: Paul Ingle and Gary Turner 235, Fox Canteen 965. High series: Rick Gorham 633, Molar Bowlers 2,709.
Tuesday Men — High games: Mark Brashier 252, ERA Joseph Realtors 951. High series: Jack Myers 608, ERA Joseph Realtors 2,813.