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Bowling as a Career: How to Become a Professional Bowler

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/:

  1. A 200 average or better for the most recent league season with at least 36 games in that league.
  2. A 190 average or better in a sanctioned USBC Sport Bowling League. This is a league certified by the USBC using the PBA patterns.
  3. 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!

And if you want to step up your game to the next level, it’s worth taking a look at the equipment used by the pros, which is in the majority of cases a reactive (reactive-resin) ball, which gives you the most hook potential and friction in heavier oil.

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30 Responses to Bowling as a Career: How to Become a Professional Bowler
  1. The International Art of Bowling
    July 5, 2014 | 11:03 pm

    Well, Many amateurs have bowled good games and thought, “I just bowled a better score than the pros did on TV this week—I should become a pro bowler.” Great tips!

    • Anthony Porciello
      December 1, 2014 | 3:28 pm

      My name is Anthony Porciello I’m 18 years old. I have a 205 average. I also have 22 300s but all in practice. I have bowled 10 700s. I also came in 5th place out of 24 in the Gulf Bowl in Foley, Alabama on the Mexico City Oil Pattern my highest game was a 243. I think I should be on the PBA tour.

      • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
        December 19, 2014 | 1:54 pm

        Anthony,
        That’s great! You have clearly had a lot of success and you are still quite young. Have you talked to pros at your local lanes about your aspirations? Best of luck making it as to the tour!

        • Anthony Porciello
          February 1, 2015 | 10:50 pm

          I have not talked to pros yet because their aren’t many where I live. But I want to go on tour very soon though.

          • Victor
            May 2, 2015 | 8:08 pm

            Where do you live…

        • Marlon hinton
          October 4, 2016 | 2:14 pm

          Wassup my name is Marlon Hinton I’m from Houma, Louisana I was 18 when I shot my first 300 it was six days before my grandma 1 anniversary of her passing away after I decide to move up with adult league where I shot two more 300s .Recently I just shot 290 and 770 And I’m holding on to a 231 average so I think I got what it takes

  2. Jeremy warner
    December 13, 2015 | 12:16 pm

    I live in unionville Tennessee age 23 have been bowling six years and hold an average of 200+ and its always been a dream of mine to bowl professionally.

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      January 20, 2016 | 5:52 pm

      Jeremy,
      That’s very impressive. Keep it up and I hope you achieve your dream!

  3. Phillip
    January 16, 2016 | 5:46 pm

    Does the PBA go to any of the junior gold tournaments or the championships I want to got pro I have a 180 avg on authentic lanes but on synthetic lanes I normally avg 200 in tournaments and I’ve been given the opritunity to bowl in the junior gold championship

    • Phillip
      January 16, 2016 | 5:48 pm

      Oh and I’ve only been bowling a little less than 3 years.

      • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
        January 20, 2016 | 5:57 pm

        That’s impressive, especially since you’ve only been at it for 3 years. Congrats on your invitation to the championship. I’m not quite sure that they go officially but you never know who will be there. I’d recommend talking to a local coach more familiar with the junior circuit to give you a more detailed answer.

  4. Derrick Koback
    January 17, 2016 | 12:16 pm

    I’m 21 years old and hold a 215 average been bowling all my life and have always wanted to go pro never had a chance to talk to anyone

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      January 20, 2016 | 5:59 pm

      That’s awesome to have that average at 21 y.o. Do you have a coach or a good local pro who you can talk to? Best of luck on your journey.

  5. Gil
    March 23, 2016 | 3:57 pm

    I averaged a 206 at the age of 16 after bowling my whole life. I havent bowled competitively in some years now & I’m 22. Would it be possible to turn pro after getting back on lanes full time competitively?

  6. Matt
    April 15, 2016 | 11:17 pm

    I’m 29yo been bowling seriously for 3months, haven’t bowled in any lesgues or tournaments, my average is 200+ in practice bowling and would love to join the pba

  7. Kaleb
    June 18, 2016 | 1:12 pm

    I am 14 years old and have a 191 average. I have been bowling about 7 months and would like to get legit about bowling pro. Do you have and advice or tips? Btw shoutout to Evan howell for getting me into bowling (he’s my friend going to 2016 junior gold)

  8. Curtis White
    July 19, 2016 | 3:28 pm

    I was trying to figure out if you could tell about how much it would cost to go to school for a pro bowler

  9. Robert Oyster
    July 23, 2016 | 1:59 pm

    I have bowled in league for thirty years and carried a 200 average or more for ten years.

