Thinking about returning to bowling...

Posted by: JimD

Thinking about returning to bowling... - 07/30/05 01:03 PM

Hi, this is my first post here. Please excuse the ramblings, there is a question at the end!

I used to bowl in a league when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but drifted away what with wife, family etc.

Now at the tender age of 50, I'm thinking about starting up again, in 'fun' league (this time teaming up with my wife, who is a promising beginner).

Everything looked fine till I discovered how much it costs to play these days! Our local centres charge over 4 per game (the 3rd game is bit cheaper) at peak time, which is now all weekend and weekdays after 6pm. So that means 3 games each comes to over 25! Alot to fork out every week.

I just wondered what other people are paying, and also, do you still get discount rates when you bowl in a league (I seem to remember that we used to, but it was a long time ago laugh )
Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 07/31/05 12:19 PM

Well, to answer my own question; I had a word with one of the guys that runs the Sunday morning league. 10 per week including league fee.

So 20 pw for the two of us, or over 1000 a year: out of the question for us (and we're not poor). :rolleyes:

The guy told us 4 pairs dropped out last season; I'm not surprised.

This game is now more expensive to play than golf! For less money you could join a good golf club and play all day every day if you wanted!
Posted by: ExBronxiteBowler

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 07/31/05 01:25 PM

Hmm, I don't know what it is in English currency, but here in staten island, league dues are getting out of hand. Go accross one of the bridges to NJ, and they are more reasonable, not to mentiom that if you carpool with 2 other teammates, it will cost one dollar for the toll instead of 6. Moreover, gas prices are also lower in NJ, at least 30 cents a gallon lower.
Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 07/31/05 02:41 PM

Hi ExBB. 10 is around $17.58 (that's per week) which means about $915 a year each.

We have a slightly cheaper centre 10 miles away, but the difference is about what it costs for petrol to get there & back. The local centre is right on our doorstep.

It seems as though the bowling centres here are trying to drive the customers away!
Posted by: ExBronxiteBowler

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 07/31/05 03:40 PM

IS that all? Geez, on Staten Island most leagues are 30 bucks a week and we bowl a 36 week season and some leagues are 35 a week. I go to New Jersey and the league fees are cheaper (fun leagues are around 17 bucks a week, money leagues are around 25 to 27 a week AND pay more at the end) Gas is cheaper, and the Toll is one dollar with EZPASS Carpool.
Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/01/05 02:13 AM

I don't see how most people can afford that, ExBB.

Maybe salaries are higher over there! I mean you have to pay for practive games as well if you want to be any good. Or perhaps bowling is a rich man's sport; I didn't think it was in the US, though.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/01/05 04:15 AM

We pay $14/week for a mixed handicap league. Some leagues, like high scratch leagues are more. Leagues in various areas, like cities vs rural developements. This is why the New Jearsey league is less then the Staten Island league for ExBB. I bet leagues are more in London then they are in other smaller towns. Most senior leagues are considerably less expensive.

Most houses give discounts for open play to their house league bowlers. In the summer, our house gives us three free games a day of practise. It cannot be carried over to the next day if you don't use it. In the fall, the league discount is 1/2 price. That's about $2/game. Its as good a deal as you're going to get around here. I too could not afford to practise without being in a league. I can't afford to practise in other houses I do not bowl league in.

Its not as expensive a sport as golf or many other "once a week" activities people may do. Its only $5 more then going to the movie theater.

Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/01/05 11:43 AM

Yes, Erin, I'm sure you're right about the price varying from city to city.

As regards free or cheap practice, that wasn't mentioned; I'll have to ask. But I've read on here that AMF (who own my local centre) aren't the most generous in that direction, so I don't know.

I suppose the reason I'm complaining is that I'm irritated thatI can't do what I set out to do, which was introduce my wife to league bowling.

She is now saying I should join a league myself, as paying for one is (just) affordable. I didn't really want to leave her out, though; I thought it was something we could enjoy together.

Incidentally, golf over here is cheaper than bowling. Annual membership of our local golf club (which is a high standard course) is less than 500. And for that you can play as many times as you want for no extra money.
Posted by: Atochabsh

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/01/05 02:33 PM


I notice that you calculated bowling for the entire year of 52 weeks. Here in the states, the bowling leagues are divided up into summer and winter. Our winter leagues are the busiest and last 32 to 36 weeks. The summer leauges are about 12 to 14 weeks. I'd say that the percentage of people that do NOT bowl summer but bowl winter is at least 50%, possibly up to 70%. We have a good group in our Fri. 9pm league and many bowl both winter and summer. However, we have 14 teams in summer and 22 teams in winter.

So at 32 weeks, that's $562.36 and you get some of that back as prize fund. You get even more back if you do well during the season.

So a few more things to ask at your bowling center is how long the league season is. And once you have a couple leagues in mind, ask for a previous league fees break down. That will show you how much goes into lineage to the alley, secretary fees and prize fund. The prize fund goes back to the bowlers at the end of the season depending on how well you do. But everyone gets back something. So if you make back a minimal of $100 (we usually get back about ($300 - 400 because we pick our teams wisely) that is now $462 each. IF the leagues there run like the leagues here. :-)

Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/01/05 03:02 PM

Thanks for that advice, Erin. I'll do that.
Posted by: Darrell

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/02/05 10:41 AM

Welcome to the Forum JimD. The league That I bowled in last fall was $16 US per week for 36 weeks. But one of the leagues that I intend to participate in this fall season is $25 US per week for 36 weeks.
So 10Lbs I believe is roughly $15 US! So it looks like you are sitting pretty, JimD.
Posted by: The GDF

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/03/05 03:31 PM

Hi Jim, welcome to the boards. Couple of things to note (this is all UK specific, the US is slightly different)

1) Fun leagues rarely pay out cash prizes. Most of them will give out trophies (usually including such things as Individual High Game, High Series, High Average as well as Team Game and Series, plus top 3 placings) - If you want to recoup some of your expenses, you'll have to find slightly more serious leagues where cash prizes are paid. Downside of course is if you pay out cash at the end of season, you attract the better bowlers.

