From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A ten-pin bowler releases his bowling ball
Playing bowls at Tiverton West End Bowling Club, United Kingdom
In pin bowling, the goal is to knock over pins at the end of a lane, with either two or three balls per frame allowed to knock down all pins. A strike is achieved when all the pins are knocked down on the first roll, and a spare is achieved if all the pins are knocked over on a second roll.
Lanes have wood or synthetic surfaces onto which protective lubricating oil is applied in different specified oil patterns that vary ball path characteristics. Common types of pin bowling include
and five-pin bowling.
In target bowling, the aim is usually to get the ball as close to a mark as possible. The surface in target bowling may be grass, gravel, or synthetic.
Bowls, skittles, kegel, bocce, carpet bowls, pétanque, and boules have both indoor and outdoor varieties.
In the U.S. and Canada, the term bowling usually refers to ten-pin bowling, whereas in the U.K. and Commonwealth countries the term often denotes lawn bowls.
Bowling games can be distinguished into two general classes, pin bowling and target bowling.
Relative sizes of bowling balls and
pins for three popular variations of the game.
the horizontal blue lines are one inch (2.5 cm) apart
Candlepin balls are the smallest of the
three, but candlepins are tallest and thinnest
Duckpins are the shortest, and duckpin
balls are barely larger than candlepin balls
Ten-pin balls and pins are the heaviest.
bowling: largest and heaviest pins, and bowled with a large ball
with three finger holes, and the most popular type in North America
bowling: pins usually attached to strings at the tops, uses a
ball without finger holes.
bowling: tallest pins (at 40 cm or 16 in), thin with
matching ends, bowled with the smallest and lightest (at 1.1 kg
or 2.4 lb) handheld ball of any bowling sport, and the only
form with no fallen pins removed during a frame.
bowling: short, squat, and bowled with a handheld ball.
bowling: tall, between duckpins and candlepins in diameter with
a rubber girdle, bowled with a handheld ball, mostly found in
Another form of bowling is usually played outdoors on a lawn. At
outdoor bowling, the players throw a ball, which is sometimes
eccentrically weighted, in an attempt to put it closest to a
designated point or slot in the bowling arena.
Archeologist’s drawing of items found in 1895 in an ancient tomb in Naqada, Egypt, thought to resemble the more modern game of skittles. The archeologist conjectured as to the particular arrangement of the items found.
The earliest known forms of bowling date back to ancient Egypt, with wall drawings depicting bowling being found in a royal Egyptian tomb dated to 5200 B.C. and miniature pins and balls in an Egyptian child’s grave about 5200 B.C. Remnants of bowling balls were found among artifacts in ancient Egypt going back to the Egyptian protodynastic period in 3200 BC. What is thought to be a child’s game involving porphyry (stone) balls, a miniature trilithon, and nine breccia-veined alabaster vase-shaped figures—thought to resemble the more modern game of skittles—was found in Naqada, Egypt in 1895.
Balls were made using the husks of grains, covered in a material such as leather, and bound with string. Other balls made of porcelain have also been found, indicating that these were rolled along the ground rather than thrown due to their size and weight. Some of these resemble the modern day jack used in target bowl games. Bowling games of different forms are also noted by Herodotus as an invention of the Lydians in Asia Minor.
About 2,000 years ago, in the Roman Empire, a similar game evolved between Roman legionaries entailing the tossing of stone objects as close as possible to other stone objects, which eventually evolved into Italian Bocce, or outdoor bowling.
Around 400 AD, bowling began in Germany as a religious ritual to cleanse oneself from sin by rolling a rock into a club (kegel) representing the heathen, resulting in bowlers being called keglers.
In 1299, the oldest-surviving known bowling green for target style bowling was built: Master’s Close (now the Old Bowling Green of the Southampton Bowling Club) in Southampton, England, which is still in use.
In 1325, laws were passed in Berlin and Cologne that limited bets on lawn bowling to five shillings.
In 1366, the first official mention of bowling in England was made, when King Edward III banned it as a distraction to archery practice.
In the 15th-17th centuries, lawn bowling spread from Germany into Austria, Switzerland, and the Low Countries, with playing surfaces made of cinders or baked clay.
In 1455, lawn bowling lanes in London were first roofed-over, turning bowling into an all-weather game. In Germany, they were called kegelbahns, and were often attached to taverns and guest houses.
