“Bowling Alley”, “Bowling Center”, “The Bowl” and “House” are used interchangeably to describe the building where bowling takes place. Bowling alleys are usually comprised of many lanes (as many as 100 or more), but can be comprised of only a few lanes. Some people have a lane in their home, while I wouldn’t consider this a bowling alley, per se; it is in the most literal sense one. A single lane is sometimes referred to as a bowling alley. For the purposes of this book, a bowling alley or house will refer to a place where there are multiple lanes and games are purchased.
Where are bowling alleys?
They are everywhere. Lately it seems that a lot more houses are closing due to property and maintenance prices getting to expensive, or lack of use. Looking in your local telephone book, you should be able to find quite a few houses in your area. Bowling is a very popular sport and therefore there are a lot of bowling alleys in most areas. If you can’t find one where you live, check the nearest city or big town, there’s bound to be one within driving distance of where you live.
Recently a large bowling stadium was constructed in Reno, NV (United States). If you want to see a really large house, that is the place to go. If you get a chance to bowl there it is really quite the thing! I have bowled there on several occasions and have really enjoyed it. The PBA (Pro Bowlers Association, see Chapter 9) has tournaments there as well as the USBC. A few of the tournaments that I know of that bowl there are the PBA, USBC Nationals, USBC Mixed, and the High Roller. This stadium was built expressly for the purpose of handling large bowling tournaments, and is not allowed to have leagues in it. It also has a very large Pro Shop (place to buy bowling stuff), that even has a bowling lane in it so that you can see everything! They will video tape your game and help you to figure out what you need to improve. It is quite impressive.
Bowling Center Layout
Most bowling alleys will have a desk (where you buy games), a bar, game room, at least one meeting room, a room to handle babysitting, and, of course, lanes! A lot of houses have a pro shop also.
The desk is usually situated somewhere near the center of the house and the bar is usually not far from it. For most bowlers that’s all you need to know about a bowling alley right there! Drinking and bowling go hand and hand for a lot of bowlers (not me, though). It’s no mistake that the bar is centralized in the bowling alley. The game room is usually centralized in the bowling alley also, and most of the time contains pool tables, video games, and pinball machines.
Meeting rooms can be anywhere in the bowling alley, and will seat anywhere from 25 – 100s of people. The meeting rooms are used for league meetings, receptions, birthday parties, etc…. Most of the time, one of the rooms will have toys and things in it for kids. This room is generally used for babysitting the children of the bowlers. Most bowling alleys offer free babysitting for children up to age 7 or 8 for league bowlers. This comes in very handy when you are bowling.
Pro shops are very popular in bowling alleys. Inside of the pro shop you can find just about anything that you need for bowling from balls and bags to shoes, brushes, and powder or resin. You can even get advice from a “pro”. Most of the pro shops are either owned by a professional bowler or have a professional on staff. Be careful though, not all of the people working in the pro shop are pros, and not all of them necessarily have your best interest at heart. There is a lot of stuff to be bought and if you are getting equipment, be sure that you are speaking to somebody who knows your game. Buying equipment for bowling is not as simple as getting a ball and shoes (more on that in Chapter 3).
Who do I call?
The first person that you are likely to meet in the bowling alley is the desk person. This is the person behind the desk that will take your money and assign you a lane. This is also the person that is your main contact at the bowling alley should anything happen. If you spill a drink, your ball gets stuck in the return, or whatever… you should contact the desk person and let them know what you need.
League bowlers usually go through the league secretary to get things accomplished in the house. The league secretary usually has a little more clout than the individual bowler as he/she represents an entire league of bowlers (and therefore a lot of revenue to the bowling center).
There are two other people that you may encounter at the bowling alley. The Porter is the person cleaning up the lanes, getting dead balls, dead wood, fixing scores and just about anything else that needs to be done on the customer side of the lanes. The Mechanic is the other person that you may encounter. You probably won’t come into direct contact with them; they are the person that works in the back of the alley, resetting pins, fixing the machines, and making sure that things work right. They are usually the one that oils the lanes (more on that later), also.
Keep bowling and having fun!