Accepting Challenges By Alan Brizee © December 15, 1999, rev. June 2014 & March 2020.
Note: The original article was written for the Traveling Masters bowlers before bowling had sport patterns and was on the league’s extensive website. The Traveling Masters league bowled at 9 P.M. at five different centers after the early 6:30 P.M. league. The five centers didn’t re-oil because with 24 teams, there wasn’t enough time. A few centers for a season or two, just oiled the “heads” to calm the complaints of dry conditions. But that also made for a later start time and of course, complaints from bowlers who had to work before 8 P.M. In 1999, urethane balls have been around for at least 10 years and reactive resin balls just started selling a few years ago. These new balls were made to hook and carry more strikes. Bowlers were learning that adjusting to the faster changing lane conditions had to happen for higher scores. The one thing about bowling is that this sport, has gone through more changes than any other sport. League schedules to determine playoff teams, pot bowling, lane surfaces, ball returns, the dots on the approach and the distance to the foul line, scoring systems, wrist supports and gloves, tape to prevent injury, different releases for more revs, no thumb release for even more revs, now they bowl with two hands for more insane revs, the type of oil and even STP, lane conditions, oil patterns, ball surfaces, ball types, now it’s the core with engineered weight blocks to make the ball hook 20 boards after the carry down of oil and right now a stoppage as the coronavirus has temporarily closed all centers due to social distancing. All these changes have created challenges for athletes who bowl either in leagues or against the professionals. Someone like me who is at least 50 years old and continued to bowl since being a kid, will have experienced most of these changes. Obviously, not all these changes I feel have been good for bowling, but I have accepted them and some have helped my game. The one change I probably won’t see is, a lane surface that requires no oil.
Bowling at the five centers with slightly different conditions is what made the Traveling Masters one of Tucson's best and toughest league. It showed what bowlers were made of, as the conditions some week seem easy while other weeks might seem like there is no shot at all. I heard some bowlers complain about the conditions at certain centers. Those of you that expected a super easy shot, should not be bowling in a traveling league. If you put more into your game as to how to score at those centers that you're having trouble with instead of complaining, it will make you a better bowler and your scores should improve over time. Some of you are defeated before you leave your house for that center. Developing a positive attitude and enthusiasm for all centers is a must to compete against some of the best bowlers in the best-sponsored league in Tucson.
Five major factors that determine outcomes are; fundamentals, lane conditions, equipment, versatility and most important, the mental game. I will discuss the 5 factors in more detail in another article later. The more factors you master, the better prepared you are of any challenge that lies ahead.
"Sports will reveal your character. It’s about problem solving and thinking through the situation to get the job done.”
(Bowling can inspire you to dig deep when conditions are tougher and you're down a little. It shows strength coming back from a losing situation. Don't set yourself up for a loss before you begin. It's your character that keeps you going those times when your intensity is lacking. Until you give it your best shot, you don't know what you're capable of.)
When you're having trouble scoring, watch where others that are scoring with your style (Cranker, stroker, etc.) are playing the lanes. Most times a tougher condition comes down to spare shooting. Keep the ball in play. This means play the lanes conservatively leaving easier spares and not leaving difficult spares or splits. This may not lead to super scores, but can lead to winning matches which is what our league is about. Spares are the backbone for winning bracket matches and making the cuts in the eliminator. A missed spare could also be the difference in making money in many tournaments, such as nationals. Those of you with an aggressive approach (strike or nothing), will often come up short because when the strikes don’t happen, you’ll likely leave more splits or be too frustrated to pick up your spares.
"Don't ever give up. You must find a way to play the lanes." -Paul Colwell, member of four Hall of fames. (By not giving up, you may learn something that will be beneficial next time. Having a positive attitude will help when scoring is below normal and can help your approach be more consistent. A consistent approach helps in making adjustments that work and helps you have more confidence. Sometimes to play the lanes, you must think outside the box.)