  10. Curtis white
    August 11, 2016 | 7:21 pm

    My name is Curtis white been about 11 years I my average is 171 I will love to be on tour

  11. Timothy Mcginness
    August 15, 2016 | 2:15 am

    Found this useful i still got some work to do with my game but I figured after 10 years of league bowling in Florida to winning state championship it’s finally come clear I found my dream going pro in my grasp i suffered an injury in 2012 that almost took me out for good now today I’m back hitting 200 almost every game just got to get my average up some and work on a few things the info on this I found helpful I’m 23 years old started bowling at 3 years old bowled in 23 different tournaments in my life won 4 my long life of bowling my story I place on here is not to brag but to inspire you get knocked down get back up a dream never dies unless you give up on it nothing is easy to accomplish I have bowled with the best 2 times off tv at my home center I git beat badly but I’ll never forget the lessions they taught me only thing left I’m gonna say is fallow your dreams with all your heart and soul blood sweat tears don’t stop and one day you will reach your dream good luck all and God bless wish me luck

  12. marc
    September 7, 2016 | 10:56 pm

    my son just turned 10 and everyone raves about his bowling. his average is around 145. i am not even thinking about him being a pro bowler but more about high school and college. everything i read says bowling is more a female sport at the college and there are not many schools that have men’s bowling. i am looking for some insight as to how i should proceed with him going forward. he spends a lot of time in the local center and they want him to join travel leagues and things like that. i am wondering if it is the right thing to do to devote this amount of time if it will not serve him in the future. i would appreciate any advice.

  13. justin burentt
    October 29, 2016 | 3:43 pm

    I litterally havent bowl under a 700 in like 5 months I average a 235 and im only 21 not to mention I have bowl 300 countless times!

    • mark
      February 28, 2017 | 11:47 pm

      Good luck. It takes 40 To 50 games in a short time.

  14. Trevor Perov
    November 19, 2016 | 1:00 am

    I’m 17 years old and have been bowling for around 6 years now and recently have been averaging 185-195 very consistently for the past few months. At the last state tournament I attended I got my high game of 268. I’m a 2 handed bowler and it’s a dream of mine to become professional.

  15. James Shifflett
    December 4, 2016 | 11:16 am

    I am only 15 a sophomore in highschool and i am on the bowling team averaging in the 170s and ive recentley averaged 192 in 8 games in open play, I am getting better and my dream is to be a professional and i still have a couple year before i graduate to achieve some higher numbers to make it. I also have a question, Can you wait before you can bowl professionally so like if i join a junior league after i graduate and average 200+ throughout 36 games Would that work if i also do the other things. So i couldve just said if i want to bowl professionally do i have to do it right after a graduate

  16. Charleston
    December 12, 2016 | 8:51 pm

    I have been bowling 5 months with a regular bowling ball no matter where I go I advantage from 190 to 235 score per game out of 8 games I averaged at least 1400 through 1800 no special ball with pin action I’m gifted and talented no matter what lanes I bowl with a regular ball and you will sware it’s a custom made ball or I’m a pro when I play I get allot of views and people saying I should go pro I promise if I have a shot and going pro you have never witnessed a guy like me only been bowling 5 months I’m 27 and was on a 2 on 2 league I couldn’t finish because work got in the way but my handicap was 70-90 I know you would say I need more experience this is not a game for me this is a passion that I love and have nothing to loose and everything to gain and if I can get into a lane with a pro and or have someone I can showdow with for a month or two or maybe 32-36 games you will even witness more greatness like never before.

  17. WishIMay
    January 5, 2017 | 7:43 pm

    I have been bowling for 3 years I am 40 yrs old. I have been told I am the best 2 fingered bowler anyone has ever seen in my area I have won almost every award the USBC has to offer except my 300 ring and 800 series. My average was a 219 but had dropped to a 200 late in the league season. I wish I could go pro but I know it is not in the cards so I will just continue to bowl in my league.

  18. Dominick Musumeci
    April 14, 2017 | 11:44 pm

    Hi, I’m 21 and currently hold an average of 225. I played 5 or 6 years ago for 2 bowling league seasons. Every since then I’ve just been bowling for fun on and off. I just got back from a Iraq and Kuwait Tour and decided to try to get serious. How do I go about getting into the PBA?

  19. Brandon sikes
    May 2, 2017 | 5:46 pm

    I really been thinking about trying to go pro.Im 17 years old I have shot 2 300 games and a 815 in two weeks my first 300 was on 2/21/17 and my second 300 and first 800 was on 2/28/17.I have bowled on the variation of the U.S open this year and the highway to hell last year. My avg is 206 but my question is what can I do to make my dream come true and trying to be one of the best if I could some helps and tips maybe i would love to hear them plz

  20. Stephanie Casto
    June 10, 2017 | 8:14 pm

    I have been bowling for 24 years. My composite for last year’s season was a 214 and this season’s will be even higher. Do i qualify for a pro card?

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