Patty Palmer was born in Baltimore, the heart of duckpin country.
Now living in Hampstead, she has never lost her love for the game. Nor has she lost her desire to be a winner on the lanes.
Ranked year after year among the top women duckpin bowlers in the nation according to average, she was notified last week by the National Duckpin Bowling Congress that she placed seventh for the 1994-95 season with a 136 average.
Palmer uses different techniques to keep winning. One of those methods was the key to her latest triumph.
On March 18, approximately 100 of the best women duckpin bowlers in the nation gathered at Fair Lanes Southwest for the 15th annual Ladies All Star Classic tournament. For the Sunday championship stepladder finals, the field was pared to five.
Seeded fourth, Palmer had to win four games to capture the crown.
In the first game, against Karen Beagham, Palmer fashioned a 161 game for a 22-pin victory.
In the second game that margin of victory was cut to seven pins against Andrea Lanaham of Baltimore, 142-137.
In the third game that slender margin was reduced to a single-pin triumph, 154-153, over Bonnie Myers of Joppa.
The final game was a resounding victory over top-seeded Lynn Heller, 137-110.
Averaging 148-plus in the stepladder finals enabled Palmer to claim her first victory in the All Star Classic, one of the most prestigious events in the duckpin world.
"I picked up something from watching the PBA [Professional Bowlers Association] and the Ladies Pro Bowler Tour," Palmer said. "Many of the finest tenpin bowlers do not watch their opponents when they're bowling. Some don't even glance at the scoreboard. They're totally focused on their own game.
"Of course, when you've been bowling for years, you have a sense of what's occurring on your lanes, you're aware of the other bowlers marks, but that's different from actually watching your opponents scoring, actually knowing the exact pin fall totals."
In the first game, Palmer's margin of victory was so great that not watching the score sheet was not really relevant; in the second game, it played a large part in her winning.
"In the second game I knew it was close," said Palmer, who works as a customer service representative for Nations Bank. "But I just never looked [at the score] until it was over."
In the third game it must have been extremely difficult for Palmer to ignore what was happening on the lanes.
"That third game it was hard not to glance at the score," Palmer laughed. "I knew that Bonnie was marking a lot but so was I. Not watching the other bowlers had gotten me this far so I was determined not to change anything."
And she didn't, even in the last frame.
"Bonnie finished first," Palmer said. "But I was still just concentrating on my game and in the last box I marked and
counted nine on it. That's when I looked at the score sheet and saw that it was exactly what I needed."
The mark and nine count gave Palmer the single-pin victory.
"In the last game I knew I was pretty sure I was in front," Palmer said. "Because Heller wasn't marking that much. She finished first and I had the last frame to fill and I finally peeked at the score. She had a 110 game and I had 129 in the ninth frame. Then I became so nervous that I could barely finish."
Palmer hadn't time to step off the lanes when a victory rose was thrust into her hands. The $2,000 check for first place was an added attraction.