The more you learn and experience for yourself, the better you'll become. Always give it your best shot. Remember that if you're not giving it your best effort, someone else could be and they might be bowling against you in the match. You must also realize that as the years add up, you may have to adapt your game for past injuries and should be stretching before bowling to reduce injuries. Also you will at one point, start using a lighter ball so you work smarter, not harder. A 14 pound ball can carry almost as good as a 15 pound ball. I suggest once you start throwing a lighter ball, don’t go back unless it was for an injury as this could affect your timing and ability to throw quality shots. At 65 years young, I’m averaging 215 and 214 in my two leagues and have thrown three set above 750. Since I started to write my first book, my bowling actually improved, as I started to re-focus on the fundamentals of my mental game. And while writing my book, I got back to the gym to lose a little weight and get my legs in better shape. Another tip is to see a chiropractor to keep your spine in alignment to have less pinched nerves and the ability to have a free relaxed arm swing. I also went to Phoenix for a lesson and it was a quick fix for my pendulum swing. If you’re just off your game a little, seek qualified help as it for me was like buying confidence. It was a big help in repeating great shots again.
“The last shot of the day could tell you how to play that condition the next time there.” Never think that just because you’ll lose the game or match, that the final shot or shots is wasted motion. There have been a few times where I adjusted after thinking about the situation, and finished the day going off the sheet, which helped me some weeks later to win the match. The last few shots could help your comfort level with adjustments that you normally don’t make and might have to make in the future. Remember that all challenges are about learning to deal with different situations to increase your overall comfort level. With a higher comfort level, it should give you more confidence, increased concentration, better decision making for adjusting, a more relaxed free arm swing and less self-induced pressure. And these are what most professionals possess that are out on tour. Once you accept any and all challenges, you also need to understand that every opportunity is a building block where you can learn something.
There’s always two ways of thinking in every situation. No, it’s not positive and negative thinking. It’s knowing you’ll probably win and hoping you’ll win. Who said sports would be fair? Who said it can’t be done? Remember that the best athletes will get beat and spectators are at a disbelief when it happens. A dominate athlete appears to have all the answers when competing even when there are behind in a match. If you or your team is ahead in a match, no matter how close it is, there really is only one thing to do, step on their throats and don’t let them breathe. My book, The Path to Excellence, 31 Days to the Zone, tells you how to virtually eliminate pressure. Keep your opponent thinking about a losing situation and second guessing themselves. Once you or your team is in the lead, you can’t let up at any time, no matter who your opponent is. Your game plan should not have changed because you’re not there to practice. It’s easier to go about business when winning because your opponent must respond by playing catch-up. One simple missed single pin in the 8th frame may open the door for them. Thinking from behind isn’t what you want to happen. What if thinking creeps into your mind. You’re now distracted because of a few bad breaks or maybe a mental lapse. You’re not fully committed to the shot with all the thinking going on. Commit to excellence and the shot in front of you. Just five seconds of concentration per shot is all that is required. A small amount of time for huge results. Coming from behind to win is a challenge and can happen quite a few times. You just don’t want it to happen all the time as the percentages are against you some of the time. Competing for over 50 years and being a league champion about 20% of the time, I know when my team will probably win. I have been on teams where at the start of the season, it was hoping to win, and by the ending of the season, it was knowing that we could and should win. I have won a couple of major championships individually in bowling and golf. My thinking went from the possibility of winning to knowing I would win late in the championships because of my ability to remain positive, have a high confidence level and focus only on the shot I was about to make.
During the season, challenges can come from even a house shot changing slightly due to the weather. You now face an over-under condition. Usually using a ball with less back end reaction will help, but you still have to find the right angle. Some bowlers are playing the right area on the lane, but not using the right angle to the pocket. Most of today's balls are condition balls, meaning the ball’s reaction matches the break point and the percentage to strike goes up. If the condition doesn't match your ball, you might as well leave it in your bag. You also have to be truthful as to how well you threw the ball. If you're off your game, having the right equipment may not matter. There are times when you maybe trying too hard to makes things happen or you’re forcing the ball to get it to work. These five house conditions will make you mentally tougher and will help not just in this league, but in other leagues as well as tournaments. Bowling tournaments and even some leagues, the tougher conditions are challenges that you must be willing to conquer in order to master the game and be one of the best bowlers around. It is all up to you if you want to improve and how much you want to.
