Goodbye Las Vegas and the USBC Open Championship

I spent three days in town to participate in the USBC Open Championship. Las Vegas hasn’t changed since my last visit this past January. It was the same in more ways than one.

January 2017, I came to Las Vegas to compete in the Military Championship bowling tournament. My teammates included friends from Maryland and others around the country. We are from diverse locations which add to the enjoyment of the competition. The actual competition is only part of the good times. Naturally, there is a bit of gambling on the slot machines, a variety of foods at the casino buffets, and entertainment if you want to partake. A nice place to visit. I have enjoyed every one.

March 2017, I came to Las Vegas to compete in the USBC Open Championship. This is the 71st Annual Tournament. The competition started on February 18th and runs until July 15th.  It is my eleventh Open tournament. Again, part of the enjoyment comes from seeing some of my friends again. It may have been only a couple months but getting together is always a good time. Naturally, the same Las Vegas hospitality is there. Gambling, food, and entertainment.

It would be remiss if I did not address the competitions. The difference between the Military and Open championships is primarily in the lane conditions. The lanes in both competitions would appear the same. They are the same length and width. The difference is the manner in which the lane conditioner, ‘oil’, is applied.

The military tournament uses a pattern which in we commonly call ‘house shot’. The condition is conducive to higher scores. The quantity and distribution enable bowlers of all skill levels to score well. The pattern allows for older bowlers and those less skilled to enjoy a good score. The Open uses an USBC ‘challenging’ pattern. The quantity and distribution are such that higher scores are more difficult. More on this next paragraph.

The difference was commented upon this year at the Open. My doubles partner is over 70 and I will be 70 this year. Some of the others on our lanes are at or passing 70. We are past our physical prime. We are unable to be as exact as we once were. Bowling with youngsters, to us anyway, who have the strength and stamina to meet the exacting conditions can be frustrating (for me for sure.)


All said, the Open has a certain celebrity status. But this status is being tested as more bowlers skip it. The number of unused lanes this year surprised me but maybe it shouldn’t. The cost is substantial when plane tickets, entry fees, hotel, meals, and incidentals are considered. It is not enough to say “I participated.’  I intend to bowl next Open which is in New York but it will most likely be my last.

Obligatory disclaimer: this is my read and in no way may reflect the opinions of my partner, friends or other Military and Open Championship participants. I would love to hear your opinion and why. Leave it with the comment form.



    • Dwane

      I agree that seeing friends is great and I did have a good time. The expense was noted to say it is not inconsequential. The three days cost me nearly 1200 dollars. This winter I plan to retire from working and spend my remaining years doing whatever my wife and I decide. A fixed income will make such jaunts weigh in against other entertainment and household costs. I and she understand that I will still compete in the Military Championship which is where I see most of my friends. The same friends came to the Open this year.

      You make good points and appreciate the perspective. Enjoy your day!

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