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Bowl Opinion- February 2017


By Jim Goodwin

Every week, I get a copy of Genie and Tony Franklin’s Bowling News on my computer, and they do a wonderful job of sharing the latest national and world news, and recognizing the local bowlers in their Dallas/Fort Worth market.

I took notice of a few items in their 2-2-17 issue which I got on January 31 . . .

The first thing that caught my eye was the front page story about Jamie Brooks and Butch Warren taking ownership of Allen Bowl and dubbing it JB’s Allen Bowl. Allen is a thriving suburb just north of Dallas that caught national attention a few years ago for building a $60 million high school football stadium that had to be closed for a year to fix structural problems . . . If only bowling could be as popular as football in Texas. I would describe Brooks as the dean of bowling proprietors. He has owned 47 centers during his six decades in the business, and at 82 is still in love with the business and the sport. In addition to Allen, he currently owns Plano Super Bowl and Cowtown Bowling Palace in Fort Worth.

The Plano center is one of the busiest in the nation, and it just underwent a $2+million remodel to turn it into a hybrid center. Butch Warren is I believe the elder of the locally famous Warren brothers. The beautiful and gracious Mary Warren’s six sons have had quite an impact in bowling and business. Son Chris is best known because of his five PBA titles, but Jamie tells me that Butch has had a very successful career in business, mostly in the oil business. CJ and I had an open house in our Rockwall home during the Christmas season, and we were honored that Jamie and Peggy Brooks stopped by one day. We talked a lot about Allen, and we were also happy to learn that Chris Johnson has been named general manager of the Allen center. We first met Chris when we did a story about him and his buddy Ted Pritts when he was a teenager. He went on to become a PBA Rookie of the Year, and is married to PWBA star Stefanie Johnson (formerly Nation)

We wish everyone involved in the new JB’s Allen Bowl much success.

On the other side of the front page of the paper I read that our friend Phil Prieto won another title – something called the Age Bracket Tournament. Phil was representing the 70+ bracket. What a class act he is, and we are happy to see he is still going strong.

Skipping over to Tony Franklin’s column, I read that 26 year old twins Sean and Anthony Lavery Spahr have rolled 170 perfect games – Sean with 90 and Anthony 80. But don’t feel bad for Anthony – he is catching up fast with 15 perfectos in leagues in the past month alone, and he averaged
243 for 99 games in one league. Actually, that sounds a little low to me – I was xpecting maybe a 273 average, or close to it based on all those 300 games. Is it just me, and not to take anything away from these accomplishments, but doesn’t this just seem a little ridiculous?! Where is the challenge? On the other hand, maybe one of these kids will be the first to have three hundred 300’s – or why not a thousand?

These days, it is not easy to stay on top of all of the trends in bowling, but it looks to me like the only way to make a good living in bowling is to own a bowling center. If money is the measure of success in the professional ranks, it is certainly not looking good for future pros.

When I look at the final stats for the PBA Tour for 2016, I see E. J. Tackett on top with four titles and a total of $168,290 in prize money . . . doesn’t seem like much when you consider all of the expense it took for him to get to all those tournaments and pay for all those hotel rooms.

Another name that stood out was the guy who many said would dominate the next decade of the PBA Tour – Jason Belmonte had a good year finishing 7th on the list with $95k, but he won no titles.
If you go down the list, you see only five guys over $100k, and six players in the top 20 are senior bowlers, including Pete Weber in
5th with $105k. 20th place is a mere $57k. I almost hate to remind people that Walter Ray Williams won over $400k in 2003. Mike Aulby won $298k in 1989.

On the same Bowling News page with the PBA Stats is their neat little feature called “Looking Back” which highlights items from 10, 20 and 30 years past. The item that caught my eye in this one was the 1997 Mini Eliminator won by Brian Kretzer at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas 20 years ago. A couple of Wichita State guys, Lonnie Waliczek and David Garber, finished 2nd and 4th. Kretzer won $100,000 back when these event were true ‘megabuck tournaments.’

I was the press director for this event. (see photo we took of the top five) Not long after, Steve Sanders moved this event to The Orleans where we began a very successful run that lasted over a decade. One of the events drew an astonishing 4,500 entries and several of them paid out more than a million dollars in prize money. The rival High Roller events were also very popular for many years, keeping most of the top amateurs – guys like Chris Barnes, Tim Mack, Robert Smith and many others - out of the PBA simply because they were making more money than most of the pros at the time.

Article was posted with permission from Stars & Strikes, America's Bowling Newsmagazine.

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