Bowlers who don't compete in tournaments are missing out on fun and excitement.
Many believe tournaments are only for the scratch bowlers -- the exceptionally gifted amateur or professional bowlers.
But tournaments are available for folks at all levels: the casualbowler, the one-league-a-week competitor and for more accomplished bowlers.
What stops many people from bowling in tournaments is the fear that they'll look foolish, that they don't have the proper equipment or they just don't know what to expect.
Let's ignore the scratch amateurs and professional bowlers; they have been competing for years and know their way around the different tournaments. This columnis for the average bowler who wants to get more fun out of bowling -- and maybe earn some prize money.
If you are a league bowler, you're already sanctioned and have an official average. You probably ownballs and shoes. But even if you don't, the bowling center provides balls and rents shoes.
Don't be intimidated by flashy shirts, a bag of four or five balls and the extra pairs of shoes some tournament competitors use. If you have them, of course, go ahead and use them. If you don't, forget it.
The average bowler doesn't know how to use all of that equipment properly, anyway.
Among various tournamentformats, I suggest less-skilled bowlers look for a handicap tournament in a nearby center.
Any bowler can win a handicap event. In fact, handicap tournaments probably favor the lower-average bowler. And you can compete in team, doubles or singles events.
If you want some moral support the first time out, get a partner and head for the doubles events.
Here's the background on a couple of regularly scheduled tournament programs, one for tenpins and one for duckpins:
*The Amateur Duckpin Tour is a local organization for adults with a sanctioned league average of 140 or less for the last three years.
Bowlers with no average for the past three seasons may enter and bowlat 140, providing they meet other membership requirements.
Annualmembership is $20, plus a $30 entry fee into regular tournaments.
Over the past five years, the ADT has paid more than $1 million in prize money. Information: (410) 426-0440.
* The National Amateur Bowlers Inc. paid more than $1 million nationally in prize money last year.
Joe Doctor, regional director, says bowlers with averages of 138 to 199 have won tournaments at centers around the Baltimore-Washington area.
Doctor said the centers have competitive lane conditions that won't favor bowlers from that house. Tournaments are on weekends.
Annual membership is $25 the first year and $15 to renew. Alltournaments are sanctioned by the American Bowlers Congress and Women's International Bowling Congress.
The tournament is for amateur bowlers with an average of 199 or less, and most members average from140 to 190. The bowlers handicap is 80 percent of the difference between their average and 200.
Others organizations conduct tournaments on a regular basis for amateurs and professionals. The Amateur Bowlers Tour has a tenpin tournament. Information: (800) ABT-BOWL.
Joe Nagy is the founder of the Eastern Seniors Tournament Association, a scratch organization for bowlers over 50. Information: (717) 761-3087.