Volume 1, Issue 22
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Every day, I find another reason to love bowling, not that I really need any more. This weekend, once again, I found myself learning another lesson about bowling (and life) at the PBA Regional at AMF Rocket Lanes in Chatsworth, CA.
What's that saying about age and experience will conquer youth and enthusiasm every time? Well, with a few modifications, I witnessed that theory at work firsthand this weekend. Sunday's matchplay finals comprised 16 bowlers, of which, three were PBA seniors (which is age 50 and up). Two more bowlers were within a few birthdays of Senior Tour eligibility. Nearly one-third of the matchplay bowlers could have been the fathers of another third. Maybe I should say that age and experience, coupled with patience and the ability to make spares, will conquer revs and a membership in the ball-of-the-month club, when that membership includes a poor attitude and the "Who needs a spare, when I can cross boards?" mentality.
What makes bowling so wonderful is that all the revs and attitude in the world mean nothing when the shot gets a little more difficult. That's when a little life experience under the belt comes in very handy. Sure jokes about the "old guys" were bantered about, but when someone shoots 240, it's a 240. And it doesn't take a math major to realize that anyone who misses a single-pin spare is going to need to string several to make up for the open. And when an opponent stays clean (with a double or turkey here and there), that adds to the demand to string the strikes.
Even in my own league, I live it every week. I'm fortunate enough to bowl travel league scheduled at noon Tuesdays. The women I bowl with are all a generation and a half older than I am, some are old enough to be my grandmother. Of course, if I ever mistakenly thought that that is reason to assume they're conceding matchpoints to me, I know better now. There's at least one woman who routinely throws the same line as I do, much better than I do, and we will go neck and neck all game. If I open up one frame, I can pretty much kiss the point good-bye, because she'll be all over me. My 600 series will sound fantastic until it's matched against her 630.
Sometimes when I'm struggling (and I'm NOT bowling against them), it's nice to go to some of the women who only carry one or two balls and still can average 180 in a travel league, and get their feedback. They're drawing on the experience of a HECK of a lot more lane conditions than I've seen in my time bowling. What I wouldn't give for their accuracy.
Sunday during the second block, as the lanes dried up, I watched younger bowlers begin to miss their side of the pocket completely. And yes, I'll be the first to admit I've had the benefit of the occasional Brooklyn myself, but I mean frame after frame. And as bowlers who had been doing well and were fearful of dropping a spot or two, would have a bad frame, I'd watch a slow meltdown that would progress to temper tantrums complete with arms flailing and colorful language.
The winner of the tourney was senior Ross Packard. He had done so well in matchplay that he had a 220 pin cushion going into the position game. It must be wonderful to know that if you are clean through the fourth frame, you've locked a tournament. Also finishing in the top 16 were PBA Senior Tour members Barry Gurney and Barry Asher.
Someday I'll have that kind of experience to draw on, but in the meantime, I'm going to practice acting that calm and collected--even when I do something dumb. Because I'd rather make a mistake on the lanes than let everyone think it was a mistake to let me bowl.