Hot Questions

Elliott December 3, 2006

Dear Walter Ray,
I few months ago I asked you a question about entry angle. I know that most entry angles are about six degrees for the perfect pocket strike, but I said that I was attempting to enter the pocket at about 33 degrees and take the ball left of the five and all the way back between the 7 and 8 pin. I have not heard a response yet. I know you get a lot of questions, but I was curious if I messed up my email or you just thought that the question was ridiculous. I know that your more of a straight player and this isn't your kind of question, but you have been a master of the game for a long time and know quite a bit about physics, so I figured you might have some tips to help me acheive this goal. Either way, I really anticipate your reply (even if you think it is impossible).

Hi Elliott,
If you were able to get your ball to enter at a 33 degree angle into the pocket the ball would probably miss the 8 pin to the left. Unless the lane was oiled to 59 feet and you put a lot of side roll on the ball I don't think you are going to get more than 10 degrees of entering angle. The big crankers like Tommy Jones and Sean Rash can get the ball to come back from 5 at 45' on some of the PBA patterns. A little math gives a distance of 180" (60'-45'= 15*12= 180) and 13" right to left (5 to 17 board)*(14/13)= 12.9 . Take the inverse tangent of .0722 and that gives you an angle of 4.13 degrees. To get a 33 degree angle you would have to have the ball on the 9.75 board at 1 foot from the head pin. Tangent of 33 degrees is .649 which would have to equal the boards crossed divided by the distance down the lane to the pins. A board normally equals 14/13 inch (42 inches wide and 39 boards). Good luck.

James March 30, 2006

Hi Walter Ray, I think you are a tremendous bowler and deserve all the credit and accolades you have accomplished in your illustrious career. That being said, do you believe that the two Masters titles Earl Anthony won should be counted on his career titles list, as they are currently not counted (as yours is). This would give Earl 43 titles, instead of the 41 he is currently credited with. Or, would you be in favor of not counting any Masters titles as PBA titles, that way no one can say they were snubbed of the accomplishment on their career records. I hope you respond, and please do not take this as any negative on yourself, as I believe that you are truly one of the elite atheletes of all time in any sport, and I really wanted to get your take on this career title situation. Thanks for reading this.

Hi James,
My opinion doesn't really matter, but I do have one! The official number of PBA tour titles which Earl Anthony is credited with is 41 plus 2 ABC Masters. When Earl won his Masters titles the tournament was run by the ABC. Since it wasn't a "PBA" tournament, it isn't counted as a PBA title. So I agree with Earl having 41 official PBA titles and 2 other titles. I am in a similar situation as there was a tournament in Japan called the "Dream Cup" that had over 400 entries for four years. I won that tournament 2 years and it wasn't counted as a PBA title. Hugh Miller won the tournament one year and it was counted as an official title. So, I guess I could argue the same thing! I also have 41 official titles and 2 other titles!

I hope that some day I will win more titles so that I could get to 42 or even more official titles, but if I don't I will be very happy with my career. I know that I have bowled in many more tournaments than Earl bowled, so what he did is more impressive to me than what I have done. I feel that in the last 20 years I have been the best bowler and there are many who would argue that. Some people don't give Earl much credit as he was left handed and there are others who don't give me much credit as I don't hook that ball as much as some other pros. Earl was at the top of the average lists for every year he bowled on tour. I have been at the top of the average lists for many of the last 20 years, but with a couple years not quite as high. I try to do the best that I can every time that I bowl, which I am sure is what Earl did. That is probably another reason why Earl retired at 45. He didn't want to compete on tour if he didn't feel that he was at the top. So instead of bowling a few more years and probably being in the top 10 at the end of the year in stats and most likely winning more tournaments he decided to retire. My guess is that if Dick Weber had 42 official titles Earl would have kept on bowling. Remember that Dick wasn't able to bowl on tour when he was in his 20's as the PBA didn't exist. So it could be argued that many of the big tournaments that Dick won before the PBA was going strong should count as official titles.

I am happy with my career and feel very lucky to have been as successful as I have been doing something I love. When I started bowling on tour I never dreamed I would ever even be mentioned in the same breath as the great Earl Anthony, so I guess I am just "happy to be there".

I am currently working hard and hope to be able to become a member of the PBA and bowl regional events in the future. However, with regards to the national tour, I was wondering how you feel about the PBA and the use of exemptions.

