Oil machine arriving for Sun City West lanes

By Steve Stockmar
Independent Newsmedia

The new oiling machine is due to arrive at Johnson Lanes Nov. 16, and how it will — or won’t — affect bowling scores is anyone’s guess.

Bowlers have all sorts of theories on how oil conditions impact their game, and there are no shortage of thoughts when it comes to the 30-lane complex that serves the Recreation Centers of Sun City West at 19803 N. R.H. Johnson Blvd. The Sports Pavilion and Bowling Committee, comprised mostly of bowlers themselves, met Nov. 9 to discuss the new oiling machine’s arrival and the alley’s reputation among bowlers.

Mike Watt rolls a ball down the alley Nov. 9 at Johnson Lanes in Sun City West. He got a strike.

Committee member Annie Schock shared anecdotal stories about the lane conditions being the worst in the area. Some bowlers attribute the alley’s recent run of 300 games directly to the lane conditions, while others believe the bowlers themselves are the biggest factors for scores.

Johnson Lanes saw 28,300 games in 2016, along with more than 40 bowlers averaging better than 200.

“We’re seniors. If you ask somebody from the outside that comes in here, they can’t believe the high averages and the high scores that we get,” Sports Pavilion Manager Barry Hardesty said during the meeting.

Two 300 games were rolled in recent Thursday night league play, and the next morning Mr. Hardesty said he was approached about the perfect games being the result of the Bowling Committee adding more oil to the lanes.

“You think that aggravates me? Absolutely,” he explained. “It’s funny from the viewpoint (that) I haven’t touched the conditions in seven years, other than to test a couple patterns.”

Perspective seems to be everything, however. Committee member Al Bramucci believes there are more perfect games than there are 300-caliber bowlers.

“Every 300 we get devalues a 300,” he said, “And I don’t think that’s good for bowling.”

The Johnson facility oils its lanes twice per day, once in the morning and again at 4 p.m.

Mr. Hardesty shared a number of other factors that contribute to lane oil movement. He cited examples, such as the surface of each bowler’s bowling balls, each bowler’s ball speed and placement, and added that when it comes to outdoor and indoor temperatures, the alley uses a thicker viscosity of oil to account for Arizona’s dry conditions.

Of course, he added, the number of bowlers using lanes is a big factor as well.

“When you talk about lane conditions, understand what affects what happens on that lane,” Mr. Hardesty said. “Kegel [industry leader in bowling lane machines, conditioners, and cleaners along with pinsetter parts] did a survey that they monitored the effect of people bowling, and after three games, you can have a 35 percent depletion of oil. Six games, you have 50 percent; and after nine games, you can have as much as 60 percent of oil.”

It all goes back more to the bowlers themselves and less to the lane conditions, believes committee member Paul Horvick.

“Part of the problem with old people — and certainly it’s true for me — I live in the past. I used to be a good player, now I’m not, so it’s got to be the lane condition, it can’t be me,” he said sarcastically. “It can’t be that I’m getting old.”

When the new machine does arrive, Mr. Hardesty said they will examine new ways to oil the lanes.

“We’ll look at new patterns when we get the new machine,” he said.

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