Professional Bowlers Association

Last updated
Professional Bowlers Association
PurposeProfessional association for ten-pin bowling; governing body is USBC
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois [1]
Region served
3,000+ representing 30 countries [2]
PBA Commissioner
Tom Clark [3]
Parent organization
Bowlero Corporation [2]
19 [4]

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is the major sanctioning body for the sport of professional ten-pin bowling in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the PBA membership consists of over 3,000 members worldwide. [3] Members include "pro shop" owners and workers, teaching professionals and bowlers who compete in the various events put on by the Association.

Ten-pin bowling sport

Ten-pin bowling is a type of bowling in which a bowler rolls a bowling ball down a wood or synthetic lane toward ten pins positioned in a tetractys at the far end of the lane. The objective is to knock down all ten pins on the first roll of the ball, or failing that, on the second roll.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, it is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. With an estimated population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.


The PBA also oversees competition between professional bowlers via the following tours:

The PBA Tour is the major professional tour for ten-pin bowling, operated by the Professional Bowlers Association. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, over 3,000 members worldwide make up the PBA. While most of the PBA members are Regional professionals, a small percentage of the bowling membership competes at the national and international level, forming the PBA Tour.

The PBA Regional Tour is a series of "mini tours", run by the Professional Bowlers Association, spanning across seven regions within the United States. The Tour allows PBA members and qualifying non-member amateurs to compete in weekend events. The Tour consists of seven regions: Central, East, Midwest, Northwest, South, Southwest, and West.

The PBA Women's Series was a mini-tour for female professional bowlers. It was started in 2007 as a way to bring women's bowling back to television after the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) disbanded in 2003. Sponsored by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and its website, it ran concurrently with several stops on the Professional Bowlers Association's men's tour.

As of September 2019, the PBA is owned by Bowlero Corporation. [2]

Bowlero Corporation

Bowlero Corporation is the largest ten-pin bowling center operator in the world with over 300 centers, of which most are located in the United States. There are also eight Bowlero centers in Mexico, and three in Canada. The centers have an average of 40 lanes compared to the U.S. bowling center average of 21 lanes. As of September 2019, Bowlero Corporation is also the parent company of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA).

PBA history

20th century

Prior to the PBA's inception, bowling was broadcast on television sporadically beginning in the early 1950s. NBC began with an early 1950s special telecast entitled Championship Bowling. [7] Later regular weekly bowling shows, including Jackpot Bowling began airing nationally.

Jackpot Bowling was a professional bowling show on NBC from January 9, 1959, to March 13, 1961.

At the same time, there was a desire to start a professional bowling division in the United States; an effort led by Eddie Elias, a sports agent based in Akron, Ohio. During the 1958 ABC (American Bowling Congress) tournament in Syracuse, New York, sixty men, including Don Carter, Frank Esposito, Buzz Fazio, Matt Lebhar, Carmen Salvino, Billy Welu, Glenn Allison, Steve Nagy, Harry Smith, Ray Bluth, Dick Hoover, Bill Bunetta, Robert "Bobby" Bellew, and Junie McMahon, attended a presentation by Elias. After listening to his proposal, thirty-three of the men donated $50 each, totaling $1,650 to start the organization, which was incorporated in 1958, and headquartered in Akron. The investors then became charter members of the PBA, basically giving them lifetime membership. Bill Bunetta was slated to be the first commissioner of the PBA by Eddie Elias but Bill was still a very active bowler and turned down the position to continue his bowling and teaching career[ citation needed ].

Edward G. "Eddie" Elias was best known as the founder of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA).

Akron, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Akron is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Summit County. It is located on the western edge of the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Cleveland. As of the 2018 Census estimate, the city proper had a total population of 198,006, making it the 119th-largest city in the United States. The Greater Akron area, covering Summit and Portage counties, had an estimated population of 703,505.

Syracuse, New York City in Central New York

Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States. It is the fifth-most populous city in the state of New York following New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers.

Competition began in 1959 with three tournaments. Italian-born Lou Campi of Dumont, New Jersey won the first event (the Empire State Open), and Dick Weber won the other two (Paramus Eastern Open and the Dayton Open) [8]

Lou Campi (1905-1989) was a professional bowler. He was known as Wrong Foot Louie, a reference to the fact that, unusually for a right-handed bowler, he completed his delivery on his right foot. Campi was born in Verona, Italy.