The challenges I have faced in bowling may seem small to those that have competed regularly on the professional tour. But what I have accomplished with a slight handicap that happened before I even started to bowl, is what sports is all about. The satisfaction of achieving goals, rewarded with hardware that shows hard work does pay and respected by others because I’m willing to compete against some of the best. Some of the best times in my life were the pot games where I was at first paying dues only to collect cash later in my career. Now that I’m retired, there are no pot games. Leagues now have brackets and eliminators and a chance to step up to the challenge and show some of the “kids” that I still have gas in the tank and able to take them out if they open the door. The challenges I went through was never about winning. And of course it’s always fun to win and spend the money. But the main reason why I have bowled for 50 years, is because I love to compete and challenge myself, showing others that I’m not an easy target. I was asked, why am I still bowling pot games when the lefties have the advantage? My answer was that I’m making them bowl their best to beat me as I averaged over 240 for six games and was the top right hander that day. I did win the second game with a 279, so it was like free practice bowling against future Hall of famers. It also was this day that showed me I was ready for most challenges at the local level because of who I was bowling against.
So now it is up to you to accept challenges and with a better mental game, you and your team will be in a better position to have more positive results and hopefully make more playoffs in your league.
"You must leave no doubt on your opponent who is better that match. Keep your head in the game from the beginning so you’ll make quality decisions for the situation. Showing that you can respond to any challenge will tell others that you’re a winner” Facing the many challenges as your career progresses, will help you handle them better each time they come. It's a great feeling to face a challenge and come through a winner. The challenge should be the driving force to improve. Starting is not nearly as important as finishing. Most winners finish strong, it's in their blood. There are those times we need a second chance to prove who we are, so they know what we are made of. All those practice sessions and learning experiences have finally paid off. Seeing the results we want was worth the wait.
I wrote this article before my Senior Masters title and golf club Championship. I wrote this a couple of weeks after my first 300 game of 15 in bowling. I can only hope that you will be inspired to do great things. It all starts with determination to accomplish goals, practice to repeat great shots, having confidence to continue throwing great shots and focus only on the one thing possible, the shot you’re about to make. Time will not always be on your side. But if you dedicate extra time each week and love bowling, even you won’t know how much you can accomplish in your lifetime. Good luck and see you in the zone!!
NOTE: This is one of a few articles that was on the Traveling Masters and Cactus Bowl Men’s league website. A slight revision was made for the Men’s league due to only bowling in one center. Now that my book is being published, I felt it was the time to update it, 20 years later.
Persistence spells TITLE By Alan Brizee © Oct. 30, 2014, rev. Mar. 2020
Persistence according to Webster is: 1. continuing, especially in the face of opposition. 2. continuing to exist or endure. 3. continually repeated. Another meaning is that you keep going and never quit. Persistence isn’t directly related to success or excellence. That’s because some find success early in their career. Now for the rest of us, we must continue to become better and learn from every experience to become successful. It really is a four letter word, work. And if you’re not working on your game, I have another word for you, insanity. If you just show up to bowl your three games each week, don’t practice and continue on the same path every week, how can you expect different results? Yes, I just described persistence because you are continuing and you’re competing. But, without practice, are you 100 per cent certain, that you will improve your game and be an asset to your team? About 30 years ago, I bowled in three leagues and never practiced. Why do you need to practice if you’re bowling basically every other day? Most of you will say that it shouldn’t be needed.
