PBA Tour
PurposeA series of professional ten-pin bowling events. The governing bodies are the PBA and the USBC
  • United States and Japan
PBA members
PBA Commissioner
Tom Clark[1]
Parent organization
Bowlero Corporation[2]

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.[1] 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. (PBA.com lists 75 bowlers that have national touring pro status as of the start of the 2023 season.)[3] Founded in 1958, the PBA Tour has been in continuous operation since the inaugural 1959 season.

Each year, the PBA Tour puts on a series of events for PBA members. Most events are held across the United States, with the PBA co-sponsoring selected international events as part of the World Bowling Tour (WBT). In addition, the PBA Tour has co-hosted the Round1 Japan Cup along with the Japan Professional Bowling Association (JPBA). Also, select American members compete against their European counterparts in the Weber Cup.

Qualifying for the PBA Tour

From the PBA Tour's inception through the 2003–04 season, most national PBA Tour events were open to the entire PBA membership. The initial tournament squads typically included well over 100 bowlers, who would bowl a set number of qualifying games to determine the "cut line" for additional qualifying and/or match play (typically 64 bowlers).

The Exempt Tour (2004–05 through 2011–12)

Starting in October 2004, the PBA adopted an all-exempt national tour format. In this format, only 64 bowlers competed in most weekly events. Bowlers earned exemptions by winning a tournament during the previous season, winning one of the four major tournaments (thus gaining a multi-year exemption), placing among the top finishers in points, leading a region on the PBA Regional Tour (2005–2007), finishing in a high position at the PBA Tour Trials (2005–2008), or placing high enough at the PBA Regional Players Invitational Tournament (2008–2011).

Under this new format, bona fide status as a touring professional was not a guarantee; it had to be earned. The 2005 H&R Block Tournament of Champions was pivotal, as Randy Pedersen was facing the loss of his exempt status in the semi-final match against Norm Duke. On his final shot, Pedersen left a weak 7-pin and immediately singled out the sidelines, accusing a spectator of distracting him as he made his shot. From that point, Pedersen would have to bowl in the Tour Qualifying Round (TQR) in order to try making the initial field of 64.

Criticism of the format was brought forth by long-time PBA fans when popular 24-time winner Brian Voss lost his tour exemption following the 2006–07 season. 19-time titlist Amleto Monacelli also lost his exemption at the same time.

Depending on the season, a set number of bowlers (for example, 58 bowlers in the 2008–09 season) earned exemptions which automatically placed them in the starting field of 64 bowlers each week. The remaining spots needed to bring the field to 64 were awarded each week through the PBA Tour Qualifying Round (TQR), also called the "rabbit squad". PBA Commissioner Fred Schreyer would often award one spot in the field to a former touring pro under the Commissioner's Exemption, meaning even fewer spots were available via the TQR. For example, PBA Hall of Famer and Medford, Oregon resident Marshall Holman competed on a Commissioner's Exemption at the Bayer Earl Anthony Medford Classic held in that city in January 2009.[4]

During the TQR, amateur and non-exempt PBA bowlers bowled 7 games of qualifying. The top amateur bowler advanced (no matter where he or she finished), along with the top-scoring PBA members needed to round out the field. In the 2007–08 PBA season, rookie Rhino Page made a remarkable five TV finals appearances (winning one title) despite having to bowl in the TQR every week.

Qualifying via PBA Tour Trials and RPI

From 2005 to 2008, the PBA held the PBA Tour Trials in late May/early June to determine the bowlers who would will fill the remaining open spots on the following season's exempt player list. The number of exemptions awarded at the PBA Tour Trials varied—10 spots were available in 2006–07, but only seven spots at the start of the 2007–08 and 2008–09 campaigns. That number could increase or decrease due to injury deferments for currently exempt bowlers. At the Tour Trials, non-exempt PBA and international bowlers bowled nine games each day for five straight days on the five primary PBA oil patterns. (See "PBA Tour lane preparation" later in this article.)

At the 2006 Denny's PBA Tour Trials, Kelly Kulick made history by becoming the first woman to ever gain a PBA exemption (she was exempt for the 2006–07 season). (Before it dissolved, Kulick was the 2001 Rookie of the Year on the PWBA, won the 2003 U.S. Women's Open, and was a three-time member of Team USA.) Kulick later earned a two-year exemption to the main PBA Tour with her victory in the 2010 Tournament of Champions; she had earned her spot in that event by winning the PBA Women's World Championship, the tour's first major championship in its Women's Series.

From 2009 to 2011, the Tour Trials were replaced by the PBA Regional Players Invitational (RPI). For the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasons, the top eight finishers at the RPI were offered PBA Tour exemptions, though not all of them accepted. At the 2011 RPI, 58-year-old Kerry Painter finished eighth and made history by becoming the oldest player to ever earn a PBA Tour exemption.[5]

Exempt Tour discontinued (2012–13 and beyond)

In November 2011, the PBA announced that they would discontinue the exempt tour format for the 2012–13 PBA Tour season. Due to the changing climate of the Tour itself, the number of all-exempt events had been steadily declining in the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons, until there were only three exempt events for the 2011–12 season. This change meant that all but two events during the 2012–13 PBA national tour were open to all players.

The two notable exceptions to the open policy are the PBA Tournament of Champions (TOC) and the Round1 Japan Cup. The TOC accepts only the most recent 48 PBA Tour titlists (with a "Touring 1" or "Touring 2" status), plus past winners of the TOC itself. The Japan Cup invites the top sixteen PBA Tour bowlers (based on final points standing of the previous season), and four at-large PBA Tour players selected by the tournament committee.

