Everyone is an Engineer at the US Open

Posted by Ronald Hickland on

This past week I had the opportunity to work at one of bowling’s most grueling events — The U.S. Open.  This event had competitors scared of the unknown oil pattern. Which proved to be very challenging and competitive. If you want help understanding a lane graph like this and how to play it, visit our website.  We offer a Lane Pattern Analysis Service.LanePatternSpecial procedures were done by Kegel and the USBC to ensure that the lanes were flat.  This made them fair for competition.TopographyI worked on behalf of the PBA with the Xtraframe team alongside Mike Jakubowski and Jef Goodger.  One of the things that amazed me with the setup of the event was all of the cords that had to be run and hidden all over the place to get cameras, power, lights, computers, and everything else to work properly.  This is a half a day process with everyone working as a team.  Even after everything is set up and tested,Ron, Mike, Jef there inevitably is something that will go wrong.  This means we have to troubleshoot and problem solve while we are live streaming.  We are making everything go as smoothly as possible even when there is chaos all around. That is engineering at its finest. I was in awe this week at the way Mike and Jef handle seemingly horrific problems with confidence and grace. They do such a great job, you never see the problems on TV.  It was a pleasure to work with them; they made it really easy on the “rookie” this week.Even though we had four 15 hour days, they made it fun and interesting and I learned a lot from them.  

This same trait could be found on the lanes this week as well.  I worked with Wes Malott and watched as he was struggling to find his rhythm during practice.  Yet when the lights came on for competition, he was repeating and executing just like when he won the U.S. Open in 2013.

Storm Lock

He shot a 300 game on a seemingly impossible 43 foot sport lane pattern. This pattern had other bowlers averaging in the 130’s.  I practiced with the bowlers.  As someone with 230+ league average, I would have been happy to average 190 on that condition. They were brutal and you needed a lot of surface on your ball to get it to hook.

I also had a chance to talk to Ryan Ciminelli who had an incredible week.  He had what I call the 3 keys to success in play this week.  

  1. He was repeating shots at a high level of 85-90%.
  2. He was in the right part of the lane. This gave him a slight room for error.  When he missed in, his ball would hold pocket — either striking high flush or leaving him something easy to make.
  3. He had the right ball motion.  The shape of his ball motion is called continuous. You can see an example of that shape here.  You can view the 4 types of ball motion on my YouTube Channel.

Lane Shine3 ballsHis ball rep Chuck Gardner had 2 balls drilled the same to prevent lane shine from changing his reaction as he crossed from pair to pair.  When one ball shined itself up, he just changed to the other ball and kept striking.  This was a big deal because you couldn’t change the surface of the ball during competition and there was so much oil on the lane, lane shine was going to happen. He also had a 3rd ball that allowed him to control the lanes when they broke down.  This ball had the same shape just less total motion.  The way things turned out the 3rd ball was in play for most of the block.  This is another example of Engineering, by being prepared for any situation, and that was pretty incredible to watch.

After more than 50 games of qualifying and match play Ryan was leading the event.  I talked to him after match play and congratulated him by saying, “One more game, sir.”  He looked confident and excited for Sunday and replied, “Yes, one more game.”  He did bowl one more game and won the event in dramatic fashion.  You see everyone is an Engineer at the US Open and Ryan along with the help of his team took a seemingly impossible situation and turned it into an opportunity for success.


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