Nobody laughs at Roger Varga's four-hole bowling now.
Roger Varga, a Bowie resident, won the National Amateur Bowlers Inc. tournament last Sunday at Brunswick Normandy lanes in Ellicott City, beating a field of 152 amateur bowlers and capturing the first prize of $1,000.
"I have a touch of arthritis," Roger said, "So I have three finger-holes instead of just two in my bowling ball. It gives me a little stronger grip, better lift with my delivery."
Apparently, it works just great. After retiring from a career with the U.S. Customs Service that included stints along both the Mexican and the Canadian borders, Varga settled in Ellicott City with his non-bowling wife, Phyllis.
"I covered the Mexican border from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas," he said. "And I put some time on the Canadian border, too. It was interesting work. After I retired, a friend, Ken Mohr, got me started bowling. I hadn't bowled for over thirty years, but last year I began bowling at Normandy Lanes again."
Roger bowls in a Thursday league and in the Senior Wednesday afternoon league at Brunswick Normandy. He carries a 156 average with a 14-pound Brunswick Phantom bowling ball -- with four holes drilled in it. He's already fired a high game of 238 and a high series of 681 -- and he's won a NABI tournament with its first place price of $1,000.
Debbie Doyle and Don Jacoby took second and third place in that Normandy center NABI tournament last week.
Debbie took home a check for $500 for her second place finish. She lives in Catonsville and bowls in the Wednesday Lisbon Community league and the Friday Friendship league at Brunswick Normandy.
And the 157-average bowler knows how to pick her spots. It was in the NABI tournament that Debbie threw her career high game and set: a 234 game and a 637 series, both impressive figures. Does she pick her spots? That was her s very first 600-set.
"My husband, Jim, is a bowler and so is our son, Douglas," she said. "Jim carries a 176-180 average, and Douglas does the same. They're pretty much neck-and-neck. Of course after I won the $500, Jim says it was because of his coaching."
Bowling for five years, Debbie was using a new 14-pound Sumo bowling ball in the NABI tournament.
Doing well in NABI tournaments is a family thing for the Jacobys. Last year, Don's mother, Glenda, won a NABI tournament at Normandy Lanes. Last Sunday, Don Jacoby took third place and a check for $250. Don's average is just below the 199-average cut-off for NABI tournaments. He's thrown a 300 game and a 739 series. Don works at Brown Toyota, and bowls at Greenway Odenton, Country Club lanes and Fair Lanes Ritchie. And he tries to practice with 60 or 70 games a week.
Varga, Doyle and Jacoby were bowling in a field of 152 at Normandy. The prize fund was just shy of $4,000. Lloyd Caster of Baltimore took home $125 of that prize fund for his fourth place finish and Howard Stiefer, of Catonsville, captured fifth place and $110.
# TOURNAMENT NEWS * The WSBA third-annual Team Classic continues at Suburban XTC Bowlarama in York, Pa. First prize: four new 1992 Pontiac Lemans.
* The NABI tournament is at Fair Lanes Ritchie today. First prize is $1,000.
* The third-annual Country Club Classic Tournament continues every weekend through August 22. First prize is $4,000.
* The LPBT Regional Open will be decided today at Greenway Bowl Odenton. This is a chance to watch the female professional bowlers in action. There's no charge for spectators.