While the "exempt player" designation was removed, the PBA announced that players would be able to earn "Touring 1" and "Touring 2" statuses, which will offer certain benefits and bonuses. "Touring 1" status is awarded to all bowlers who enter at least 80 percent of a season's tournaments, including the World Series of Bowling, at least two majors, and at least three PBA Xtra Frame events. "Touring 2" status is awarded for players entering at least 60 percent of a season's tournaments, including the World Series, at least one major, and at least one Xtra Frame event. To earn either status, players must also average 190 or higher in PBA Tour events.

While the PBA points list no longer affects exempt status, there are incentives for finishing high on the list — such as eligibility for certain tournaments like the PBA Players Championship (begun in 2011–12), PBA Tour Finals (begun in 2017) and PBA Playoffs (begun in 2019).[6]

Finals formats

Prior to the debut of the PBA on ABC television in 1962, most tournaments were organized where, once the cut was established after qualifying rounds, a set number of match-play games were bowled, and bonus pins were given to the winner of each match. The champion was then decided based on the final overall total pinfall.

From 1962 to 1965, ABC started televising the PBA Tour, starting with a limited number of tournaments on ABC's Wide World of Sports, and later having its own timeslot. Therefore, a round-robin tournament format was implemented to determine the champion. The televised finals would be cut to the top four bowlers after match-play, and then three round-robin matches between the fourth, third and second-seeded bowlers would determine the final two bowlers. If any bowler were to win both of his matches in the round-robin, he would go on to face the tournament leader. If the three bowlers each split their matches to go 1 and 1 in the round-robin, total pinfall would decide which man would advance to the final match to face the tournament leader. The winner of the final match would win the tournament.

From the late 1960s to 1997 (with the exception of one year), televised events were done in a "stepladder" format. Four matches would be held, with the #5 and #4 seeds from the qualifying rounds meeting first. The winner of the first match would bowl the #3 seed, and likewise up to the top spot.

ABC experimented in 1993 with a King Of The Hill format. Under this arrangement, only the top four seeds made it to the television finals, instead of five, with the traditional stepladder format. The #4 and #3 seeds met first, with the winner facing the #2 seed, and that winner then facing the #1 seed. The winner of the tournament faced the current "King" for an additional cash prize. The winner of the King of the Hill match would then bowl the winner of the following week's tournament. The "King" could defend his title even when not competing in the event hosting it. The tour resumed its normal "stepladder" format the following year.

The bowler who won himself the most notoriety for winning "King" matches was Ron Williams, who won only four tourneys in his career, yet held the "King" spot for five consecutive weeks that year.

Special formats were also used on occasion in conjunction with Old Spice deodorant, which sponsored a Winning Never Gets Old challenge annually in the mid-1990s. The winner of the championship would bowl a Seniors Tour bowler for the rights to an extra $10,000.

When the PBA Tour moved to CBS in 1998, a two-match format was adopted. Again going to four bowlers, the #2, #3, and #4 players bowled in one "shootout" match, with the winner facing the tournament's #1 qualifier for the championship. From 1998 to 2000, also, the PBA used gold-colored pins with black stripes or crowns (depending on if Brunswick or AMF was involved in the alley) for their televised finals. The pins returned to regular white in 2001.

When the PBA Tour introduced the World Series of Bowling during the 2009–10 season, the televised finals for all tournaments in the series used the four-man bracket format. It was changed to a five-man stepladder for the 2010-11 season. During the 2011 WSOB, an "eliminator" format was used. The top four qualifiers all bowled together, and the top three scorers would move on to the next match, with the lowest score finishing in fourth place. The next match would then take the two top scorers (low score finishing in third place), and these two bowlers competed head-to-head in the final match. For the 2012-13 "Super Season", the WSOB switched back to the four-man stepladder format, with the exception of the PBA World Championship which featured a five-man stepladder final. The format has changed multiple times since then.

The Road to the Finals

After the PBA's sale and move of broadcasts to ESPN, most tournaments used a "bracketed" format. Each bowler bowled nine qualifying games, with the top 64 by pinfall competing in best 4-of-7 head-to-head matches. The four remaining bowlers from match play competed in two semi-final matches (#4 seed vs. #1 seed, and #3 seed vs. #2 seed), followed by a final match of the semi-final winners. A few tournaments still used the stepladder format for the finals.

In January 2005, the PBA tournament format was modified because of the all exempt tour. Non-exempt bowlers bowled on the first day to determine the additional six (or more) bowlers who qualify for the tournament (on top of the exempt field). The second day consisted of 64 bowlers rolling 14 games (two 7-game blocks) to determine the 32 bowlers who made "match play" on the third day. Seeding of the top 32 was based on a rolling points list of the 20 previous events.

The third day featured 32 bowlers competing in potentially 21 matches in a single day. It started with the first round in the morning, followed by the second round ("Round of 16") after lunch. That night, the quarterfinal ("Round of 8") matches were conducted. All matches were a best 4-of-7 format. The four quarterfinal winners made the field for the televised finals. Depending on the finals format, a fifth bowler could be added based on highest pinfall among the quarterfinal non-winners.

The championship round remained single head-to-head matches for semifinals and finals on the final day. Beginning in the 2009–10 season, a majority of the finals had returned to the stepladder format.

2009–10 changes

For the first five exempt events of the 2009–10 season, the starting field consisted of 72 bowlers all rolling 14 games of qualifying in one day (two blocks of 7 games each) to determine the top 28. The top four bowlers by pinfall automatically earned a spot in the Round of 16 match play. The other 12 spots for the Round of 16 were determined in a separate match play round for the #5 through #28 seeds. The eight winners from the Round of 16 match play then bowled a final match play round to determine the four bowlers who advanced to the TV finals.

All match play rounds were on the second day of the tournament, and all were best 4-of-7 matches.

