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Winning at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis has special appeal to PBA players


Every time Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis hosts a new Professional Bowlers Association tournament, it adds another chapter to its remarkable history as bowling’s most versatile host bowling center, and it isn’t just prize money and a title that attracts bowlers from around the world.

A lesser-known reality for Woodland Bowl’s PBA champions is that they earn a banner for permanent display in the center’s “Beer Thirty” lounge, an unusual “hall of fame” that commemorates an elite group of bowlers who have won titles in the only bowling center in the world that has hosted every different PBA major championship over the years, in addition to a number of other significant non-professional tournaments.

The picture above above shows the TV setup at Woodland Bowl for the 2013 Tournament of Champions.

There are currently 40 banners hanging in “Beer Thirty,” including 38 representing players who have won titles at Woodland, plus one for PBA legend and Indianapolis native Dick Weber, and another for PBA veteran Ryan Shafer, celebrating a 300 game he rolled at the center.

Beer Thirty got its name because it offers 30 different kinds of beer, according to General Manager Jim Doty, and “because it’s time for a beer at 5 o’clock somewhere…”

The newest banner winner could be the GoBowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic champion, if that player has not previously won at Woodland. The tournament will be part of a week celebrating PBA’s first 60 years, and it has attracted a world-class field.

Among the players already entered, in addition to international bowlers from 17 different countries, are three PBA Tour winners from Indiana who would very much like to add their own banners to the Beer Thirty lounge collection: 25-year-old nine-time PBA Tour winner EJ Tackett of Huntington who also is one of five bowlers who have both PBA Rookie of the Year (2013) and Player of the Year (2016) honors; 38-year-old four-time PBA titlist Ronnie Russell of Marion, and 2017 PBA Rookie of the Year Matt Sanders, an Evansville native now living in Indianapolis. Sanders won his first PBA Tour title during his rookie season.

The new PBA tournament, which is part of the Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule in 2018, is open to all PBA members. That will include players who have bowled in events hosted by Woodland Bowl ever since it opened, and others who have never set foot in the iconic center.

The 60th Anniversary Classic will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 13, and conclude on Sunday, Feb. 18, when ESPN will televise the stepladder finals live at 1 p.m. EDT.

Among the players already entered in the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic are PBA Hall of Famers Parker Bohn III, Norm Duke, 70-year-old Johnny Petraglia, 84-year-old Carmen Salvino and PBA’s all-time titles leader, Walter Ray Williams Jr., plus Chris Barnes and Ron Mohr who will join the Hall of Fame at week’s end.

As part of the festive week, the PBA’s 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner will include its 2018 PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Marriott North in Indianapolis.

The late Don Mitchell, the founder of the Royal Pin Leisure Centers chain that includes Woodland Bowl, will be inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame along with Barnes, an 18-time PBA Tour champion from Double Oak, Texas, and Mohr, a PBA50 Tour star from Las Vegas.

Earlier Saturday, the PBA will hold its 2018 PBA League Draft at Woodland Bowl where the eight team managers will select two players each to complete their rosters for the PBA League Elias Cup competition in Portland, Maine, in April.

“We’re honored to have Woodland Bowl chosen to host this very meaningful event,” said Jim Doty, Royal Pin Entertainment’s General Manager.

“Our long association with the Professional Bowlers Association has been a labor of love that brings back memories of past events that include many hall of fame members who have competed at Woodland Bowl.”

Admission tickets for the GoBowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic can be purchased in advance online or at the door. To purchase tickets for the PBA 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, click here.

Indianapolis area amateur bowlers who would like to bowl in the pro-am event on Saturday, Feb. 17, should call Woodland Bowl for details: 317-844-4099.

All qualifying and match play rounds of the PBA 60th Anniversary Classic, plus the entire PBA 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and hall of fame inductions, plus the PBA League Draft, will be live streamed by PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame.

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Herbert Bickel

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