2) Cost of a league is invariably around the 10 per person per week mark (at least) - I bowl a scratch league which is 11, which is low (a lot of them are more than that). The centre takes about 85% of that as lineage for the games, with the rest going as prize money (or trophy money), plus expenses to the secretary and treasurer (who get paid a nominal amount for collating the scores each week, often 10-20p per bowler per week).

AMF aren't the cheapest of places to bowl either (as you've noted) - It may be there is a cheaper centre nearby (can't remember if that's the case with Washington - go to BTBA centre search page to check)

3) Some centres offer cheap practise rates for league bowlers. It's worth asking if that's the case where you are. Most of them require presentation of a BTBA sanction card, so make sure the league you bowl in is sanctioned to get one (cost is 15 per year I think, payable in September)

4) The US league format is much different to the UK. They tend to bowl summer and winter seasons, whereas we bowl all year round (with splits for Xmas/New Year, and sometimes for August holiday). The US leagues also tend to "split" the league season into halves, with the winner of each half bowling for the championship. In the UK, league length is usually twice or 3 times the no of teams (for example 10 teams would be a 30 week season, 16 would be 32 weeks). There are exceptions, but that's a good rule of thumb, and it's like the football season, ie, winner of most games wins the league.

I may have missed some stuff, but that's an idea. It's not as expensive as you suggest, but you won't see much change from 350 a year I'd guess. You're right Golf can be cheaper (I play that too), but at least bowling can be played all year round, irrespective of the weather (ever had to abandon play due to lightening ? I know I have laugh )

For what it's worth last season, playing a scratch league, cost me 5 for a 48 week league due to the prize payouts. I know I couldn't have done that playing golf, as I'm only an 18 Handicapper, but the 215 average in bowling made it worthwhile thumbsup

Hope this helped.

Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/03/05 03:46 PM

Thanks, Robert, that was very helpful.

The nearest non-AMF centre to me is Sunderland (which was where I bowled in my first and only league). They are marginally cheaper than Washington, but not enough to make up for the extra petrol to get there and back (plus parking is a bit dodgy at Sunderland).

I'm not likely to win any prizes so I'm just looking for a fun league. The AMF website listed the Sunday morning league (the Early Birds) as a 'Beginners/Fun League', but when I went along to see them it didn't look like it! There was 200 + games all over the place, and my average was 154 in my best season!

I've got a few more evening leagues to look at, but I'm still not sure whether to go for it or not; I'll maybe have a few more practice games and see how I get on. Last Saturday I had a couple of games and got 124 and 179 confused so consistency seems lacking. Still, after only playing half a dozen times in 25 years it's not bad I suppose! :p
Posted by: The GDF

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/04/05 07:18 AM


Two more things

1) The beginners league will most definitely be handicap. In theory it's designed to assist the lower average bowlers to be able to compete against the higher average ones, but the systems vary immensely. There are two factors that determine how level the playing field is between the high and low average bowlers.

First is %. There will always be a Handicap based on the difference between a designated "scratch" score, and your average. The % used can make a marked difference. Using the examples below of a 120 average and a 180 average bowler, both of them bowling their averages, you can see what this is

% -- 120 - 180
66 -- 173 - 193
80 -- 184 - 196
100 - 200 - 200
110 - 208 - 202

As you can see, the % favours the higher average bowler up until you hit 100% handicap or above. The argument for this is that it's easier for a lower average bowler to have a game above their average than a higher one (which is true).

The BTBA favours 66%, I personally prefer 80%, and statistically over the season the lower the handicap % the more games the higher average bowlers will win.

The 2nd factor is the "scratch" marker. Again, most leagues set this at the next round decimal above the highest average (ie high average is 183, it will be set to 190 - High ave is 204, it will be set to 210) - The higher the marker is, the better it favours the lower average bowlers (doing the maths shows that you're getting more pins in favour of the low average bowlers if you increase the point at which it is set).

The only exception to this is if they set the marker at 200, and give the bowlers above that either no handicap or negative handicap. At that point, it penalises quite heavily the bowlers above the 200 point.

If you're worried about your average, and competing against the high average bowlers, simply check on the Handicapping system, and you'll be better equipped to decide if you feel you can compete against them. Also, check the previous seasons winners, and see if they were all high average bowlers. If they were, chances are the Handicapping system favours them, and I'd look elsewhere for a league to bowl in.

Good luck
Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/05/05 01:52 AM

Good tips, Robert. Thanks.
Posted by: FlimFlamboyant

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/05/05 12:43 PM

I think AMF must be bent on driving their franchises out of business. During "prime time" (after 6PM), games are $3.50 a piece at the local AMF lanes, while independant houses in the area charge $2.00 all day long while at the same time offering a far better facility.

At the moment, however, the AMF house is offering a rather shocking "all you can bowl" deal at $5 for TWO HOURS of bowling on Thursday afternoons. It's a bit of a desperation attempt to get back some of the business they have lost over the years. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. smile
Posted by: JimD

Re: Thinking about returning to bowling... - 08/05/05 01:06 PM

Open bowling at Washington (UK) AMF is off peak (before 6pm on a weekday) 3.25 ($5.77) and peak 4.35 ($7.72) a game!