When Monona native Marc McDowell retired from the PBA Tour in the mid-1990s he left a solid legacy that featured five titles, including the 1992 Tournament of Champions, and 1992 BWAA Bowler of the Year honors.
He continued to bowl occasional PBA Regionals before dropping his PBA card at the turn of the century in large part so we could arrange our Turbo 2-N-1 Grips teams for the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships with Marc, myself, Gail Myers Jr., Mike Shady and Steve Richter on one team, and so Mac could bowl doubles with Shades.
That started in 2001 and turned out to be a decision none of us has regretted! I'm sure I wouldn't be in the USBC Hall of Fame without it, and hopefully it will lead to more of our team being inducted in the future.
It's also a big part of the reason why even with Mac turning 50 earlier this month, you won't see him rejoining the PBA — USBC rules limit teams to two PBA members and doubles pairs to one PBA member, and Shades and myself have kept our PBA cards all along.
Even without that USBC limit, you probably wouldn't see Mac rejoining and bowling a full PBA Senior schedule — he just has too full a life with his family, job and other interests.
But he is going to bowl select events, including the Etonic PBA Senior U.S. Open starting Monday at the Suncoast in Las Vegas. The tournament will be his professional debut as a Senior and I would not be surprised if he does well. (His bowling debut as a senior was in the 1-2-3 tournament and the USBC Open Championships earlier this month.)
One factor is that he's a tremendous athlete who works hard to remain in great shape. (It's a little known tidbit of his career that he might have won the place-kicking job with the University of Wisconsin in 1980 if his main competition hadn't been on scholarship.)
Another is that for the first time since his retirement, Mac has worked hard on his game since recovering from surgery on his left (non-bowling) shoulder in December.
That included a trip to work with Shady, one of the world's top coaches, and a ton of practice to dial in the changes Shady made in his game.
That work showed itself with a stellar 1,949 all-events at the USBC Open Championships earlier this month that could have been a lot more. It was the best I've seen Mac bowl in years.
Since dropping his card, Mac has bowled little more than the City, State and USBC tournaments, plus a few more social tournaments, and two social leagues on house conditions.
So his experience adjusting to the rapid changes today's ball technology make in the lanes is a weak point.
But that should be less of an issue in senior events, and he also has going for him his fitness, the work he's put into his game, his always stellar spare shooting, his ability to grind on tough conditions like the Open will feature, and the fact that he's the most competitive person I've met in bowling this side of Pete Weber.
If that inexperience proves too much to overcome, look for better things in future Senior tournaments Mac will enter over the next few years.
My only wish is that I was two months younger so we could make our Senior debut together!
Reigning Senior Player of the Year Ron Mohr is the defending champion, as PBA detailed in this news release.
Another favorite has to be Lennie Boresch Jr., who won his Senior Tour debut in April.
"Heading into the U.S. Open, the race is pretty wide open," Mohr said of the Senior Player of the Year race in the release. "We’ve had four different winners in four tournaments and it’s as competitive as ever with a lot of excellent players becoming eligible for the Senior Tour this season, so a win in the U.S. Open can put me right back in contention."
ETONIC PBA SENIOR U.S. OPEN PRESENTED BY SUNCOAST
Suncoast Bowling Center, Las Vegas
(all times Pacific)
Sunday, June 3
8-9 a.m. - A Squad practice
9:15-10:15 a.m. - B Squad practice
10:30-11:30 a.m. - C Squad practice
Pro-Am squads to follow
Monday, June 4
7 a.m. – Squad A, 6 qualifying games
10:45 a.m. – Squad B, 6 qualifying games
2:30 p.m. – Squad C, 6 qualifying games
Tuesday, June 5
7 a.m. – Squad B, 6 qualifying games
10:45 a.m. – Squad C, 6 qualifying games
2:30 p.m. – Squad A, 6 qualifying games
Wednesday, June 6
7 a.m. – Squad C, 6 qualifying games
10:45 a.m. – Squad A, 6 qualifying games
2:30 p.m. – Squad B, 6 qualifying games
Cut to the top 25% of the field
Thursday, June 7
7 a.m. – 9-game cashers round
Cut to the top 24
2 p.m. - Top 24, 8 games match play
Friday, June 8
7 a.m. - Top 24, 8 games match play
Noon - Top 24, 8 games match play
Cut to the top 4
3:30 p.m. – Top 4 advance to stepladder finals