Eric Pierson has one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in bowling: designing the lane patterns for the United States Bowling Congress.
So many do not understand that lane pattern design is art, not science, and how fine the line is when trying to design a condition between brutally hard and ridiculously easy in this era of ball technology that changes a pattern so much so fast.
But I've never seen Pierson lose his cool, and he's not afraid to be interviewed about his job. (Credit for that also should go to his bosses at USBC who give him the OK.)
One of those interviews was with me shortly after the tournament started. That blog is here.
Last week Pierson appeared on the Above180.com podcast with Tim Burg and Joe Cerar. The show is here.
Pierson covered a lot of ground and I don't want to steal the work of Burg and Cerar, but I will tease a few points.
Pierson talked about the lower scores at this year's Open Championships, and why USBC is OK with that.
He talked about lane topography, which may be the reason lane 12 caused us so much trouble in team event — I had another good bowler message me after they bowled their doubles on 11-12 and his group had the same frustrating experience with lane 12. (Thousandths of an inch have been shown to matter in topography.)
They also talked a little about our team event (3,197 that is now 15th) and what I said about it afterward. Mostly what I meant that they discussed is that the pattern in Baton Rouge took longer to transition than what we had seen in practice, which makes sense because Baton Rouge is new lanes and the places we practiced all are older centers.
And Pierson, who is left-handed but didn't crush them in Baton Rouge, talked about Matt McNiel's third straight stunning performance at the Open Championships, which I believe is the greatest feat in tournament history, as I wrote here.
Pierson, who is the head man at the Women's Championships in Reno, also talked about fresh oil being applied for every squad of every event starting next year in Reno for the Open Championships.
He confirmed that some details remain to be worked out on how fresh oil will work for minor events, although six to a pair and staying on the same pair for doubles and singles is pretty well set.
I was told a while ago that practice likely will remain just two balls on each lane before doubles.
Yet to be decided is how pairings will be made when 2-team groups cover just 10 bowlers and it will take 12 bowlers to fill two pair of lanes.
Those are minor details in the overall picture. The bottom line is that the tournament will now be about as level a starting playing field for all events as is humanly possible.
Until an oil-less lane is developed, a perfect level starting playing field is impossible. And even then, topography probably will be an issue.
One interesting tidbit Pierson shared is that a pattern with less volume could be used next year since it won't have to stand up for 72 games of minors per pair (the 7, 9:20 and 11:40 a.m. squads at four bowlers shooting six games each over doubles and singles), just the 30 games per pair for team and 36 games per pair for minors.