In 1463, a public feast was held in Frankfurt, Germany, with a venison dinner followed by lawn bowling.
Peasants bowling in front of a tavern
in the 17th century
In 1511 English King Henry VIII was an avid bowler. He banned bowling for the lower classes and imposed a levy for private lanes to limit them to the wealthy. Another English law, passed in 1541 (repealed in 1845), prohibited workers from bowling, except at Christmas, and only in their master’s home and in his presence. In 1530 he acquired Whitehall Palace in central London as his new residence, having it extensively rebuilt complete with outdoor bowling lanes, indoor tennis court, jousting tiltyard, and cockfighting pit.
Protestant Reformation founder Martin Luther set the number of pins (which varied from 3 to 17) at nine. He had a bowling lane built next to his home for his children, sometimes rolling a ball himself.
On 19 July 1588 English Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Drake allegedly was playing bowls at Plymouth Hoe when the arrival of the Spanish Armada was announced, replying “We have time enough to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too.”
In 1609 Dutch East India Company explorer Henry Hudson discovered Hudson Bay, bringing Dutch colonization to New Amsterdam (later New York); Hudson’s men brought some form of lawn bowling with them.
In 1617 English King James I published Declaration of Sports, banning bowling on Sundays but permitting dancing and archery for those first attending an Anglican service, outraging Puritans; it was reissued in 1633 by his successor Charles I, then ordered publicly burned in 1643 by the Puritan Parliament.
In 1670 Dutchmen liked to bowl at the Old King’s Arms Tavern near modern-day 2nd and Broadway in New York City.
In 1733 Bowling Green in New York City was built on the site of a Dutch cattle market and parade ground, becoming the city’s oldest public park to survive to modern times.
An 1838 Indiana newspaper describes how ten-pin bowling alleys were
constructed to evade a Baltimore
statute prohibiting nine-pin bowling.
A tongue-in-cheek illustration of a bowling alley, from the cover
Weekly magazine (U.S., 1860)
Newspaper articles and advertisements at least as early as 1820
refer to "ten pin alleys", usually in the context of a side
attraction to a main business or
as distinguished from dedicated "bowling alley"
establishments as presently understood.
On 1 January 1840, Knickerbocker Alleys
in New York City opened, becoming the first indoor bowling
In 1846, the oldest surviving bowling
lanes in the United
States were built as part of Roseland
Cottage, the summer estate of Henry Chandler Bowen (1831-1896) in
Connecticut. The lanes, now part of Historic New England’s
Roseland Cottage House Museum contain Gothic Revival architectural
elements in keeping with the style of the entire estate.
In 1848, the Revolutions
of 1848 resulted in accelerated German immigration to the U.S.,
reaching 5 million by 1900, bringing their love of beer and bowling
with them; by the late 19th century they made New York City a center
In 1848, the Scottish
Bowling Association for lawn bowling was founded in Scotland by
200 clubs; it was dissolved then refounded in 1892.
In 1864, Glasgow
cotton merchant William Wallace Mitchell (1803–84) published
Manual of Bowls Playing, which became a standard reference for
lawn bowling in Scotland.
In 1875, the National Bowling
Association (NBA) was founded by 27 local clubs in New York City to
standardize rules for ten-pin bowling, setting the ball size and the
distance between the foul line and the pins, but failing to agree on
other rules; it was superseded in 1895 by the American
On 9 September 1895, the modern standardized rules for ten-pin
bowling were established in New
York City by the new American Bowling Congress (ABC) (later the
United States Bowling Congress), who changed the scoring system from
a maximum 200 points for 20 balls to a maximum 300 points for 12
balls, and set the maximum ball weight at 16 lb (7.3 kg),
and pin distance at 12 in (30 cm). The first ABC champion
(1906-1921) was Jimmy Smith (1885-1948).
In 1927 Mrs. Floretta "Doty" McCutcheon (1888-1967)
defeated Smith in an exhibition match, founding a school that taught
500,000 women how to bowl.
In 1993 women were allowed to join the ABC. In 2005 the ABC merged
with the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC) et al. to
become the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).
An early bowling tournament (1905; American Bowling Congress;
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.)