Most PBA titles

The following are the top 20 titles winners in PBA Tour history.[7] The table lists the name and the number of titles. Players who are:

All players listed are members of the PBA Hall of Fame, except Jason Belmonte and E. J. Tackett. Belmonte and Tackett are title-eligible, but have not yet met the years-on-tour requirement.

Rank Name Titles
1 Walter Ray Williams, Jr. 47
2 Earl Anthony 43
3 Norm Duke 40
4 Pete Weber 37
5 Parker Bohn III 35
6 Mark Roth 34
7 Jason Belmonte 31
8 Dick Weber 30
9 Mike Aulby 29
10 Don Johnson 26
11 Brian Voss 25
12 Marshall Holman 22
13 E. J. Tackett 21
14 Tommy Jones 20
Amleto Monacelli
Dick Ritger
Wayne Webb
18 Chris Barnes 19
19 Nelson Burton Jr. 18
Dave Davis
Billy Hardwick
Dave Soutar

In May 2008, the PBA announced that it was revising its all-time records to include USBC Masters and BPAA All-Star titles if they were bowled by a PBA member.[8] American Bowling Congress (the merger took place in 2005) Masters titles prior to 1998 and BPAA All-Star (U.S. Open prior to 1971) titles were previously not counted as PBA titles. The events bowled in the PBA era (since 1959) are now counted as both a PBA title and a major title. The most significant impact of this change is that Dick Weber moves from a 10th place tie on the all-time titles list to 8th place (30 titles) while picking up four more majors (all BPAA All-Star events). Also, Earl Anthony is credited with two more major titles, both being USBC Masters, giving him ten majors among his 43 total titles. Pete Weber tied Anthony with ten major titles after his win in the 2013 PBA Tournament of Champions. Both players were surpassed by Jason Belmonte, who won his record 11th major title in 2019 and now owns 15 majors.

Father and son titlists

Dick Weber and Pete Weber became the first father-and-son combination to both win titles on the national PBA Tour, after Pete won the Greater Hartford Open on April 17, 1982. They are also the only father-and-son duo to both be ranked in the top ten all-time for PBA Tour titles (Dick earned 30 titles-eighth place and Pete has 37 titles-fourth place). They have since been joined by four other father-son titlists:

Kevin McCune's victory at the 2023 PBA Players Championship made the McCune family the only one with three generations of PBA title holders.[9]

Player of the Year

The PBA Player of the Year began being officially recognized in 1963. It was awarded by The Sporting News from 1963–70, and by the PBA membership from 1971–2007. Some factors used in the voting process for a given season included major titles, total titles, Tour average ranking, points ranking, season earnings and TV finals appearances. In 1999, the award was officially renamed the Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year, in honor of the legendary broadcaster who covered bowling on national television for 35 years.

Billy Hardwick was the first bowler to be awarded an official PBA Player of the Year honor, and is also the youngest (22) to ever win the award. The mid-1970s to early-1980s were dominated by Earl Anthony and Mark Roth. The two won 10 of the 11 P.O.Y. awards between 1974 and 1984, and faced off in many memorable finals. Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Jason Belmonte have won the most P.O.Y. awards (7 each), one more than Anthony.[10] Williams is also the oldest bowler to be named Player of the Year, earning the 2009–10 award at age 50.

In the 2007–08 season, a new Player of the Year system was instituted, where a points system only determined the winner. Chris Barnes became the first Player of the Year winner under this new system in 2008, edging out Walter Ray Williams Jr. by two points. The points-only system lasted just three seasons, and by the 2010–11 season, a player vote was again part of the process.

Season Winner Season Winner Season Winner Season Winner
1963 Billy Hardwick 1982 Earl Anthony 2001–02 Parker Bohn III 2021 Kyle Troup
1964 Bob Strampe 1983 Earl Anthony 2002–03 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2022 Jason Belmonte
1965 Dick Weber 1984 Mark Roth 2003–04 Mika Koivuniemi
1966 Wayne Zahn 1985 Mike Aulby 2004–05 Patrick Allen
1967 Dave Davis 1986 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2005–06 Tommy Jones
1968 Jim Stefanich 1987 Marshall Holman 2006–07 Doug Kent
1969 Billy Hardwick 1988 Brian Voss 2007–08 Chris Barnes
1970 Nelson Burton, Jr. 1989 Amleto Monacelli 2008–09 Wes Malott
1971 Don Johnson 1990 Amleto Monacelli 2009–10 Walter Ray Williams, Jr.
1972 Don Johnson 1991 David Ozio 2010–11 Mika Koivuniemi
1973 Don McCune 1992 Dave Ferraro 2011–12 Sean Rash
1974 Earl Anthony 1993 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2012–13 Jason Belmonte
1975 Earl Anthony 1994 Norm Duke 2014 Jason Belmonte
1976 Earl Anthony 1995 Mike Aulby 2015 Jason Belmonte
1977 Mark Roth 1996 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2016 E. J. Tackett
1978 Mark Roth 1997 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2017 Jason Belmonte
1979 Mark Roth 1998 Walter Ray Williams Jr. 2018 Andrew Anderson
1980 Wayne Webb 1999 Parker Bohn III 2019 Jason Belmonte
1981 Earl Anthony 2000 Norm Duke 2020 Jason Belmonte

PBA Tour lane preparation

Unlike the typical "league condition" or "house shot", which facilitates a fairly consistent pattern and wider target area, the PBA rotates several challenging lane oil patterns throughout the season. The initial named patterns — known as Cheetah, Viper, Scorpion, Shark and Chameleon — feature varying oil volumes and lengths that require pros to adjust ball angle, rotation and speed accordingly. On some patterns, certain "strike lines" (areas of the lane) are unplayable, and spare shooting becomes much more important. This means a 220 average on the PBA Tour would easily translate to 20-30 pins higher on a typical league shot.

