Been on the road the last two weeks. I traveled to Florida to help get the Senior PBA Tour started. There are so many senior players that use and support the Brunswick brand. We have the greatest rep in the industry, Judy Soutar, who has been with Brunswick an amazing 50 years. I try to get out and help set the truck up for her and the senior players.
I truly love being out here with the senior players and their families. It is such a great environment and so many of the players I loved when I was just a “pup” are out here now. I also love the fact that none of the players call me pops or old man, since I am younger than most all of them. As most of you know, I am over 50 years old. I bowled a couple of the events last season and did OK.
The first event I bowled this year was in Winter Garden, FL at Jimmy Carter’s bowling center. Jimmy is the son of the great Don Carter and it was really neat to look back at the old days. The center is really cool and quaint. I had a great time bowling the Pro Am with the kids and it was nice that Jimmy specifically asked for me to be in that special pro/am. My game was very rough and I was really not prepared at all to bowl against the best senior bowlers in the world…and boy did it show with a really poor performance. The rest of the Brunswick guys, including Johnny Petraglia, Dave Soutar and Tom Carter, bowled great. I spent Thursday on Xtra Frame for the PBA, doing the commentary with the Bowling Doctor. Mike Dias bowled super the entire week and got his first Senior Tour Title.
Last week was at the Villages, which is a really cool place. It is like a huge playground for retired people, with two bowling centers, 20 golf courses and 72 restaurants. This is a really neat place to live or visit. The bowling centers are owned by the Ducat’s and they do a great job and have for many years hosting PBA events. I did not get a chance to play in the golf outing this week, since we held a clinic at Aloma Lanes in Orlando on Friday.
The practice session was on Saturday and a bit more of the same with my game. The one thing that just never felt right was the tempo of my footwork. I knew I needed to slow my tempo down so my feet would stay under me and that was my thought process going forward to Sunday’s first round of qualifying. The scores were pretty high on A squad as we used a 37 foot pattern with A22 oil.
I decided to start with a Wicked Siege, 55 X 41/2 X 65, and put the pin right under my ring with a hole just below my axis. I chose this ball to smooth the lane out on the fresh, so it would not jump and hopefully control the pocket. The start was a little shaky…180, but game two was better with 220. I was even after two and made the swing to the low end and 1 and 2. My mind started racing…and that’s not good, especially for me. I split 4 of the first 5 frames and things were coming apart around me, but I really tried to be smart and hit the pocket. The next couple missed…then a 10 pin in the ninth and marked in the tenth for 148. Then I had to have a talk with myself and thought about what I would tell Sean, Parker or any of the other guys at this point…to just clear your head and make some great shots, there are 13 games to go. Then things started to get better then next game the swing started to fell really good. I had beautiful ball reaction and when I made good shots the result was also good. I threw the last 8 for 248 and was back in the hunt.
I started to feel better after each shot and got the next game going with the first 5 and the Wicked was looking like a great ball choice. I had 13 in a row and I started to gather a small crowd. A few more solid shots and I had the front 9…and started to feel a little anxiety. I had not bowled a perfect game in the PBA in the last 15 years and I knew that I had a very good shot. I was also having some hand trouble. The humidity in Florida caused my hand to swell so I took nearly all of my tape out of my thumb and it was still very tight. Because of my thumb concerns I was taking a very long time to bowl the 10th. I finally threw the 11th, missing a couple right of my hand but caught it at the bottom and it split the 8-9. I took my last piece of tape out of the back of my thumb for the 12th shot. I moved one board to the right because of my tendency to gas it when I need one. I made a great shot. The greatest part was how many players were right there to give me congrats and just how excited the fans were to see the first 300 of the event. The one thing missing was my wife, who never misses me throw a ball, but could not make the trip down and did not get to enjoy the excitement with us. I truly hope all of you take time to remember how special certain things are in our lives and this is one I won’t ever forget.
This was a much better week, even though the next day was pretty tough. I only bowled plus 33 to shoot plus 183…good for a 36th place finish. I missed the top 32 (match play) by a few pins. The low end of the house ate my lunch but it was a great week cashing and getting the perfecto. I really hope this inspires some of you to get out there and work hard on your game. Get yourself a Wicked Siege and make a memory for yourselves!