Fred Matson, Author of Sort
& Sort of a Bowler

This is me at the 91st Petersen Classic Bowling Tournament at Hoffman Lanes, Hoffman Estates, west suburban Chicago, Illinois, April 30, 2001.  My 9th year, age 59.

My 15th Petersen Classic April 30, 2007
Tips or Such and How the Petersen Classic Tournament Works

Note: See here a real Petersen Classic Veteran, Joe "Corby" Crnobrna, of South St. Paul, Minnesota at the Classic) in 1947 and 1964. "Corby" bowled under old house conditions.

Let me explain a few things.  It isn't unusual for a bowler who averages 200 to average 160 for the eight games bowled on 16 lanes in this tournament.  In fact, it is fairly common.

Until 1993, this tournament was in a very old bowling alley near Midway Airport, right in the heart of the Chicago industrial area.  The bowling alley building was demolished as a fire hazard, they say. Bowlers around St. Paul tell me stories about the train trip to Chicago for this tournament. Some probably lost more money on the train playing cards than they did in the tournament. A handful of Mpls/St. Paul area bowlers have won 1st Prize over the 90 plus years. Many have more than paid for their trip. 

I had the opportunity to bowl once in the old second story hall.  It was literally as old as the hills.  The lanes, the benches and everything there, including the bar,  were probably there on day one of the establishment, somewhere around 1920 or earlier A. D.  Nostalgia for even non-bowlers.

Why might a bowler average 40 pins below his or her league average?  Because, for this tournament at the old house, all the rules of managing the bowling lanes were purposely broken.  Warped lanes, chipped, boards sticking up here and there enough to affect the roll of the ball, mixed weight pins and tons of lane oil. That old building was a great place to bowl. You could actually see your bowl go down and then up on one of the lanes.

These conditions are the great equalizer that allows common folk bowlers to compete with excellent and even professional bowlers.  The tournament is open to anyone. Even in the "new" house, some lanes are rigged to be so dry that they will drive your ball left or right out of control, and into the gutter, if not careful.  Other lanes are fixed with enough oil to meet your truck's needs, making it impossible to hook the ball. In this house, some bowlers watch with fright as their ball rolls out of control.  That is the challenge: How to score under horrible bowling conditions you never see in league play.  

In this newer Petersen Classic location, west of Chicago, much the same conditions are intended.  The scores are still low, and the lowest known score for a single game is believed to be less than 10, maybe 7.  I don't know of any prize for that.

Bowling is struggling but beginning to recover. Young or old, this is one tournament you should consider. $25,000 is a pretty good sum for 1st place and 2nd and 3rd place aren't too shabby either.....and then there are thirty or so $1000 prizes before still more prize money. Check
Petersen Classic Bowling Tournament.    

Updated 27 December 2005, 4, 6, 8 May 2007
Fred Matson
9 or 10 Years Old 
High School Graduation
A Few Years Later, February 7, 2003