by John Jowdy
The USBC Masters Tournament….A Truly Major Event
The United Sates Bowling Congress Masters will reunite with the USBC Open Championships next season. The two events will be conducted at Cashman Center in Las Vegas with the Masters tentatively scheduled to be held February 8-15, 2009.
Chalk up another coup for Tom Clark, USBC Vice-President of Marketing and Communications who continues to exert all efforts to promote bowling in the right direction. The Masters is one of the most prestigious bowling tournaments of all time. Moreover, it has taken an even greater significance since becoming one of the “Majors” on the Professional Bowling Association tour. With the Masters now scheduled for February, the televised finals will no longer be pitted against the National Football League. This schedule time change will certainly gain greater media exposure, plus, consequentially, it will undoubtedly increase the all-important TV ratings.
Dick Evans, the most prolific bowling writer in the country, has often expressed his displeasure regarding the Masters being conducted in a regular bowling center; and rightfully so. With the exception of the last four or five years, the Masters held all qualifying and finals rounds in an arena setting, alongside the USBC Open Championships. Yet, despite the fact that the televised finals were conducted at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2004 and 2007, qualifying rounds were contested in a privately operated bowling center with limited space for spectators and bowlers alike. It hardly bore resemblance to a “major” event.
The original ABC Masters was conducted in 1951. The Masters complimented the ABC Open Championship Tournament, which, prior to the birth of the PBA, attracted the greatest bowlers in the country. Not too surprising, a great majority of Masters champions have achieved ABC/USBC Hall of Fame status, beginning with the initial champion, Lee Jouglard. Four other Hall of Famers, Dick Hoover, Billy Welu, Billy Golembiewski, and Earl Anthony won it twice. Mike Aulby won it THREE TIMES!
Oddly, a number of less distinguished bowlers carted off a Masters championship but did little else to enhance their careers. For example, since the birth of the PBA, none of the following Masters champions ever notched a PBA title: Lou Scalia, (1967) Jim Chesney (1969), Doug Myers (1979) Neil Burton (1980), Mike Lastowski, (1983),Ken Johnson(1992), Jason Queen, (1997)Brian Boghosian, (1999) Brett Wolfe( 2002) and Bryon Smith (2003)
Even more astounding, look WHO they beat!
Jim Chesney beat Barry Asher,
Doug Myers topped Bill Spigner,
Neil Burton knocked off Mark Roth,
MikeLastowski beat out Pete Weber,
Ken Johnspon conquered Dave D’Entremont,
Jason Queen beat Eric Forkel,
Brian Boghosian knocked off Parker Bohn,
Brett Wolfe topped Dennis Horan,
Bryan Smith beat Walter Ray Williams.
With the exception of D’Entremont, Horan, and Forkel, all the above bowlers who lost to the non-PBA titlists are members of either the PBA Hall of Fame, the USBC Hall of Fame, or both Halls of Fame.
The sports world is replete with one-time wonders. Yet, no one can deny or erase the moment of glory of any of the aforementioned non-PBA titlists.
Nor can their names ever be dislodged from the USBC Masters record books.
by john jowdy
In my opinion, the new attention being paid to bowling coaches is one of the most deserving endeavors for the game After all, the development of coaches/instructors has become one of the most significant undertakings in the bowling industry for the past 10 years. How better can the industry display appreciation for individuals like veteran coaches Dick Ritger, Bill Bunetta, Tom Kouros, Fred Borden, Bill Taylor, Ron Hoppe, and others who have paved the way for spreading the bowling gospel all over the world?
The Skills Center, a division of Strike Ten Entertainment (a segment of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America) issued a press release announcing the establishment of recognition for bowling coaches/instructors through the presentation of an award; The National Coaching/Instructors Award, which will honor an outstanding coach/instructor. This award, in all likelihood, may also lead to the creation of a hall of fame for deserving coaches and instructors.
A task force has been formed to develop criteria for this award. The task force will be headed by BPAA president elect Jim Sturm as chairman, along with a panel of distinguished coaching leaders and bowling writers from around the country. The panel includes Dave Garber, USBC co-director of coaching; Susie Minshew, president IBPSIA, Bob Rea, director of coaching for the Dick Ritger Academy; Kelly Bednar, director of STE Skills Center, and bowling writers Dick Evans and Jim Goodwin.