That’s what I thought, until late October in 1993 when I could only shoot above my average, one of the nine games for the week. This kept up for six weeks, so now you can say, I wasn’t having any fun. And yes, you can call it what it was, a stinking slump. Slumps suck and you’ll live to compete another day. I know that at that time, practice must happen and I went with a video recorder. I didn’t really notice anything and didn’t seek any help with my physical game. After two practice sessions, my scores didn’t improve and my teammates were wondering why I wasn’t consistently shooting closer to my average. I went to the book store and found a couple of books on the mental game. They showed me the way to peak performance and the inner game. Up until now, bowling was really about having fun and helping my team make the league’s Roll-Offs. After those two books literally woke me up about using your brain to score better, I started my library of mental books. Work smarter, not harder. Some lessons you learn are priceless. I added this story to the original article that was published in Desert Bowler. Another reason to work on your mental game, I was never in another slump. I have had a few weeks of somewhat low scores, but that has been it. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. All this info to help your game and some of you won’t take the extra minutes to find it. This shows my persistence earlier in my career and how I handled it with out help from others. But from my career that spans over 50 years, getting the right help is sometimes the best way to improve your results. Persistence along with work and dedication over these 50 years, is one reason why I have achieved many great accomplishments. And yes, it was my mom telling me to never quit before I even threw a bowling ball. Sports is what you want to make of it, even at the local level. Improving your game by even 10 pins a game over last season, could double your enjoyment of bowling.
Repeating good shots over the 2 days and 18 games helped me take home the hardware, an eagle holding an American flag. I have Roy Tietz and my mom to thank. Roy for the great drill, his suggestion to clean my ball and after my open reminding me to forget about it. Roy also talked me into bowling even though I wasn’t scoring in my two leagues the past two weeks. He said I was throwing the ball well until then. My mom who made the trip from Scottsdale, got to see her 1st 300 and 800 to finish the tournament and my first association title by myself. About 50 years ago, she told to I was not going to quit a golf tournament just because I was tired and had to carry my clubs. That never quit theory has helped me many times over the years. It was what kept me going and why I felt little pressure over the magical marvelous weekend. “Your strong point should be keep fighting until the match is over. It can turn defeats into victories.” “Keep swinging. You’ll never know what your determination will bring.” “Apply K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Just repeat good shots when you have a good look.” Speaking of repeating good shots, it’s more than just rolling the ball. You can’t let a few bad breaks affect your game. You can’t throw the ball perfect on every shot, so you must make a commitment to excellence. The following have helped my excellence to become successes.
I have to first thank Norm Duke who was at Suzie Meneshaw’s bowling camp in Dallas 6 years ago and was teaching the stance and free swing. Your stance before you make your delivery is also a huge advantage when done right and helped me when I was forced to throw 14 games in the finals. Without a free swing, you’re forcing the ball. Sure you can score, but repeating shots is harder and almost impossible. Norm also taught me the closed stance and it becomes valuable when needed. Norm has coached me 5 different times, the last 3 times at Davis Monthan AFB with Next Level Bowling and I’ve learned something each time which has helped my game. Norm finally taught me what I should have done for too many years and that is the free swing. Letting the ball do all the work is more important these days. Norm and Next Level Bowling has taken my game to the next level. Norm proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks and can actually be better after turning 50. It just took more than once to finally sink in. The last time with Norm, he told me that he spent less time me because of how good I was throwing the ball. He also said that if he doesn’t help me, it will be because he would consider me a pro. I don’t want to throw a normal shot, I just want to be able to throw the ball like Norm. (I included Norm in my dictionary on the website before I won the title J.
I also have to thank Beth Haggerty who was my mental coach for six months and helped me achieve my goal of 800 shooting a stair step 268, 269 and 270 for 807. My 807 was after just two lessons. At least ten chances slipped away before my 800 and after the spare in the 3rd in the final game, I was able to just relax, free my armswing and throw the ball. The 9th fame came and I needed to throw another turkey, one strike at a time for my first sanctioned 800. She got me to keep a journal once again, but this time it was about my mental game during competition. It was to help me focus better during competition and also explore if I lost my focus and why. This helped me two ways, got my head more into the game and noted adjustments made by each ball I threw that night. The lanes change and having a starting point, helps with mental decisions at to what ball to start with, especially when bowling at different centers. After all, adjustments are really part of the metal game. How much and most important, which adjustment is best for the reaction you’re getting? She had a one-on-one while I was bowling league and asked various questions. I was her first athlete that was a bowler and a sport that she had only done a few times before. Live in the moment and great things can happen. What happened in the past is done and can’t be changed and what will happen in the future has to be done one frame at a time.
