As senior professionals and local league bowlers took to the lanes together, everyone mingled and shared tips in what many referred to as the “fun day” of the four-day experience.
While Monday through Wednesday represent the professional portion of the tournament, Sunday’s Pro-Am afforded the professionals a chance to get to know those who make Harvest Park Bowl their regular hangout, and it gave the regulars a chance to improve their game by playing with and listening to those with experience beyond their own.
As Harvest Park league bowler Bob Rhiner, playing in his fifth Pro-Am, put it, “We definitely look forward to this every year. It’s great playing with the pros and getting tips on your game. This is a highlight every year for the serious league bowlers.”
Rhiner also described a slight difference between the caliber of play needed to compete in a local bowling alley and what’s needed to compete on the professional tour. Harvest Park Bowl has been hosting the PBA Experience on Monday nights, during which regular league bowlers play with the same oil patterns on the lanes as the professionals play with in their competitions.
To emphasize the added level of difficulty, Rhiner said that while his regular league average is a 221, he was only able to average 186 playing with the professional oil pattern, a 35-pin difference.
It’s that level of appreciation for the professional caliber of bowling shown by the city of Brentwood that has kept the tour coming back. According to PBA Hall of Famer Ernie Schlegel, “Everything just seems right here. I won my first senior tournament here, and it’s just enjoyable to bowl with people who are hungry for bowling knowledge and want to be with us.”
Schlegel also discussed the high level of hospitality exhibited by the organizers of the tournament, recognized by professionals and amateurs alike. According to Harvest Park Bowl Manager Sherry MacKenzie, a high number of out-of-town bowlers return to Brentwood every year just for the Pro-Am event. She said the primary attraction of the Pro-Am is that amateurs get to bowl with three professionals – one per game.
Former Harvest Park head professional Don Sylvia returned to Brentwood for the tournament after not playing in more than a year, hoping that the town he worked in for so long would help him regain the form that saw him become the 2003 Senior PBA Rookie of the Year.
He had his reservations about coming out on top in his first weekend back, however. “It’s sometimes difficult to play in your home area,” said Sylvia. “All your friends automatically think that you should win.”
Win or lose, though, Sylvia and the rest of the PBA crew were off to an energetic start Sunday, as pins came crashing down, banners hung above the lanes, and motorhomes in the parking lot let everyone know that the tour was in town.