Hard-to-fit hand points to better drilling method


August 29, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Nine years ago, Walt Cervenka crushed his bowling hand during a drag racing accident at Capital Raceway.

The tragic episode ultimately propelled Cervenka into the bowling business and into developing what he says is the best system for fitting and drilling tenpin bowling balls.

It's called Photo Fit. Cervenka, the owner of Cervenka's Pro Shop at Fair Lanes Ritchie in Glen Burnie, actually makes a photocopy of a bowler's hand to more accurately drill a bowling ball.

But back when he injured his own hand, Cervenka didn't own a bowler's pro shop. It was just a hobby then. His hand injury, from which he recovered, caused him problems in fitting his hand into a bowling ball. He was frustrated by the various pro shops he went to for help.

When he complained that the ball didn't quite fit his hand, or that it hurt when he bowled, he got answers like, "That's the way it's supposed to be" and "You're going to have pain until you get PTC used to it."

An employee with Baltimore Gas & Electric who worked in the engineering section, Cervenka began studying how bowling balls are fitted and drilled.

He taught himself, buying and studying the bible of ball drilling, -- "Bill Taylor's Fitting and Drilling Guide," first published in 1957.

Cervenka, 27, tried all the conventional methods of measuring a person's hand and then drilling a bowling ball to fit that hand. He wasn't satisfied with any of them.

That's when he developed his own method, the Photo Fit method. Using the photocopy of a person's hand, Cervenka measures precisely the distances between the joints of the fingers.

"The print only allows us to take angles and hinge point" measurements, he said.

Cervenka and his staff still must study the person's hand to "read flexibility."

"The hand tells you a world of things," he said. "It's kind of like a palm reader, except we're a little more real."

The typical pro shop or sporting goods store uses an adjustable ball to take the measurements for a tenpin ball. Cervenka doesn't use an adjustable ball.

He says his system is "more accurate" than the other systems, ones he calls "trial and error" systems. He's applied for a patent for his method and already has taken out a trademark on the name Photo Fit.

His clients seem to agree that it's a good system. He counts Danny Wiseman, the PBA bowler originally from Dundalk, as one of his clients. Howard Marshall, a local pro bowler who recently won the Hammer regional title at Country Club Lanes, also uses the method. Marshall works at Cervenka's pro shop, as well.

Good bowling, Cervenka says, hinges on having the proper grip on the ball. Too often, he says, bowlers struggle with an improper grip, especially beginning bowlers, who often purchase their first bowling ball at a sporting goods store.

"We're trying to get the beginning bowler to understand that there's more to it than punching three holes in a bowling ball," he said.

Smith wins Free State

Dan Smith, a 168-average bowler from Westminster, shot a 646 scratch set and received 123 pins handicap in totaling 769 for three games in the Free State Tournament at County Lanes last weekend.

The pinfall was high enough for Smith to capture first place and earn $750. He rolled games of 203, 217 and 226.

Bob Reightler of Hampstead tied with Dusty Rhoades of Finksburg for second place. Each had a total score, with handicap, of 762. Both men earned $300.

Reightler rolled games of 238, 228 and 224 for a 690 scratch. The 189-average bowler received 72 pins handicap. Rhoades shot games of 227, 214 and 165 for a 606 set. He received 156 pins handicap.

Ninety-six bowlers competed and 17 players cashed. The Free State comes to Brunswick Columbia this weekend. For information, call (410) 356-0936.

Record set with Hammer ball

A 37-year-old bowler from Salem, Ore., used a Blue Hammer bowling ball to set the all-time high league average.

Jeff Phipps said he used the Blue Hammer to establish an incredible league average of 247.89, an American Bowling Congress record, according to Bowling Magazine.

Faball, the maker of the Hammer bowling balls, has one of its two manufacturing plants in Dundalk.

The previous league average record was 245.63, set in the 1989-90 league season.


If you know an interesting bowler or have a good bowling story to tell, please call Glenn Small at (410) 494-2944, or write to him care of The Baltimore Sun, 1300 Bellona Ave., Baltimore, 21093. You also can fax letters or scores to (410) 494-2916.

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