Aside from Jeff Richgels I may have been the most vocal opponent of hiding the pattern. I've done my best to be a thorn in their side, annoying them at whatever chance I could get. Its a stupid rule, does nothing to benefit the tournament, and does in fact hurt the tournament. Its a losing decision.
But I'm still going and really looking forward to it. And there's already plans in place to make the cross country flight to Syracuse next year.
As for the other changes...
Nationals sorely needed a third division if it was going to keep enticing the largest percentage of league bowlers across the country (180-210.) Now those guys have a chance to compete against each other for a title and bracket winnings against their peers rather than have their heads beat in by blue chip teams.
But I also see that it really hurts the draw of the bowlers in that upper division who used to win a lot of bracket money but will now be in the bottom of the division, and who at the same time know they don't have a chance at winning an eagle. Why should they continue to come?
Most agree that its simply an awesome experience. The sheer number of competitors, the grandeur of the atmosphere, the history and prestige, not to mention taking a week off work to go bowling.
For most of us its a lot like buying a lottery ticket. We know we won't win, but that won't stop us from daydreaming. Maybe this is my year!
Nowadays, I open bowl practice and go to Nationals every year.
USBC Open personal bests: 226/602/1690
USBC Open career average: 174.66 (45 Games)
See you in Reno 2020!