Bowling has been around for a long time and is popular around the globe.
But how much do we really know about this sport?
We compiled a list of some of the most fascinating bowling facts for you to share with your family or friends the next time you hit your local skittle alley.
Bowling Ball History Facts
1. The earliest bowling traces are from 3200 BC in ancient Egypt.
(Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, Pin Chasers)
Bowling, along with boxing, is one of the oldest sports known to man. According to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, a British anthropologist identified a collection of items in an Egyptian child’s grave in the 1930s. They appeared to be used for a primitive kind of bowling.
2. England is the home of the world’s oldest bowling green.
The Southampton Old Bowling Green is believed to be the world’s oldest bowling green. According to reports, the green has been in use since 1299.
Because of the history of a competition known as the Knighthood, the current club is thought to have been founded in the 17th century.
3. Girls were first allowed to play in 1917 in the US.
The American Bowling Congress was a club for men only until women founded their own governing body, the Women’s National Bowling Association.
4. Kelly Kulick was the first woman to win a professional tournament.
(Tampa Bay Times, Pin Chasers)
Kelly broke the ice when she won the Professional Bowlers Association tournament award in 2010.
Another outstanding female example was Hannah Diem, who was just 9 years old when she scored a perfect 300 in a youth and adult event in 2006.
Bowling Pins and Lane Facts
5. A bowling ball can have a maximum of 12 holes.
(Custom Bowling Balls Shop)
- 5 gripping holes
- 5 vent holes
- 1 balance hole
- 1 mill hole
6. Bowling balls can be made of three different materials.
(How Products Are Made)
Bowling balls can be manufactured from these three materials:
- Polyester is the cheapest, since it provides the least amount of hook on the back third of the lane, and it’s relatively unaffected by the changing levels of oil on the lane surface..
- Urethane balls are in the medium price range. They have more hooking action than polyester balls and are more durable.
- Resin is at the top of the price and quality range. Resin balls have the most hooking ability and give the most power to the pins when struck.
7. A bowling lane is 18.3m long and 1.1m wide.
(TLH Leisure Resort, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries)
The bowling lane length is measured from the foul line to the centre of the headpin.
The width is measured in boards, and there are 39 boards in total. Board 20 is the centreboard.
Wood, synthetics, and wood with overlays can be used for constructing a bowling lane.
8. 48 pins are needed for a perfect 300 score in Tenpin bowling.
Every bowler’s ambition is to hit the “perfect” 300. However, one of the more interesting facts is that this does not always imply that the player has knocked down 300 pins. In reality, the ball only has to hit four pins for the ideal strike. Therefore, to earn a perfect score, one needs to hit 48 pins in total.
9. Nine-pin bowling originates all the way back to 1810.
(Global Bowling Inc.)
The lane in this type of bowling is about 65 feet long. At the end of the lane, there are 9 pins placed in a diamond-shaped pattern. To score the most points (12), you must knock down all but the centre pin. If you knock down all of them, you earn a score of 9.
10. The highest achieved score in Candlepin bowling is 245.
(Global Bowling Inc.)
This bowling game is quite different in many aspects. Its pins aren’t in the usual shape and are aligned in two horizontal rows. The back row has seven pins, and the front one has three. The balls are the same size as the “Duckpin” balls.
You get three chances to bowl each frame, and the “perfect score” is 300 points.
11. Duckpin bowling pins are 4 inches shorter than regular ones.
(Global Bowling Inc.)
This game is played with pins that are not only shorter (9 inches), but thicker.
One might think that the game is simpler to play, but they really make a strike incredibly tough. Duckpin bowling balls are also significantly smaller than standard bowling balls (they resemble softballs in size).
12. Five-Pin bowling was created in 1909 in Canada.
(Global Bowling Inc.)
This type of bowling was created for people who want to just relax. The pins are 75% smaller than the usual ones, and there’s a rubber ring added to the widest part.
The highest score is 450, and if all the pins are knocked down on the first try, you’ll get 15 points.
Quick Facts About Bowling
13. The largest bowling alley in the world has 116 lanes!
(Guinness World Records)
According to Guinness World Records, the largest bowling alley currently is in Japan. The Inazawa Grand Bowl was opened in 1972. It is roughly 8,500 square metres in size, with 17,500 metres of floor space.
14. Jack Biondolillo performed the first TV recorded perfect 300.
Jack defeated Les Schissler (who had a score of 216) in the opening match of the 1967 PBA Tournament of Champions. This was apparently watched by 15 million viewers on ABC TV, which are quite impressive viewership numbers for that day and age.
15. Over 3,000 people worldwide are members of the PBA.
The Professional Bowlers Association has members from over 30 nations. Every year, these members play in a multi-level program that includes tournaments and events like Go Bowling PBA Tour, the PBA50 Tour (for contestants 50 and above), and the PBA Regional Tour.
Demographics of Bowlers
16. The most common bowler’s age is 40+ years old in the US.
Next, come people aged from 30 to 40 with 33%, and last, people in their twenties, with 27% of the population.
17. Women earn 84 cents for every $1 earned by men
Male players still tend to earn more than their female counterparts, although a shift is emerging in some sports. Males get $72,132, while women earn $60,676. Women account for 20% of bowling players, while males account for 74.3 per cent.
18. The United Kingdom had over 300 ten-pin bowling alleys by 2020.
The UK had 312 ten-pin bowling facilities with Hollywood Bowl Group. Owning and operating 61 of them, making it the clear market leader in terms of centres, lane counts, customer offering, and incomes.
19. Walter Ray Williams Jr. tops the “best bowlers” list.
(Stars & Strikes)
This is only a glimpse of some of the greatest bowlers in the sport’s history.
- Walter Ray Williams Jr. – Won 48 titles, 9 PBA50 titles, 8 championships.
- Pete Weber – Won 37 titles, 10 major championship wins, the first to win the Triple Crown twice.
- Earl Anthony – Won 42 titles, 10 major championship wins.
- Lisa Wagner – Won 32 professional titles, named BWAA Bowler of the Year four times.
- Norm Duke – Won 40 titles, 7 major championships.
Bowling Players & Industry Statistics
20. The UK ten-pin bowling market was worth over £300 million in 2018.
(Hollywood bowl group)
Ten-pin bowling has a long history of rapid growth. The expected market growth from 2018-2020 is 14%. For comparison, pickleball, one of the more recent sports to rise in popularity, is expected to grow by 9% by 2030.
21. Before the pandemic, income increased by 22% in 4 years.
Prior to the Covid-19, revenue went from £107 million to £130 million. The industry had 60 locations and a 22.3% operating profit in 2019, which is an upgrade from 54 centres and a 17.6% profit margin in 2016.
Ready to Strike Out?
Bowling might be as old as the first written word, but it still hasn’t gone out of date.
You can pick it up as a hobby or challenge yourself to become the best of the best.
Which bowling facts or stats caught your eye the most?
Let us know!
- Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame
- Custom Bowling Balls Shop
- Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
- Global Bowling Inc.
- Guinness World Records
- hollywood bowl group
- How Products Are Made
- Investors’ Chronicle
- Pin Chasers
- Pin Chasers
- Stars & Strikes
- Tamba Bay Times
- The Times
- TLH Leisure Resort