Canadian Bowling Leader Jack Fine Dies

by Bob Johnson 0

Jack Fine, who helped grow the Bowlerama chain of bowling centers into a Canadian powerhouse, died on Wednesday. He was 89.

A founding member of the bowling proprietors’ organization in Canada’s Ontario province, Fine’s influence stretched across the border as a member of the BPAA Board of Directors and the Multi-Unit Bowling Information Group.  He also was the long-time President of Bowling Sales of Canada.

Long before it became popular in the United States, Fine embraced the concept of “time bowling.” Rather than charging by the game, Bowlerama centers charged by the hour, which Fine said helped optimize lane availability during bowling’s boom years.

Much like the Red Carpet chain in the Milwaukee area, Fine’s Bowlerama centers were promoted with billboards, radio advertisements and other marketing efforts. League bowlers were eligible for a wide-ranging package of benefits.

Fine also was at the forefront of bowling politics and technology. When the late Bill Taylor was promoting his Honor Roll lane finish as a means of helping to get bowling’s scoring explosion under control through the use of “short oil” applications, Fine made one of his centers in Toronto available for testing. That center also hosted an exhibition by Glenn “Mr. 900” Allison, a student of Taylor’s who was helping with the short oil initiative.

Fine also helped fellow proprietors fight government realty assessments on bowling centers, got municipal license fees lowered, and helped liberalize alcohol laws as they pertained to bowling centers.

Fine understood the bowling business inside and out, but also recognized the value of bowling as a sport. The Bowlerama Match Play Tournament was Canada’s longest-running independent bowling tournament.

Fine actively promoted youth bowling as well as senior bowling, and was one of the first to promote senior gatherings that did not have a strict league-like format.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.