Golf is one of bowling's greatest rivals for Americans' recreational dollars By Dick Evans



    BPAA rates A double bogey score for including a golf tournament on a busy Tuesday seminar schedule at International Bowl Expo

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpg Way back in 1979, I got a letter from then BPAA President Dick Richards critical of a column I wrote in The Miami Herald that was critical of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America for running golf and tennis tournaments at the Mid-Winter Board of Directors meeting in Miami.

    Richards wrote: "Just because we are in the bowling business doesn't mean our interests and activities have to be limited to bowling."

    Then he asked a question: "Is a newspaper writer limited to reading his own paper or is it proper to listen to the radio or watch TV?"

    I wrote back that he was right that bowling proprietors should have an array of other interests other than bowling. I also agreed with him that newspaper men were free to watch TV or listen to radio as much as they wanted, but during newspaper conventions the editors did not hold contests to see who could watch the most TV on a given day.

    I added that you wouldn't see a convention of McDonald's stockholders holding a side event to determine who could eat the most Whoppers.

    Golf is a direct rival of bowling when it comes to the recreational dollar and for national publicity, so I see no reason for a bowling convention to hold an ORGANIZED golf event.

    My contention then and now is that bowling proprietors should do nothing to harm the image or perception of bowling as a fun sport even for bowling proprietors.

    I can remember the BPAA running a highly successful and fun bowling tournament at the old Showboat Lanes when a BPAA convention was held in Las Vegas.

    No one may care but me -- or possibly the IRS -- but I was stunned when I looked at the Tuesday schedule for the 2010 International Bowl Expo and the first thing I read was:

    "7 a.m.-1 p.m. Bowling Foundation Golf Scramble at the Wildhorse Golf Club" with a reference for more information on page 27 of the Bowl Expo program book.

    Don't get the wrong idea, I am all for charity events especially when they benefit the Bowling Foundation. But I think it should be a fun bowling event -- not a fun golf event on the morning of a busy seminar schedule.

    Proprietors who decide to go golfing on Tuesday will miss at least four hours of the official Bowl Expo program even if they par every hole.

    I counted the sessions listed in the program book that would be held while the golfers are on the links and I came up with 42. In addition, I also added up sessions that start at 1:30 p.m. which would make it tough for some proprietors to make, and I came up with a figure of 19.

    Logically, not all proprietors are going to be interested in all these seminars -- listed under headings like Family Entertainment Centers, Pro Shops, Small Centers for Small Markets and Youth.

    Last year I saw numerous prominent bowling proprietors returning to the Mandalay Bay on Sunday afternoon toting their golf clubs and I knew they had been off property participating in a charity golf event, which I am sure, was fun and worthwhile plus also physically demanding since Vegas is really hot in June.

    Although I oppose the BPAA holding an official golf outing, even for charity, I was not surprised that proprietors went golfing last year because there were few official events scheduled on Sunday. That meant the proprietors were not missing anything important.

    But I see no justification for a six-hour golf function in the middle of a busy Tuesday morning schedule at International Bowl Expo on June 29.

    I am sure that nearby bowling centers like South Point, Texas Station, The Orleans or Sam's Town would love to hold fun charity events for proprietors after the day-long Tuesday program of seminars and meetings were concluded. BPAA charity golf events would be good for their bowling businesses and great for bowling's image in my opinion.

    Bowling alongside proprietors could be many of the greatest bowlers and they would be using the newest bowling equipment in the world, which would be on display at the BPAA's Trade Show.

    I doubt you will find a Titlist golf ball booth at the bowling trade show.

    As a newspaper writer, I have covered state USTA and PGA conventions and I can't remember one where the USTA ran a charity golf event or the PGA ran a charity tennis event. USTA officials wanted to play tennis and PGA leaders wanted to go golfing.

    Gosh, even the old Bowling Writers Association of America always held an annual fun bowling event during its convention. The old BWAA members thought bowling was fun, although they also had other interests.

    As I said, the BPAA running a bowling tournament smack dab in the middle of Bowl Expo sends the wrong message to everyone --- from the proprietors' customers to Madison Avenue executives who might be thinking of sponsoring a PBA or USBC event on national TV.

    A few years ago a reader responded to one of my anti-golf columns at BPAA conventions and wrote this:

    "I agree, at the biggest bowling extravaganza of the year, they should organize a bowling tournament and not a golf tournament. If they feel as though people don't want to lug their bowling balls across the U.S.. then make it a one-ball tournament, or a plastic ball tournament or even make it a house ball/house shoes tournament.

    "I would participate in a heartbeat."

    If proprietors want Americans to really believe bowling is the greatest recreation/sport in the country, they have to back up their words with the right image and perception at International Bowl Expo.

    It is bowling's biggest showcase in the world and should showcase bowling only.

    Even I would strongly endorse bowling proprietors enjoying a round of golf or a set of tennis before or after International Bowl Expo, but not during the middle of the convention.

    As in all things that I write, this is just my opinion.

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