Knowing the Field of Play: About Bowling Lanes
Bowling is a
popular sport that can attribute much of its popularity to the fact
that it is a game that people of all age groups and all conditions can
enjoy. While many people think about the bowling balls, the
alleys, and the pins, they forget about one very important aspect: the
bowling lanes. Bowling would certainly be impossible without
Bowling is helped by the fact that it is an indoor game and therefore
is not affected by outdoor weather. Most modern lanes are made of
synthetic materials that look and feel like the old hardwood lanes, a
switch that occurred relatively recently, mostly in the 1980s.
Before that a bowling lane would actually have been made out of the
wood that modern synthetic materials strive to copy.
The lay out to a full sized bowling lane (most bowling lanes will have
the same dimensions, though in some situations, like maybe a college
bowling alley, might have smaller lanes depending on space situation)
will be the same from one bowling alley to another. The distance
from the foul line to the front pin is exactly sixty feet long.
The distance from the foul line, where you release the ball, to the
first set of directional arrows is fifteen feet, one quarter of the
total distance. There are two sets of "approach lines." The
first is fifteen feet from the foul line, the second is a little closer
at a distance of twelve feet. The lane is also precisely 42
inches wide, with 39 boards. These precise measurements should be
true about wherever you go.
The lanes were not always this exact. The dots that you now see
on the bowling lanes to help guide aim were not even added until
1948. When many players' games improved vastly, the design was
adopted in general. Originally an earlier form of bowling called
nine pins was popular, but since it was a gambling game and often
outlawed from state to state, many people believe the tenth pin came
specifically to get around these laws. The need for a universal
bowling lane arouse to allow even handed competition, and bowling has
prospered because of it, boasting of several professional organizations
overseeing the game since as early as the early 1900s.
Bowling lanes do have to be maintained by the respective bowling
alleys, and maintenance includes the oiling of lines, as well as tests
to make sure the alleys themselves are not damaged or warped.
Problems have decreased with the newer synthetic materials as opposed
to wood, but even so, maintenance is an absolute necessity to keep a
good bowling alley operating the way it should.
It really is amazing how precisely a bowling lane is laid out. If
you have never stopped to take notice, pay attention next time to the
exact number of boards, the symmetry of guide arrows down the lane, the
precision that is necessary for every single lane to function as it
does. It's not just about bowling balls and pins, because you
need a good lane, too, and you'll notice the difference when you don't
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