Today, the torch is being carried on by such outstanding coaches as Susie Minshew, Jeanette Robinson, Jeri Edwards, Rod Ross, Bill Spigner, Carmen Salvino, Rolf Gauger, Bill Hall, John Fantini, Bill Holt, Joe Slominski, plus many others too numerous to mention.
This latest undertaking further demonstrates John Berglund’s organizational expertise. Several months ago, I praised the tremendous strides made by the BPAA under the leadership of Executive-Director John Berglund. Prior to Berglund’s tenure as Executive-Director, most BPAA members were content to operate as a separate entity, with little or no desire to share their successes or failures with any other integers in the bowling industry. They owned the playing field and were often at odds with the ABC/WIBC, (now, the USBC) A great number of proprietors asserted their ownership rights , generally smug in their attitudes, and often used intimidating tactics against the ABC by threatening to withdraw their sanctions and institute their own governing rules and regulations. Furthermore, many proprietors were somewhat loathsome towards the PBA and downplayed the importance of the PBA’s role in promoting the sport.
But my, how times have changed! Under Berglund’s leadership, the industry has NEVER been more united, cooperative, progressive and efficient as the present time.
For example, during the past few years, the BPAA has won over the confidence of the entire media, especially the Bowling Writers Association. Once an integral part of the American Bowling Congress Convention festivities, has aligned itself with the BPAA’s Bowl Expo, the most influential bowling trade show in the history of the sport. Bowl Expo attracts thousands of visitors from America and throughout the world.
Furthermore, it affords bowling writers an opportunity to gather the latest information on equipment and new innovations from the leading manufacturers in the industry. A great number of these manufacturers showcase some of the top bowlers in the world in their booths, thus providing writers with an abundance of writing material.
Several years ago, Mr. Berglund spearheaded a drive to include the International Bowling Pro Shop & Instructors Association under their supervision.
IBPSIA was founded November 2, 1990 at Bally’s Resort in Reno. The meeting was made up of seven bowling pro shop owners from the United States, representatives of the United States Tenpin Association (now, USA Bowling) and Neer & Associates, a management firm located in Fresno, Ca.
By December 31, 1994, 657 industry businesses throughout the world, 62 outside the United States, were members of the association. In November 2005, it was voted to turn management over to the same staff that manages the BPAA for their capacity to bring more resources to the association.
Through the association’s printed material, education-packed trade shows, and Certification Program, IBPSIA has provided education, communication, and recognition for bowling pro shop professionals and instructors. There is little doubt that IBPSIA has become a greater force through the magical wand of John Berglund.
Many years ago, at the annual Academy Awards ceremony, the motion picture industry presented an Oscar to the composers of Friendly Persuation as the Song of the Year
Wouldn’t this be a fitting theme song for John Berglund?
Women’s US Open
I was “there”, yet I wasn’t there. I am referring to the sensational USBC Women’s US Open at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno; held on Sunday, October 14, 2007.
Perhaps I should explain my dilemma. My wife Brenda and I flew to Reno planning to attend the Saturday practice session and the Press Conference afterward. Of course, the main attraction was the Sunday televised finals or the most prestigious of all women’s tournaments, the US Open.
Unfortunately, soon after arriving in Reno, the Bowling Gods deserted me, I got sick. Although I was barely able to attend the press conference on Saturday afternoon, I was in no condition to enjoy the proceedings, nor the usual pleasantries of the Reno atmosphere. Overcome by a weakened stomach. I was awake all night Saturday and was confined to my bed all day Sunday. Fortunately, my pain eased as I watched the television show on ESPN as four incredibly talented ladies displayed their bowling abilities before a packed National Bowling Stadium crowd.
Yes, I was there but I WASN’T “there” for one of the best produced bowling TV shows.
I’ve ever watched.
Liz Johnson was absolutely fabulous in capturing her second Women’s US Open. She was practically flawless, missing the pocket only ONE shot, a shot that was light in the pocket and resulted in a 2-10 split. Nonetheless, she converted the spare. More surprising, Liz Johnson exhibited her “savvy” for overcoming some rather difficult lane conditions. The New York sharpshooter used two different balls on alternating lanes, averaging over 250 in her two-game sweep for the title. In annexing her second US Open title, Johnson gave further evidence of her superior execution from an outside line. In my opinion, Liz Johnson can hold her own against any bowler in the world, including the top players on the PBA Tour.
