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08/09
 
by John Jowdy
                                  
                                         PBA World Series of Bowling by John Jowdy
 
The Professional Bowlers Association Tour is, by far, the most important and effective promotional vehicle in bowling.

A new era in the PBA will feature 23 tournament telecasts slated for the 2009-10 season, beginning with the creation of the Lumber Liquidators PBA World Series of Bowling. The World Series of Bowling will be held in the Detroit area and kick off at longtime PBA host center, Taylor Lanes, in Taylor, Michigan, about 20 miles southeast of Detroit.

This will mark the first time the PBA tour will spend an extended period of time in one city. Six events will be staged at Thunderbowl Lanes. This is a 90-lane facility featuring a unique setup for taping of the ESPN telecasts as well as continuous online coverage of the PBA Tour's live streaming video service "Xtra Frame" on pba.com.

Thunderbowl Lanes features an arena that originally housed the Detroit franchise of the old National Bowling League and later catered to the Detroit All-Star bowling league.

The seven PBA championship events will air out what has been traditionally the first half of the PBA season from mid-October to early December 2009; Sunday afternoons on ESPN. The second half of the season, from January to April will feature live Sunday telecasts and travel to at least 10 cities across the country, including three major championships; USBC Masters, PBA Tournament of Champions, and the US Open.

In my estimation, the advantage of the seven-week stand in one location FAR outweighs the loss of tournaments in other areas, particularly from a financial standpoint. The savings in travel costs will be a financial boom to the PBA as well as the PBA players.

The World Series of Bowling is exactly what it implies. All events are open to professionals as well as amateurs. Amateurs may enter directly into the open event fields; Motor City Open; PBA World Championship; PBA Women's World Championship; and PBA Senior World Championship.

Amateurs may also enter Lumber Liquidator's PBA exempt Tour events but must qualify through Pro Tour Qualifying Rounds. All amateurs who finish among the top 10 in TQR's will advance to the field of 72.

World Series of Bowling exempt events will consist of 41 players from the 2008-09 points list; eight players from the PBA Tour Trials, seven players from the PBA Regional Players Invitational, three international players exemptions, one Golden Parachute qualifier, one player from a medical deferment in 2008-09 (Tommy Delutz), the 2008-09 TQR points list leader and 10 players (including one amateur) that advance from the TQRs.

One of the main features of the World Series of Bowling is the appearance of THREE two-handed bowlers; Finland's Osku Palermaa, Australia's Jason Belmonte, and former Team USA member, Cassidy Schaub.

After a deal with the European Bowling Tour, the World Series of Bowling asked all international stars to apply for exemptions. They had dozens of applications and decided on three outstanding international players that included Osku Palermaa, the European Bowling Tour points leader; Tae-Hwa Jeong, a 10-time Korean PBA Tour winner as well as a five-time Japan PBA Tour titlist; and Amleto Monacelli, a 19-time PBA champion.

In addition to this, there were entries into World Series events from players from Sweden, Denmark, and Russia. Add to this, Mika Koiveniemi of Finland and Jason Belmonte of Australia who are on the PBA exempt list. Stuart Williams from England and George Lambert from Canada qualified through the tour trials, thus establishing the World Series of Bowling as truly an international event.

The women's World Series of Bowling consist of 12 players from their U.S. Women's Tour Trials, six champions from 2008 and at least two players qualifying through TQRs.

The capacity for the Motor City Open is 196. For the PBA World Championships the capacity is 200 entries. The maximum for the Senior World Championships is 140 and the maximum for the PBA Women's Championship is 100.

There will also be eight side events and sweepers. Three side events with a $250 entry fee are restricted to amateurs and non-exempt PBA players. Five sweepers with entry fees of $100 and $80 are open to ALL players. All side action will go directly into the prize fund; no lineage fees or administrative fees will be deducted. In order to participate in any side event, a bowler must enter at least one of the main tournaments or any of the TQRs. Each of the five sweepers will be contested on five different PBA lane patterns…Earl Anthony, Tournament of Champions, U.S.Open, Dick Weber and Shark.

I feel confident that the "new" PBA format will not only be successful, but with telecasts of the events aired internationally, it will increase TV ratings and create greater worldwide interest. It will surely inspire younger generations of aspiring bowlers.