To put this theory to the test, the PBA held a special "Ultimate Scoring Championship" in the 2008–09 season, with pro bowlers competing on a typical league lane condition. The event took place November 9–11, 2008 in Taylor, Michigan, prior to the PBA Chameleon Championship that took place in the same bowling center. The lane conditions indeed proved easier for the professionals, as three of the four finalists averaged better than 250 during match play.[11]

Custom oil patterns are used for the four major tournaments. In addition, the PBA introduced the Dick Weber pattern for two 2008–09 tournaments (including the Denny's Dick Weber Open), plus a newly designed "Earl" pattern for the Earl Anthony Medford Classic. Beginning in the 2018 season, the PBA began incorporating several more "legends" oil patterns (e.g., Mark Roth 42, Carmen Salvino 44, etc.) in addition to the Weber, Anthony and "animal" oil patterns.

Though most PBA pros tend to bowl their best on one or two of the PBA oil patterns, two players, Mika Koivuniemi and Tommy Jones, have managed to win at least one title on all five of the standard "animal" patterns.

The USBC is also grasping the PBA lane conditions. Called the USBC PBA Experience,[12] amateurs are able to experience and test their bowling skills against PBA-like conditions, by participating in a USBC sanctioned league style called Sport Bowling.

For the 2013 World Series of Bowling and into the 2014 season, the PBA began using lane oil that is dyed blue for televised matches, thus helping viewers not only see the pattern layout but also see how the play area changes from game to game. Said ESPN Coordinating Producer Kathy Cook, "Until now, one of the most crucial and least understood aspects of the game was invisible."[13]

The shortest pattern used in the 2019 PBA Tour season was the 32-foot Wolf pattern, and the longest was the 48-foot Shark pattern.[14]

2009 and later PBA Tour season changes

2009–10 World Series of Bowling

Main article: PBA Bowling Tour: 2009–10 season

In a cost-cutting effort, the PBA split the 2009–10 season into two segments. The first, the 2009 World Series of Bowling, consisted of seven PBA Tour events—including one major tournament (PBA World Championship) – held in August and September 2009 in Allen Park, MI, near Detroit.[15] All of the events ran in a split format: the early rounds of each tournament were held on consecutive days in August and September, and ESPN television taped the final rounds for the tournaments on Labor Day weekend (September 5–7). These were aired on seven Sundays, October 25 through December 6, 2009.

The final rounds for the Women's and Senior PBA World Championship were taped September 5 and were broadcast on October 25. The final round for the "open" PBA World Championship was broadcast live on December 13.

The Motor City Open and PBA World Championship were open to the entire PBA membership. The fields for the five exempt events were increased from 64 to 72, with the additional spots going to TQR qualifiers and the new "Golden Parachute" entry reserved for a formerly-exempt player. Under the Golden Parachute rule, any formerly exempt PBA member who lost his/her exemption during past four years was able to apply for this new exempt position. (It was awarded to 24-time PBA titlist Brian Voss.) Following the 2009–10 season, the Golden Parachute exemption will come only from the previous year's crop of players who lose their exemption due to points.

The exempt PBA Women's Series fields were increased from 16 to 20. The Women's Series added qualifiers for the exempt events to fill two of the four additional spots.

The second half of the season, running January–April 2010, consisted of 11 traditional touring weekly tournaments, including the remaining three majors. Each event ended with the live ESPN television finals on Sundays. The second half also included three special (non-title) televised events: the Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational, the PBA Experience Showdown, and the PBA Women's Series Showdown.

2010–11 season

Main article: PBA Bowling Tour: 2010–11 season

The PBA announced in May, 2010 that it would again cover all of the Fall tournaments for the upcoming season at the World Series of Bowling. The second annual event was held October 24 through November 6, 2010 at South Point Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It consisted of five title events, qualifying for the PBA World Championship, and one non-title, made-for-TV event. Based on input from players, as well as corporate partner and ESPN television needs, there were some revisions to the series:[16]

The format for the second half of the 2010–11 season included the remaining three majors (USBC Masters, Tournament of Champions and U.S. Open), as well as the first-ever Dick Weber PBA Playoffs. The 2011 Tournament of Champions had the largest prize fund ($1 million U.S.) and largest first-place prize ($250,000 U.S.) in PBA history.[17]

2011–12 season

Main article: PBA Bowling Tour: 2011–12 season

The PBA announced in June 2011 that it would again cover all of the Fall tournaments for the upcoming season at the World Series of Bowling, and that the event would have a $1 million prize fund. The event was held November 4–20, 2011 and returned to the South Point Hotel, Casino and Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.[18] It included both the qualifying and final rounds of the PBA World Championship, the first major tournament of the season.

The second half of the PBA Tour season includes the three remaining majors (USBC Masters, Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions), plus four additional title events.[19]

2012–13 season

Main article: PBA Bowling Tour: 2012–13 season

The PBA announced in June, 2012 that the 2012–13 PBA season would include an unprecedented 40 title events. The season began in November, 2012 with the 2012 World Series of Bowling and concluded with a second World Series of Bowling starting in November, 2013. There were 15 international stops on the 2012–13 tour, which are now counted as PBA titles if won by a full-fledged PBA member. The 14-month season was done in preparation for a return to a calendar year national tour format in 2014. The PBA had not had a calendar year format since the 2000 season.[20] The PBA also abandoned its "exempt player" tour format prior to this season.[21]

2017–18: BPAA partnership

On June 22, 2017, the PBA announced a partnership with the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) and that organization's website GoBowling.com, noting that the PBA Tour from December 2017 through July 2018 will be renamed the Go Bowling! PBA Tour. There was an option for the partnership to be extended to additional Tour seasons.[22]

2019: Acquisition by Bowlero Corporation

In September 2019, the PBA and PBA Tour were purchased by Bowlero Corporation. Colie Edison, Bowlero's former Customer Service Officer, was named CEO of the PBA. Tom Clark was retained as PBA Commissioner.[23]

PBA Tour major championships

The PBA Tour has five events that have been considered major tournaments over the history of the organization:

USBC Masters

Main article: USBC Masters

Current defending champion: Anthony Simonsen

Note: In May 2008, the PBA announced that it was revising its all-time records to include ABC Masters wins in the PBA era prior to 1998 as PBA major titles, if the person who earned the title was a PBA member at the time.[8] One notable result of this change is that Earl Anthony's long-standing 41 career titles count was increased to 43, as he had won the 1977 and 1984 Masters events.

