Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Bowling on the U.S. Open Pattern Is So Difficult

Sunday's stepladder finals of the PBA U.S. Open was, in my opinion, one of the finest televised finals of any PBA tournament I've ever seen. You may wonder why, since the highest score of the day was "only" 225, and a lot of people score or even average well over that at their local bowling center.

Well, they don't do it on a legitimate U.S. Open pattern. I've bowled on an approximation of this pattern in a PBA Experience league, and I can tell you from painful personal experience that you have to bowl exceedingly well just to shoot 180. Miss your target by a board right or left, be a little fast or slow with your ball speed, or vary your release even a tiny bit, and you can end up with a three count or even a gutterball or a badly missed spare.

This is a far, far cry from bowling on a typical house pattern where you can miss your target by five or ten boards on either side or fluctuate wildly in your ball speed or release and still crush the pocket for devastating strikes or convert single pin spares practically blindfolded.

Sunday's matches were so good because Ryan Shafer, Jason Belmonte, and, especially, Mike Fagan and Pete Weber executed terrifically well under incredible pressure on supremely demanding lane conditions. And this excellent video by bowling champion, coach, and self-described "bowling geek" Jason Doust masterfully explains why the U.S. Open pattern is such a challenge.

After you watch it, I hope you'll sign up for a PBA Experience league and gain a newfound appreciation for 225 games on demanding lane conditions and for just how superbly those guys bowled last Sunday afternoon.

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