On one hand I think it is great that the top bowlers are going to be benefited by basically being guaranteed a seed in the 64 (and a paycheck).

On the other hand, if someone is not an exempt player, it seems likely that he/she would have very little chance to make those few remaining spots. I would think this would keep a lot of non-exempt players from entering the qualifiers.

While I do feel that bowlers who have proved themselves to be top performers (like yourself) are more than worthy of an exemption status, I do feel that everyone on the tour should have an equal chance of getting into the top 64 from week-to-week. Even someone who may not normally do well on tour should have an equal chance of cashing even if they do have just one week where they are 'on' their game and get in.

What are your thoughts on this, and what do you think of an idea to reduce the number of exemptions to 20 or 30 people instead. It seems that would be a nice compromise.

Thanks for all the great moments watching you in action and best wishes for a great 05-06 season.

Hi Douglas,
I understand your sentiments on the all exempt tour. I personally think that there should be more players in the field and that a guaranteed check isn't necessary. I also think that the tour trials should be at least double or triple the number of games currently used. The special event that the PBA has this December for an exemption is pretty much a joke also, but the heads of the PBA think that it will be 'compelling TV' even if the best player isn't the one who wins it. I also don't think that the formats that we use gets the best players to TV every week. That doesn't mean that the players who bowl on TV aren't really good, but they aren't necessarily the best for the week. But it doesn't really matter what I or the other players think. The people at the PBA office seem to like the all exempt fields, the sizes of the tournaments and the formats. So as they like to say, it is what it is.

If you really want to get on tour then I would suggest bowling the regional tournaments full time. If you are able to be the top player in the region then you will advance to the tour. If you aren't able to be in the top 5 or 10 then you probably aren't good enough to compete out on tour anyway. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try the tour trials, but the regional tour should give you a pretty good indication of how good you really are. Good luck.

Some friends and I were having a discussion about the average 200+ average bowler. We all have over 200 averages. I said in watching them and from my own experience we are all averaging approximately two opens per game. Because we are throwing enough strikes we still manage to maintain 200+ averages. They don't think that that is the case. Are there any statistics on the number of open frames the average 200 bowler leaves? We all have days when we throw clean games but most have open frame.

Hi Bao,
I don't know if the USBC keeps track of those things, but they might. But I would be surprised if you had 2 opens per game. I could see 1.2 to 1.5 opens per game. The best way is to keep track of all your games for the season and not just your 200 games.

I checked my last 3 days at the US Open this past year as that was the toughest lane conditions I bowled on and my average for those games was 208.5 for 39 games. I had 211 strikes out of 431 shots. That leaves 220 none strikes. I had 15 shots which were fill balls which didn't strike, so spares weren't relevant. Out of the 205 spare attempts (including splits) I had 176/205 which means that I had 29 opens in the 39 games. That translates to an average of .74 opens per game. This is probably a bit low as I may have had a good week on leaving a lot of difficult splits. Over half of my non-strikes were single pin spares of which I only missed one.

I made
110/111 single pins
38/45 two pin combinations
19/29 of three pin combinations
9/19 four pin combinations
0/1 five pin combinations
For a total of 176/205.

We enjoyed seeing you in Danville.Illinois but did not want to bother you,but we do want to know when your movie is out and do you know where close to us we can see it. We follow the tour every year and was in Indianapolis in March to watch.We were sorry you weren't there the day we were. I don't understand what they mean when they say you are exempt? Anyway your movie is what we are interested in. Will it eventually be shown on ESPN if we can't find us close to us. Kuddos to Paige for being your secretary. Sammy

Hi Sammy,
Here is a website for dates and locations for the documentary movie, A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, . I don't know if the movie will be shown on ESPN or any other cable network. But I would imagine that someday it probably will.

At a 'normal' PBA tour event there are 64 players in the tournament. 58 players are exempt which means that they are seeded into each of the regular tournaments. The other 6 spots given out as follows: 4 are earned each week by PBA players in a qualifying tournament, 1 is also earned each week by a non PBA player in that same qualifying tournament, and the last one is given to a bowler by the PBA commissioner. If a player isn't exempt, it is very difficult to make money on the PBA tour. Exemptions are gained by winning a major in previous years, winning a tour tournament in the previous season, being one of the top point leaders at the end of the previous season totaling 40 players. 7 exemptions are given to each of the point leaders from each of the 7 regions. 11 exemptions are given to the high finishers in the tour trials. There are special exemptions for injuries or other special circumstances.