I also need to thank Chris Cady who has a visualization hypnosis CD that helps you stay in the moment. It has helped me become a better bowler knowing close games are no different than blowouts. My confidence become greater because of a more structured pre-shot routine. This has helped me handle the pressure better because I’m thinking about executing the shot no matter the score. A good pre-shot routine gets you focused and helps eliminate distractions. What, me worry J? Not anymore. After many years, it’s focus and throw. The challenge ahead will not always be a smooth one. Just enjoy the ride and keep learning.
I also have to give some credit to James Blackstone, creator of the Precise Bowling Targeting System who put out a video for targeting and I have used his system with amazing results for 6 months. He wants you to use the arrows as your target down the lanes to have a more consistent ball speed. I used the dots before and looking just past the arrows has led to consistent good shots because it helped me with my free swing. It has also helped in making better adjustments when not striking and leaving 10 pins. It has even helped when being on a string to make a slight adjustment to continue throwing strikes.
And finally thanks to a friend and my driller, Roy Tietz at Desert Sun Bowlers Shop who has drilled 3 different 300 balls for me over the last 5 seasons. He talked me into a ball last season and suggested a layout that worked. I used the Master Mind over the 13 weeks of summer and averaged the league high 230.5 not missing a game. It’s a great feeling be able to show the kids that Norm Duke’s straight up approach works as good today as it did many years ago. He wants to drill up another ball with a different layout and I can’t wait. He knows my game and what works for me. He has also drilled balls for USBC nationals that have kept my 23 year average over 190. He also drilled the Storm HyRoad that I demo’d and won at Norm Duke’s clinic. You’ll read what happened in a couple of paragraphs.
These five have helped me through the years to achieve my lifelong goal of winning the Masters. I want others to know, that getting the right help when you know you should be scoring better, can make dreams and your goals come true. These experts in different areas of the game shows that the more you know, the better you can be. Bowlers should get help to improve their game in areas that could be improved. Again, thanks to these five for helping achieve a goal that some bowlers will only get close to. I have others that have helped me in the past, but these five experts that I have named have turned my game in the right direction. They also have provided me, with I feel was the most help, than others that helped me in the past.
I also need to thank Storm bowling. They truly are the Bowlers Company and I have thrown 5 300’s with their equipment. Norm Duke is a great representative of Storm by giving back by teaching fundamentals to his students and then doing it out on the lanes. I was able to demo the Cherry Red HyRoad Solid when Norm Duke was at the base for his clinic. I threw the first 16, left a 10 pin and put together another 10 strikes before a high hit. 26 out of 27 strikes using a ball that was really wasn’t drilled for me. I have to admit, it was on the same lane, Lane 9 and I was the only bowler for a while on that lane. It showed me that just by hitting your mark with consistent speed, the ball had aggressive hitting power. Near the end of the clinic, they have a bakers team match by drawing tickets to bowl with Norm Duke and Wes Malot that day. Norm asked everyone to guess a number between 0 and 100. I guessed 32 for his number of titles and won a ball. I was able to get the HyRoad delivered to me and Roy drilled it up just like the demo I practiced with. What a great group of occurrences. Norm taught me about closing my stance when I’m playing up the 3 or 4 board. Demo a ball to throw 26 of 27. Win a ball in Norm’s clinic. Use the ball that was drilled exactly like the demo to shoot a 300 game and force a final match when only two bowlers remained. Shot 503 for the final match and an 803 for the final three games to win the Senior Masters. I didn’t have a lucky rabbit’s foot in my pocket for the Masters J.
