As a race, innovation drives us. Striving for something better has defined the human race for centuries. Sport is no different as each generation pushes the boundaries ever wider and technology plays a big part of today’s success for athletes. From training tools to advances in bowling ball development, tech is helping dissect the sport of tenpin bowling to the smallest parts and using the information to advance training methods and more. Thanks to the internet, bowlers of today have an unlimited source of information to use to improve their game, train others, educate and most of all be enjoyed and used by everyone wanting to bowl.
In this new feature we will attempt to see into the future for what the next big things could be. From Rising star players to Bowling centres’ coming services and industry products. Ideas bring change and innovation so we would love to hear of your thoughts on what could be coming next. Simply post your ideas on the Future Bowling on our Facebook here.
Pins on strings
You would think in the future that everything will be automated, a machine doing what humans once did. It has been true in bowling up until now as pinboys who set the pins by hand were replaced by automated machines. These machines have advanced over the decades to the slick space age looking but expensive pinspotters of today.
There is another type of pinsetter though called a string pinsetter that was invented in 1963. In a string pinsetter there is a string attached to the top of the pin. The string is said to have no interference with the pins when the ball hits them. At the end of each throw, the machine pulls the pins back into a rack and resets the pins that weren’t knocked down. You might have seen a string pinsetter if you’ve played mini-bowling.
String pinsetters are a lot less expensive than fully automated machines.. One of the many advantages of string pinsetters is that they have fewer moving parts and require minimal maintenance. This compares with fully mechanical and electrical pinsetters that are very elaborate machines with lots of moving parts, more than 1,500.
Many bowling alleys require a full-time mechanic to keep automated pinspotters in good operating order and to fix pin jams in the machines during bowling. The maintenance and labor cost for these pinspotters is much higher than for string pinsetters. String machines, even for ten-pin bowling, are very common in other countries including Canda, Germany, Luxembourg, Russia, China, Romania, Hungary, India, Brazil, and Mexico.
String machines were not the only idea tried though in bowling. The Mendes company produced a magnetic pinsetter known as the MM-2001. It featured a flat magnetic pin table and magnets on the head of each pin. It had a pit similar to the AMF and an elevator similar to the GSX. Pin loading involves the combination of a carousel and magazine. The company claimed this technology reduces stops in play due to table jams on out-of-range pins. Mendes was bought out by Qubica, which sold the machine as the MAG3 until its partnership with AMF.
Anyone remember Bowlingo?
If I am honest, I like most if not all bowler I know have frowned on string bowling since they started to appear in the late 80’s and 90’s in the UK, There were not many of them for sure but were considered “Not real bowling” even before anyone had played on them. Last we will see of them, could easily be thought. Fast forward 30 or so years and we find String bowling making a comeback.
Both QubicaAMF and Brunswick produce string machines at full size and mini bowling size, these machines have improved, become more simple yet still full of technology. Truth is, bowling proprietors are now attracted by the much lower costs in running these machines. Big chains are looking at replacing traditional machines with string machines. This is a fact and not some kind of future thinking or dreaming.
So what is the future for bowling?
Well one such future is one also identified by Australian international and Storm staffer George Frilingos. He can see what could happen and took it upon himself to investigate further. Rather than explain what George did, click on the link below and we can continue with the future thinking.
Telling now though is USBC requesting a copy of George’s video as you can hear in a follow up interview the Aussie has done with a US based bowling radio show. Have a listen as George explains string machines better than I and what the future may hold.
Seeing the future
Last year, I was sent to view a new string installation in the UK, On hearing the growth in this market and interest being shown by larger chains it got me thinking what was the state of play on sanctioning string machines.
A little digging revealed that there is no sanction, not at World Bowling level, EBT or any other level. It is in reality a new sport with no governing body. What does this mean then? Does it mean unless the World powers that be embrace the code and include with traditional code it can become a sport in itself?
In the Year 2050
So fast forward 34 years to 2050. Bowling saw a major change when string machines replaced traditional automated machines in the 20teens. Over 80% of mechanical machines were removed and broken for spares as the traditional sport of bowling suffered a major crisis. Traditionalists would not embrace the new code of bowling and a breakaway caused the industry to split into sport leisure and sport bowling. The latter suffered as sponsors and money went into the new code. World Bowling and the United States Bowling Congress did however agree to introduce a sanction to save the bowling associations from disaster.
Now viewed as a retro sport traditional bowling has under a million participants Worldwide. Some bowlers just could not embrace or adapt to the thought of pins on strings as the centres closed around them making their World smaller. It is hard to imagine how this could have happened to their beloved sport they thought. String bowling is played now as a serious sport yet due to the strings still able to knock over pins, it has not become an Olympic sport and looks like it never will be.
Traditional bowling is not dead though, If anything, now being a retro viewed sport, it shows signs of not becoming extinct while people still prefer real life to VR life.
Watch out for further articles on what’s coming to bowling in the Future.