Friday’s league night wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t great, either… I’ve been languishing at or slightly below my 177 average – usually one or two good games and a bad game that drags everything down over the last few weeks. I’ve really had to grind to get the decent scores, too. To tell the truth, I expected the new bowling balls would “take” a little easier that they have. Never mind I completely changed everything about how I hold and throw a ball down the lane three weeks ago, I just thought things would fall into place. Not exactly so. Until Sunday night during recovery league.
That was my breakthrough night.
My first game was less than impressive but not atrocious. My wife was right on my heels and threw a really nice game and Jon, my sponsee, threw a great one to buoy us to a team win. I ended up with a 158 but had to grind just to get that. My new spare ball bailed me out a lot. I made several adjustments on starting board and target board but nothing really worked – I had to be right on the money to get the ball near the pocket.
On the first ball in the second of three games I made a slight two-board adjustment (two right in my feet and two right in my aim) and exploded the pins with a spectacular strike. It was like every pin pushed to the back collection area in an instant… the ball hit the pocket and BOOM! No messengers, just carnage. Sit down.
I spared the next two frames, missing my target board by an inch high, then went on a five strike tear. I could hit my target and the ball would tuck in perfectly to the pocket. If I missed too far left, I’d be in the dry and the ball would correct its line and hammer the pocket. If I missed a little right, I’d hit the heavy oil and the ball would slide all the way into the pocket… it was perfect. I finished that game with a strike/spare and a 213.
Then the third game.
With confidence from the second game (and a little hope that I’d finally figured the new ball out), I lit $#!+ up with three strikes in the first four frames. That last strike in the fourth was sketchy, though. Lucky. So I moved a couple of boards right and that definitely wasn’t the answer. Too much oil for the ball to get back to the pocket. I ended up with three spares in a row, but they were easy spares to pick up with my new plastic spare ball. I was sitting on a 126 heading into the 6th and had spared in the 7th. I stepped up for the eighth and took a deep breath and released it… relaxing, I started my approach deliberately slow, swinging back high, I let the ball do its thing. I struck in the 8th with a perfect, booming pocket hit. And another perfect shot in the 9th – a no-doubter from the second I released the ball.
Going into the 10th, I was sitting on a good score but I pushed out any thoughts about potential score combinations to stay focused. Another deep breath and release, my deliberately slow approach, high backswing, perfect release and follow-through, and my Hammer Scorpion rolled perfectly over my target board. A perfect slide, grab and bend by the ball and it worked straight at the pocket as if it had eyes, and BOOM! No messengers, the pins exploded to the back. A turkey (three strikes in a row). And a fourth. This one was a little sketchy – the ball hung up on the release, just a split second and I missed my target board to the right, but only by two boards – I was right in the heavy oil so the ball slid all the way down the lane and still hammered the pocket. My final shot for a five in a row perfect tenth was another no-doubter. I even gave a little kick at the end as the pins exploded in a thunderous crack and fell into the collection area. A 236 and I finished the night with a 607 actual.
And that was the feel I was looking for when I decided to purchase new equipment a few weeks ago. It wasn’t that I couldn’t miss, it’s that if I did miss, I missed in the right places. The spares came easy and the strike shots were strong and consistent. Oh, was it spectacular.
And that wasn’t even the cherry on top!
I’ve been trying to get my wife to come back to the Sunday night team for years. My teammates wanted her back, my teammate’s wife (who was on the team for years) wanted her to come back… and she resisted. Partly, I’m sure, because I can get a little intense when I bowl. Well, we recently had one of the guys on our team quit and that left us with a vacant spot and my wife agreed to give it a try again. She’s been out each of the last two nights, bowled excellently (especially this last Sunday) and we had a lot of laughs. It’s been great to have her back, really. That I was able to bowl with my wife on the team again, that was the cherry on top of a great night.