If you’re having a lot of success with league bowling, it’s natural to think about bowling professionally. As we will explain below, this is not always the best idea, as professionals face much more difficult conditions than many people realize.But still, professional bowling is definitely an option if you have a lot of talent, as well as the determination and commitment to realize your dream. Find out how to become a pro bowler below.
Qualifications for Joining the PBA Tour and Bowling Professionally
The basic way to get started bowling professionally in the United States is to join the PBA Tour, the major bowling pro tour circuit administered by the Professional Bowlers Association. If you live in another country, then there will likely be another organization that sanctions professional tournaments. There is the European Bowling Tour of the European Tenpin Bowling Federation, for one. And the Asian Bowling Federation runs professional tournaments throughout Asia, to name another.
But regardless of the part of the world you call home, you’ll need to pass some very strict qualifications in order to start bowling professionally. I will outline the qualifications for joining the PBA tour below, and the requirements for qualification on other professional tours will likely be comparable.
In order to become a PBA member, you need to pass one of three qualifications. (There is also a fourth option for international members who already belong to the WTBA.)
The three options are as follows, taken from the official PBA website http://www.pba.com/Join/:
- A 200 average or better for the most recent league season with at least 36 games in that league.
- A 190 average or better in a sanctioned USBC Sport Bowling League. This is a league certified by the USBC using the PBA patterns …
- Cashing in a PBA Regional tournament as a non-member.
As you can see, this is not an easy proposition by a long shot. I frequently hear from bowlers who watched a tournament on TV the previous week and think that since they got the same score in open bowling, they could be a professional. In reality, this is very far from the truth, as pro bowlers must be able to deal with a wide variety of very difficult oil patterns and lane conditions.
But you may look at option #3 as a little more doable. So what exactly does cashing in a PBA Regional tournament mean?
The regular PBA tour events are made up of the top pros from around the country, but there is a separate tournament circuit made up of PBA Regional events that are the same thing on a much more local level. You can join one of these local bowling tournaments by paying an entry fee, and if you finish near the top of the entrants, you qualify to join the PBA! Even if you don’t make the cut the first time, the tournament experience should be a very good one for your bowling development. For full information on this regional qualification, check out the PBA website at http://www.pba.com/Join/
If you do end up becoming a PBA member, however, it isn’t a guarantee you’ll live the good life touring and making good money bowling. It can be very difficult to qualify for events, and the expenses involved in participating can be prohibitive for many members. It is recommended that new PBA members have some financial backing, say from a family member or local business, when they are first getting started.
Do You Need to be a Pro to Make Money Bowling?
As we’ve hinted at in the previous section, you don’t necessarily need to be a PBA member (or a member of an international tournament circuit) in order to make money bowling. You can simply find and enter tournaments with good cash prizes, which are available all over (PBA Regionals, scratch tournaments, etc).
Whatever your bowling goals, best of luck!