Take a quick look at the field of players competing each week on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour, such as this week’s PWBA Lexington Open
, and you will see a list littered with players who were in college within the last five or so years.
While these competitors are trying to make their mark on the PWBA Tour, there is a smaller group who have nothing to prove, except maybe to themselves.
The PWBA Lexington Open takes place this week at Collins Bowling Center – Eastland in Lexington, Kentucky. There will be a practice session at 5 p.m. Thursday, with competition starting at 10:30 a.m. Friday with the first of two six-game qualifying blocks. Play continues Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with a cashers’ round and continues through match play and its unique group stepladder.
While most tour stops feature those still seeking a PWBA title, it also has veteran players such as Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Anne Marie Duggan (left) and Leanne Hulsenberg (right) – all who have skins on the wall but still love to compete.
All three won PWBA Player of the Year awards before the tour ceased operations in 2003 and each was eager to compete again. Hulsenberg owns 26 PWBA career titles to rank third on the all-time PWBA career titles list, while Dorin-Ballard has 20. Lisa Wagner leads the list with 32 titles with Aleta Sill second at 32.
Dorin-Ballard (above and left) started the season in Las Vegas by reaching the group stepladder and has cashed in six of the eight events this season. She has three top-11 finishes, five top-25 finishes but, of course, still wants more, though she will miss this week’s stop because of business commitments.
“I’ve been bowling OK; it’s definitely not good enough for me,” said Dorin-Ballard. “I’m bowling better than I did last year. I’ve made a few changes, like where my hand sits and how my body is positioned. It may not look different but the feel is different so I do struggle with it every now and then. I’m happy with the way I’m bowling, but not satisfied.”
While it might sound like she’s being overly critical of herself, Dorin-Ballard says that always has been one of her biggest assets.
“I think I was able to channel that and that was one asset that made me as competitive as I was on the PWBA Tour,” she said. “My philosophy was to always give myself a chance to win every week. And I did that. There are weeks now that I don’t feel like I do that, and that’s what bothers me the most.”
But things have changed since her last time on the PWBA Tour. More than a decade ago, she and her husband, former Professional Bowlers Association standout Del Ballard Jr., both were competing on their respective tours with Del later becoming a coach. The couple now has a 12-year-old daughter, which has made for changes.
“We (Del and her) only had to worry about ourselves, so now it’s quite different,” she said. “It’s harder to leave home and it bothers me to miss some things. But it’s really cool to be out here with some of my old friends.”
Besides old friends, she also has the opportunity to see the next generation of bowlers, plus the bowling styles and equipment that are quite different than what she watched on the previous PWBA Tour. And with so many of the players making their first trek on a professional tour, a few have reached out to learn from the veterans.
“Some of them ask some great questions and look for a little advice,” she said. “It’s been cool. There was nothing for so many years, so they didn’t really know who to turn to. Here, Leanne, Anne Marie and myself, we have a fountain of knowledge about everything – and we’re not just talking about how to throw a bowling ball.”
So while she continues to work to make a PWBA show on CBS Sports Network as competitor, instead of working on TV as a broadcaster, she’ll also continue to enjoy the opportunity to once again be on the PWBA Tour.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t having fun and still love it,” Dorin-Ballard said. “I do. I love it. I love throwing a ball as much now as I did then.”
All rounds of the PWBA Lexington Open will be broadcast on Xtra Frame, the exclusive online bowling channel for the Professional Bowlers Association. Click here to learn more about the PWBA Tour, including news, the season schedule, player biographies and more.
2016 PWBA Tour Schedule & Champions
2016 PWBA Lexington Open Schedule
Thursday, June 30, 2016
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Practice
7 p.m.: VIP event
Friday, July 1, 2016
8 a.m. – 9 a.m.: Practice
10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Six games of qualifying
5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.: Six games of qualifying
Saturday, July 2, 2016
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Cashers’ round – six games
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Round-robin match play – six games
5 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Group stepladder finals
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Pro-Am
Sunday, July 3, 2016
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Pro-Am