PBA World Championship

Main article: PBA World Championship

Current defending champion: E. J. Tackett

Tournament of Champions

Main article: PBA Tournament of Champions

Current defending champion: Jason Belmonte

United States Open

Main article: U.S. Open (bowling)

Current defending champion: E. J. Tackett

PBA Players Championship

Main article: PBA Players Championship

Current defending champion: Kevin McCune

PBA Triple Crown

The three "original" major championships (PBA World Championship, Tournament of Champions and U.S. Open) make up the PBA's "Triple Crown."

Only nine bowlers in the history of the PBA have won all three jewels of the Triple Crown in their careers:

Of the nine, Pete Weber is the only player to have won each Triple Crown event at least twice in his career (five U.S. Opens, two PBA World Championships, and two Tournament of Champions titles).[39] Despite 47 and 43 titles respectively, Walter Ray Williams and Earl Anthony are not Triple Crown winners. As mentioned, Anthony never won the U.S. Open, though he finished runner-up in the event three times. Williams has never won the Tournament of Champions, but he has a runner-up finish there.

PBA Grand Slam

Mike Aulby, Norm Duke, and Jason Belmonte are the three of the nine PBA "Triple Crown" winners who have also won the ABC/USBC Masters, thus giving them the unofficial "grand slam" of pro bowling.

Don Carter is also noted for having won all four possible "majors" during his career (PBA National Championship, BPAA All-Star, World Invitational and ABC Masters), however some of these were not PBA events.

PBA Super Slam

Mike Aulby and Jason Belmonte are the only bowlers to have won the PBA "super slam", which includes a win in all four "grand slam" events in addition to a PBA Players Championship title (known as the Touring Players Championship at the time of Aulby's win).

Most majors in PBA history

Rank Player Total Masters WC/NC* T of C US/AS** Players
1 Jason Belmonte 15 4 3 4 1 3
2 Earl Anthony 10 2 6 2 0 0
Pete Weber 0 2 2 5 1
4 Mike Aulby 8 3 2 1 1 1
Walter Ray Williams, Jr. 2 3 0 2 1
6 Norm Duke 7 1 3 1 2 0
7 Don Carter 6+ 1 1 0 4 0
8 Anthony Simonsen 5 3 0 0 1 1
9 Del Ballard, Jr. 4 1 0 1 2 0
Jason Couch 0 0 3 0 1
Dave Davis 0 2 2 0 0
Marshall Holman 0 0 2 2 0
Dave Husted 0 0 0 3 1
Doug Kent 2 2 0 0 0
Dick Weber 0 0 0 4 0
E. J. Tackett 0 2 1 1 0

*WC/NC = PBA World Championship (2002–present) / PBA National Championship (until 2001-02)

**US/AS = U.S. Open (1971–present) / BPAA All Star (1951–70)

+ = Includes four BPAA All-Star wins earned before the PBA era.

Bold = denotes leader in individual major

PBA Tour in the media

The PBA provided its first televised event in 1962, and became a Saturday afternoon staple on the ABC schedule from 1965.