The regular PBA tour featuring 64 exempt players will include numerous new bowlers and number of veterans who re-qualified. Two of the most notable players failing to gain exemption for the 2009-10 season were David Traber and Dave D'Entremont.

Bowlers who qualified for the 2009-10 season were; Dave Arnold, Mitch Beasley, Joe Ciccone, P.J Haggerty, Tim Mack, John May, Derek Sapp, Cassidy Schaub, Thomas Smallwood, Brian Waliczek, Lonnie Waliczek, Stevie Weber, and Troy Wollenbecker.

Although the "new" PBA look is a product of united and cooperative PBA employees, much of the credit must be attributed to Tom Clark, the deputy commissioner of the PBA. Clark, a former USA Today sports reporter, has demonstrated an uncanny ability to promote bowling as no other individual in recent years. He has been most instrumental in resurrecting women professional bowlers and did an excellent job in his short stint with the USBC. And now he is displaying the greatest promotional skills on the PBA staff since Eddie Elias founded the organization.

Perhaps the PBA's greatest coup of the 2009-10 season was the selection of Brian Voss as the Golden Parachute exemption. The choice of Voss, who failed to qualify for the 64-man exemption list, was a no-brainer. The former poster-boy of the PBA tour is a 24-time PBA champion and is fully capable of holding his own among the PBA touring players.

Meanwhile, the addition of several new faces, the re-qualification of a number of veterans, the and the initiation of the World Series of Bowling promises to make the 2009-10 PBA season one of the greatest ever!
 
 
02/14/09
 
by John Jowdy
 
 

                                    PBA 50th Anniversary Gala

 

The PBA 50th Anniversary Gala was the most spectacular and most impressive bowling event I have ever witnessed.

 

Dick Evans’ wrote a detailed column and exacting rendition of this festive night at the Charleston Room in the Red Rock Resort Hotel and Casino. It was nothing short of a masterpiece.

 

Consequently, I shall refrain from elaborating on the outstanding program. Any attempt on my part to follow Dick Evans’ presentation of this gala event would be an exercise in futility. Nonetheless, I was “almost” equally impressed with another event that I joyfully participated in.

 

Several hours prior to the kickoff of the big bash, 38 of the 50 top bowlers were seated at tables alongside the foul lines for a poster/book signing at the Red Rock Lanes. The line started at the high end of the Red Rock Lanes, starting with the 50th place player selected, Bob Strampe, and moved leftward in the order the players finished in the poll, ending up with Walter Ray Williams, who finished in second place behind Earl Anthony.

 

Absent from this elite group were the following deceased bowlers: Earl Anthony, who was selected as the number one player in PBA history, Dick Weber who finished 3rd in the balloting, Don Johnson (8th), Jim Godman(32nd), and Bill Allen (37).

 

Those unable to attend included Don Carter (11th), Dick Ritger (14th), Jim Stefanich (27th), Wayne Zahn (31st), Joe Berardi (41st), Gary Dickinson (46th), and Tommy Hudson (48th)

 

The fans in attendance were able to purchase elegant slick- paged books published by Luby Publishing Co. that contained mini bios of the Top 50. The books sold for $20 but would have been a bargain at $40. As a matter of fact, the book sales were so  overwhelming, they sold out. Many would-be purchasers were offering as high as $300 for a copy. To my knowledge, not one fan was willing to relinquish their jewel. The books are now on sale to the public. However, those unable to buy a book weren’t completely disappointed, The PBA issued posters with pictures of ALL the Top 50 to those in attendance.  The line lasted approximately three hours. Included in the line was yours truly, weak legs and all.

 

I’ve never stood in any line for autographs of anyone; but this was not an ordinary occasion. I sprung at the opportunity to see and talk to many of the PBA players that I coached or admired during the past 50 years. It brought back great memories. Most of them stood up and hugged me and acknowledged our close relationships of the past. It was especially heart-warming to see players whose relationships with me went beyond the bowling lanes…Mike Aulby, Parker Bohn, David Ferraro, Amleto Monacelli, George Pappas, David Ozio,  and David Husted. It was especially heartening when I approached Pete Weber, whom I have helped coach during the past 15 years. I couldn’t help think how proud his father Dick was as he looked down at his son on this magnificent night.

 

The 50 top players in PBA history were chosen by a select group of 17 bowling writers,

and 17 members of the bowling industry, including coaches and industry leaders.

