Twenty-nineteen presented no shortage of captivating stories that reverberated throughout the bowling industry. From major transactions that reconfigured the competitive bowling landscape to historic prize funds, unforgettable TV moments and more, here is our rundown of 19 top stories from 2019.
- Bowlero Purchases the PBA: It will surprise no one who reads this magazine that Bowlero’s purchase of the PBA, a deal both entities made official on Sept. 10, ranks as our top story of 2019. The development places the association in the stable of a corporation with annual revenue of $600 million per year and hundreds of centers throughout the U.S. that collectively comprise a powerful and far-reaching marketing apparatus for the PBA. That an announcement of a $400,000 infusion of cash into the PBA Tour’s 2020 season prize funds was announced less than eight weeks later indicates the promise this partnership signifies.
Note: If you missed our podcast about this development with new PBA CEO Colie Edison, you can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/podcast-new-pba-ceo-colie-edison-on-bowleros-acquisition-of-the-pba
- PBA Sees 100 Percent Ratings Increase with FOX: The PBA’s decision to leave ESPN for FOX pays handsome dividends, as the 2019 season’s telecasts draw 22 million viewers including re-airs across FOX, FS1 and FS2 — a 100 percent increase over 2018.
- Bowlero Elite Series Awards Historic Top Prize: Amateur bowlerLuis Gonzalez says he plans to buy a house and put his son Logan through school after he collects the biggest top prize ever awarded in pro-bowling history, $270,000, for winning the inaugural Bowlero Elite Series. Two more six-figure prizes are awarded in subsequent Bowlero Elite Series events, with Anthony Simonsen winning $100,000 in September and Tommy Jones winning $100,000 in December, making 2019 one of the most lucrative years for competitive bowlers in the history of the sport.
Note: If you missed our reporting on Luis Gonzalez's historic windfall, you can find it here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/amateur-luis-gonzalez-wins-270000-in-inaugural-bowlero-elite-series/
- Prather Wins PBA’s Richest Prize Since 2011: Not since Mika Koivuniemi bagged $250,000 for winning the 2011 Tournament of Champions had the PBA Tour awarded a six-figure top prize. Kris Prather was happy to end that streak by taking home the inaugural PBA Playoffs’ $100,000 windfall in June.
Note: If you missed our podcast with Kris Prather following his PBA Playoffs win, listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/podcast-pba-playoffs-champion-kris-prather
- Belmonte Sets PBA Tour Majors Record: Jason Belmonte wins a record 11th major title on the PBA Tour when he wins the World Championship and breaks a tie with Earl Anthony and Pete Weber, who each amassed 10 career major championships.
- Shannon O'Keefe Dominates PWBA Tour: In an historic show of dominance on the PWBA Tour, Shannon O'Keefe amasses an incredible five titles in 2019 to bring her career total to 13 wins in just five seasons. She wins the Twin Cities Open, Tucson Open, East Hartford Open, Orlando Open, and then — why not? — concludes that sensational run by winning the season's culminating major, the PWBA Tour Championship, and wins her second consecutive PWBA Player of the Year award.
- Simonsen Becomes Youngest to Win Two Majors: At age 22, 2016 USBC Masters champion Anthony Simonsen becomes the youngest player in PBA history to win two majors when he wins the 2019 PBA Players Championship.
- Duke Defies Age with Back-to-Back PBA Tour Titles: After winning his 39th career PBA Tour title and first singles title in seven years with his victory in the PBA Indianapolis Open, 54-year-old Norm Duke wins again the following week in the Jonesboro Open to round out his career PBA Tour titles total at 40.
Note: If you missed our podcast with Norm Duke, which we recorded between his Indianapolis and Jonesboro victories, listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/norm-duke-on-winning-pba-tour-titles-in-his-mid-50s
- Butturff, Belmonte Flaunt Top Seed Chops: After losing from the top-seed position twice consecutively when he loses the 2018 U.S. Open title match, then sees a missed single-pin spare again cost him a title from the No. 1 spot when he loses the 2019 PBA Hall of Fame Classic championship match, Jakob Butturff breaks through for a win in his PBA-record third consecutive appearance on a PBA telecast as the top seed in the Oklahoma Open. Not to be outdone, Jason Belmonte qualifies for a show as the No. 1 seed for the third straight time when he bowls the PBA Indianapolis Open telecast from that position.
Note: If you missed our podcast with Jakob Butturff in July, listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/podcast-jakob-butturff-on-his-roller-coaster-season-in-2019
- Unforgettable Drama Concludes Lubbock Sports Open: In the PBA Lubbock Sports Open title match against Dick Allen, Rash whiffs a 10-pin to open his 10th frame and enable Allen to double and get eight on his last shot to steal away the title. Allen rolls a 2-pin on his first ball of the 10th for a strike, strikes again in his 11th, then tugs his last shot but leaves the 3-6 to give him just enough count to deny Rash his 14th title and win the sixth PBA Tour crown of his own career in an instant classic.