Dumont, New Jersey Borough in New Jersey

Dumont is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 17,479, reflecting a decrease of 24 (-0.1%) from the 17,503 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 316 (+1.8%) from the 17,187 counted in the 1990 Census.

Dick Weber American bowling player

Richard Anthony Weber was a ten-pin bowling professional and a founding member of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA). Along with Don Carter, Weber is widely regarded as professional bowling's first superstar.

The PBA Tour slowly built an audience, expanding to seven tournaments in 1960, then 13 tournaments in 1961, before exploding with 30 tour stops in 1962. Weber would become the first "face" of the PBA in the early years, as he won 10 of the first 23 events held, including seven in 1961 alone.

While PBA bowlers regularly appeared on Jackpot Bowling, Elias led an effort to give the PBA a permanent home on television. It first did so with the interstitial Make That Spare on ABC Sports, which ran from 1960 to 1964, and then with full games on Professional Bowlers Tour beginning in 1965. Coupled with the continued support of its charter members, as well as sponsorships by the Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola (which sponsored 11 tournaments in 1963 alone), [9] True Value Hardware and Firestone Tire, the PBA experienced growth in its tournament schedules and prize funds. Annual incomes for professional bowlers became, at the time, very competitive with other professional sports. A Sports Illustrated article from 1963 noted that top bowler Harry Smith stood to make as much money in 1963 as Major League Baseball's NL MVP Sandy Koufax and NFL Football MVP Y. A. Tittle combined. [10]

Schedules reached a plateau of 35 tournaments per year in the 1980s. The 1965 Tournament of Champions was the first to offer $100,000 in prize money; the 1982 event featured a $200,000 purse, and the 1987 U.S. Open, sponsored by Seagram distillery, offered a $500,000 prize fund as well as the first $100,000 first-place prize in PBA history. [11]

By the 1980s, True Value pledged $100,000 to any roller of a perfect game on national television (increased to a $200,000 sum during its own True Value Open). Prior to this, the PBA would award a televised 300 game with $10,000 and a new Ford automobile. In addition, in the early 1990s the Miller Brewing Company offered $1 million to any bowler who could win all three of its sponsored tournaments in a given season.

As television exposure increased for the PBA, it spun off a Seniors Tour in 1981, with Bill Beach winning the first seniors' championship that year.

In 1986, a group of professional bowlers who were dissatisfied with PBA management formed the Touring Pro Bowlers (TPB) group. After meeting resistance, the TPB took on the PBA in an antitrust suit. Though settled out of court, the lawsuit did serious financial damage to the PBA. [12]

Elias continued to be involved in the PBA until his death in 1998.

21st century

The PBA was purchased in March 2000 by former Microsoft executives Chris Peters (chairman), Rob Glaser, and Mike Slade, and its corporate headquarters were moved to Seattle, Washington. Together with CEO Steve Miller, a former Nike executive, they are recognized for rescuing the PBA from the brink of extinction. In 2011, Geoff Reiss was appointed as the PBA's CEO and Tom Clark as PBA Commissioner. These two assumed the shared CEO/Commissioner post that was held by Fred Schreyer since he took over for Miller in 2005. [13]

The PBA was featured in the 2006 sports documentary, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen . The documentary, filmed during the 2002-2003 season, enjoyed a limited release in theaters before being released in a DVD format in March 2006. The PBA was also featured and acknowledged in 2007 film 7-10 Split.

In 2003, the PWBA (Professional Women's Bowling Association) folded, and the PBA began allowing female members in 2004. Missy Bellinder (Parkin) became the first female PBA member, while Liz Johnson became the first to cash in a PBA Tour event and later (2005) the first to make a PBA Tour telecast. In conjunction with the USBC, the PBA would later inaugurate the PBA Women's Series in 2007. Following ESPN telecasts of the U.S. Women's Open , it brought back semi-regular women's bowling telecasts for the first time since the demise of the PWBA. The top two seeds out of a field of sixteen faced each other in one match, aired prior to the men's championship match. The Women's Series expanded from four events in 2007 to eight events in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, before being cancelled.