 

It must be noted that the balloting rules only included records of PBA members since 1959. Therefore, any accomplishments prior to this date did not come under consideration, which may explain the absence of some of the game’s greatest names. It may also illustrate the conspicuous absence of Don Carter, who finished 11th,  from the top five or six place finishers. Carter, captured 11 Majors; the All-Star (US Open ) in 1953-54-57-58, the 1960 PBA National, the 1961 Masters, and five World’s Invitational tournaments. He recorded these feats prior to the birth of the PBA. Consequently, they were not included on his Top 50 PBA record.

 

Apparently, majors played a very important role in the voting process. For example, Steve Hoskins, with 12 titles, and Bryan Goebel, with 10 titles, did not make the top 50. Yet, Doug Kent with nine titles, Tommy Hudson, with 10 titles, and Bob Strampe, with seven titles, were all selected to the top 50 ahead of Hoskins and Goebel.

 

Again, it seems that “majors” tended to sway some voters. Doug Kent’s nine titles included  FOUR MAJORS…

 

Tommy Hudson’s nine titles included ONE major.

 

Bob Strampe, who finished 50th in the poll, had seven titles. However, Strampe garnered three majors; the 1964 All Star (US Open) the 1964 PBA National and the 1966 ABC Masters. Although Strampe’s came along too early to have longevity, his three majors apparently impressed the voters.

 

On the other hand, Steve Hoskins recorded 10 titles, which included TWO MAJORS; the Touring Players Championship in 1997, and again in 1999. Perhaps Hoskins’ oversight can be traced to an error in the latest PBA Media Guide. Unbeknown to anyone, Hoskins’ named was omitted from the list of title- holders in the latest PBA Media Guide. The Media Guide, with all statistical records of PBA bowlers, played a major role in the bowling writers voting decisions. Furthermore, Hoskins’ failure to secure a position for the exempt at the 2005 Tour Trials may have prevented him from adding any additional titles. His unsuccessful attempt at the Tour Trials resulted in his retirement from the PBA

Toiur.

 

Bryan Goebel, a 10-time winner, (one more than Hudson) had one major to his credit, the 1998 Tournament of Champions.

 

Lest I be misunderstood, I believe the voters made great choices. I merely meant to point out the closeness of the balloting. Principally, I wonder if the absence of Hoskins’ name in the list of title- holders in the PBA Media Guide had any affect on the calculations.

 

Like many other polls, the results are a matter of opinion. Unfortunately, as has occurred in many poll selections, some voters exercise their rights by voting for favorites, rather than rewarding candidates with worthier accomplishments.

 

Fair or not, those with voting powers have earned the right to express their opinions.
 
 
 
01/26/09
 
by John Jowdy
 
 
 

Rolf Gauger, one of bowling’s best and most beloved instructors, passed away on December 31, 2008.

 

With Rolf’s passing, bowling not only lost an outstanding coach/instructor/writer, but also one of the true gentlemen in our sport.

 

Rolf Gauger loved life. And his first love in life, next to his beloved wife Lin, was bowling.

 

The Rolf Gauger sage is one of epic proportions.  He was born in Germany during the Adolph Hitler regime.  At the age of 10, his parents managed to escape to the United States and found comfort in Chicago, a place Rolf would consider home.  At age 14, Rolf’s father passed away.  His mother said to him, “I don’t expect you to be the man of the house. That is too big a responsibility for your age, but I do want you to stay out of trouble, keep up with your studies, and be good so I don’t have to worry about you. Take good care of your sister (who was three years old) and your brother” (who was five years younger).

 

Rolf lived up to all his mother’s expectations.  He dearly loved his parents. When Rolf and Lin went to Germany in 2001, they visited Bad Pyrmont, where his father had built a beautiful home.  It was still there.  Rolf said it looked just like it did when they lived there.  He knocked on the door and spoke to the people who resided there. They were thrilled to meet Rolf and Lin and invited them in so they could see the home again. It was one of the most gratifying times of Rolf’s life.  

 

Before meeting Lin, Rolf spent 20 years as a dance instructor in the Chicago area at the Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire Dance Studios.  At the Astaire Studios, Rolf trained teachers.  He traveled around to various studios and also put on annual balls studios conducted at hotels that included dinner dances. He coordinated the entire packages and also emceed the programs.  He enjoyed his job and also did some nightclub shows with a dance partner.   