How should I drill my bowling ball?

Here's Walter Rays final answer. . . .

I am sorry, but I am not a ball driller. The best person to suggest ball drillings would be a good pro shop driller in your area that knows the way you bowl and the lane conditions that you bowl on. I regret that I am unable to give you the type of information that you would like.

Congrats on your 40th win so far this season. Also for being honored by ABC's Hall of Fame. I noticed you're being honored on St. Patrick's Day, does this mean you'll be skipping the Grand Rapids Mi. tournament this year? Also sorry I'm asking this question in the wrong category, but my arrows don't work. I need new equipment.

I had originally planned on missing the tournament in Grand Rapids so that I would have 3 weeks off since there are weeks off before and after the event. But if I am close to the top 4 in points or in the thick of the race for Player of the Year, then I will bowl in the tournament. If I don't bowl in Grand Rapids, then I will go to Baton Rouge for the ABC induction. Despite being inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame is a once in a lifetime event, I would have to bowl in Grand Rapids if it means that I might be Player of the Year again or gives me a seed into the PBA World Championship.

I have the Frames program on my Palm and I was curious how you posted your scores on the scoresheets part of your website.

There is a program which you can load on your computer called FramesExporter which is a ‘Jar’ program. You might need to install some Java programs to get this to work. Once this program is running you will need to search for the Frames HotSync Directories in your computer. Click that directory. Get the scoresheets that you want. From there I take a ‘picture’ of my screen with a key called PrtSc which stands for print screen. You should then open up a picture editor such as Paint and paste the screen print by using Ctrl ‘V’ or the edit menu. Then you can move that screen around until it looks like you want. When I don’t use my palm pilot, I fax scoresheets to my webmaster and he has created a program to create a scoresheet.

Hi Walter Ray,
First off, I want to congratulate you on an incredible 2nd half comeback of this 2003-2004 PBA season. I was inspired by your determination this second half. I have three questions for you if you have the time.

1) I like throwing the ball the way you tend to. Ive never enjoyed playing a wide sweeping hook, but can at times if necessary. My question is, I want to go pro when I am older and of course, strive to win some titles. Playing a down and in shot, anywhere from playing straight up the twig to up 10 is my comfort zone. With today's reactive and particle balls and players who seem to want to hook the whole lane, do you see this type of shot still being able to win titles, 5-10 years down the road? You have shown the dominance you can have playing this line, so do you still see it being succesful later in time?

2) With the new Exempt tour rules, how tough do you think it will be for a bowler to make it onto the show in the years to come? Granted, im only 16 and have many years to consider my options, but it seems to be that it will become very difficult for new bowlers to make it onto the telecasts to compete for titles with many of the spots being taken by previous winners.

3) My last question is; I compete in a house which is said to be tougher than most by my coach. Currently I am averaging 180 in my league there and could probably average 200+ in the other local houses. Should I stay and bowl at my current house and make it tougher on myself to achieve a PBA qualifying avg? Or try and see how I do at the other houses near me.

Thanks for all of your time and good luck on the tour for years to come!

1) I think that in a few years there will be very few top bowlers who will be great at throwing the ball straight. At times, it is a distinct advantage to throw the ball straight. I would advise any young bowler who is ambitious to be a professional to learn how to throw the ball fairly straight as well as hook it quite bit.

2) I think it will be very difficult for any new players to get out on tour. And then the problem is staying out there. In my years of being out on tour, very few players really learn how to bowl on tour in one year or less. With the new format being 64 players and all match play I think it will be tougher for a top player to make a lot of TV finals which will make it tougher to win a tournament. However, in my opinion it will be easier for one of the lower ranked players to make a TV final.

3) I would encourage learning how to bowl on tough lanes. In the long run that will make you a better bowler. But, if the only way to achieve the minimum PBA average is to bowl in an easier house then that may be what you have to do. Maybe you could consider doing both? That way you would get the experience of bowling at the tougher house and still be able to meet the PBA requirement. But, if you can't average 200 on a really tough condition, then you might not be ready for the PBA. But you can also pick up experience bowling in PBA regionals, which is one of the ways to get out on the PBA tour.

Was very happy to see you using XXXX equipment. Have been using them for 4 years now, of course not on your level. I use the XXXX and XXXX. What got you interested in their equipment and which one was it at the Masters. Saw the show and was really hyped when I saw you come out. Congratulations and continued great luck.

Thanks for noticing what brand of bowling ball I used last week. However I hope you understand when I don't answer your question completely. I would rather not give advertisement to a company that doesn't feel I deserve a ball contract with them.

As a touring pro who competes in regionals, are there any pet peeves you have about inexperienced non-pros who enter regionals? What can they do to ensure their entry into the tournament is not a distraction to the professionals?

Probably the thing that irritates the pro bowlers the most is that some non-PBA members don't understand our lane courtesy procedure. The PBA uses a FULL pair of lanes to the left and to the right for lane courtesy. So, if you are on lanes 13 or 14 then you would wait for anyone that was on 11/12 (pair to the left) or 15/16 (pair to the right). Generally, people (not in PBA tournaments) use a two LANE courtesy. So, if you were on lane 13 you could bowl when someone was up on lane 16. That is the most common mistake for inexperienced participants.

Another thing that seems to be confusing is what we call "double jumping". Double jumping occurs when a bowler bowls "out of rotation". Before someone on your pair bowls, you need to wait until one person from both the pair to your right and the pair to your left throws a shot. Example: You leave a 10 pin, Mike on the pair to your left bowls and George on the pair to right bowls. Chris on your pair throws a strike. You need to wait until the other 2 pairs of lanes have their bowlers throw a shot. So after Steve bowls on your left and Brian bowls on your right, you pick up your spare. Obviously this doesn't always go this seamlessly. If someone isn't ready due to them waiting for the pair on the other side of them and they give you a go ahead signal, then go ahead and bowl. Of course when it is your turn to bowl you need to do it! Missing your turn can mess up the flow just as quickly as bowling before your turn! This system may seem a bit confusing at first, but after a couple of games you should get the hang of it. Just pay attention to what is going on and you will be fine.

Remember that everybody is different and how well they are bowling influences how the react to certain situations. Some players will chat a lot and others won't talk much. Try to take your cues from the others on your pair. If you are trying to make small talk and a player doesn't seem real interested, then maybe you should let them be. Similarly, if you don't want to talk, they should "pick up on it" also. If you are reasonable, then you shouldn't have a problem. Mostly it's just common sense! The most important thing is to "go for it"! Have a great time and enjoy the experience. You may find that you want to participate more often.

How does Walter Ray answer all those questions and why hasn't he answered mine?

Questions asked using the 'Ask Walter Ray' feature are forwarded to Paige, who handles the administrative duties of this feature.

She logs and tracks the questions, then passes them on, via email, to Walter Ray. He answers and emails them back to Paige's computer. She, then, prepares the information for Scooter and the website. When time permits, she also sends the reply directly to the asker. This process serves as a check and balance to insure that each question gets attention in a timely manner. It's a good system.....until computer problems arise!

In December, Paige replaced her computer, and the transition didn't go smoothly. She has been unable to access her email for several weeks and was quite alarmed when she finally got her email and realized how many of you are waiting for answers!

Here's a message from Paige "It is my fault - not Walter Ray's! Please be patient and know that your question will get answered, we are just a little behind right now. Thanks for your understanding and patience!"

The Flash Incident

I missed the chat last Wed night. What did Walter Ray have to say about the flash camera? What other questions did he answer. Is there a transcript available?

Sorry the chat server that we used did not allow us to keep a transcript. We will look into a different server for future chats.

Walter Ray answered several questions about what he thought the lanes would be like at the TOC, and about what kind of bowling ball he thought he'd be using.

He was also asked about the race for POY, and if the vote were taken now, how he would call it between he and Chris Barnes. He replied that he thought it was pretty even right now, but that if Chris were to win a tournament, it could go in his favor.

We posted (on the front of the chat window) some excerpts from Walter Ray's report about the flash. After reading that, there weren't a lot of questions about it, but some humorous comments were made. Somebody suggested that WR should come out wearing sun glasses next time he was on the show.

Here's a copy of Walter Ray's thoughts about the incident.

Walter Ray's account of the flash incident

(as written in his report #6 from last week's tournament)
We were bowling in an arena with over thousand spectators. There are always more distractions in these telecasts. Unfortunately I had a couple happen which didn't help me any.