The ABC initially used bowling balls made of Lignum
vitae hardwood from the Caribbean,
which were eventually supplanted by the Ebonite
rubber bowling ball in 1905 and the Brunswick
Mineralite rubber ball
Industries, founded in 1960, was the first manufacturer to
successfully use polyester resin ("plastic") in bowling
In 1980, urethane-shell bowling balls were introduced by Ebonite.
target bowls evolved separately in each of the other countries that
adopted the predominantly British game. In 1905, the International
Bowling Board was formed;
its constitution adopted the laws of the Scottish Bowling
Association, with variations allowed at the individual country
In 1908, the now-oldest surviving bowling
alley for the tenpin sport was opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in
the basement of the Holler
House tavern, containing the oldest sanctioned
lanes in the United States.
In 1909, the first ten-pin bowling alley in Europe was installed in Sweden, but the game failed to catch on in the rest of Europe until after World War II. Meanwhile, ten-pin bowling caught on in Great Britain after hundreds of bowling lanes were installed on U.S. military bases during World War II.
In 1913, the monthly Bowlers Journal was founded in Chicago, Illinois, continuing to publish to the present day.
In late 1916, the Women’s
International Bowling Congress (originally the Woman’s National
Bowling Association) was founded in Saint
Louis, Missouri, merging with the United States Bowling Congress
bowling lanes. The duckpin ball has no finger holes, whereas the
ten-pin bowling balls of the day (photo circa 1919) had only a
single finger hole in addition to a thumb hole.
On 2 October, 1921, the annual Petersen
Open Bowling Tournament (a.k.a. The Pete) was first held in Chicago,
Illinois, becoming bowling’s richest tournament of the day. In 1998,
it was taken over by AMF.
In 1926, the
International Bowling Association (IBA) was formed by the United
States, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, and Finland, holding four world
championships by 1936.
On 21 March, 1934, the National Bowling
Writers Association was founded in Peoria,
Illinois, by four bowling journalists; it changed its name in
1953 to the Bowling Writers Association of America.
In August of 1939, the National
Negro Bowling Association was founded in Detroit,
dropping Negro from the title in 1944 and opening membership to all
races. It reached 30,000 members in 2007.
In 1942, the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA)
held its first BPAA All-Star tournament.
On 18 April, 1948, the Professional
Women Bowling Writers (PWBW) was founded in Dallas,
Texas, admitting men in 1975. On 1 January, 2007, it merged with
the Bowling Writers Association of America.
In 1950, following extensive lobbying by civil rights groups in the
wake of the 1947 integration of Major
League Baseball, the American Bowling Congress opened its
membership to African Americans and other minorities.
The WIBC followed suit the following year.
About 1950, the Golden Age of Ten-Pin Bowling began, in which
professional bowlers made salaries rivaling those of baseball,
football, and hockey players; this ended in the late 1970s.
In 1951, the first ABC
Masters tournament was held, becoming one of the four majors by
In 1952, the Fédération
Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) was founded in Hamburg,
Germany, to coordinate international amateur competition in
nine-pin and ten-pin bowling. In 1954, the first FIQ World Bowling
Championships were held in Helsinki,
Finland. In 1979, the International
Olympic Committee recognized it as the official world governing
body for bowling. It changed its name to World Bowling in 2014.
In 1952, American
Machine and Foundry (AMF) of Brooklyn,
N.Y., began marketing automatic Pinsetter
machines. This eliminated the need for pinboys and caused bowling to
rocket in popularity, making the 1950s the Decade of the Bowler.
Buzz Fazio (1965)
In 1958, the Professional
Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded in Akron,
Ohio by 33 prominent bowlers (including Don
Salvino and Glenn
Allison) after they listened to a presentation by sports agent
The PBA eventually reached about 4,300 members in 14 countries
worldwide. In 1975, Earl
Anthony became the first PBA member with $100,000 yearly
earnings, and the first to reach $1,000,000 total earnings in 1982.
In 2000, it was purchased by former executives of Microsoft,
who moved the PBA headquarters to Seattle,
In 1960, the Professional
Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) was founded as the first
professional women’s bowling association; it went defunct in 2003.
In 1960, the National
Bowling League (NBL) was founded to compete with the PBA. It
attracted name players such as Billy
Welu and Buzz
Fazio, but failed to sign top star Don
Carter. The league’s failure to get a TV contract caused it to
fold following its first championship in 1962.
