Three women bowlers asked me in the past two weeks if I knew anything about the “Red,” “White,” and “Blue” (RWB) oil patterns. Apparently, the next tournament they are entering has announced they will be using one of the “new” patterns and they had never heard of them before. I first got wind of the RWB last year when it was announced that the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), in cooperation with the Bowling Proprietor’s Association of America (BPAA), would begin testing them.
For many months, there was really no detailed news of the patterns they were testing. Whatever articles that were being written about them were just speculation. I don’t think it was any super big secret; however, I believe that there was caution about releasing too much information too quickly, just in case they didn’t pan out and the tests failed. That this was a collaborative test had to have sparked a lot of interest within the bowling industry because of the past relationship between the USBC (previously, American Bowling Congress or ABC) and the BPAA.
The USBC needs to maintain standards and specifications while the BPAA wants to keep bowlers happy and coming back for more. The majority of bowlers can be kept happy because they are able to score high when they bowl; but, the “purists” among us have been lamenting about overly easy conditions for many years now. If bowling centers adhere to a tighter interpretation of USBC specs. , the bowler may have a more difficult scoring high consistently. The history of bowling is rife with examples of tactics taken to overcome the tough lane conditions needed for a bowling center to maintain and retain its “Sanctioned” status. (And by the way, the bowling ball manufacturers also play a role in trying to overcome adverse lane conditions.)
In any event, when I first read of the USBC and BPAA getting together to find a mutually agreed upon standard for dressing lanes, I thought to myself that they were finally working together to find a common ground for the bowling industry. That is, lane condition(s) that would keep all bowlers coming back for more, regardless of their level of skill and/or ability.
By working side-by-side, you would have to figure that something good would come out of this team work and from what I am reading, they may have just found it. It has been officially announced that the RWB patterns are being released nationwide for use. The only “wild card” is that the use of the standard is optional at this time. Perhaps over a period of time, the demand for them will “force” a bowling alley to adopt some use of them, particularly for tournaments. Only time will tell.
Let’s take a look then, at the three patterns:
1) Red – verisimilar to the current “typical” house shot; however, the oil is recommended to 40 feet rather than the current 38 ft. to 40 ft. The minimum units of oil is kept at 3. The center of the lane is still the oiliest part so except for the minor adjustment needed for length of oil, knowledgeable bowlers should be able to make the adjustments necessary.
2) White -this is a little tougher than the house shot. There is speculation that this condition will yield more consistently higher scores than the Red or Blue. The oil at the center part of the lane is “flattened” out so it has less of a peak than the Red. For example, in the USBC specifications, Red pattern is 68 units of oil while in the White it is 56 units around the middle portion of the lane.
3) Blue – this is the lowest scoring shot. It is a flatter pattern than the Red and White; but, it is based on the typical house shot, so it is still easier than the “Sport Shot” that many of have been hearing about. The reason is because the oil at the center of the lane is still peaked considerably more than the Sport Shot so it is still more forgiving. (A 16 to 1 oil ratio for the middle to outside as opposed to 2.5 – 3.5 to 1 for the Sport).
If the women’s tournament that my friends are going to is adopting the RWB pattern, I can expect that many bowling associations across the country may adopt them. I hope so. I like to try new things and am always looking for a challenge.