Years Network Play-by-play Color commentary Notes
1962–1974 ABC Chris Schenkel Billy Welu Various announcers filled in whenever Schenkel was on assignment. Keith Jackson did play by play for the second televised 300 game in 1969, while Bud Palmer did the same for a 300 in 1974.
1974-75 ABC Chris Schenkel Dave Davis, Dick Weber Davis and Weber alternated on telecasts after Welu's death in 1974.
1975–1997 ABC Chris Schenkel Nelson Burton Jr. Burton Jr. was named Welu's permanent replacement in 1975. Dave Diles was Schenkel's fill-in while on assignment. Dick Weber filled in for Burton in the 1970s–1980s when Burton was competing. Johnny Petraglia then filled in from that time.
Late 1970s HBO Various Various Among the first sports broadcasts on HBO.
Late 1970s CBS Frank Glieber Dave Davis Part of the CBS Sports Spectacular summer series.
1981–1984 USA Network Al Trautwig Mike Durbin Spring and Summer tour events.
1984–1991 NBC Jay Randolph Earl Anthony Fall Tour Stops.
1985–1994 ESPN Denny Schreiner Mike Durbin ESPN's first venture into bowling. Marshall Holman filled in for Durbin on occasion. Durbin later moved into the play-by-play role with Holman becoming the new analyst.
1998–1999 CBS Gary Seidel Marshall Holman The "golden pin" era of the PBA. Chris Schenkel expressed interest in moving to CBS, but was passed over.
1999–2000 Fox Sports Net Ron Thulin Randy Pedersen
2002–2007, 2014 ESPN Dave Ryan Randy Pedersen Chris Barnes and Norm Duke would fill in as extra commentators during select telecasts. After a seven-year absence, Ryan returned to call some of the PBA telecasts in 2014, including all of the PBA Summer Swing events broadcast by CBS Sports Network. He is also the current TV announcer for the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) Tour on CBS Sports Network.
2007–2011 ESPN Rob Stone Randy Pedersen Stone replaced Ryan at the start of the 2007–08 PBA season. Laneside reporters Cathy Dorin-Lizzi or Carolyn Dorin-Ballard were sometimes added when a PBA Women's Series event was included in the telecast. Laneside reporter Kimberly Pressler joined the PBA Tour coverage in 2010, making her debut at the World Series of Bowling.
2012–2013 ESPN Lon McEachern Randy Pedersen Gary Thorne took over for Rob Stone at three live broadcasts in 2012 after Stone left for a new position at Fox Sports, but McEachern was named Stone's permanent replacement for the 2012–13 season.[41]
2013–2016 ESPN Mike Jakubowski Randy Pedersen Mike Jakubowski, Cross-Marketing and Multimedia Specialist for the PBA and Public Address Announcer at Marquette University, took over for McEachern starting with the 2013 World Series of Bowling in Las Vegas. Jakubowski had previously done some play-by-play during the 2010 PBA Summer Series at Six Flags Great Adventure Amusement Park in New Jersey, and also did play-by-play for the PBA's Xtra Frame webcast service.
2016–2018 ESPN, CBS Sports Dave LaMont, Dave Ryan Randy Pedersen Kimberly Pressler continued as laneside reporter with Dennis McKendree added as the MC for the PBA. Dave LaMont, who had previously covered some PBA and PWBA telecasts on CBS Sports Network, now did play-by-play for ESPN broadcasts, while Dave Ryan handled PBA Tour events for CBS Sports Network.
2019– Fox, CBS Sports Rob Stone, Dave Ryan Randy Pedersen Current Announcers. In March, 2018, the PBA announced a multi-year agreement with Fox Sports to cover the bulk of the PBA Tour broadcasts on FS1 starting in 2019 and running through at least 2022, with selected events to be broadcast on over-the-air Fox affiliates. Rob Stone, currently an employee of Fox Sports, returns as play-by-play announcer, rejoining Randy Pedersen with whom he partnered from 2007 to 2011 on ESPN. Dave Ryan and Dave LaMont have filled in on play-by-play for broadcasts where Stone is on other assignments for Fox. Kimberly Pressler continues in her role as laneside reporter.[42] CBS Sports Network carried only two 2019 events: The PBA Tour Finals in July and the U.S. Open in late October. Dave Ryan continues to handle play-by-play for CBS Sports, with Pedersen as the analyst. PBA Commissioner Tom Clark announced during the 2019 season that the U.S. Open will become part of the Fox winter schedule, beginning in 2020, while the PBA Tour Finals will remain on CBS Sports Network through at least 2022.[43]

In its heyday, ABC's Professional Bowlers Tour outranked all sporting events on Saturdays with the exception of some college football telecasts.[citation needed]

On March 21, 2018, the PBA announced that Fox Sports signed a multi-year agreement to acquire the television rights to its events beginning in 2019. Most events will be carried by the Fox Sports 1 cable network, but at least four events per season will air on the broadcast Fox network.[44]

Televised conversions of the "impossible splits"

Mark Roth, whose first career title was captured at the 1975 PBA King Louie Open in Overland Park, Kansas by rolling a televised 299 game against Steve Jones, gained immortality by becoming the first bowler to convert the almost-impossible 7–10 split (or "bedposts") on national television in the first match of the ARC Alameda Open on January 5, 1980. In 1991, both John Mazza and Jess Stayrook accomplished this feat on television. Nearly 30 years later, 18-year old rookie Anthony Neuer became the fourth PBA player to convert the 7–10 split on television, doing so in the semifinal match of the 2021 U.S. Open against Jakob Butturff.[45]

Even rarer than a 7–10 split conversion, the 4–6–7–10, or the "Big Four," though statistically easier than the 7–10, has only been made once in the Tour's television history, by Walter Ray Williams Jr. at the 2005 PBA Atlanta Classic against Ryan Shafer.

Perfect and near-perfect televised games

There have been 34 perfect games bowled in nationally televised title events on the PBA Tour. Seven have been rolled in major tournaments, including the first by Jack Biondolillo at the 1967 PBA Firestone Tournament of Champions against Les Schissler.[46] The most recent was accomplished by Jason Belmonte, who rolled the PBA Tour's 34th televised 300 game on June 5, 2022 against Dom Barrett at the 2022 PBA Tour Finals.[47] Four of the 34 perfect games (5th, 6th, 27th, and 34th) have been bowled in title matches; the first by Bob Benoit at the 1988 PBA Quaker State Open against Mark Roth, the second by Mike Aulby at the 1993 PBA Wichita Open against David Ozio, the third by Tommy Jones at the 2020 PBA Hall of Fame Classic against Darren Tang, and the fourth by Jason Belmonte at the 2022 PBA Tour Finals against Dom Barrett. Sean Rash was the first player to roll more than one 300 game in televised PBA Tour events, as he owns the 23rd and 25th perfect games overall; the first at the 2014 PBA Wolf Open against Chris Loschetter, and the second at the 2015 PBA Barbasol Tournament of Champions against Ryan Ciminelli.[48] François Lavoie (26th and 29th televised 300 games), Chris Via (30th and 32nd televised 300 games) and Jason Belmonte (21st and 34th televised 300 games) have since joined Rash in this exclusive club,[49] with Via being the only one of the four to roll both of his televised 300 games in the same season (2021).[50] The 2022 PBA Tour Finals saw the first ever occurrence of multiple televised 300 games being bowled on the same broadcast, with Kyle Troup and Jason Belmonte scoring the 33rd and 34th televised 300 games, respectfully. There have also been two perfect games on Senior PBA Tour telecasts, by Gene Stus in 1992 and Ron Winger in 1993.

