Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bowling's Tournament Twilight Zone

As I spend more time thinking and writing about bowling, the more serious I'm becoming about my game, and the more I want to start bowling in tournaments. When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I bowled in quite a few tournaments, mostly eight or ten gamers. I loved the long format, because I tend to do better the longer I bowl. I guess you could call me bowling's equivalent of a "marathon man."

But I don't see nearly as many tournament opportunities in the Sacramento area as I used to have in the Bay Area. Oh, there are a fair number of tournaments, but most of them are either high caliber scratch tournaments dominated by local pros and elite amateurs, or they're handicap tournaments, often only three games long, dominated by lower average bowlers, often sandbaggers, with huge handicaps.

Thus, so far as bowling in tournaments in which I can be competitive and have a chance to cash is concerned, I inhabit a kind of twilight zone. My average is too high to get appreciable or any handicap, and I'm not skilled enough to go head-to-head with the big and mostly much younger guns in this area. So, what's a poor old geezer like me to do?

Well, one possibility that's come to my attention is to join a local bowling club that tries to make things fair for all its members by invoking an elaborate and flexible handicapping system that takes as accurate a measure as possible of a bowler's ability to perform on its tournament conditions. And those conditions are said to be sport patterns.

Clearly, if I want to competitive on those conditions against people using averages to determine their handicap that come from their performance on those conditions, I can't use my highest regular league average as the basis for determining my handicap. I would have to come in with a 220 average obtained on an easy house shot and would have no chance against people with handicaps derived from 190 or 200 averages bowled on tournament sport conditions. This club's rules say that you have to use your highest league average for the first 21 games before your average is adjusted, but the director told me that the adjustment can happen much sooner.

I'm probably going to join this organization and see how it goes. They have tournaments almost every week from the looks of their schedule. But I wish there were more good tournaments around for people like myself--senior bowlers with high house averages but who are not able to compete with the best professional and amateur bowlers in the area.

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