He stands at the line on Lane 7. He has evaluated the oil pattern and the hook probability. Now his eyes are focused steadily on the sweet spot on the lane. One, two, three — slide. Release the bowl over the line. Watch it roll down the lane at approximately 16 miles per hour. The reward? strike– all ten pins in the pit.
Before each squad, the lanes are “dressed.” At Heartland Bowl, a computerized machine called “Walkin’ Walter” travels up and down the lanes. Walter is programmed to apply a certain “oil pattern” specific for different types of tournament and league play. A technician follows Walter and uses a buffer to clean the approach areas.
On March 3 at Heartland Lanes in Sebring, 57 teams participated with 285 men and women sanctioned bowlers participated in a tournament.
At the same time the Orange Belt Tournament was going on, a separate 2014 Orange Belt Women’s Team Championship Tournament was being held. This event had 19 teams with a total of 76 women participating.
The USBC is the United States Bowling Congress. It is a sports membership group that is dedicated to ten-pin bowling. It was formed in 2005 after the merger of ABC (American Bowling Congress), WIBC (Women’s International Bowling Congress) and YABA (Young American Bowling Congress).
This national governing body has many important functions, including maintaining specific rules and regulations, certification of lanes and equipment, oversight of tournament play and bowling leagues, awards and recognition programs certification of coaches and promoting high school and collegiate gates and scholarship programs.
The Orange Belt Association consists of league bowlers from Highlands, Polk and Hardee counties. They bowl at AMF Lanes (Lakeland), Bowl of Fun (Wauchula), Cypress Lanes (Winter Haven), Imperial Lanes (Lake Wales), Kegel Training Center (Lake Wales), Orange Bowl Lanes (Lakeland), Royal Palms (Lake Placid) and the Team Tournament host Lanes, Heartland Bowl (Sebring).
“These tournaments have been going on for a long time, but since the organizations merged together (in 2005), everything has been under the USBC,” said Tournament Director Frank Collins.
Teams bowling consisted of any combination of men and women bowlers. Each bowler has a “book average” which is how their handicap is assessed for scoring. The handicap level for this tournament is 90 percent of 230. That means you deduct your average from 230 and you receive 90 percent of the difference as a handicap.
For example, if you have a 180 average, you would take 230-180 = 50. 90% of 50 is 45. You would receive 45 pins handicap per game. So, if you then bowled a 200 game, 45 extra pins would be added.
Your game, with handicap, would be 245. The reason games are handicapped is so every bowler, no matter what their average is, can bowl against those with higher averages.
Another option for tournament bowlers is participating in “brackets.” This is like a side bet where your scores are matched against a randomly drawn bowler, with the handicap added. Each game is separate and if you advance, you play against someone else next game. If you lose your game, you’re out. Prize money is awarded to the final winners.
The squad included Orange Belt Bowling Association and Florida State Hall of Fame Bowlers Stanley and Pam Sprow of Lakeland.
“It takes a great deal of dedication and bowling ability to make it to the Hall of Fame. It’s a great honor,” said Stanley Sprow. His highest game is 300; highest series (for three consecutive games) is 866; his league average is 232. Sprow used to bowl in some of the Regional Professional Bowler events.
“In addition to the Florida State Hall of Fame, I will be inducted into the Women’s Bowling Hall of Fame,” said Pam Sprow. Her highest game is 300; highest series is 796; her league average is 209.
Here are the top teams for each of the tournaments.
2014 Orange Belt Women’s Team Championship:
1st place – “Four in a Row” (Sandy Collins, Georgia Kovacs, Barbara Gnegy, Allison Korcak)
2014 Orange Belt Open Team Championship:
1st place – “T-Mark” (Armanda Kelly; Matthew Tomaskovich; Tracy McCoy; Robert Kelly; William Chancey)