The balls used in these demos are drilled straight up but are hitting the pocket like the original about 5 years ago. This drill keeps the ball at a nice arcing action with strong back end. I was sold on the demo ball and had it drilled up about 6 weeks before the Senior Masters. It was the right reaction for the conditions on both days of the tournament. It did actually take the HighRoad after my 279 game but I made an adjustment left and threw the next 4 in my 4th match of finals.
You will read and learn that no matter how you throw the ball, being consistent, even with today’s equipment has its own reward. Keeping my head in the game and getting the ball to the pocket showed I was going to give most bowlers a match they would have to earn. There were few bowlers over the weekend that were as consistent at throwing strikes and putting strings on the telescore. There were many bowlers I respected because of their accomplishments, but I felt I had the advantage because of my ball reaction and knowing the lanes. After doing my stats for the weekend, I know I could have even bowled better by more adjustments or bigger adjustments. I do know that other than missing 2 single pins spares for the entire finals, with both in the same game, I did not beat myself.
On Saturday, October 25, 2014, the day of qualifying, I cleaned the two balls that I was going to throw and lightly used a 1000 pad on the spinner. These balls need constant attention so they won’t act like sponges and absorb so much oil. I have made the finals every year but one, but ran into trouble each year for different reasons. I used thumb inserts in the past and had trouble twice with them. Roy talked me into no insert and that was a great suggestion. The ball I threw all 18 games wasn’t my first choice. I was going to use a Brunswick Master Mind that Roy drilled up 5 months ago that helped me average 230.5 for 13 weeks in the summer at Camino Seco. I had a little over under reaction for the first 4 shots in practice. With changing the shot for league from last season, I needed a more consistent reaction. I changed to my HyRoad and moved right 1 and 1. Threw 2 strikes before leaving a 10 pin. My HyRoad was going to be the best road and the only road to the pocket. My focus on qualifying was just to make the finals as 21 bowlers were trying for the 8 spots in the finals. Keep it simple. It’s never about perfection, it’s always about excellence. With these reactive balls, you can just let the ball work by staying under it. And it was all I needed to help me win my first Tucson Metro USBC Senior Masters.
Qualifying on Saturday is four games, with the top 8 advancing to Sunday. We bowled the high side of the house and the shot was close to the league night conditions. The first game was 10 pin, double, 4 pin, 10 pin and made a small adjustment for a 6 bagger and the highest opening game with 253. I knew I needed at least one good game to secure a finals spot. Bowling league here gave me an advantage over others as I know what balls and adjustments work best. I moved from 31 & 32 to 21 & 22. I threw a strike, 4 pin and off the sheet for 280 and 133 over. I accomplished my goal, halfway through qualifying to make the finals. The next game I left five 10 pins, stayed clean and added 196. Two 10 pins on the left lane and a 9 pin on the right got me a 236 final game for 965 and 2nd high qualifier. No opens and 30 strikes made for a nice qualifying. That gave me an average of 7.5 strikes per game. I averaged better than that during the finals. 12 single pins spares and even picked up the 5-7 split standing 3 and a half boards left. What a great start for the weekend. The 965 was my highest qualifying score in any Masters ever!! What will be in store for the finals?
They moved the Sunday finals to the low side of the house. For those of you not familiar with the final format, it’s double elimination. That means after you lose your second match, you’re eliminated from the tournament. The low side is the drier side of the house, because the sun hits it during the day, almost as I expected. They almost never bowl the finals on the same side. The finals are about persistence and keeping your head in the game. Keep throwing good shots like yesterday and convert your spares. I was matched up against Mark Lopez and after 2 shots of practice realized they were 3 boards drier than Saturday. Started with a 10 pin before a turkey and another 10 pin while Mark was having trouble finding a look. I had two more doubles to shoot 226 and take a 45 pin lead into the 2ndgame. Three 10 pins on lane 10 and had 236 for 462 to remain in the winners bracket. Believe it or not, I tied Kary Harris for highest opening 2 game set in the finals and we shot exactly the same score and would face him in round 2 of the winner’s bracket.
