Hawkins column: Why are boards and dots important on a bowling lane?


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I guess it’s no secret anymore that I, along with Chris Farrell, am coaching the women’s bowling team at Elizabeth City State University.

We practice on campus during the wee hours of the morning before most of the city has opened its eyes. That’s why when the story I am about to share took place, I kind of just thought that apparently my student-athlete wasn’t awake yet, and had misunderstood my instructions.

The young lady, a lefty like me, had just made a shot that came up a little shy of the headpin. Knowing the rule of “move your feet in the direction of the ball miss”, I instructed her to move her feet two boards to the left. She moved about 12 inches.

This led me into a lesson of the difference in a board and a dot.

A couple of days later it dawned on me; many young people bowling today have never bowled on a lane made of boards. Their generation has only known of lanes made of 5 synthetic panels, each 12 feet long.

Bowling lanes years ago, (yes, back in the 1900’s) were made of several boards, each about an inch wide, which were glued and nailed together, to make the 60-foot long lanes. During the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s many houses made the move from wooden lanes to the now more popular choice of the synthetic option.

All that has been left behind from the days of wood is the appearance. Now, what bowlers who have been around for a while knew as “boards”, is simply set of lines, dividing the lane into smaller 1-inch wide strips heading to the pins.

One of the tips shared with me years ago while competing on real wood lanes, was the tendency and reaction of certain boards, primarily their colors. I was taught that darker boards were softer, and would hook a little more than the lighter boards, which were harder, and hook less.

I always sought out the darker toned boards a little farther down the lane!

That strategy would never help a bowler now because all the panels are the same. The sole reason the makers of the lanes left the parallel lines on the lanes is to give the bowlers a guide as to where on the lane their ball is rolling and to help them make the necessary adjustments from shot to shot.

How do bowlers use these guides to help make their lane adjustments? I will share more on this in next week’s column.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Albemarle Lanes putting in new pins and the effects of these new sticks. I’ve also commented several times that I expect to report a perfect game, or more, prior to Christmas.

When I wrote that, I never thought we’d come close to getting three in two nights!

Monday Night mixed had a pair of guys break the 600 wall, as Will Swinson was the first person to flirt with perfection when he fired the final 11 of a 290 game during his 657 series, while Garry Williams wasn’t far behind with a 233-635, John Turner added a 567 series and Murdock Spencer claimed a 215 game.

Karen Ashley’s 195-539 topped the ladies from Monday, with Jill Serik (179) and Amanda Sykes (176) each adding nice games.

The following night during Fellowship League, Mark Tarkington blasted the pocket for the front 11 strikes during his second game of the night before the ugly 2-10 split made its appearance. Tarkington’s 298 game vaulted him to another 700-plus series, this version a 712!

The league nearly boasted of two more 700’s as John Bradley and Daniel Pledger claimed nice series totals of 235-689 and 265-679 respectively. The third person to nearly punch the 300 ticket was Woody Heckstall, when he opened the last game with the first 9 strikes before sparing the tenth frame and finishing with a 275 game.

Kaytee Simpson splintered the pins for a 222-632 to lead the ladies along with other high games from Sheri Norwood (189), Brittney Krehel (178), and Stephanie Winslow (178),

After his big night Monday, Will Swinson (234-644) returned to claim the lone 600 from Martin Luther King League, followed by Tyler Hudgins’ 206-595 and Randy Cartwright’s 198-577. Boris Beatty’s 245 was the top game from MLK.

High games from the ladies of MLK belonged to Brittney Krehel (181), Brenda Marx (167), and Amie Wallace (149).

Stella Miller (175), Sharon Yonek (175), and Pat Dooley (164) had nice games during the All-American Ladies. Barbara Purcell (667), Jeannette Riggs (651) and Pat Heath (646) each added impressive handicap series.

Jacob Davenport had some heads spinning on Saturday morning when he captured lightning in a bottle for a 234 final game. That marked a new personal high for Jacob!

Jacob finished with a 493 series, just behind Christopher Vinson’s 178-511.

The youth ladies were led by Lindsay Porter’s 167-452, Violet Olds’ 144-393, and Elizabeth Scaff’s 137-362.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling!