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With sponsorship down, $10 entry fee increase and lineage donation will hike prize fund for 2021 GIBA Open Aug. 20-22

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 6:00 pm
Jerry Marrs, center, after winning the 2020 GIBA Open. I am on the left and GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes is on the right. Photo by GIBA.

Note: This story originally posted Jan. 14, 2021 and has been updated.

The 2021 Greater Iowa Bowling Association Open is set for Aug. 20-22 at Cherry Lanes inside the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa, with some impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will remain the same format it has been for years, with a sweeper on Friday night, qualifying on Saturday, and “Flanagan format” semifinals on Sunday, followed by a stepladder finals.

GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes explained in his release of the GIBA schedule that there was a partial loss of funding from the Dubuque Regional Sports Commission due to reduced hotel/motel tax revenues in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, last year’s entry fee increase from $150 to $160 will remain. As usual, every dollar of entry fees goes to the prize fund.

Cherry Lanes also will not be taking any lineage money again this year.

The result is that with the usual full field of 156 players, first through fifth this year will be $2,800, $2,300, $1,800, $1,400 and $1,100 compared to pre-pandemic 2019’s $2,700, $2,200, $1,700, $1,300 and $1,000. The rest of the prize fund will be essentially the same and is detailed in the PDF of the flyer attached to the bottom of this story.

Returning sponsors include the Dubuque Regional Sports CommissionDiamond JoStorm Bowling ProductsLogo Infusion, and

Bob Hochrein, director of Cherry Lanes, has worked out a group rate deal starting at $87 per night for the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque that is about a 5-minute walk from the Diamond Jo. There are just 25 rooms for Friday night and 25 for Saturday night, as there is much going on in the Dubuque area that weekend, Hochrein said. So make your reservations early using the group name 11thFrame Open at 563-556-2000 or 877-666-3243.

The tournament lane pattern again will be based on the 2015 U.S. Open pattern designed by USBC lane pattern consultant Nick Hoagland.

The twist this year is that Hoagland is helping us tweak it to provide a slightly different challenge. I earned Hoagland’s services by making a donation to the Make-A-Wish charity tied to the Hoosier Classic college tourney H2M Management runs in Indianapolis.

As always with anything I attach my name and brand to, there will be transparency in the most impactful thing in our sport — the opposite of the philosophy of our misguided governing body. So as soon as the pattern is finalized, I will add it to this story.

Our goals always include not losing control of the lane (no excessive lofting) with 12 games on Sunday, as much equity as possible between left-handers and right-handers (the hardest thing to achieve in bowling), and a tough pattern with a relatively low scoring pace, though we gladly would accept a slightly higher scoring pace than preferred if it meant satisfying the first two things.

The only way to reserve a spot and make a squad and crossing bowler(s) request will be to pay the entry fee. Send your $160 check made out to GIBA to GIBA, c/o Joe Engelkes1805 Quail Ridge Road, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. He can be reached at 319-260-1356 or 319-269-6909 or [email protected]. PayPal also can be used to enter.

Engelkes said Tuesday that he had already had a full field signed up, and one player on the waiting list in this Facebook post:
"For those bowlers who still think scratch bowling is not growing, we made the formal announcement that we were taking reservations for the 2021 Open five days ago on July 15th.  As of this evening, we have received 157 reservation requests which means we are full with one bowler on the waiting list.  Today alone, we had a total of 64 spots reserved.  Thanks to all the great bowlers from around the Midwest who continue to support the Open and all of our other GIBA events!!"

The only extra fee entrants must pay is the GIBA $10 season membership fee, and that gets you the right to compete in other GIBA events.

Flyers for the tournament and sweeper are attached to the bottom of this story as PDFs.

The sweeper, which replaced the practice session in 2016, starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21, and features a simple format of five games with total pins determining finishing position. The tournament lane pattern will be used.

The entry fee will be $40, with $30 to the prize fund and $10 to lineage. The cashing ratio will be 1-in-4 with a first prize of $400 based on 60 entries, and the $1,000 added by the Dubuque Regional Sports Commission and GIBA.

If you can't make the tournament Saturday and Sunday, you still can enter the sweeper on Friday night. 

Saturday’s qualifying again will feature 6-game squads at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., with pins carrying over and one-third of the bowlers advancing to Sunday and cashing. With three squads full, there will be a 156-bowler field, 48 players advancing and four more cashing.

