One reason the cost of bowling has climbed in recent years is simple -- bowling center owners have lost lineage. But lost
lineage can be regained and costs can be held in check.
Joe Rineer wants to do that.
"I'm a bowler, but I'm also a businessman," said the owner of Mount Airy Lanes.
"As a bowler I don't want to see the price of the game increase, but as a businessman I must maintain prices in order to cover cost, to keep the center operating."
At one time, in the not-too-distant past, all bowling centers had five-member teams bowling twice per night in an early league and a late league. The early league bowling started usually at 6:30 and was finished before 9 so the late league could be finished around 11.
Now the late-league teams seldom number more than four bowlers, and three or even two bowlers per team is not unusual for the late shift.
When lineage drops 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, the lost income must be made up. That's where a price increase hits the bowler. It's impossible for a center to keep absorbing less income without raising prices.
But Rineer says there is a solution besides charging bowlers more, and he wants to put it into practice this summer.
"I know this works," Rineer said. "It's being done in some centers in New England right now."
It's called two-frame bowling.
Instead of bowling a single frame and sitting down, the individual bowler remains at the end of the approach and then bowls a second frame before sitting down.
It's that simple. What happens? Three things.
Play is faster -- without rushing anyone.
The game is less fatiguing. A bowler gets up and down only half as many times as in regular bowling.
Averages, in many cases, will increase.
Then there are the fringe benefits. You have a little extra time between frames to socialize, a little more time for the team captain and the league secretary to do their paperwork, a little more time to make a trek to the snack bar.
There really aren't any drawbacks. Two-frame bowling is permitted under current rules, and in the long run the cost of bowling will be lower.
And, there should be no more waiting for the first league to finish, no more getting home at one o'clock in the morning for the second shift.
Mount Airy tournament
Mount Airy Bowling Lanes will hold the 11th Wayne Logue Memorial Handicap Doubles Tournament on June 4-6. First place is $600, second $300 and third $150. Entry fee is $12.50 per person for the three-game event. Pre-registration is required. Call (301) 829-0710.