By Ed Townsend
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS March 17, 2006 Forty-eight-year-old White Sulphur Springs bowler Tom Skiff Jr. has made his mind up to enter the Professional Bowling Association (PBA) Regional competition and with practice, lessons and advice from those he respects in this game, he will enter competition in the PBA East Region Syracuse Open. That event will be September 8 through September 10 at Strike & Spare Lanes in Mattydale.
Competing on a professional level in any sport is a major task for amateurs who are seeking the glory and money of making it to the big show. But we like Tom Skiff Jr.s approach to taking his good local game to the level of regional PBA competition.
He has sought the advice of this writer and others who have made their attempts at competing in PBA regional competition. He has been warned of what to look forward to and that there is a major difference in competing in local leagues and what he will be facing on the professional level. It has been pointed out to him that bowling on local house lane conditions is much different than bowling on the five PBA patterns: the Cheetah, Viper, Scorpion, Shark and Chameleon.
Skiffs attitude and approach during this entire venture will be the key to his success. He notes that his expectations in his attempt to compete on the PBA Regional level are none because it has been made clear that it is a whole different world on the regional level.
Skiff said that his objectives are simple.
If I can score 200 or higher each game and three games of 600 or higher, that is the goal I have set
anymore is a bonus, he explained.
As to the question of his bowling equipment, Tom said he hopes to keep it simple and something that I only have to make minimal adjustments.
But I can go to the extreme if need be, he added.
As to any weak area in his quest to bowl with regional bowlers, Tom pointed out that his concern is oily conditions.
And that is probably because I dont see them on a local level and have no ball in my arsenal to deal with it and I am not adept at throwing the big, arching boomerang hook because the furthest to the left I have played is just inside the third arrow, he said.
He feels that his strengths include sound fundamentals, [being] able to pick up on changing lane conditions, make necessary adjustments and have a strong spare game.
I have a basic line of play in a new house and shoot the second arrow straight up to the pocket and then make my adjustments from there, Skiff explained.
His overall approach to the regionals is positive, yet realistic.
If I succeed, its OK and if I dont, its OK because I will have had the pleasure and experience of trying it out and it will make a good story for the grandkids.
Among the several steps that Skiff will take before entering this level of competition include participating in Pro-Trainer sessions with Mike Luongo of Mikes Pro Shop in Middletown, consulting with Luongo about what bowling balls would be best to use and getting together with Bob Fix Jr. at Liberty Lanes.
Skiff plans to consult Fix in order to reinforce the basic fundamentals of my game, as he is responsible in part for my success.
Tom will also spend some time with other bowlers who have made attempts to bowl on the regional level to get an idea of what to expect. Then its practice, practice and more practice.
Luongo has already told Skiff that he has the right attitude, and that it will be a lot of fun. Luongo said that a Pro Trainer session can take a good look at the physical game in slow motion and that this will give you some good information as you go to the next level.
Tom recorded his sixth career 300 game on February 1 and finished the night with a 727 series. The perfect game was Skiffs third 300 of the 2005-2006 season. His career high 798 series from single games of 250, 300, 248 was bowled on December 2, 2005.
He began at the age of 5 and bowled until he was 17. Skiff, who has a current average of 215, returned to the game at the age of 32.
He bowls regularly in the Wednesday Mens League and the Sunday Mixed Doubles League, both at Kiamesha Lanes.
Skiff and his Number 1 Love Joan Redington have two sons, Tom Skiff III and Gregg Skiff.
Good luck to Tom Skiff Jr.