A PBA "Xtra Frame" tournament broadcast setup 20160821-Xtra-Frame-Setup.jpg
A PBA "Xtra Frame" tournament broadcast setup

In 2009, financial difficulties and the general state of the U.S. economy caused the tour to reduce the number of tour stops and overall events, while also reducing the number of live TV finals broadcasts. The PBA combined its fall schedule of six standard PBA tournaments (plus qualifying for the PBA World Championship ) into a single World Series of Bowling event, held that year in Allen Park, Michigan near Detroit. All fall TV finals except the PBA World Championship were taped and aired at a later date on ESPN, while all but one of the winter tour events continued to hold live TV finals. In 2010, the World Series of Bowling was moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, and consisted of five tournaments with taped TV finals and qualifying for the PBA World Championship. The overall schedule that season was reduced to just 12 title events, with portions of three winter season events being taped and aired after the fact. Kelly Kulick won the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions , where she was the first-ever female competitor in the field. [14] This also made her the first woman to win any Professional Bowlers Association Tour event that was also open to men. [15]

For the 2011-12 season, a total of 14 TV broadcasts were taped at the 2011 World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas to be aired on later dates. For the first time, the TV finals for the PBA World Championship did not air live. In fact, ESPN only aired the finals of the PBA's three remaining major tournaments ( USBC Masters , U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions ) in a live 2012 broadcast. All other ESPN broadcasts for Winter 2012 were taped events from the World Series, while four additional non-major title tournaments were available live via the PBA's "Xtra Frame" webcast service. [16]

Along with reduced stops, prize funds for some standard tournaments were reduced, starting in 2010, with as little as $15,000 going to the winner. The 2011 Tournament of Champions, however, did offer a PBA-record $1 million prize fund and an unprecedented $250,000 top prize. [17]

In January 2013, the PBA League, consisting of eight teams of five professional bowlers each, held its first event. [18]

On the eve of the PBA Tour's 60th season (2018), the PBA provided some statistics on the history of the Tour and its bowlers:

On September 10, 2019, Bowlero Corporation, the world's largest operator of bowling centers, announced it had purchased the PBA. Bowlero's Chief Customer Officer, Colie Edison, was appointed CEO of the PBA. Bowlero announced that current PBA Commissioner Tom Clark will continue in that role. [2]

PBA League



By year

YearWinnerRunner Up
2013New York City WTT KingpinsMotown Muscle
2014Silver Lake Atom SplittersLos Angeles X
2015Silver Lake Atom SplittersLos Angeles X
2016Dallas StrikersNew York City WTT Kingpins
2017Dallas StrikersPortland Lumberjacks
2018Silver Lake Atom SplittersPhiladelphia Hitmen
2019Portland LumberjacksLos Angeles X

By team

TeamWinnerRunner Up
Silver Lake Atom Splitters30
Dallas Strikers20
New York City WTT Kingpins11
Portland Lumberjacks11
Los Angeles X03
Motown Muscle01
Philadelphia Hitmen01

Hall of Fame

The PBA Hall of Fame was founded in 1975 with eight initial inductees: six for Performance (Ray Bluth, Don Carter, Carmen Salvino, Harry Smith, Dick Weber and Billy Welu) and two for Meritorious Service (Frank Esposito and Chuck Pezzano). Since its inception, it was located at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri. It is now part of the new USBC headquarters in Arlington, Texas.

Through 2019, there are 111 PBA Hall of Fame Members in three categories: [19]

Membership in the Hall of Fame was originally determined by annual elections. From 2000-2008, those in the Performance category had to have ten PBA titles (or two major championships) on their resume, as well as be retired from the tour for five years.

Another revision took effect in 2008. Bowlers can now qualify for the Hall of Fame based on five PBA titles on their resume, as long as two of those titles were major championships. Other active bowlers can now qualify for the Hall as well if they have 20 years of membership and are elected. [20]

Late in 2008, The PBA announced the launch of a new PBA Seniors Hall of Fame. John Handegard, the all-time leader in PBA Senior titles (14) became the first inductee on January 24, 2009. [21]

In January 2016 Ryan Gasparovich was nominated for the PBA Hall of Fame. His notable act is scoring a perfect series (score of 900 over three games) twice in a year during Michigan's PBA Regional Tour Competition held at Skore Lanes in Taylor, Michigan.