 

Perhaps Rolf’s dancing skills played a large part in his bowling instructional career.  He was a master at teaching bowling beginners, as well as veterans of the game. He specialized in teaching proper timing and graceful, rhythmic approaches.

 

Subsequently, Rolf was employed in Chicago as Regional Director for Famous Artists School, a company that sold art courses with leads and in-home sales calls.  In 1969 his company transferred him to Memphis, Tennessee as Southeast Regional Director. This is where he met and married Lin.  In 1971, he was appointed Southwest Regional Director and moved to Los Angeles.  Unfortunately, Famous Artists School went bankrupt, forcing Rolf to seek other employment.  About this time, he had a friend, Skip Russell, who was assistant manager for Hollywood Legion Bowl. Russell was being promoted to manager and offered Rolf the opportunity to be his assistant manager.  Rolf gladly accepted the position, which also led to the beginning of his bowling instructional career.

 

In 1986, the Gaugers moved to Phoenix. Coincidently, Rolf’s old buddy, Skip Russell was managing Brunswick Mission Bell Lanes.  Not too surprising, Rolf began conducting bowling clinics at Brunswick Mission Bell.  He not only established a reputation as a world -class instructor but also penned the most comprehensive instructions of any instructor in the country in the Arizona Desert Bowler publication.

 

Later, his instructional articles appeared in several other western states; the Las Vegas Ten Pin Journal and the California Bowling News.  As his reputation expanded, he became a regular coach at Super School and a columnist for Bowling This Month magazine.  I believe Rolf’s instructional columns were the BEST in the country, particularly considering he did his own graphics and illustrations.

 

Personally, I lost more than a friend. Rolf was like a brother. I didn’t know him except for reading his great bowling instructional columns in the  Desert Bowler, a popular publication in Phoenix, Arizona.  We became fast friends about 10 or 12 years ago after I called his home to see if he had any interest in coaching the Saudi Arabia National Team. I received a message from Ibrahim Juraifani, a bowling distributor and promoter from Jedda, Saudi Arabia. He asked me if I was interested in coaching the Saudi National bowling team that was willing to pay me $48,000 a year, plus a car, a home, all expenses, plus two annual paid trips back to the USA. I told him I had no interest in the job but promised to try to find someone who might consider it

 

Inasmuch as I am half Arabic, (Lebanese) I knew I had to recommend someone who was not only highly qualified but especially one possessing high morals.  Having read Rolf’s articles for several years, he was the first person to came to my mind. However, like myself, Rolf had no interest in leaving home. He thanked me for my call but, more than that, he left a lasting impression on me with his warm words of appreciation. His response led me to recommend him to the late publisher of Bowling This Month, Bob Summerville; not only as a coach for Super School, but also as a featured columnist for the popular magazine. Not too surprising, Rolf became one of Bowling This Month’s most popular writers and undoubtedly one of its finest coaches at BTM’s annual Super School.  He will be sorely missed.

 

It is often said, “life is not fair”.  Despite all his achievements in successfully coaching hundreds of bowlers, from beginners to juniors, to those of all ages, Rolf NEVER got his just dues.  To my knowledge, he has not been elected to any Hall of Fame.  He has never received the accolades bestowed on coaches like Fred Borden, Carmen Salvino, Rod Ross, Susie Minshew, Jeri Edwards or any coaches/instructors who have been ordained Gold Level status.  I can assure anyone in bowling that Rolf Gauger was at least equal to and possibly more competent than any of them, including Tom Kouros and myself.

 

I have often written that nominees for Halls of Fame not only require credentials for selection but equally as important, require the publicity and support of friends. Unfortunately Rolf was never one to toot his own horn.  Consequently, his outstanding instructional work was never heralded.  In fact, until he joined the staff of Bowling This Month, he was a virtual unknown, except in his own little bailiwick.  Fortunately, and finally, by virtue of his association with Bowling This Month, he expanded his reputation among the top coaches and writers in the bowling world. One thing is absolutely certain. Rolf Gauger deserves Hall of Fame status, especially in the Phoenix and Arizona State Bowling Halls of Fame.

 

God Bless my beloved friend Rolf.  May his soul rest in peace.

 
 
 
 
 

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