More than 900 duckpin bowlers are members of the Amateur Duckpin Tour, a weekly event at Maryland duckpin establishments. Last weekend at Greenway Bowl East, 268 men and women competed in the biggest amateur tournament of the year, the Super Bowl.
Eighty-three people went home with prize money.
"We've been in existence for 10 years," says Chet Jaffney, director and owner of the amateur duckpin tour. "We've paid out a million dollars in prize money."
The weekly amateur tour is aimed at making duckpins fun -- and sometimes profitable -- for duckpin bowlers who have averages of less than 140.
To join, bowlers pay a $25 annual fee as well as $35 to enter each weekly tournament. They can bowl in as many as they like but must bowl in at least 10 to enter the Super Bowl Tournament.
All tournaments are handicapped, so the average bowler can compete, says Jaffney.
Jeff Cason, 35, a painter from Hamilton, is a typical amateur tour bowler. He bowls in two local leagues and carries about a 129 average. Three weeks ago, he had bowled in eight amateur stops.
A friend suggested he bowl the next two so he would be eligible to bowl the Super Bowl.
He's glad he did.
On Sunday, Cason won five games, including the championship, downing Nick Kastanaras, of Baltimore, 141-123. Cason won $1,500; Kastanaras won $1,000; third-place finisher, Gerald Hagan, of Virginia, won $500; George Kraft was fourth and also won $500.
In ordinary amateur tournaments, only the top 24 win cash, but in the Super Bowl, the top 83 earned money, with the bottom 22 people winning $50 each.
Cason had only cashed in in two other tournaments in 1992 -- having finished 24th and third.
"The first three or four boxes were close, but then I just took off. I threw three or four marks in a row," Cason says.
The next Amateur Duckpin Tour stop will be at Seidel's Bowling Center in the 4400 block of Belair Road Jan. 1-2. For information, call Jaffney at (410) 426-0440.
King of the hill
A new televised format is coming to the PBA in January. The winner of the AC-Delco Classic Jan. 9 will have an automatic berth in the next week's televised finals. The move will reduce the number of TV qualifying spots from five to four.
Ducks vs. tens
In Baltimore, historically a duckpin town, which form of bowling is more difficult is a constant source of debate.
A few months ago, Pat Teague, who manages a Fair Lanes duckpin center, and Howard Snyder, a tenpin pro shop owner, put the matter to a test. They organized a duckpin vs. tenpin tournament. There were two teams, consisting of male and female duckpin and tenpin pro bowlers. They bowled three games of ducks and three games of tenpins. The duckpin bowlers won by 179 pins. Does Snyder concede the duckpin bowlers are better? "Absolutely not," he said.
They plan another tournament in 1993.