Prior to the taped format leading to the “live” finals, the USBC was criticized by a number of the leading bowling writers in the country. Unfortunately, none of these writers attended the qualifying rounds, nor the match game eliminations. This is not to say that these great writers weren’t entitled to their opinions, but TV ratings for the taped segments on successive Sundays were, for the most part, better than expected, particularly since they were pitted against the National Football League time slots. But, hasn’t the PBA experienced the same fate for the past five years?
At any rate, it was a great show and another credit to Tom Clark, USBC Chief Officer-Marketing/ Communications and his unfaltering drive to “sell” the USBC. Perhaps this is the only objection I find in Clark’s relentless efforts to publicize the governing body of bowling. I thought the USBC related ads were a bit of overkill. Yet, how can anyone criticize a person for doing what he is paid to do?
I believe the TV program should have spent a little more time highlighting the VIP section, an area I considered one of the brightest features of the tournament. Christine Brennan, a featured writer for USA Today, conducted several interviews from the VIP area. But, for the most part, they were primarily promotional ads for the USBC.
Fortunately, BPAA Executive Secretary John Bergland and USBC acting Executive Secretary Kevin Dornberger were shown briefly. Unfortunately, several Reno big-wigs were overlooked, including Mayor Robert Cashell Sr. There were other BIG sponsors of USBC events left out, Rick Murdock, Vice-President Sales and Marketing of the Eldorado Hotel and Casino, Jennifer Cunningham, Director of Sales and Marketing of Circus-Circus…as well as several leaders in the bowling industry.
Perhaps I was overwhelmed by the uniqueness and classy surroundings of the VIP section during my attendance at the qualifying and match game rounds a few months ago. Nonetheless, these are my personal views and, in no way, diminished the overall presentation.
The spectacular performances by the ladies was further enhanced by an outstanding bowling tandem, two of the best TV bowling announcers I’ve ever heard, Marshall Holman and Nelson Burton Jr. Both PBA Hall of Famers did their homework and provided great insight and analysis. Hopefully, they will be considered for future TV bowling productions.
Where are they now?
What do professional bowlers do after they retire from their chosen profession? Sadly, some of them who failed to secure their future wind up working odd jobs at minimum wages. Some merely retire on Social Security.
Fortunately, many continue to be involved in bowling earning a comfortable living. A great majority of them operate successful pro shops. Many earn livable wages as coaches or instructors.
Dick Ritger is undoubtedly the most prominent bowling instructor of all time. Ritger, a 20-time PBA champion, retired from bowling while still VERY competitive to embark on an instructional career. Ritger can be credited with spreading the bowling gospel to practically every country in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Australia. He has not only taught worldwide; he opened the doors to hundreds of American coaches. For example, countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirites, Qatar, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Russia, and Malaysia have government subsidized programs that hire American coaches. They are paid from $60,000 to $100,000 a year, PLUS, housing, automobiles, food, and yearly and semi-yearly trips back to the States. Additionally, many countries that do not have government backing hire American coaches to conduct bowling seminars for anywhere from $1000 to $2000 a day, plus ALL expenses.
Ritger’s Professional Bowling Camps began over 30 years ago. Dick continues to run clinics all over the United States and the free world. Some of the best coaches in America have ridden on Dick Ritger’s coattails and currently benefit financially from the trail he blazed.
Then, there are those who became successful proprietors. One of the former most prominent bowling superstars is Don Carter. Carter, whose bowling prowess established him as one of the five greatest players in the history of the game, dominated the sport during the late 50’s and early 60’s before injuries forced his retirement. Carter became one of the principle investors in the Don Carter chain of bowling centers in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Many Carter bowling centers have been sold for lucrative property values. Nonetheless, those in operation are doing well. Incidentally, one of Carter’s principle partners in the Don Carter All Star bowling chain is Hall of Famer Junior Powell, a former Toledo bowling proprietor, now residing on the Florida west coast.
In addition to Don Carter, several other members of the famous Budweiser bowling juggernauts of the 50’s-60’s, became bowling proprietors; Dick Weber, Ray Bluth, Bill Lillard, and Pat Patterson.
The famous Falstaff team, which included such Hall of Famers as Glenn Allison, Steve Nagy, Billy Welu, Harry Smith, and Dick Hoover produced one bowling proprietor, Dick Hoover. Hoover continues to serve bowlers in the Akron, Ohio area.
