New PBA Makes Great Impression In An Awesome New Bowling Center
Feb. 17, 2003
If you want to see a unique bowling center, make sure you visit the new Boardwalk Bowl that recently
opened on Colonial Drive. In a way it defies the imagination, which fits in nicely in this area where Mickey
Mouse and Donald Duck call home.
And then there's the new PBA, a smooth stroking bowling machine that bears little resemblance to the old
Professional Bowlers Association tour. Oh, some things haven't changed...like Mike Aulby still being his
humble self, Pete Weber still being his interesting self and Dale Eagle still being his high flying self. And in
the press room, they still had those old cases that have been carrying and protecting PBA computers for
years as the tour moves back and forth across the country. But most everything else is new and better.
I asked a couple of old-timers to use one adjective to describe Boardwalk Bowl, an 80-lane center that
had been built inside an old WalMart building. Their words ranged from "unusual" to "awesome" to "huge"
to "overwhelming." They all would apply to a building that has a cavernous impact. Boardwalk Bowl has
a little bit of everything...especially spacious room for playing, eating, drinking, bowling and just plain
enjoying life. An artist did a fantastic job of depicting a Coney Island Boardwalk scene on the masking
units stretching across 48 lanes. I have seen other good masking units, mainly in Las Vegas, but none
The PBA had set up shop on the 48-lane side of the split bowling center. The PBA's electronic scoreboards
were flashing out the standings and averages after every game, which was impressive to say the least. I still
can remember the old scoreboard that the old PBA used for years and years, long after they had gone to
computers in the press room. But you would expect nothing less from the new PBA, which was purchased
three years ago by three men who had made their fortunes as some of the original geniuses of Microsoft.
Typical of the new PBA tour, they had printed out some PBA VIA Bowling Open squad pairings that made
the nine-game qualifying round easier to follow. For example, pretty Teresa Healey was there to cheer on her husband, Patrick Healey Jr. With the squad pairings sheet she knew he was paired with Dave D'Entremont,
Richard Church and Jeff Fehr and they were starting on lanes 39-30. And from there they were moving to
lanes 31-32, 35-36, 41-42, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14, 19-20 and 27-28. This kind of pertinent information makes
it much easier on spectators, press and even the bowlers themselves to follow. And of course the new PBA
is doing a superb job of providing equal lane conditions for both opening day qualifying squads since they
allow three hours of dark time between squads so that the lanes can be re-oiled.
The tournament drew 165 bowlers and after nine games and about five hours of competition, 101 were
heading home or hitting the road to the next tour stop. One of the unfortunate 101 was Walter Ray Williams.
But at least he lives in nearby Ocala so he didn't have far to drive.
I hope I'm not like Sports Illustrated, which has a reputation of jinxing athletes who appear on its cover.
My fear stemmed from the fact that the previous day I predicted Walter Ray Williams would be named the
PBA Player of the Year for the 2002-2003 season. Walter Ray finished 65th, missing the first cut by one
spot and five pins. But don't cry for ole "Dead Eye" Walter Ray. He'll be back in the hunt next week in
Burlington, N.C. I know because the PBA is putting out a fantastic new statistic about spare shooting
accuracy in match-game play. Williams has shot at 521 spares during match play and has converted 449
of them, which gives him an awesome 0.862 accuracy count.
A fellow Floridian, Norm Duke, ranks second among bowlers who have shot at more than 100 match-game
spares. Duke has made 313 of 366 attempts which puts him at an 0.855 accuracy percent. Duke's
accuracy reminds me of a point he made in an recent interview for Bowling Digest where I asked him why he practiced spare shooting so much back home in nearby Clermont, Fla. He answered that if you have faith
that you can make any spare combination, then that frees up your arm swing on your strike attempts because
you are not worried about which pins you will leave on your first shot. Makes sense to me. More important,
it makes sense to Williams, a man who never beats himself.
Strikes and Spares
Don't ever be in a hurry to leave a PBA tournament if John Jowdy is your traveling companion. It's easier
to pull your dog non- stop past 20 trees than to get Jowdy to walk non-stop past 20 lanes. It seems at every
lane there is someone who wants to know where his infamous cigar is, if he would watch them bowl and offer
a few tips, or asking him about how sales are going on his new book entitled "Bowling eXecution."...General
Manager Ray Koehler has assembled a great staff at Boardwalk and his other bowling centers, including
WIBC Hall of Famer Pat Costello and Rick Hudson, who at one time was assistant tournament director on
the PBA Senior Tour...Bob and Don Janego, tournament directors for the Senior Bowlers of America tour
in the Florida area, where there to watch a couple senior bowlers compete in the tournament...And Pete
Couture, a tough competitor on the PBA regular tour many years ago and now on the PBA senior tour, was
there to say hello to some old friends. Pete has been fighting his way through some health problems.