8 Pins – It upsets people of all genders

Should ladies get eight pins start in tournaments?

by Dom Gall

In European Bowling Tour events and some others, it has become normal for even the greatest lady bowlers ever to get an 8 pin start. This does not play well with a lot of male players who argue that on certain lane patterns, ladies cannot be beaten and some of the best female bowlers are now equal to the men.

If it is not a question about two handers, it’s Lefties and when not them it’s ladies bonus. Being a male, one handed right hander can be tough it seems.

The tour is run by the European Tenpin Bowling Federation. In all the tournaments, men and women compete alongside each other, with women receiving a handicap per game. In these tournaments there is only one prize fund (not split for men & women), however some tournaments offer additional bonuses for the highest placed woman, which is often in addition to any of the regular prize money.

So sometimes, not only do ladies get a start, they get a chance to win more than a male player could win!

This one divides opinion, that’s for sure. Me, well I think scratch is scratch no matter what your age or gender. It seems some agree as when I posted the cover photo meme on social media, I received a reply from Three time World Champion and UK Tenpin Hall of Famer Zara Giles who stated..

“100% agree, sport is elitist, that’s the whole point of it. It certainly made it easier for me to cash a few years ago but also meant that even when I won without the bonus, people always assumed the bonus is what did it. In my opinion it’s only holding the elite ladies back, stopping them pushing harder to be equal and is very hard to swallow for men further down the pack making them less likely to enter.”

I know some of the men are not keen on the rule but what do other female bowlers think?

Simply post your comments at the bottom of the page


  1. A few years ago I was all for ladies pin bonus, but that’s because I wasn’t really at a level to call myself a scratch bowler. I’m probably still not really at that level but I’m certainly more able to compete in a scratch environment on English soil at least and I agree with ZG – I don’t want my win to be credited to a bonus I didn’t need. I want my win to be credited to the hours I put in working on my game and learning to read the lanes.

    When I play a tournament now I judge myself on the whole field, not just the ladies, because there’s just not enough of us. It does make me laugh (inwardly) when you see male bowlers getting stroppy because they’re being beaten by a woman!

    I think the problem is why are these bonuses being offered? If it’s to make it fairer to compete – well we all know for the truly elite ladies, that’s just not needed. I think it’s symptomatic of people knowing there are not enough ladies in our sport and their way to tackle it is to offer us bonuses to play events to attract ladies slightly lower down the pecking order. I think what really needs to happen is that there needs to be more focus on grass roots. Why are ladies either not joining the adult bowling community, or why are they not progressing up the ranks from YBCs. If there were equal numbers of woman to men able to enter these elite tournaments, we wouldn’t need bonus pins to artificially increase the numbers playing.

    That said it was pointed out to me once that if you look at any Olympic sport, men never compete directly against women. In the big International bowling events, we have separate mens and ladies tournaments or divisions, so it makes me wonder why bowling has evolved in the way it has where we don’t always blur the lines between sexes. Is it just a case of necessity because their aren’t enough ladies to run our own leagues and tournaments?

    Personally I think the ideal is that gender shouldn’t factor into it, if paralympians want to race able bodied athletes, why shouldn’t women want to compete on the same field as men. There’s always going to be a physical element that men get from their game which woman can’t match. They are taller, stronger and have larger spans allowing them greater reach around the ball, but that doesn’t mean us ladies don’t have our own advantages that the men can’t match.

  2. if its a scratch tournament all players start zero pins man or women scratch means scratch, if its handicap tournament then its based on your average, a lady with a 160 ave should have the same as a man with 160 ave and whom ever bowls better at that time wins simples

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