References and footnotes

  1. "About the PBA - Corporate Overview". 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "BOWLERO CORP ANNOUNCES PURCHASE OF THE PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION". September 10, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  3. 1 2 Schneider, Jerry (2019-09-10). "Bowlero Corp Announces Purchase of the Professional Bowlers Association". Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  4. "About the PBA - PBA Staff". 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  5. Regional Tour information
  6. Schneider, Jerry. "PBA Senior Tour to Become 'PBA50 Tour' in 2013." Article at on August 13, 2012.
  7. Michael Reker (2006-11-06). "All about bowling". Archived from the original on 2006-04-15. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  8. "1959 season Schedule". Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  9. "1963 season Schedule". Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  10. SIvault article from November 25 1963 at, retrieved June 26, 2013.
  12. Bowlers Journal Timeline - 1986, retrieved from on September 17, 2013.
  13. Vint, Bill. "Fred Schreyer Retires as PBA CEO/Commissioner; Geoff Reiss is New CEO; Tom Clark Becomes Commissioner." Article at on October 27, 2011.
  14. "Kulick Wins PBA Women's World Championship, Sullins Takes Senior Title." Article at, October 25, 2009.
  15. "ESPN The Magazine - Rick Reilly: How about a little recognition for bowling champ Kelly Kulick?". 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2015-04-16.
  16. 2011-12 Schedule at
  17. Richgels, Jeff. "PBA releases format for 2011 Tournament of Champions." Article in The Capital Times on August 13, 2010.
  18. "The League". Professional Bowlers Association. January 2013. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013.
  19. "Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame - Honorees". Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  20. PBA Editor. "NEW RULES FOR HALL OF FAME | Professional Bowlers Association". Retrieved 2014-01-12.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  21. "PBA to induct Norm Duke, Del Ballard Jr. and John Handegard into Hall of Fame." Article at, November 26, 2008.

Related Research Articles

Norm Duke is an American professional bowler currently competing on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour and the PBA50 Tour. He has won 40 titles on the PBA Tour, including seven major championships, and another five titles on the PBA50 Tour. He is one of only three players in history to reach 40 career PBA Tour titles. Duke has bowled 73 perfect 300 games in PBA competition, including the 15th televised 300 game in PBA Tour history on January 5, 2003.

Earl Anthony American ten-pin bowler

Earl Roderick Anthony was a left-handed American professional bowler who amassed records of 43 titles and six Player of the Year awards on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. For over two decades, his career title count was listed as 41. The count was amended to 43 in 2008, when the PBA chose to retroactively award PBA titles for ABC Masters championships if won by a PBA member at the time. He is widely credited for having increased bowling's popularity in the United States. He was the first bowler to earn over $100,000 in a season (1975), and the first to reach $1,000,000 in lifetime PBA earnings (1982). His ten professional major titles—six PBA National Championships, two Firestone Tournament of Champions titles, and two ABC Masters titles—are the second most all time, tied with Pete Weber and one behind Jason Belmonte.

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) is a sports membership organization dedicated to ten-pin bowling in the United States. It was formed in 2005 by a merger of the American Bowling Congress — the original codifier of all tenpin bowling standards, rules and regulations from 1895 onwards; the Women's International Bowling Congress — founded in 1916, as the female bowlers' counterpart to the then all-male ABC; the Young American Bowling Alliance, and USA Bowling. The USBC's headquarters are located in Arlington, Texas, after having moved from the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale, Wisconsin in November 2008. The move enabled the USBC to combine its operations with the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA).

The PBA Tournament of Champions is one of the four major PBA bowling events. The inaugural event, held by the PBA in 1962, featured all 25 PBA Tour title-holders to date, and was won by PBA Hall of Famer Joe Joseph, who had qualified for the tournament only four events prior. In 1965, the tournament featured all champions since the 1962 event, before officially becoming an annual event in 1966. From 1965 to 1993, Firestone Tire sponsored the Tournament of Champions. From 1965 until 1994, the tournament was contested at Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio near the long-time Firestone World Headquarters in Akron, Ohio. In a notable opening match at the 1967 Tournament of Champions finals, Jack Biondolillo rolled the first-ever nationally televised 300 game. Oddly, Biondolillo would only tally a 188 score in his next match, before being eliminated in his third match with a 172 score. Biondolillo's feat was not matched until 2015, when Sean Rash rolled the TOC's second televised perfect game in the second match of the stepladder finals. The tournament has also seen a pair of televised 299 games, by Don Johnson (1970) and Mika Koivuniemi (2011). The 2011 event also featured the lowest-ever game bowled in a nationally televised PBA event as well as the largest pin differential in a PBA match, when Koivuniemi defeated Tom Daugherty in the semifinals, 299–100.

