The Inner Circle Club Tournament presented by National Amateur Bowlers Inc. at Crofton Bowling Centre drew 487 entries last weekend.
To be eligible for the tournament, each competitor had to have bowled 21 games in the NABI 1993 tour.
In addition to cash prizes, the top five bowlers received an all-expenses-paid trip to the 1994 NABI Nationals in Las Vegas. That $900 package includes round-trip airfare, a hotel room for eight nights at the Showboat Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center and entry into the 1994 NABI Nationals.
Ronald Steele of Forestville won the $3,000 first prize. Owner of a 300 game and a high career set of 753, he averages 191.
Johnny Peak of Upper Marlboro took second and won $1,800. Jonathan Woodfork of Woodbridge, Va., was third and received $1,600.
Fourth place and $1,400 went to Clifton Johnson of Street, and Grant Bingham of Severna Park was the fifth finalist and took home $1,200.
Johnson, bowling for seven years, bowls in three leagues -- Tuesday Twilighters at Bel Air Bowl, Friday's Bill Snavely league at Harford Lanes in Aberdeen and Saturday in the High Rollers at Brunswick Perry Hall.
His high game is 300, posted in May of this year, his high set 757, and he carried 203 last season.
Bowling in NABI competition for four years, he's started to cash ++ this season, winning in May at Crofton and placing fourth now.
What's the difference between good bowling and suddenly cashing?
"Concentration. That's it," Johnson said, "Just plain old concentration, it makes all the difference in the world."
Of course, another factor is that he bowls in three different centers during the season and in different houses on the NABI tour.
Anyone who limits himself to a single center is going to suffer disappointment when confronted with a different lane condition in another house. Sometimes the difference is small. Many times it is enormous.
Bingham, bowling for only his fourth season, was active in two leagues last year -- Friday at Greenway Odenton and Saturday at Bowl American Glen Burnie. His career high game and set are 264 and 642, respectively; his average is 174.
Using a 16-pound Power Torq drilled by Wayne Stepp, he's starting to excel on the NABI tour.
5l At Fair Lanes Clinton, he took third place just the week before the Crofton event.
Besides the confidence and the concentration, there was another item that has made a great difference in Bingham's game -- a wrist device.
"Wayne gave me a Cobra wrist band," Bingham said. "And since I started using it I'm picking up another 40 or 50 pins every series."