I knew I would have to bowl to beat Kary to remain in the winner’s bracket. I started with the first 5 before a 10 pin while Kary I think had the 1st 6 and finished for a 279. Came in light in the 9th and strike 10 pin for 247 and down 31. I knew we still had another game to bowl. Kary had carry issues while I left back-to-back 10’s on the same lane with a 5 bagger going into the 10th frame. Kary could have shut me out with a double but left the door open shooting 203. All I needed was a spare to win the match. I had fast feet and left a 2 4 8. I left part of the bucket in the 1st game of the match and picked it up, but this time the ball snapped a little more and chopped the 2 4 off the 8. That put me in the loser’s bracket, and meant a lot more bowling if I was to win the title. I had a 472 to Kary’s 481. Kary said after the match we would meet again. Roy suggested that I clean my ball after leaving a bucket on the fill shot, and it did pay off in the next match against one of the great bowlers from Tucson.
My first match in the loser’s bracket was against Hall of Famer Dwight Burns. I was off to a slow start as 6 taps followed a strike with 5 being the 10 pin. I missed a 9 pin in the 5thfame. Then two frames later, missed a 10 pin. Making slight adjustments kept the ball in play but didn’t produce good results until after I missed that 10 pin. I moved 2 boards right with my feet and 2 boards right with my mark. I threw the last 5 for a 204 while Dwight recorded a 245 and led by 41 sticks. I knew I was still throwing good shots with some not quite finishing. The lanes stayed the same for the 2nd game and I took advantage of it delivering the front 9 for a Varipapa 300 and rolling 14 in a row. Dwight had carry issues and had a 217. My sets have improved 10 sticks each match shooting 482. I’m averaging 236 in the finals for the 3 matches.
With only eight bowling in the finals, you’ll usually will face opponents more than once as you win some matches. I now had to face Mark again and now has had some time to figure out the lanes and had at least one good game. His reaction was better this time around but couldn’t put anything together. That left him in trouble shooting below 200 while I threw the opening 9 for the 2nd time to shoot 279 on a 7 pin. Shooting a 210 would shut him out. He beat me the last game by 12, shooting 237 as I had my first 500 in the finals, a 504 total. Winning that match guaranteed me third placed and my highest finish in any Masters tournament. At this point, winning wasn’t on my mind. There was still a lot of bowling left for whoever won.
And yes, I was to bowl Kary again after he lost his match with Karl Radman in the final winners bracket match. I had an open from a wash-out and picked up the 7 pin, the first 2 frames. A seven bagger before a 10 pin in the 10th gave me a 34 pin advantage. The next game was the first time that I had to move into the oil. We had bowled 8 games and all matches were on lanes 3 through 10 and I finally moved left. That shows how well the shot stayed for the finals. Left a 4 7 in the first frame on a slightly high hit, a 7 pin, strike and leaving just the 4 hitting high again. Kary would shoot 236 and I threw the next 5 to secure the win. I ended with 247 for 495 on the set. This match guarantees me 2nd place and if I wanted the Championship, I needed to beat Karl twice. And Kary was right, we did meet again J.
Karl was the top qualifier form Saturday and the oldest in the field. I took the time to clean my ball so it would continue to hit the pocket and have the same great reaction that I have been having all day. They put us on a pair not bowled on all day. So I made a 2 and 1 adjustment right as the lanes should have more oil. Three of the first five shots were taps on light hits so I made another 1 and 1 right before a high 9 pin in the 6th. Moved left 1 with just my feet and carried the next 3. I then had a light hit leaving the 7 pin in the 10th and a 217. We had a few lane problems and Karl might have let that get to him as he had a few late opens after having a very early lead. I took a 47 pin edge into the final game of our first match. I’ve bowled 11 games in the finals and have averaged 239 so far with the best to come. Bowling a 200 would almost guarantee another match and set my goal to shoot above 200. I threw about the best 12 shots in any game in my life. This game made the 3rd time a charm today starting with the front nine strikes. It made the 9th time I had a sanctioned 300 and the first in two years. Now we both have lost one match and it was down to a two game match to take home the trophy. My goal was to continue throwing great shots and get my spares. Karl had a Senior Masters title a few years back so he wasn’t going to be a real easy match. Because of the other pairs used quite a bit for the finals, we stayed on the same pair. I felt that if the lanes didn’t break down too much, it probably favored me for the two game total pins.
