Zachary Underwood’s introduction to the sport of bowling began as a physical education credit during his sophomore year at Salish Kootenai College and has now transformed into his passion.
“That started and it was probably the first two months into bowling that I started bowling in my spare time,” Underwood said. “I started getting more pieces of bowling equipment and then I purchased my first bowling ball.”
Underwood, who now owns 14 bowling balls, said he would purchase about two bowling balls as his hobby became more serious. Underwood then started bowling six games a week in two league nights.
“(My hobby) started going downhill from there and I began ordering about two balls a year,” Underwood said. “I now I have the equipment to adapt to different kinds of oil patterns.”
Underwood significantly improved his bowling game.
“It went from literally I was happy if I broke 100 and now it’s frustrating if I don’t throw over a 200 scratch game,” Underwood said. “(Throwing a 200-game) is my personal goal no matter what the oil pattern is.”
Underwood, who learned the intricacy of bowling and skill-set from Tim Corbett, co-owner of Lucky Strike Lanes in Ronan and was his instructor at SKC, shared his acquired knowledge with his friend AJ Bigby.
“I started bowling with a couple of my friends and I really had to step up to be on their team,” Bigby said. “Zac and his brother, Justin Underwood, really got me into bowling. I just really enjoyed socializing and being that there isn’t a whole lot to do (in the Valley), bowling is something that I could do. It became quite the stress reliever.”
Bigby said his competitive nature was the driving force behind his current success as a bowler. Currently, Bigby is averaging between 188 and 190 as a scratch bowler
“I didn’t want to be that guy who threw the ball and I learned from Tim,” Bigby said. “I was one of the few people who actually showed up to class every time. Tim asked me ‘do you have 12 bucks a week (to bowl league)’ and I started bowling.”
Both Underwood and Bigby will challenge themselves to step their game up to an even higher level in The Third Annual Scratch Tournament Friday and Saturday at Lucky Strike Lanes.
Underwood said he is excited about the tournament’s prestige.
“The first year of the tournament was phenomenal and word of mouth quickly spread it was a good tournament,” Underwood said. “It was a very good tournament for a lot of people to come to. There are some tournaments that get a bad reputation for bad lane maintenance. We’ve got the little eight-lane alley from a mom and pop organization for a long time. The size of the alley takes nothing away from the quality of the tournament Tim puts on.”
For Bigby, this will be one of the first tournaments he is entering with several other competitors from all over the country including Salt Lake City, Denver, Idaho, and Calgary, Canada.
“I never really did get into the tournament the past few years because I never thought I was good enough,” Bigby said. “I am looking forward because of the fact I’ll be competing and learning from all of these bowlers from all over the place. There is going to be great bowling and I am entering this tournament for the experience.”
The tournament will begin at 8 a.m. Friday at Lucky Strike Lanes in Ronan. The entry fee for a squad will be $115 (Prize fee: $100, linage: $15), and the entry fee for the 3:30 p.m.tournament will be $135 (prize fee: 135, linage: $25). Re-entries will be $115 (prize fee: $100, linage: $15).
According to Corbett, the two-day tournament will include multiple types of oil patterns each squad and bowler will be bowling on in the 56-person tournament. There will be only five participants from Ronan bowling in this tournament with the biggest pay-out at $1,000 for first place and the smallest pay-out at $150 for 16th place.
“In our little neck of the woods, I had an idea and sat down with some very good friends,” Corbett said.