Chris Barnes (bowler) Ten-pin bowler

Chris Barnes is an American professional bowler currently on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. He attended Topeka High School, and then bowled collegiately at Wichita State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management. He was a member of Team USA for four years.

Lynda Barnes is one of the world's leading female ten-pin bowlers. She is a former member of the PWBA. In 1999, Lynda married Chris Barnes who is also a leading Ten-pin bowler on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) tour. The couple's twin sons, Troy and Ryan, were born in May 2002. Lynda is a current member of Team USA.

Wayne Webb is an American professional bowler from Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He was known for his success from the late 1970s to the end of the 1980s. Webb is one of only 15 players in history to win at least 20 PBA Tour titles, and is a member of both the PBA and USBC Halls of Fame.

Kelly Kulick is an American professional bowler and sportscaster. She has won ten professional women's bowling titles and one PBA Tour title. She is a 14-time member of Team USA. Kulick is currently a pro staff member for Storm Bowling, Vise grips and High 5 gear. She has won four medals at The World Games, including two golds.

Professional Womens Bowling Association

The Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) organizes and oversees a series of annual tournaments for the top competitive women ten-pin bowlers. The series is often referred to as the "women's tour" of bowling. The PWBA was formed in 1960 but ceased operations in 2003. The PWBA Tour was re-launched in 2015 by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America (BPAA) with a three-year funding commitment. In addition, through a new partnership with the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), the PBA began conducting PWBA Regional (women-only) events and PWBA members are now allowed to bowl all PBA events.

Parker Bohn III American ten-pin bowler

Parker Morse Bohn III is a left-handed American professional bowler. He has been a member of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) since 1984, and is a member of the PBA and USBC Halls of Fame. He currently ranks fifth all-time with 35 career PBA Tour titles, and has earned over $3.1 million in PBA events — only the fourth PBA player to top the $3 million mark. Bohn also won the $150,000 winner-take-all prize in the 2008 Motel 6 Roll to Riches event, but the earnings in this event did not count toward PBA career totals. Through the 2018 season, he has thrown 114 career perfect 300 games in PBA competition, including the 13th PBA nationally televised 300 game at the 1998 ABC Masters in Reno, Nevada.

Delmas Perry "Del" Ballard Jr. is a professional ten-pin bowler and member of the Professional Bowlers Association. He was a 2009 inductee into the PBA Hall of Fame, and a 2011 inductee into the USBC Hall of Fame. Ballard is the husband of top female bowler Carolyn Dorin-Ballard with whom he has one daughter. The Ballard family now resides in North Richland Hills, Texas. He is also the brother-in-law of another top female bowler, Cathy Dorin-Lizzi.

Tom Baker is a professional bowler on the PBA Tour and a member of the PBA Hall of Fame. He has won 10 titles on the regular PBA Tour, and 12 more on the PBA50 Tour. He currently resides in King, North Carolina.

Michael William Durbin is a former American professional bowler and member of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Hall of Fame.

John Petraglia Sr. is an American professional bowler. He is a member of the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), where he won 14 PBA Tour titles. He has also won eight PBA Senior Tour titles. He is a member of both the PBA and USBC Halls of Fame.

Elizabeth Ann Johnson is an American professional bowler. She first became known as an 11-time winner on the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour, which included the first of her six U.S. Women's Open titles in 1996, before that organization suspended operations in 2003.

This is a recap of the 2010–11 season for the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. It was the Tour's 52nd season and consisted of 12 title events.

The Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour returned from a 12-year hiatus in 2015, thanks to a three-year funding commitment from the USBC and BPAA. The 2015 tour had ten stops, running from May 13 to September 13. Major tour stops included the following:

The 2019 PBA Tour season, the 60th season of play for the U.S. Professional Bowlers Association's ten-pin bowling tour, began in January 2019 with the PBA Hall of Fame Classic in Arlington, Texas. The current season schedule has 28 singles title events, two doubles title events, and two non-title team events.

The 2020 PBA Tour season, the 61st season of play for the U.S. Professional Bowlers Association's ten-pin bowling tour, begins January 14, 2020 with the PBA Hall of Fame Classic in Arlington, Texas.