The lanes transitioned and I had to move 1 and 1 left after leaving the 4 pin to start the game. Carried the next three before two more high hits and another adjustment left. Since Karl also throws it straight up the boards, he was seeing transition as well. I took a 12 stick lead into the final game after rolling the last 6 for a 257. I started the same way as the first game of the final match with a 4 pin before throwing a 4 bagger. The next 3 frames were a little high and for the first time saw the lanes breaking down but still managed to stay near the pocket and leave easier spares. A turkey helped me secure 246 to Karl’s 227. I recorded a 503 to win the title and an 803 for the final 3 games of the tournament. I gave my mom a hug to help celebrate the victory.
It was a wild ride to the top but I kept throwing good shots keeping the ball close to the pocket to have more makeable spares. I threw strings of strikes when they were needed and limited my opens in the finals. That’s 15 clean games over two days for someone almost 60 years of age. It’s almost too many games in two days of bowling for over 50. I have had physical problems with my left knee but it didn’t bother me over the weekend and was stiff on Monday. To stay more mentally awake, I don’t sit down because I feel that only makes you more tired. Since I knew it could be a long day, I sat down twice between matches to save some energy. At no time did I panic and feel that I wasn’t going to win a match. I’ve been bowling far too long and know it’s never over till the fat lady sings. My only loss was to Kary on a missed spare and I was able to put that behind me and focus on what really mattered, the shot I was about to throw. If I would have let that get to me, there is no way I would have won the tournament.
Thanks also go to Jeff Segneri who wanted the 360 on my 2nd front 9 but I did it on the perfect game. Also thanks to Dwight Burns, Kary Harris and Roy Tietz who stayed until the end. It’s so nice to have some great bowlers appreciate your accomplishments. I also thank Debbie Caruthers for getting me a Brunswick 300 shirt that day and to Camino Seco Bowl for the shot that held up during the finals and announcing my victory before we bowled league on Wednesday.
Now for the stats, the whole stats and nothing but the stats J. I had only 2 games below a 277 no-tap. 11 at and above 287 no-tap and 7 no-tap 300’s. That shows how well I was around the pocket. I averaged 290 no-tap for the last 6 games and an incredible 287.9 over the 18 games. I had just five opens for a 0.27 opens per game having 15 clean games. As far as strikes go, 30 in qualifying, and at least 14 in every match in the finals. That made for a 7.6 strikes per game average over the entire weekend for the 18. As far as stringing strikes, in qualifying my 280 had the last 10. In my match to come from behind with Dwight, I put together my longest string with 14 for my first Varipapa 300. And I had a strike before my 300 for 13 in a row. On nine other occasions, I had at least a four bagger which makes 12 times I had four in a row. My carry percentage for the 18 games was 73% throwing strikes. My good shots got rewarded with strikes having 3 strikes for every tap to go with only 4 real bad shots in the 203 for the weekend. I left 31 10 pins, 20 other taps and only 11 shots were 8 or less. I missed just 2 single pins, both in the same game for 96% for the weekend. I made 18 adjustments after matches started and made a small adjustment for each match. If you have an average of one adjustment per game, you should have some great scores.
This article shows the work and dedication I put into my game over the years. My goal to win the Masters has been a goal for too many years. My short term goals were to make the cut on Saturday and continue to make good shots on Sunday. I set my goal for 300 after I carried number 11 and never set a goal of 800 to finish the day. It was only after having a 12 pin lead in the last match did I set my sights on taking the title. I didn’t let winning get in the way of repeating good shots. My persistence to throwing good shots and commitment to excellence are the main reasons that the Senior Masters championship became a reality.
Pg. 16: 7/3/20
NEXT: Taking a risk.