Three other players have shot multiple televised 300 games in PBA events, but at least one of the perfect games was rolled in a non-title event broadcast. Ryan Shafer, who owns the 19th televised PBA Tour 300, shot a second 300 game in a singles match at the non-title 2011 GEICO PBA Team shootout. Chris Barnes, owner of the PBA Tour's 22nd televised 300 game, also scored 300 in the 2015 DHC PBA Japan Cup, but his feat was only broadcast on Japanese television. Barnes has also rolled a 300 game on European television, at the 2014 QubicaAMF World Cup. Wes Malott rolled two 300 games in the 2009 PBA King of Bowling series, a televised non-title event featuring PBA players.

Of several 299 games that were bowled on televised championships, the most memorable occurred on April 4, 1970, when Don Johnson defeated Dick Ritger to win the 1970 PBA Firestone Tournament of Champions at Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio. With 11 strikes already down, he threw his 12th ball, stepped back and dropped to the floor. The ball hit flush in the pocket, but the 10-pin remained standing. Johnson, still on the floor, briefly lowered his face into his hands, then stood up to a thunderous ovation. Johnson's wife Mary Anne was in tears of joy prior to the shot, and even more so after Johnson got up from the floor. Along with the champion's trophy and $25,000 check from Firestone, Johnson also received and got to keep the pin that stood in the 10 position and denied him both an extra $10,000 and a brand-new 1970 Mercury Cougar for a 300 game (In the post-match interview with the Johnsons, Mary Anne was holding the pin). The footage of this has been replayed many dozens of times in flashback segments on PBA telecasts. The online bowling channel FloBowling has named this the most memorable moment of the event's history.

Jason Sterner, out of Rochester, New York, also has a televised 299 game in a title match to his credit. This happened at the 2013 PBA Don Carter Classic, when Sterner defeated Wes Malott for the title, leaving a vicious ringing 10 pin on his final shot in the 10th.

The 2011 Tournament of Champions event saw both a 299 game and the highest ever gap between winner and loser (199 pins). Tom Daugherty bowled a score of 100, the lowest ever in a televised PBA match. Handling the situation wonderfully, he circled the front row of the audience and celebrated while receiving a standing ovation. Mika Koivuniemi, who had previously posted the PBA's 17th televised 300 at the 2003 PBA Cambridge Credit Classic against Jason Couch in the wildcard match, finished next and bowled 299, dropping to the floor and laying on his back after his 12th and final shot saw the head pin bounce from the left sideboard and roll over to the 10-pin (what is often dubbed a "messenger"), but the 10-pin did not fall. Koivuniemi also received a standing ovation, but unlike Don Johnson, who bowled his 299 in the championship match, Mika threw his 299 in the semifinal match.

The following is a list of all perfect 300 games in nationally televised PBA Tour title events (PBA Hall of Famers marked with an asterisk; major tournaments in bold text):

No. Player Event Air Date Location Opponent(s) Bonus (USD) Notes & Trivia
1 Jack Biondolillo Firestone Tournament of Champions April 1, 1967 Akron, Ohio Les Schissler $10,000 -First 300 game in a nationally televised bowling event
2 Johnny Guenther* San Jose Open February 1, 1969 San Jose, California Don Johnson* $10,000
3 Jim Stefanich* Midas Open January 5, 1974 Alameda, California Glenn Carlson $10,000
4 Pete McCordic Greater Los Angeles Open January 31, 1987 Torrance, California Wayne Webb* $10,000 -Ended the longest drought between televised PBA 300 games (13 years)
-First televised 300 to be called by Chris Schenkel. (He was on other ABC assignments for the first three.)
5 Bob Benoit Quaker State Open January 23, 1988 Grand Prairie, Texas Mark Roth* $100,000 -First televised 300 game shot in a title match;

-First $100,000 bonus for bowling a televised 300

6 Mike Aulby* Wichita Open July 1, 1993 Wichita, Kansas David Ozio* $110,000 -First televised 300 by a left-handed bowler;

-$10,000 from the PBA, $100,000 from Brunswick for using a Brunswick bowling ball to score 300

-Second televised 300 game shot in a title match; -Set record for combined score in a title match (579 total pins; Ozio shot 279)[51]

7 Johnny Petraglia* PBA National Championship March 5, 1994 Toledo, Ohio Walter Ray Williams, Jr.* $100,000 -Oldest player (47) to bowl 300 in a televised PBA Tour event
8 Butch Soper Hilton Hotels Classic July 12, 1994 Reno, Nevada Bob Benoit $10,000 -First PBA season with multiple televised 300 games;

-First time a 300 was bowled on TV to beat another player who had previously bowled a 300 on TV (Benoit, 1988)

9 C.K. Moore Columbia 300 Open February 2, 1996 Austin, Texas Parker Bohn III $25,000 -First bowler to roll a 300 game in his TV debut
10 Bob Learn Jr. Flagship Open April 6, 1996 Erie, Pennsylvania Johnny Petraglia $100,000 -Highest four-game pinfall in a PBA Tour telecast (300, 270, 280, 279 = 1,129 total);[51]

-Second time a 300 was bowled on TV to beat another player who had previously bowled a 300 on TV (Petraglia, 1994) (to date, both events are the only $100,000 bonus prizes); -Tied record for combined score in a televised match (579 total pins; Petraglia shot 279)[51]

11 Jason Queen ABC Masters May 3, 1997 Huntsville, Alabama Bobby Fleetwood None -Retroactively added after a PBA rule change counted ABC/USBC Masters wins prior to 1998 as PBA titles;

-No bonus was awarded for this perfect game (the sponsor, Contour Power Grips, would only provide a 300-game bonus if a bowler was wearing their company patch; Queen was not wearing said patch during his 300 game)[52]

