[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two articles on the topic of USBC Open lane conditions and scoring levels. The second article will provide specifics regarding performances of bowlers from the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte County area in Florida.]
With the United States Bowling Congress utilizing even-more-challenging lane conditions than in recent years — thus placing additional emphasis on accuracy — the scoring levels at the 2015 USBC Open Tournament in El Paso. Texas, figured to be lower, and that was certainly the case.
When the tournament completed its 117-day run at the El Paso Convention Center on July 11, there was an obvious decrease in scoring as compared to recent USBC Opens. Tournament statistics reveal that the entire field averaged only 164.01 this year, whereas the overall average in Reno was 171.79 in 2014 and 168.3 in 2013.
In this year’s Regular Division — open to bowlers with entering averages of 180 or better — the composite average was 170.05 (compared to 178.38 in 2014), and in the Classified Division, for bowlers with averages of 179-under, the overall average was 142.18 (compared to 149.24 in 2014).
There was a significant drop in honor scores, as well, with only six perfect games rolled in 2015, as compared to 35 in 2014 and 33, 19 and 52 in the three tournaments prior to that. As for 800-plus series, none were shot in El Paso, whereas there were seven 800s in 2014 and a total of 20 between 2011 and 2013.
Such statistics clearly indicate that few participants — outside of the best players and shotmakers — scored at high levels. And obviously, only a small percentage of bowlers were able to match or approach the averages that they are accustomed to in their local leagues and tournaments.
The dearth of sub-par scoring performances — especially by those with 200-plus averages — imply that lane conditions are more of a factor than equipment in modern-day scoring levels. Regardless of all the high-powered equipment utilized in El Paso, few bowlers were able to approach back-home scores, but in the absence of THS (house shot) conditions, that isn’t surprising.
There were two oil patterns this year — one for team and another for doubles-singles — and both of them placed a premium on accuracy, in part, because of a reduction in downlane “hold” due to more oil volume and shorter range. The team pattern was 38 feet in length (as compared to 43 feet last year) with an application of 26.9 mils of conditioner per lane (as compared to 24 in 2014), and the doubles-singles pattern was 39 feet with 27.05 mils per lane.
To view a USBC video regarding all aspects of the 2015 Open lane-conditioning — including graphs, statistics on oil volume and distance, and comparison of the 2014 and 2015 patterns — click here.
Over the course of 318,617 tournament games, the overall strike percentage was 32.7, and the spare percentage was 39.55. There were 16,182 clean games and 124 clean series, and in addition to the six perfect games, there were six 299s, three 298s and 10 other 11-in-a-row performances.
For a complete recap of the 2015 tournament, in an article written by USBC Communications staffers Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith, click here. And for a link to complete tournament information, click here.
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