ARLINGTON, Texas – Data collected during the lane certification process shows approximately 91 percent of all centers inspected had less than 10 percent of the items measured out of specification and approximately 72 percent of the centers have less than 5 percent of items out of spec.
The 2018-2019 season marks the first time the United States Bowling Congress is analyzing all data received from lane certifications and is developing a database to examine all measurements. Between the lane and pin deck, lane inspectors make 29 measurements on each synthetic lane and 21 measurements on each wood lane during the inspection process.
As of Dec. 1, more than 3,300 centers and 72,800 lanes had been inspected. The final data is expected to encompass more than 4,200 centers.
“The annual lane inspection process is always a major task and we greatly appreciate the work of the local association volunteers and the assistance of the bowling centers,” USBC Equipment Specifications Committee chair Andrew Cain said. “The data from these reports will provide more valuable insight into the playing fields of our sport.”
After reviewing the data, the Equipment Specifications and Certifications Committee has determined it will extend the data collection for another season. To get additional center certification data, all centers that have a proper inspection with the three required signatures and supply the data to USBC Headquarters will be certified for the 2019-2020 season.
Also starting with inspections for the 2019-2020 season, USBC will increase the certification fee to allow local associations to charge up to $10 per lane bed. The fee increase is the first in more than two decades, when the certification fee went from $3 to $5 per lane for the 1995-1996 season.
The data from inspections for the 2018-2019 season show about 85 percent of all lanes measured were synthetic lanes or had synthetic overlays. Lane topography measurements, which include crosswise tilts, are taken on each of the five panels for synthetic lanes and three locations for wood lanes.
The first, or head, panel was found to have the most out-of-specification measurements, though approximately 93% of the crowns and depressions are within specification and about 94% of the cross-tilt measurements are also within specification.
The backend of the lane showed the highest specification compliance with about 98% of the results for crowns/depressions and cross tilts on the last three panels meeting the specifications.
USBC also looked at the end pair of lanes on each end of bowling centers, as there is a common perception that lanes on either the high end or low end of a bowling center tend to play different from the rest of a center’s lanes. Data showed the topography variance was not significant, meaning if the lanes do not play the same, lane topography is not the reason.
Last year, USBC announced new requirements for lane inspections and adjusted specifications for new installations starting with the 2019-2020 season. The new requirements were based on research conducted by the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications team that included analysis of the lane certification paperwork submitted by 323 centers, an examination of more than 1,000 lanes throughout the country, a study of the pin deck specifications, and an examination of lane topography.
USBC has since been educating both associations and bowling centers about the changes, which included a new application for center certification for the 2018-2019 season. To ensure it would receive data from all center inspections, USBC allowed a one-year grace period for centers that receive an inspection and supplied USBC Headquarters with the inspection data and the three required signatures.
USBC also has worked to educate all stakeholders about the center certification process, conducting 30 Lane Inspection Workshops during the 2017-2018 season including two workshops at the 2018 USBC Convention.
USBC had 966 people from more than 300 associations attend Lane Inspection Workshops in the field and 450 association volunteers attend the workshops held at convention.
The work of the lane inspectors this season and next season will provide data that will help the USBC Equipment Specifications Committee better understand the true landscape of bowling center topography and other key measurements within the field of play and to set a clear path in this area.
Visit the Equipment and Specifications page on BOWL.com to learn more about center certifications.