On 27 January, 1962,
Television aired its first Saturday
afternoon broadcast of a PBA Tour event, the Empire State Open
held at Redwood Lanes in Albany,
beginning a partnership between ABC and the PBA that lasted through
1997. The Saturday afternoon bowling telecasts garnered very good
ratings through the early 1980s, until the cable television-fueled
explosion of sports viewing choices caused ratings to decline.
Between 3 and 10 November, 1963, the
Fifth FIQ World Bowling Championships in Mexico
City, Mexico, were attended by 132 men and 45 women (first time)
from 19 nations. It featured the debut of Team USA, which won seven
of the eight gold medals.
November, 1963, Sports
Illustrated published the article A Guy Named Smith Is
Striking It Rich, revealing that PBA stars made more money than
other professional sports stars, for "with more than $1 million
in prizes to shoot for, the nation’s top professional bowlers are
rolling in money."
This was short-lived, however, for although the number of bowling
alleys in the U.S. zoomed from 65,000 in 1957 to 160,000 in 1962, the
U.S. bowling industry boom hit a brick wall in 1963. This was
compensated, however, by a new boom in Europe and Japan, making
10-pin bowling an international sport.
In 1964, Marion
Ladewig, a 9-time winner of the Bowling Writers Association of
America’s Female Bowler of the Year Award, became the first Superior
Performance inductee into the WIBC Hall of Fame.
In 1965, the AMF
Bowling World Cup was established by the FIQ.
In 1971, the BPAA All-Star tournament was renamed the BPAA
U.S. Open, and officially became one of the PBA’s major
In 1978, National Negro Bowling
Association pioneer J. Elmer Reed (1903–83) became the first
African-American to be inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame.
On 16 December, 1979, Willie Willis won
the Brunswick National Resident Pro Tournament in Charlotte,
North Carolina, becoming the first African-American bowling
champion in the PBA in a non-touring event. In 1980, he became the
first African-American in the Firestone Tournament of Champions,
On 27 February, 1982, Earl
Anthony won the Toledo Trust PBA National Championship, becoming
the first bowler to reach $1 million in career earnings.
In 1982, the Young American Bowling
Alliance was formed from a merger of the American Junior Bowling
Congress, the Youth Bowling Association, and the collegiate divisions
of the ABC and WIBC.
On 1 July, 1982, former PBA pro Glenn
Allison rolled the first 900
series (three consecutive 300 games in a three-game set) to ever
be submitted to the ABC for award consideration. The ABC, however,
refused to certify the score, citing non-complying lane
On 22 November, 1986, George
Branham III (born 1962) became the first African-American to win
a PBA national touring event: the Brunswick Memorial World Open in
In 1995, the first Best
Bowler ESPY Award was presented.
On 2 February, 1997, Jeremy Sonnenfeld
(born 1975) bowled the first officially sanctioned 900 series of
three straight perfect 300 games at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln,
Nebraska, becoming known as "Mr. 900".
In 1998, the World
Tenpin Masters 10-pin bowling tournament was established.
Video: A man bowling in Japan
On 31 March
2004 Missy Bellinder (1981-) (later Parkin) became the first female
member of the PBA.
The PBA had opened up its membership to women following the 2003
demise of the PWBA. One year later, Liz
Johnson became the first woman to make the televised final round
of a PBA Tour event.
In 2004 the Brunswick Euro Challenge was
founded for amateur and pro 10-pin bowling players from Europe, Asia,
and the U.S.
On 24 January 2010 Kelly
Kulick (1977-) became the first woman to win the PBA Tournament
of Champions and the first woman to win a PBA national tour event.
In November 2012 after league bowling dropped from 80% to 20% of
their business, AMF
Bowling Centers of Richmond,
Virginia filed for Chapter
11 bankruptcy for the second time (first in 2001), merging in
2013 with upscale New York-based bowling center operator Bowlmor
(which didn’t support league bowling) in an attempt to turn league
bowling around, growing from 276 centers in 2013 to 315 in 2015.
In 2013 the PBA League was founded,
composed of eight permanent 5-person teams, with an annual draft.
In 2015, the Professional Women’s
Bowling Association (PWBA) was revived after a 12-year hiatus.
