Local bowling centers rolling along

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Lauren Meagher, a freshman bowler for Kentucky Wesleyan College, gets in some practice on Thursday afternoon at Diamond Lanes South.

The number of bowlers has changed through the years; there aren't as many league bowlers as in decades past, but during the peak fall and winter seasons for bowling leagues, there is still plenty of activity at local bowling alleys.

"Our major league night is Tuesday during the fall and winter, and they will take up all the lanes," said David Goble, the manager at Diamond Lanes South on Carlton Drive. "When school is in, things get going pretty good on the weekends."

Local bowling facilities always have a slow time during the summer. Bigger bowling leagues take the summer off usually, although you can find kids' leagues on Saturdays.

"Traditionally, bowling is a fall and winter sport," said Natalie Offill, whose family owns Diamond Lanes South and Diamond Lanes Midtown. "People are doing things outside in the summer. We have done things differently in the summer for some time.

"We switch things up pretty much every summer, mostly fun-type things. This summer, we're doing a league that has a taco bar, it falls in line with Taco Tuesday."

Bowlodrome is another bowling alley in Owensboro, located on East 14th Street.

During the summer, it is open Thursday-Sunday. Friday and Saturday, Bowlodrome is open until midnight and has Moonlight Bowling, a long-time fixture, from 8 p.m. until midnight.

Bowlodrome has local high school bowling teams practicing and having events there. It had signs hanging up celebrating the regional high school championships of former Daviess County bowler Morgan Stone.

"Daviess County, Ohio County, Kentucky Wesleyan practices here," said Kevin Murphy, the Bowlodrome manager. "We have a lot of birthday parties. There is Buddy Ball."

The original wooden lanes are still at Bowlodrome, too.

"You have to adjust, you just can't throw it down the middle," Murphy said. He has been involved with bowling, often at the Bowlodrome, much of his life.

"My granddad came here in the '50s and '60s," Murphy said.

Bowling centers have had to adjust what they offer to attract customers over the decades since then.

Diamond Lanes South was built in 1984, while Diamond Lanes Midtown had been owned by David Allgood since 1977.

League bowling was a huge social activity in the 1970s, '80s and into the '90s.

"League bowling was really, really popular, everybody bowled on a league," Offill said. "Things have changed dramatically since then. We have more events now, birthday parties, corporate parties. It's been an ever-changing game. We try to stay current, offer something good for a lot of different groups, families, date night, a lot of church groups."

There was another league promotion on Wednesday that was a Let's Make A Deal League, which played off the long-running television game show.

There is a Family and Friends League on Monday night. It has an adult and a younger kid bowling on a team.

"Generally how it works is there's a parent and a child, or a grandparent and child," Goble said. "Kids usually don't get to bowl with mom or dad in a league."

There are a couple of bumper leagues at Diamond Lanes, 8 is great and 9 is fine, which are both Saturday morning, when the youth leagues fill the lanes.

"Those bumper leagues really boost their confidence," Goble said. "You can see their confidence improve, and they tend to bowl better."

To help encourage open bowlers -- those not in leagues -- Diamond Lanes has the specials during the week and has lanes open daily in the summer.

"Sometimes we do get new bowlers in during the summer, the leagues we have are shorter, more casual," Offill said. "We do two totally different things, open bowling and league bowling. We have a lot of regular open bowlers, they come in for different promotions."

Prices on open bowling before 6 p.m. at Diamond Lanes Monday-Thursday are $3.75 per person, per game. Prices go up on weekends to $4.75 per game.

The school's out special includes two games of bowling, shoe rental and a medium soft drink for $8.50 a person, according to the Diamond Lanes website.

Other specials and prices are on the diamondlanes.net website.

Bowlodrome has a $3.75-per-game price. Moonlight Bowling is $10 per person for one hour, $12 per person for two hours.

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