Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why I'm not Bowling the USBC Open Championships

I've lived in Sacramento since late 2004. Reno's National Bowling Stadium has hosted the USBC Open Championships three times since I've lived here. The National Bowling Stadium is only 131 miles away from my driveway, according to Google Maps. Yet, despite the fact that some travel thousands of miles to bowl the Open, I've never bowled "nationals," and I won't be bowling this year either. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, I'm too darn lousy a bowler to waste that much money on a tournament. If there's one thing I've learned from doing this blog, watching Xtra Frame, and from my humiliating experience this interminable season in a travel scratch league, it's that even though I never thought I was very good, I'm a lot, lot worse than I thought. The fact that I didn't bowl well in the two tournaments I've bowled at the National Stadium also doesn't light my fire to bowl the Open there this year.

And if that's not enough to keep me away, I see guys like Matt McNiel bowling monster scores there. And lest you say, "Well, he's a lefty. Maybe you can't beat the lefties at the Stadium, but you can hang with your fellow righties," I counter with, "Well what about Matt Weggen?"

Matt Weggen (see photo above) is a 31-year-old right-hander who took the singles and all-events lead at the Open this year by shooting 806 in doubles and 826 in singles yesterday, April 19. Now, how the hell can mere mortals like me compete with that and all the other 800 series, 300 games, and 2100+ all-events totals that have already been shot?

And what's with with all these astronomical scores? I don't expect the USBC Open to put out a U.S. Open oil pattern, but it's still supposed to be a "sport" condition, and people tell me it's tough. So why are all these guys I've never heard of before shooting these monstrous scores? And if they can do it, why can't I? Well, because if I can't even average 200 in a travel league on house conditions, how am I going to average 230+ on a "sport" pattern in the biggest bowling tournament on earth, no matter how loosely the term "sport" may apply to the lane conditions in Reno right now?

How about you? Are you bowling nationals this year, even if your name isn't Matt? If so, how do you feel about going up against these incredible scores?


  1. Steve -

    I'm surprised to hear that you have never bowled the event, considering how much of a supporter of bowling that you are.

    This was my 16th visit - the last dozen or so consecutive - and I look forward to continuing this for years to come.

    There are always really high scores rolled, but many more low scores. I have contributed too many of the low ones, and only one game of which I am proud - a 287 in 2009. Note that the three basic events pay (I think) one place in 3.5 entries, so despite the 850s sometimes bowled the cash lines are normally around 570 in singles, 1125 in doubles and 2700 in team. Where else can you finish in 15000th place and get a check?

    The lanes can be challenging, but I have found that every few years you will hit a pair which has a good shot. It usually depends on who bowled on the pair before you. It happened to me again this year in singles - I probably had 3-4 boards at my target area. I was disappointed that I only managed 627, although my doubles partner rolled a 680.

    I think the USBC does a good job running the event. I enjoy browsing the shops and it has allowed me to visit some places that I would otherwise probably never see (Billings, Baton Rouge and Louisville come to mind). I recommend that any real fan of the game get together with some friends of similar sentiment and participate some day. Even if your scores are not quite up to your THS norm, I suspect you will enjoy the experience.

    Steve Potocny

  2. Steve, if I may paraphrase an old maxim: "Those who can, bowl; those who can't, blog."

    But your comment has given me pause about never bowling the tournament. I certainly won't bowl it this year, but I may bowl it if and when it returns to Reno.

    It sounds like you and your partner scored well enough to cash in doubles, and maybe you also did well enough in one or more of the other events. Good luck to you on that.

    Also, a belated congratulations on that 287 a couple of years ago. That must have been very gratifying and reasonably remunerative.

    By the way, I've written a post today about the Open that includes your comment above and briefly responds to it.

    Thanks for writing and for the encouragement.