Note: If you missed our podcast with Sean Rash in September, go here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/sean-rash-on-the-bowlers-journal-podcast-proving-the-haters-wrong-has-been-fun
- PWBA Holds First Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 16 Years: The PWBA Hall of Fame holds its first induction ceremony since 2002, the year before the demise of the prior incarnation of the tour. In a touching gesture, Anne Marie Dugan, who had been elected to the PWBA Hall of Fame in 2002 but never experienced a formal induction due to the tour’s demise, was given a special slot on the program, while legends Leanne Hulsenberg and Wendy Macpherson are inducted alongside Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles tournament founder Donna Conners.
- Bowling is Passed Up for the 2024 Olympics: Bowling suffers a familiar blow when the organizing committee for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris announces that breakdancing, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing all have made the cut while bowling, yet again, finds itself on the outside looking in. The four selections widely are viewed as an effort to develop a younger audience for the Olympics, and a preference among Olympic officials for sports that perhaps do not require as much infrastructure as bowling might, such as an arena or specially installed lanes for use in a setting that does not typically host bowling competitions.
Note: If you missed our expansive interview with World Bowling CEO Kevin Dornberger following this news, read it here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/world-bowlings-kevin-dornberger-offers-honest-assessment-of-sports-olympic-prospects-after-paris-snub/
- Bowling Community Rocked by Death of David Williams: David Williams, a double-lung transplant recipient who had competed for years in regular and PBA50 Tour events, dies tragically in a car accident while on his way to bowl the PBA50 Johnny Petraglia BVL Open in Clearwater, Fla., the senior circuit’s season-opening event. That his death comes at the far-too-young age of 53, after he had overcome such extraordinary obstacles to give himself a chance at continuing to chase his pro bowling dreams, makes the tragedy all-the-more painful for the bowling community. A moment of silence is held at the Clearwater stop in his honor.
Note: If you missed our feature about David Williams, based on an interview he gave us shortly before his death, go here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/meet-the-double-lung-transplant-recipient-who-advanced-into-the-wsob-x-field/
- Women’s Championships Turns 100: The USBC Women’s Champions kicks off its 100th anniversary edition in Wichita, Kan., initiating a months’-long celebration of the tournament’s century of history. The 72-day tournament sees more than 16,000 pass through Northrock Lanes, with 4,108 four-bowler teams competing.
- Sweden’s Martin Larsen is Struck by a Car: PBA Tour veteran and European Bowling Tour Champion Martin Larsen is struck by a car in Virginia Beach on Aug. 8, where he is in town to bowl the PBA Chesapeake Open. Lucas Wiseman reports for FloBowling that Larsen “was thrown 40 feet down the road” and required “59 stitches in his upper-left arm” while also breaking his left wrist and a rib. “It’s really fortunate that I’m alive,” he says.
- Dasha Kovalova Bowls Fourth Televised 300 in PWBA Tour History: Dasha Kovalova dazzles a CBS Sports Network audience when she bowls the fourth televised 300 game in PWBA Tour history to claim the 2019 PWBA Louisville Open for her second title of the season. The feat earns the 2019 USBC Queens champion a $10,000 bonus in addition to her $10,000 check for winning.
- Junior Gold Championships Sets Another Record: Another record field bowls the 2019 USBC Junior Gold Championships when more than 4,700 spots are sold as the event is spread across eight centers throughout the Detroit metro area.
- Glenn Allison Honored by U.S. House of Representatives: Just before his league session at La Habra “300” Bowl — the center where Glenn Allison rolled the first 900 series in sanctioned league bowling history on July 1, 1982 — the man known as “Mr. 900” is presented with a “Certificate of Recognition” from the United States House of Representatives. Allison’s name does not appear on the list of 900 shooters because the American Bowling Congress rejected the back-to-back-to-back 300s for honor score recognition, a stance the USBC maintained in November 2014 after completing a review of the award application.
Note: If you missed our reporting on Allison's surprise honor, go here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/mr-900-glenn-allison-honored-by-u-s-house-of-representatives/
- USBC Addresses New SafeSport Guidelines: After new SafeSport guidelines ignite some surprise and anxiety among youth coaches and tournament organizers in response to recently implemented policies regulating electronic interaction between them and the youth bowlers who solicit their coaching services or bowl their tournaments. USBC Deputy Executive Director Jason Overstreet says that, “USBC has adopted its policy language directly from the U.S. Center for SafeSport. USBC and other USOC National Governing Bodies have expressed concern about the Electronic Communications policy language … The specific guidelines and language from SafeSport will be evolving, and as USBC receives updates on the policy from SafeSport we will follow their direction. USBC recommends Registered Volunteers follow current policies using reasonable judgment.”
Note: If you missed our reporting on the concerns coaches expressed about the new SafeSport Guidelines, go here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/usbc-addresses-concerns-about-new-safesport-guidelines-for-rvps/
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