Weird but True: Bowling’s Fun Facts

Bowling has been around for ages and spans all continents in nations – but it takes many forms.  Here are a few fun facts you may have never heard before.

A sport as old as … the written word?

According to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, a British anthropologist discovered in the 1930s evidence of bowling items in an Egyptian grave. Evidence suggests that bowling dates back as far as 3200 BC – around the same time that some of the first forms of the written word were discovered on cuneiform tablets.  It’s that old!

Modern bowling is only a few thousand years younger: indoor bowling lanes made their debut in 1840 in New York City. The first televised games appeared in 1950.

First comes wood, then comes rubber.

During the early 1900s, bowling balls were actually made of wood and later, a heavy rubber. Around 1960, bowling ball manufacturers used polyester resin for the first time, enabling the production of plastic balls with bright, swirled colors.

No girls allowed.

The American Bowling Congress was a gentleman’s club (no ladies allowed!) and it wasn’t until 1917 that women got their own governing body, the Women’s National Bowling Association.

But the ladies have come a long way! Kelly Kulick was the first woman to win a title on the Professional Bowlers Association tour in 2010.  And recently, nine year old bowling prodigy Hannah Diem just became the youngest person in the United States to bowl a perfect game.

The PBA was founded in 1958 and today there are 13 countries with memberships: the US, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden and Venezuela. The headquarters is in Seattle, Washington.

They just keep getting bigger.

Japan is home to the largest bowling alley in the world: the Inazawa Grand Bowling Centre has 116 lanes!

Las Vegas is home to the second largest bowling alley – and right next to them in Reno lies an actual bowling stadium.

Nine pins? Not in these parts.

Nine-pin bowling is currently banned in every state except for Texas. Nine-pin and ten-pin bowling have been known to Texas since the 1830’s, where is was a lot more difficult to bowl a strike with a wooden ball.

It’s 48, not 300.

When you bowl an optimal strike, the ball itself only hits four pins. A right handed bowler’s ball actually connects with the 1, 3, 5, and 9 pins (sometimes the 8 pin) – and a left hander’s ball will contact the 1, 2, 5, and 8 (or 9) pin.

Theoretically, if you bowled a 300, you’d only hit 48 pins. Think about it.

Each pin is set 12 inches apart from each other. For an optimal strike to be thrown in the first place, you’d need to throw your ball to hit the pocket at six degrees.

The pins that are set in the pocket weigh roughly three and a half pounds – but as long as the pin tilts at least 9 degrees, you’re in great shape. All pins that tilt at least 9 degrees will fall.


Think you can hit 48 pins?

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