Bowling balls with cores exposed, as
displayed in the International
Main article: Bowling
Bowling balls vary, depending on the type of bowling game. Ten-pin
balls are large, up to 27 inches (69 cm) in circumference and
approximately 8.59 inches (21.8 cm) in diameter, and have as
many as twelve holes, typically three holes. The balls come in
various weights from 6 to 16 lb (2.7 to 7.3 kg), with the
size and spacing of the finger holes often smaller on lighter balls
to accommodate smaller hands. Different kinds of balls are available
for different styles of bowling. There are balls for hook shots and
balls for bowling straight. The bowling balls meant for hook shots
have different core shapes and different chemical covers. There are a
few types of chemical covers that allow a bowling ball to hook more.
One of these types of covers is a resin cover. This resin cover is
designed to move and absorb the oil on the lane to create a path for
the bowler where there is less oil, increasing the amount of hook of
the bowling ball. Balls for other games vary, e.g., candlepin balls
which fit in the palm of the hand need no holes. Unlike most sports,
the ball can be different weights based upon the player.
Ten-pin bowling pins shown at different
stages of manufacture.
Main article: Bowling
Bowling pins are the target of the bowling ball in pin
bowling variations. The size and shape of pins vary but are
generally cylindrical and widens where the ball strikes the pin.
Ten-pin bowling pins are the largest and heaviest, weighing 3 lb
6 oz (1.5 kg). Duckpins are shorter and squatter than
standard tenpins and candlepins are the tallest at 15 3⁄4 in
(40 cm), but only 2 15⁄16 in
(7.5 cm) wide and 2 lb 8 oz (1.1 kg) in weight.
Bowling pins are constructed by gluing blocks of rock maple
wood into the approximate shape, and then turning on a lathe.
After the lathe shapes the pin, it is coated with a plastic
material, painted, and covered with a glossy finish. Because of the
scarcity of suitable wood, bowling pins can be made from approved
synthetics. Currently there are synthetic pins sanctioned for play in
five-pin, duckpin, and candlepin. There is one synthetic ten pin
model approved by the USBC. When hit by the ball, synthetic pins
usually sound different from wooden pins.
A pair of rental bowling shoes.
Bowling shoes are designed to mimic any
style of flat shoe from regular dress shoes to athletic shoes. The
sole of the non sliding foot is generally made of rubber to provide
traction, while the sliding foot’s sole is made of a smooth and flat
material that allows a bowler to slide into the release with a rubber
heel to allow for braking. Rental shoes are typically leather and
rubber on both feet for durability. These shoes can be bought, but
most casual players rent the shoes each visit to a facility. Players
must be very careful while wearing them that the soft material does
not get wet or excessively dirty; if it does get wet or dirty, it
will not slide properly, and could damage the approach surface.
Depending on the bowling center, shoe
rental may be included in the cost of bowling or be added as a
separate fee. To discourage theft, bowling shoes are often painted in
highly distinctive patterns so that anyone who does steal them will
not be able to wear the shoes in public without making the theft
Technological innovation has made bowling accessible to members of
the disabled community.
Bowler, a device designed by a quadriplegic
engineer named Bill Miller, attaches to a wheelchair and allows the
user to control the speed, direction, and timing of the ten-pin
bowling ball’s release. The name comes from the Greek work "ikano",
which means "enable".
the sport has introduced a number of innovations to enable people
with a disability to participate at all levels of the sport, from
social through to Olympic Standards:
Wheelchair and green
manufacturers have produced modified wheel tyres and ramps to
enable wheelchair athletes to access bowls greens.
Modified conditions of play as outlined in Disability
classification in lawn bowls
Richard Nixon bowling on one of the two
lanes in what was then called the Old Executive Office Building
The single bowling alley under the north portico of the White
House, after extensive renovation in 2019
In 1948, two bowling lanes were installed in the ground floor of the
West Wing of
the U.S. Presidential residence, the White
House, as a birthday gift for then-President Harry
The lanes were moved to the Old Executive Office Building (now the
Executive Office Building) in 1955, for the benefit of White
its old location became a mimeograph
room, and, much later, the White
House Situation Room.
On 9 July 2014, the General
Services Administration published, then quickly withdrew, a
solicitation for bids to replace the Truman bowling lanes, which
were deemed "irreparable" for not having had "any
professional, industry standard maintenance, modifications, repairs
or attention" for fifteen years.
In 1969, friends of then-President Richard
M. Nixon, who was said to be an avid bowler, had a one-lane
alley built in an underground space below the building’s North
The one-lane bowling alley underwent major renovations in 1994, and
again in 2019.