Volume 2, Issue 49, The 101th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
My summer leagues have ended, and before the winter leagues get going, I figured I'd give everyone a recap on my experience this summer. My travel league takes the summer off, so I put my money where my column is and joined a long oil/sport condition league. My center offered two such leagues this summer: a trios league on Monday nights and a scratch singles league Wednesdays. The trios league sounded great, but the $25 league fees (double that with my spouse) were a bit prohibitive. With a 180 average on travel conditions, the scratch singles league seemed a bit daunting, but they thankfully voted to keep the league fees low, and we worked out a prize fund that didn't penalize anyone.
No Whiners was a VERY small league of only eight bowlers--one bowler who will join the PBA Tour this fall, six bowlers ranging from 170-210, and one bowler who had just switched to her left hand due to tendonitis in her elbow (she wanted to improve her accuracy on a more demanding shot--I guess this is the bowling equivalent of jogging with weights on).
The nearest thing I can compare the shot to (because I am not into reading graphs), is a WIBC or ABC national tournament shot. There was much more oil outside ten board. Swing it, lose it. The ball might not hit the gutter, but anything more than a three count, and I counted myself lucky. There was definitely oil across the lane, but there was backend. Tug it, and you'd be blessed with some geographical pattern of a split. Carry was always a bit of a challenge, and spares took much more concentration. We didn't limit our equipment choices, so we were allowed to use anything. Proactive seemed to be the coverstock of choice.
While our shot apparently wasn't as difficult as the Monday shot, the results were clearly visible when I met the regular conditions put down during the Adult/Junior league. My series over 600 mushroomed. A combination of accuracy on my first shot and better spare making helped immensely. By the end of the No Whiners my average was 185, slightly higher than my travel book. But my league average for the Adult/Junior league was ten pins higher.
Our left-handed convert bowled the same two leagues with me, and went from a 104 April book left-handed to a 131 average in the longer oil. But her performance on "normal" conditions was dramatic--she shot her first 200 (actually two) and a 567 before the Adult/Junior league was over.
The final outcome on leagues like this is still mixed, however. None of the No Whiners bowlers were returning--but each for different reasons. Several, including my husband, were moving to the even more difficult Monday night shot. Others were going back to their regular winter leagues. The point is none of us were leaving because of the shot itself.
On the other hand, Monday night's league did lose a few teams that couldn't get over the conditions. But other bowlers are eager to take their places when the league floors. I suspect the people joining this time will be better prepared for what happens to their averages. And with more publicity, and more leagues like this flooring, by next summer, it might not be such a shock. It's almost like taking lessons.
There will no doubt be turn over in leagues like these. Like I've said before, the truth hurts, and some people will not be receptive to hearing it. On the other hand, if you're given the opportunity to show your mettle, this fall or next summer, do it. Judging by my experience on the two conditions, longer oil definitely improved accuracy and confidence in my game.