Max Bowl is the site of the PBA Summer League where local bowlers challenge themselves under professional oil pattern conditions on the lanes.

Wednesday league challenges the competitive, casual

Halfway through their 12-week PBA Summer League season some of the most competitive bowlers in Baytown still plan on conquering the toughest lanes around.

Wednesday night is the one evening each week that Max Bowl plays host to the PBA Summer League which offers 20 teams – about 100 individuals – a weekly challenge on some of the more demanding surfaces around.

That’s because the PBA league mimics the actual professional tours with varied tougher oil patterns on bowling lanes presenting bowlers a chance to cut their teeth on some of the hardest bowling conditions.

The league bowlers recently took on the task of bowling on a Chameleon Lane oil pattern for the second straight week. The league rotates various oil patterns after two weeks.

The PBA League during the summer the top teams will win money and in the fall league  stakes usually can be higher after a nine-month season, The number of monetary winners depends on how many teams are entered and how long the league is played.

Having been at Max Bowl when it was first called Hurricane Lanes, Theda Reiser – who worked the grill as a girl – is a serious bowler and she finds plenty of challenges when the PBA League rolls around.

“This is my favorite league,” Reiser said. “I bowl a regular league during the week so I don’t mess up how I bowl regular house. When you bowl national, you bowl higher shots. If you want to bowl nationally, these are the shots you bowl on. 

“For me, my normal average is a 185, but here it is a 167. Last week I didn’t do too bad, but it’s definitely tougher.  Different oil patterns makes it break it in different spots.

Melanie Fuquay has bowled for about 40 years and all of them in Baytown. 

“I like it, this is the third or fourth year and some people take it serious while I do it for fun,” Fuquay said. “On a regular league night we might average 220 or 200 and then here it’s 180s or 160s. They need oil to stay on the lanes, but it is about figuring out where the oil is. 

“You need to figure out where to throw it and how fast.”

Chad Griffiths bowled his whole life, but had never been in a league until this one.

“We have some friends that bowl in it and they needed another team to bowl with then,” Griffiths said. “How I do depends on what night it is. It’s not so bad because I don’t know any different. It doesn’t bother me none. My average is normally 120, now I am doing terrible – I have an 80.

“But I don’t care.”

According to the Professional Bowling Association’s website, in the early days of bowling, oil conditioner was applied to the lane as a barrier to protect the surface from damage over years of use. As lacquer, polyurethane and synthetic surfaces became more popular; oil became part of the sport.

Similar to the concept in golf of reading a green to get a putt to get in the hole, reading an oil pattern is the same as trying to figure out where it essentially breaks so bowlers can best figure out how to knock down the most pins.

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