Billy Hardwick, a transplanted Californian now residing in Florida, has been involved in a very successful bowling center in Memphis, Tenn. In recent years, Billy turned his bowling operations over to his children and is currently engaged in the real estate business in Florida.
I had the opportunity and honor of coaching two former outstanding PBA players that have become successful bowling proprietors; namely Mike Aulby (27 titles) and George Pappas (10 titles). Incidentally, both players won the most prestigious of all PBA events, the Firestone Tournament of Champions….Aulby (1995) Pappas (1979).
Several years ago, Aulby assumed ownership of Arrowhead Lanes, a 24 lane center in Lafayette Ind. His manager? Four-time PBA title-holder, Scott Devers! Business at Arrowhead Lanes became so lucrative, Aulby added an additional 12 lanes. Furthermore, Aulby, whose son Christopher excels at hockey, now operates two hockey/ice rinks in his hometown Indianapolis.
George Pappas, a former Charlotte, N. Carolinian now residing in nearby Cornelius, currently owns and operates three bowling centers in his native state…Park Lanes in Charlotte, Gastonia Lanes in Gastonia and his newest establishment, Victory Lanes, a 40 lane bowling center in Mooresville, approximately 20 miles north of Charlotte.
Victory Lanes serves as an example of a state of the art bowling facility. George Pappas’ Victory Lanes features a large parking area, a full service restaurant, a huge billiard room, a large game room, a well-stocked pro shop, incredible wall décor, a spacious concourse with TWENTY TWO television sets, plus four huge portable TV screens located above the masking units, extra-clean rest rooms on both ends of the concourse, a cozy modern bar with five TV sets, and a snack bar.
At one time, Marshall Holman seemed destined to inherit the position of analyst on the ESPN Pro Bowlers Tour. However, he was by-passed in favor of Randy Pedersen. His failure to secure the ESPN position has proven to be a blessing in disguise. Marshall and his wife currently operate a very successful franchised tax service business that is continually expanding throughout the country.
Allie Clarke, a three-time PBA champion, currently operates Maysville All Star Lanes in Zanesville, Ohio. Allie continues to participate in PBA Senior events.
Ted Hoffman, a former PBA touring player and later PBA Western Regional Director, became manager of Dublin Bowl when Earl Anthony assumed ownership. Following Anthony’s untimely death, Hoffman continues to oversee operations at the popular bowling center.
I would be remiss in neglecting to mention present PBA bowlers who are financially involved in bowling centers. Doug Kent, currently enjoying the most productive years of his career on the PBA tour, operates two centers in northwest area of the state of New York; Doug Kent’s Lakeside Lanes in Penn Yan, N.Y. and Doug Kent’s Rose Bowl Lanes in Newark, N.Y.
I had the privilege and pleasure of coaching many, many bowlers. Included among them are four of my favorite people; Tom Crites, David Ferraro, Dave Husted and Jeff Lizzi. I have them listed in a separate category. All of these gentlemen have all assumed management of family-owned bowling businesses.
Steve Cook, a 15-time PBA Champion, is Mike Aulby’s brothet-in-law. Unlike Mike, who invested in a bowling center, Cook developed Steve Cook’s Bowling Supply into one of America’s most successful bowling-related businesses. Cook, a native Californian, credits a lot of his success to the support of his wife and children, all whom are actively engaged in the day-to-day operations.
Veteran bowling fans can vividly recall the ABC-TV Pro Bowlers Tour every Saturday afternoon, particularly the dynamic duo of Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr. The late Chris Schenkel, a Hall of Fame announcer possessed a golden throat and brought prestige to the PBA Pro Bowlers Tour. Bo Burton, an ABC and PBA Hall of Famer, was a frequent candidate for TV honors as an analyst. Schenkel and Burton became household names in bowling circles. Unfortunately, Chris Schenkel passed away several years ago.
Burton won 17 PBA titles, including the US Open and the ABC Masters. Nelson Burton Jr., not only inherited his father’s nickname Bo but also inherited a bowling center from his father. In addition, he made some very wise investments and currently resides in Florida with his children.
Perhaps the most financially successful former professional bowler is Chuck Lande, a Dallas, Texas native. Lande will be featured in next month’s column.