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2015 U.S. Open lane pattern to be used for Open Aug. 27-28

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 10:00 am
Left to right, some old guy in a cool shirt, with 2015 Open champion Matt McNiel, Cherry Lanes general manager Bob Hochrein, and runnerup Daron Hansen. Photo by Jennifer Wittenburg.

Note: This story originally was posted on June 21, 2016.

Even though the Greater Iowa Bowling Association Open drew a full field of 156 last August, we are working to make it bigger and better.

The tournament at beautiful Cherry Lanes inside the Diamond Jo casino in Dubuque, Iowa will be Aug. 27-28.

The newest addition will be some sponsorship from, which was made possible by my site switching to a subscription basis. My funds will go for a unique offering for non-cashers — details are later in this story.

The tournament again is guaranteed to have at least $4,000 in added sponsor money, with the entire $150 entry fee going to the prize fund.

Sponsors again will include the Diamond JoStorm Bowling ProductsCoors Light, and High 5 Gear, with Cherry Lanes graciously donating the lineage for the tournament. Some of the money will cover the expense of having Craig Elliott’s BowlStreamtv webcast the tournament, but the tournament's estimated prize fund is $27,080 with 156 entries, which is $23,400 in entry fees at $150 each.

The other big news is that we have decided to use the 2015 Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open lane pattern, modified slightly for Cherry Lanes, which has a Brunswick lane machine and uses Bunswick Defy 30 oil on its Brunswick lanes.

Update July 11: The lane pattern data has been added to the bottom of this story in PDF files. I practiced on the pattern Sunday at Cherry Lanes and found it to be challenging but scoreable. There was hook from the outside and I would expect most people to start outside 10-board — I was around 5-board going fairly square with strong equipment for my best reaction. I would expect a scoring pace similar to last year.  

As I have written before, we have struggled to meet our goals of having lefties, righties and all styles having as close to equal a chance as is humanly possible.

All three Opens produced quality champions — Matt McNiel in 2012Matt Gasn in 2014 and McNiel again in 2015 — and there was no doubt quality shotmaking was required, so they were successful in that important way.

Ideally, everyone would get to play their A game at some point during the tourney, and there would be no huge difference in difficulty between left and right. Another goal is to avoid guttercap lofting becoming common and important to success as the lanes break down.

In 2012, McNiel and Brad Snell were the only two lefties to cash, with McNiel putting on an incredible display of shotmaking in winning.

In 2014, many right-handers were lofting the guttercap early and lefties were all but shut out.

In 2015, lefties were first, second and fifth heading into the stepladder and bowled for the title.

Our biggest problem is that the innovative format that the competitors have said they very much enjoy features 12 games on Sunday. Finding a lane pattern that holds up for that much bowling and provides a fairly equal difficulty for lefties and righties is nearly impossible — there is just so much play on the right side!

After watching how the 2015 Bowlmor AMF U.S. Open turned out with one oiling per day, we have decided to use that pattern, although that was AMF lanes and Kegel lane machines and oil.

Lefty Ryan Ciminelli won the U.S. Open, but no other lefties made match play, although several very good lefties (including Parker Bohn III, Scott Norton, McNiel) did not bowl. And the right side held up so guttercap lofting didn’t come into play, and players were able to play outside and inside.

There will be a practice session on Friday, Aug. 26 so competitors can have a chance to see how the pattern plays at Cherry. The pattern will be put down on 10 lanes in the afternoon and it will be $2 to $2.75 per game until cosmic bowling starts at 7 p.m. and then it will be $3.50 per game (and it will be cosmic in he entire center). 

Update: McNiel will not win the Open this year as he is bowling the Petersen Classic, which he won last year, on the last weekend of August.

All we ask of competitors and fans is to patronize the sponsors who are helping making this such a great tournament: drink Coors Light if you have a beer, eat and gamble at Cherry Lanes and the Diamond Jo, and patronize Storm Products if you can.

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 Cherry Lanes general manager Bob Hochrein and everyone else at the center and the Diamond Jo. Hochrein is a USBC Open Championships and PBA regional title holder who cares about the sport and manages a top notch staff.

Joe Engelkes and his family, who operate the GIBA, are taking no expense fee for running the tournament, which again will be a points tournament in GIBA’s schedule for 2016-17. All Joe ever does 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 and we thank EBI for graciously allowing my Storm-sponsored tournament — I have been on Storm’s staff since 1996 — to be part of the GIBA schedule.

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 like the great Fusion Realtors Open tournaments in Waterloo, Iowa. Here is a story on GIBA's 2016-17 schedule.

Joe and GIBA are taking entries now for the Open and the only way to guarantee a spot and make a squad request is to send in your entry fee.

To reserve a spot and make a squad request, send your $150 check made out to GIBA to GIBA, c/o Joe Engelkes, 3018 Saratoga Drive, Waterloo, IA  50702. He can be reached at 319-236-0955 or [email protected].

Update Aug. 17: Engelkes reports that the tournament is full with a waiting list. The squad assignments are posted at the GIBA site here.

The flyer is attached to the bottom of this story.

Like the Fusions, the field will be open to anyone, including the top pros.  

The format again will feature 6-game qualifying squads at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday 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 and 48 players advancing and cashing, and four others 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 in the Fusions, bowlers can request to bowl with specific bowlers but lane assignments for pairs will be by random draw.

Sunday will feature 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 Fusions, along with brackets and pot games. And there will be a SMART option for youth bowlers, as GIBA offers with the Fusions.

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.

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.

With 156 entries, the top five spots will be $2,700, $2,200, $1,700, $1,300 and $1,000, down to $190 for the last four checks.

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 will be $400 that goes directly into the prize fund for the tournament. Diamond Jo in turn will take $400 of its sponsorship and turn it into 10 $40 free slot play cards for a fun post-qualifying drawing for non-cashers only.

As soon as the final standings are determined, we will draw 10 numbers representing all the non-cashing positions. The bowlers who finished in those positions will get the free slot play — if they have a Diamond Jo players 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.

If there are ties in the standings, the higher position goes to the player with the higher game.

This encourages people to get Diamond Jo player 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.

Finally, my girlfriend Susie "Fever" Dyhr again is running a fundraising effort for Green Acres Boxer Rescue of Wisconsin, which brought into our lives a lovable, knucklehead of a boxer named Otis. She designed T-shirts for the tournament with Green Acres benefiting from each sale. Details are in this story.