There is a big boom camera which they use to get good shots of the bowlers and it was moving around while I was bowling. Normally I have pretty good concentration, but I did notice it.

After the commercial break I threw my now infamous shot on the right lane. A fan took a flash picture of me right when I was letting go of the ball. I reacted very quickly yelling some not so nice words. Unfortunately for me the shot went right threw the nose for a 4-6-7 split.

The PBA used to have a visual distraction rule, but they don't any more. I guess it is kind of ironic that I am one of the main proponents of the current rule. I don't know of any other sport where they get shots over and I don't think it would be good for bowling if we got shots over. It was a very unfortunate thing to happen and I hope it never happens to another player in the future, but something similar to that probably will.

I went over to the man who took the picture and told him that I knew that he didn't do it on purpose. He apologized to me and he probably feels worse about that incident than I do. So the next time you are at some sort of event where they ask you to turn off your beepers and cell phones, and announce no flash cameras, please remember to do so. !

Recently we received the following message in the guestbook:

Brad wrote: Walter Ray why are you such a jerk at the shows by charging 5 dollars an autograph? You should be happy people even want your autograph but nice job on the tour.

I have to say that I was very annoyed by this. Since Brad chose not to provide his email address, I feel compelled to reply to him publicly.

Walter Ray has NEVER charged anyone for an autograph, period. We do have some souvenir items available that retail for five dollars. I am positive that Walter Ray was not selling those items at a TV show; such activity would be prohibited by PBA rules. Usually there is very little time for signing autographs before a TV show. After a show, Walter Ray does make himself available to sign autographs, free of charge.

If you are not referring to a TV show, but a "personal appearance" then there were probably items available for purchase that cost five dollars. However, Walter Ray will sign most anything free of charge. There is no purchase necessary! I have seen him sign everything from shoes to forearms! He does sell souvenir items at these personal appearances, but you don't have to buy something to get an autograph.

Brad, I don't know what you saw, but I can guarantee that you misunderstood it. I hope you understand why I felt the need to respond to you…I just wasn't comfortable with the fact that you thought Walter Ray was charging for autographs and perhaps passing along bad information to other people.

If you want an autograph, just ask - there is NO CHARGE!!

On November 24, 2002 Bob from West Virginia sent Walter Ray a question that he has been getting a lot lately. We thought you might be interested in what he had to say....

Dear Walter Ray,

Do you feel it is right to have all the bowlers wear microphones? And do you think all the guys with the in your face attitude, and the screaming " you need two to beat me " is a good thing for the PBA, or does it show a lack of class ? Thanks for your thoughts, and continued good luck to you from a long time Walter Ray fan.

Hi Bob,
The PBA is encouraging the players on the TV shows to be as entertaining as possible. They would like the players to wear microphones, but some players don’t like to for fear they will say something they might they regret. I don’t think the PBA is forcing the players to wear microphones. As far as I know, each player still has the option of not being wearing it.

My guess is that the “in your face attitude” is what some people (in the marketing/advertising department) think that the young 18-35 male viewer wants to see. Sine that demographic is the most sought after in advertising, I think the “antics” we are all now witnessing on the TV show are going to be around for quite some time.

I prefer to let my bowling speak for me, but I also get excited when good or bad things happen. There is, in my opinion, a line between being demonstrative” and “getting in your opponents face”. Running out shots, yelling out things like “YES” or “ALRLIGHT” are things I would put in the “demonstrative” category. When a bowler yells out thing that are directed more towards his opponent, that is when you cross into the “in your face” zone. For example, “YOU CAN’T BEAT ME” or something similar would be what I consider “in your face”. To me, getting in your opponents face is a little bit “low class”.

When a bowler does that, I always feel he doesn’t think he can beat me with his bowling, so he is going to try to distract me with his mouth. It doesn’t usually bother me either way. I just try to bowl the best game I can and take my chances. Apparently I am a bit boring to some people, but that’s ok with me. You can’t please everyone. Thanks for your good wishes.

"What kind of bowling ball are you using this year?"    October 18, 2002

Walter Ray recently wrote in his question and answer section, "I don't know which bowling balls I will be using this year, but like this last winter I will be using whichever ones that I feel will work. Hopefully I can make the right choices on balls as well as make good shots and play the lanes correctly,"

Walter Ray has previously stated that since he has no contract with a ball company, he prefers not to publicly endorse a product with statements concerning his equipment. Hope you understand this position.