12 Steve Hoskins* Ebonite Challenge 2 October 15, 1997 Rochester, New York Walter Ray Williams, Jr. $10,000 -Williams, Jr.: first bowler to lose to a 300 game on TV multiple times
13 Parker Bohn III* ABC Masters May 9, 1998 Reno, Nevada Chris Sand, Mike Mullin $10,000 -Bohn: first bowler to have previously lost to a 300 game on TV (1996 vs. C.K. Moore) who later accomplished the same feat for a win

-First televised 300 game bowled in a "shootout round"

14 Steve Jaros Chattanooga Open February 13, 1999 Chattanooga, Tennessee Ricky Ward $10,000 -At the time, Jaros had the odd distinction of rolling the lowest-ever score in a televised PBA Tour event (129 in 1992) while also rolling the highest possible televised game (300). The lowest televised score now belongs to Tom Daugherty (100 in 2011).
15 Mike Miller National Bowling Stadium Open June 20, 1999 Reno, Nevada Danny Weisman*, Tim Criss $10,000
16 Norm Duke* GEICO Earl Anthony Classic January 5, 2003 Tacoma, Washington Walter Ray Williams, Jr. $10,000
17 Mika Koivuniemi* PBA Cambridge Credit Classic December 7, 2003 Windsor Locks, Connecticut Jason Couch* $20,000 -First PBA televised 300 game by a player born outside of the United States
18 Tony Reyes Motor City Classic November 5, 2006 Taylor, Michigan Parker Bohn III $10,000 -Bohn: second bowler to lose to a 300 game on TV multiple times;

-Third time a 300 was bowled on TV to beat another player who had previously bowled a 300 on TV (Bohn, 1998)

19 Ryan Shafer Pepsi Championship March 18, 2007 Indianapolis, Indiana Jeff Carter $10,000 -Set a PBA TV record with 18 consecutive strikes in the same telecast.[53]
20 Rhino Page Dydo Japan Cup April 25, 2009 Tokyo, Japan Jeong Tae-Hwa $100,000 -First televised 300 game in a PBA event held outside of the United States
21 Jason Belmonte PBA World Championship January 15, 2012 Las Vegas, Nevada Mike Fagan, Brian Kretzer $10,000 -Tape-delayed broadcast (rolled November 18, 2011)
22 Chris Barnes* WSOB GEICO Shark Open March 4, 2012 Las Vegas, Nevada Sean Rash $10,000 -Tape-delayed broadcast (rolled November 19, 2011)
23 Sean Rash PBA Wolf Open June 3, 2014 Shawnee, Oklahoma Chris Loschetter $10,000 -Tape-delayed broadcast (rolled May 24, 2014);

-Rash: second bowler to have previously lost to a 300 game on TV (2012 vs. Chris Barnes) who later accomplished the same feat for a win

24 Ronnie Russell WSOB Chameleon Championship December 28, 2014 Las Vegas, Nevada Sean Rash, JR Raymond $10,000 -Tape-delayed broadcast (rolled November 2, 2014);

-Fourth time a 300 was bowled on TV to beat another player who had previously bowled a 300 on TV (Rash, 2014); -Rash: third bowler to lose to a 300 game on TV multiple times

25 Sean Rash Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions February 15, 2015 Indianapolis, Indiana Ryan Ciminelli $10,000 -First player with multiple televised PBA 300 games
26 François Lavoie U.S. Open November 9, 2016 Las Vegas, Nevada Shawn Maldonado $10,000 -First 300 game in the televised finals of the U.S. Open; still the only televised 300 in this event through 2023
27 Tommy Jones* PBA Hall of Fame Classic January 19, 2020 Arlington, Texas Darren Tang $10,000 -Third televised 300 game shot in a title match;

-First televised 300 on a mixed oil pattern (left and right lanes had different lengths and layouts of oil)

28 Jakob Butturff PBA Tour Finals July 18, 2020 Jupiter, Florida Norm Duke, Sean Rash, Anthony Simonsen $10,000 -First time a televised 300 game was bowled against two bowlers at the same time who had also bowled televised 300 games (Duke, 2003; Rash, 2014-15);

-Fifth time a 300 was bowled on TV to beat another player who had previously bowled a 300 on TV (Duke, 2003; Rash, 2014-15)

29 François Lavoie PBA Tour Playoffs October 11, 2020 Centreville, Virginia Sean Rash $10,000 -Second player with multiple televised PBA 300 games (the first was Rash);

-First PBA season with three televised 300 games; -Rash: involved in the most televised 300 games combined (6 total: 2 for, 4 against)

30 Chris Via PBA Players Championship February 7, 2021 Jupiter, Florida Tim Foy, Jr. $10,000
31 Sam Cooley PBA Tour Playoffs May 16, 2021 Milford, Connecticut Kyle Troup $10,000
32 Chris Via PBA Tour Finals June 27, 2021 Allen Park, Michigan EJ Tackett $10,000 -First player with multiple televised 300 games in the same season;

-Third player with multiple televised PBA 300 games

33 Kyle Troup PBA Tour Finals June 5, 2022 Arlington, Washington Kris Prather $10,000 -Second televised 300 on a mixed oil pattern (left and right lanes had different lengths and layouts of oil);

-Troup: third bowler to have previously lost to a 300 game on TV (2021 vs. Sam Cooley) who later accomplished the same feat for a win

34 Jason Belmonte PBA Tour Finals June 5, 2022 Arlington, Washington Dom Barrett $10,000 -First televised PBA event with multiple 300 games;

-Fourth player with multiple televised PBA 300 games;
-Fourth televised 300 game shot in a title match;
-Third televised 300 on a mixed oil pattern (left and right lanes had different lengths and layouts of oil);
-Longest gap between first and second televised 300 games (10 years)

35 Jason Belmonte PBA Tour Finals June 25, 2023 Arlington, Washington Kris Prather Not announced -First player with three televised PBA 300 games

-Fourth televised 300 on a mixed oil pattern [54]

See also

References and footnotes

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