Letscher's roll makes for profitable part-time job Improves game using 'resin' ball

April 04, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Marty Letscher is coming into his own.

In the past three weeks, he has finished just out of the top four pro bowlers who make the weekly televised finals, and twice just missed breaking into the top 24. He did it again this week at Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn., at the $170,000 Tums Classic.

Over 18 games of bowling, Letscher, 36, the owner of Marty's Pro Shop in Bel Air, knocked down 4,109 pins for a 228 average. He collected a check for $1,330, meaning he has earned about $8,000 the past three weeks.

"I'm throwing the ball real well," said Letscher, who won the National Resident Pro Championship just a few months ago. "I feel confident. This is the best streak I've had. It feels good to know I'm competitive out there and can win."

Letscher said he used Rhino Pro and Turbo-X resin bowling balls this week to be competitive. He describes himself as a classic down-and-in player, and he thinks the resin balls have helped bowlers with his style.

"I think it [the resin ball] does help the more classic style game," he said.

His victory in the National Resident Pro Championship assures him a spot in the prestigious Firestone Tournament of Champions in Akron, Ohio, in three weeks. Letscher said he'll continue to bowl on the pro tour right through the Firestone.

After the past three tournaments, Letscher has come home on Saturdays to work in his pro shop. He said he has gotten a lot of encouragement and support from local bowlers.

Still, he doesn't plan to go out on the national tour full-time -- at least, not yet.

"I have no ambitions of going out full-time -- unless I start winning," he said.

Rutherford sets record

At the recent 37th annual Baltimore Women's Bowling Association championship tournament, Chele Rutherford was on fire.

The local non-professional bowler shot three 700 series -- one in singles, one in doubles and one in the team event -- for a total combined nine-game score of 2,236 -- or an incredible 248 average.

It's no wonder, then, that she won the singles events, both scratch and handicapped, won the all-events competition, and her team finished first in both scratch and handicapped events.

Her all-events score set a BWBA record, and was the fifth-highest nine-game set ever bowled by a non-professional woman in the United States.

She shot 280, 257, 225, 206, 278, 228, 279, 227 and 257.

PBA hoping less is more

Despite an increase in Saturday afternoon ratings for the Pro Bowlers Tour, ABC-TV will be cutting back the number of televised PBA events in 1994 by 10 stops.

Mike Connor, commissioner of the PBA, said the PBA and ABC-TV are completing the 1994 television contract.

Under the new contract terms, ABC will eliminate the summer Pro Bowlers Tour -- a total of eight tournaments -- and they will start the winter tour two weeks later than usual, cutting two more stops.

Some might think fewer events on television will damage pro bowling, but Connor said the PBA is looking at it differently.

"We need to lower the supply of bowling on TV to increase the demand," Connor said. "If there are fewer tournaments in '94, that should firm up the audience."

After 30-some years on ABC with the five-man stepladder finals format, the PBA this winter began having a weekly King of the Hill match. The previous week's champion plays the current week's champion to determine King of the Hill.

The new format has seemed to help ratings, but the PBA's ratings on TV are not what they were in the 1970s.

Connor said the PBA is considering staging some televised tournaments in indoor arenas, where several thousand fans can be seated, as opposed to the current setup where only a few hundred fans can watch a televised event.

He said they definitely want to conduct some tournaments at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., when it opens in 1995.

*

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