Re-entries will be allowed on B and C squads, with priority given to first entries in this way: New entries will have priority if they are paid before Saturday. Re-entries will come next if they are paid before Saturday. For those paid on Saturday, new entries will get priority over re-entries up to half an hour before the final two squads’ scheduled start time, then it will be first come, first served until the squads start.

As is GIBA policy, bowlers can request to bowl with specific bowlers but lane assignments for pairs will be by random draw.

Sunday’s innovative format that comes from the fertile mind of Mike Flanagan features 12 games of bowling starting at 9 a.m. with bonus pins based on score from highest to lowest. For example, if 48 advance to Sunday in each game the highest scorer will get 48 bonus pins, the second-highest scorer 47 pins, so on down to 1 bonus pin for the lowest score each game. Whatever number of finalists there are, that number of bonus pins will go to the high scorer down to 1 pin for the lowest score each game.

Yes, it’s not head-to-head; instead, it’s all-against-one. The idea is to reward the consistently solid bowler and not the one who may bowl the right people at the right time. And everyone who makes the cut gets to bowl all of Sunday's games.

After those 12 games, the top five will compete in a stepladder finals on fresh oil.

There will be optional prize funds for seniors and women similar to the GIBA Ebonite Classics, along with brackets and pot games. And there will be a SMART option for youth bowlers, as GIBA offers with the Classics.

Seniors and women each are guaranteed a 1-in-3 cashing ratio paying at least $150 per check. For example, if 15 seniors enter and two cash in the regular prize list there would be three separate senior checks so five cash.

There also will be brackets, pot games and a Bet You Win pot. Engelkes reported that the Bet You Win pot has an additional $1,100 in it because it has not been won the past two years (by Nate Stubler and Jerry Marrs).

And a separate $20 entry fee for a separate additional prize fund likely will be offered for both seniors and women — this is not noted on the flyer.

If additional sponsorship is obtained, it will be used to pay extra spots, senior and/or female checks, or improve the overall prize list.

My sponsorship of $400 again will lead to 10 $40 free slot play cards for non-cashers only.

As soon as the final standings are determined, we will draw 10 numbers representing all the non-cashing positions. If there are ties in the standings, the higher position goes to the player with the higher game. The bowlers who finished in those positions will get the free slot play — if they have a Diamond Jo player’s card and are present when their names are called. If a winner is under 21, I will take the free slot play and pay the youth $40 out of my pocket.

This encourages people to get Diamond Jo player’s cards, stick around or return if they bowl early, and gives something back to non-cashers that they might be able to turn into some significant money as if they made the cut. That happened in 2017 when one of the non-cashers who won the free slot play won a jackpot of several hundred dollars.

All we ask of competitors and fans is to patronize the sponsors who help make this such a great tournament: eat and gamble at Cherry Lanes and the Diamond Jo, stay overnight in Dubuque, and patronize Storm Products and Logo Infusion if you can. And, yes, please subscribe to!

If you do gamble, please get a player’s card and use it! This is VERY important to continue the tournament and sponsorship! (The Diamond Jo is part of Boyd Gaming, so whenever you are in a city with a choice in gambling facilities and one is a Boyd property, you could patronize the Boyd property and let them know why.)

And please thank Hochrein and everyone else at the center and the Diamond Jo. Hochrein is a USBC Open Championships Eagle winner and PBA regional title holder who cares about the sport and manages a top notch staff.

As usual, Engelkes and his family are taking no expense fee for running the tournament, which again will be a points tournament in GIBA’s schedule for 2019-20. All the Engelkes ever do is take a portion of the bracket proceeds while donating the rest back to the prize funds. 

Joe is one of the top tournament operators I know and I couldn’t think of a better guy and group to run the Open.

The GIBA is sponsored by EBI (Brunswick) and we thank EBI (Brunswick) for graciously allowing my Storm-sponsored tournament — I have been on Storm’s staff since 1996 — to be part of the GIBA schedule.

Jerry Marrs defeated Nick Pate 212-205 in the title match to win in 2020.  

Matt McNiel won in 2012Matt Gasn in 2014McNiel again in 2015Jay Watts in 2016Adam Morse in 2017Andy Mills in 2018 and Nate Stubler in 2019. (No tournament was held in 2013.)