It has been almost ten years since John Davis (Founder of the Kegel Company), called together a group of experienced lane men in an attempt to further research the on-going lane conditioning problems with our Sport. It had become apparent that too many tournaments were deemed unfair by the participants and tournament organizers. Bowling ball technology had rapidly advanced and it was getting next to impossible for the lane man to do the job without some sort of social controversy. After that five day meeting in Sebring, Florida, Davis promised to undertake the huge task of taking care of lanes at every major tournament in the world and then posting those results on The Foundation website for the whole world to see. Davis and The Foundation came up with their initial slogan which was: “One World – One Game.”
The Foundation also coined two other phrases:
1. "You don't need to be a lane man to know that there are problems, you just need to be a lane man to know how bad the problems are."
2. "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
Early on, a series of scratch tournaments were developed, called: The Foundation Games. These events were held in this country (and abroad) with some promising results. They were unique by featuring ‘multiple conditions’ in an attempt to further challenge the participants by having more than one lane condition to compete on. Challenging oil patterns were used (both long and short) that required the athletes to compete on different lengths of oil during competition.
In 2000, Dr. P.S. Nathan, then President of the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA), held a World Bowling Seminar in Malaysia and Davis was invited to attend along with many other bowling leaders from around the world. At that week-long educational meeting, it was unanimously decided that in order to find out who the best players were at any given event, the athletes needed to be challenged with these ‘multiple condition’ type tournaments.
The WTBA then formed a Technical Committee (TC) to continue researching the problems on a world wide basis. Since then, different tournament formats have been tested along with bowling ball restrictions (amount of balls used in the events) which were instituted. It is quite clear today, that some of the underdeveloped countries are at a disadvantage regarding bowling equipment.
For many years now, numerous thoughts, opinions and feelings about lane conditioning have been constantly expressed on most every bowling websites discussion groups. Depending on the average person’s position (agenda), most blame the problems with our game on various aspects of the game, including; pins, oil patterns, balls, kick-backs, flat gutters and an assortment of other things. Most have never done lanes and have no idea what that particular job entails.
Today, even with the use of different formats and multiple conditions, problems still exist in our great sport. The WTBA Technical Committee feels that it is time to try a different approach.
"One World - One Game - One Ball"
In 2003, Davis was named as Chairman of the WTBA TC, and Kegel was still taking care of all the tournaments for the WTBA and developing countless oil patterns. It became obvious that the lane man still could not do his job without some social unrest. Something else was needed.
The WTBA TC decided to research and test a type of bowling ball that would not mutate the oil patterns as much as today’s High Tech balls do. Davis was put in charge of doing the research for this project. Days, weeks and months went into this very technical testing, using CATS data.
A ‘prototype’ bowling ball was developed which showed encouraging results. During the week of April 17-22, a Bowling Writers meeting was scheduled in Orlando, Florida (which is only about 80 miles from Kegel’s Training Center), that was combined with the USBC Annual Meeting.
The WTBA TC also scheduled a meeting at this time and this was a chance to announce this new theory. A small scratch tournament would be held and the results would be shown to the world. Many top players from Florida would participate along with some other top amateurs and former PBA Tour champions. It was an eight game event that was bowled across eight lanes. The amount of oil that was used was 7.140 mL, which is an amount that was used in the early 1970’s.
Those results (total pin fall) were:
1. Bob Learn, Jr. (1880)
2. Vernon Peterson (1770)
3. Matt Gilman (1715)
4. Bob Handley (1675)
5. Mike Purdy (1671)
6. Larry Barwick (1670)
7. Rob Comito (1666)
8. Steve Johnson (1660)
9. Neil Stremmel (1655)
10. Storm DeVincent (1627)
10. (T) Sami Luoto (1627)
12. Chris Chartrand (1612)
13. Dennis Davis (1598)
14. Craig Auerbach (1596)
15. Saul Insignares (1573)
16. Tony Lavance (1572)
17. Ron Dixon (1523)
18. Jose Rodriquez (1514)
19. John Forst (1513)
20. Dennis Psaropoulos (1512)
21.Tony Crews (1477)
22. Bill Blackwell (1454)
23. Pekka Korpi (1383)
24. Josh Moore (1354)
Each player paid a $100.00 entry fee to enter the tournament, and that included a bowling ball. Each player had a choice of 15 or 16 pounds to use. Except for that weight difference, all of the balls were made as similarly as humanly possible. Davis donated an additional $2600.00 for a total Prize Fund of: $5000.00. Learn earned $2000.00 for the win along with a very nice banner that was signed by all of the participants and those on the WTBA TC. In all, 12 players cashed.
When asked if he wanted the banner, Learn said, “Certainly. It will go in my trophy room with all of my other cherished awards.” He added, “This was great. ALL tournaments should be like this one because I really think that it was the fairest tournament that I have ever bowled in.”
After the event, all the players were asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire that had a multitude of pertinent questions regarding the tournament. Those queries are currently being analyzed.
All in all, it was deemed a tremendous success by the Players and Officials. All results of the CATS data (from every shot, from every player) are also being analyzed. When completed, a detailed report will be sent to WTBA President Heikke Sarso for review.