East Texans find fun and competition in bowling

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) –"Practice, practice, practice," that's how you become a good bowler says Bill Otteson, owner of Lufkin Lanes.

And, it seems the better your bowling skills the more bowling resembles a sports competition.  "It's sports for all ages, we've got people bowling from age 5 to 88 in our leagues and anybody can do it, fairly inexpensive, don't have to worry about the weather, it's nice and cool in here, but it's a sport that anybody can do at any skill level," said Otteson.

Bowling has become so popular that it is common to find bowling leagues playing in tournaments all year around.  One such group is the Skilled League that competes on Thursday nights at Lufkin Lanes.

"I've been bowling since I was 5 years old, just a hobby of mine, I like to go to tournaments every now and then try to compete win a little bit of money," said Brandon Williams, Team Captain.

Williams has been bowling since he was 5 years old.  He said it started out as a big hobby and now as an adult he bowls at tournaments.

In the Skilled League the pattern of the oil that is used on the lanes is changed each week, adding a new level of challenge and competition for bowlers.

"Every week we come out and put a different oil pattern on the lanes and we have to adjust accordingly.  In other words, during normal league play we put the same pattern on every week and so there's not a lot of adjustment, but in this league we put a different shot out every week," Otteson said.  He went on to explain that the oil is used to prevent the bowling ball from burning up or destroying the lanes.  He said certain oil patterns cause the balls to react in different ways, testing a bowlers skills.

"We're shooting a new shot called 'Sport Shot' right now, which is interesting because each week you don't know what the oil pattern is gonna be, so it takes a lot of skill to figure that pattern out to bowl well, which I haven't done yet tonight, but it's early," said avid bowler Dallas McCelland.

McCelland has been bowling with his family for 18 years.  He said it started out as entertainment, but soon became a competitive sport.  "The biggest thing you can have in bowling is patience.  Most people get it in their head that you should strike every time you throw your ball and really bowling's not about striking, it's about making spares and so it takes a lot of patience," said McCelland.

They all agree that one of the best things about bowling is the fun and camaraderie you experience.  "It's a sport because we're very competitive, but it's entertaining because we have a blast with people that bowl out here," said McCelland.

McCelland said the better you bowl, the better your chances are to win.  Though he declined to talk specific numbers, he said, in the Skilled League, the end of the season prize can add up to a tidy little sum.  According to McCelland, Bowling League individual prices can be as low as $13 for beginners.  The fees go towards paying the proprietor and the rest into a prize fund.

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