A Conversation for Tenpin Bowling
Post Team Started conversation Mar 10, 2005
I'm sorry that I missed this in Peer Review as I would have suggested a little more information. I'll post it here if I may? Sorry, it is rather UK specific.
Remember that there are two styles of bowling - 'straight' and 'hook'. A straight bowler propels the ball more-or-less down the middle of the lane directly at the pins. A hook bowler uses a specially weighted ball which curves impossibly. Because of the angle which the ball approaches the pins this is the method most often employed by professional and league bowlers although, because the ball can swing perilously close to the gutter, it can also produce very low scores on an 'off' day. 'House' balls, provided by the centre, are invariably 'straight' balls and generally colour-coded to indicate weight... bright orange or pink signifying the lightest, child-sized bowl and black the heaviest.
It may have been useful to mention the cost of balls - although I realise that the information would soon go out of date. The last time I looked the cheapest (beginner) balls were around 120 pounds and specialist 'hook' bowls could go into the thousands. Included in the price is the task of having the ball drilled to fit your own hand. Bowling centres often have a supply of second-hand balls for sale which can be plugged and re-drilled. A ball designed purely for your own use is always more comfortable (and more accurate) then a house ball which never seems to fit just right and leads to callouses on the thumb or the bowl inadvertently dropping at an inopportune moment. Many styles of shoes are available to buy and, as you can imagine, are much more comfortable and hygenic than those hired out by the centre.
As you rightly say, many leagues run on a handicap system which means that you don't have to be brilliant to join in. They do, however, often have a 'dress code' and you may find that 'jeans' are banned and you are required to wear a bowling shirt with your team name and own name visible. The nice thing about having your own shirt is that when you make a good score - either in a single game or a series - you are awarded a badge which you can proudly display on your shirt. Other paraphenalia available to the keen bowler includes wrist guards, resin or chalk for use on shoes (not accepted by some leagues or alleys), shoe guards and even liquid skin for use when a wound opens on the hand or a finger.
The BTBA (British Tenpin Bowling Association) or your local centre will have details of the leagues currently in operation in your area. Teams usually consist of six players with only three bowling in any leg (trios) or just two (pairs). Most leagues accept mixed teams although some operate a men only or women only policy. Scoring is based on a win, a draw and pinfall and can depend on the final bowl of the match for a result!
There is also a very strong Youth League which offers training and the opportunity to play away matches and even, eventually, represent your county or country. Many moons ago I helped to run and train a Youth League and found it very enjoyable.
Most leagues award cups (and wooden spoons!) at the end of the season and some are even 'money leagues' which give cash prizes. Once the stiff competitions are over they often indulge in a little 'fun' bowling which can range from bowling between the legs, bowling with the opposite hand, lowest score (in which case a gutter ball scores 10) and taking alternate shots between team members.
Many centres now run 'Moonlight Bowling' nights when the only illumination is over the pins - which are usually special luminous ones coloured a garish pink or green - and possibly some of the wall decorations behind and above the pins also reflect light. It is great fun but not particularly enjoyed by league bowlers as they cannot see their arrows to perfect their shot!
Finally - how about those famous cartoon characters who love to indulge in a spot of bowling; Homer Simpson, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. There have also been one or two films based on the game. The one that comes to mind is King Pin.
Vestboy Posted Mar 10, 2005
I agree with everything you say. There would be no end to the article if I'd put it all in and there was discussion about the films and so on around bowling - but I decided to leave them out - only to keep the piece to a readable length.
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