Remember back in the day when there were no cell phones, no Facebook, no DVRs to catch up on to entertain your nights. When all kids needed for a good time was a few friends and a ball. If memories are fading of days gone by, now is a good time to gather kids and friends of all ages at your closest bowling alley for laughter, spirit, and camaraderie – the old fashioned kind. A recent weekend visit with family found that the bowling alley is a great place to enjoy one another’s company, get lost in the game, and share with another generation the timeless sport of bowling.
Come One, Come All
Our trip to the lanes consisted of a family of all ages. This motley crew of two teens, a fifth grader, three preschoolers, and three adults including grandpa all recently gathered at the lanes. We all paid a reasonable $3.00 per person then marched our way to get suited up – shoes for everyone! We had one avid bowler in the bunch; she came dressed for success with her own bowling shoes. Regulars may want to take a note from Aunt Amy and invest in their own pair. The shoes will pay for themselves rather quickly. Those with growing toes are better off renting for a few more years.
Next Up: Where’s the Lucky Ball?
Decisions, decisions, some of us knew at first sight – the more particular players took plenty of time to weigh their options. Which ball is right for you? How does one determine their perfect bowling ball weight? This is where the math comes in. Heeding the advice of a regular, we went with his notion that the ball should be 1/10th of your body weight. A slightly lighter ball will allow for more spin, but if you’re a straight shooter, we’re told to stick with the heavier weight recommendation. He also says, don’t be afraid to switch it up, “you’re not married to it!” he joked.
How’s the Fit?
All house balls are not the same, try out several to see which fits your hand best. Our resident expert recommended buying your own bowling ball and having them drilled specifically for you. This will give ultimate control and the risk of injury decreases when the ball is custom fit. Kids should stick with a lightweight ball made for little players.
Ready to Play!
Finally we all set to hit our two lanes. Our trip occurred during a Friday afternoon when some serious bowlers were at play. We chose our lanes furthest from them. With three preschoolers, I was more than a little nervous we would interrupt their game, but the distance was perfect and everyone was on their best behavior (thank goodness!). It wasn’t long before fun was being had by all of us. Our teens were big on keeping score, the little ones were in our bumper lane learning to take turns, share, and cheer each other on. We all had a healthy dose of team spirit as we tried for that perfect form hitting strikes, spares, and plenty of those unfortunate gutter balls.
At about $6.00 a person, prices can add up if there are a lot of kids and food is involved. AMF has a specials tab on their website. Check it out for deals. We opted to eat lunch before going to the lanes, and then headed out for ice cream afterwards. It was great to have everyone so engaged. The winner was our five year old (using bumpers) – he beat out the pro a few lanes down and was very beaming with pride!
Life Lessons at the Lanes
Good sportsmanship was at the center with everyone helping one another. Sometimes the preschoolers forgot who was up, but they practiced patience and enjoyed watching the other players take their turn. They tried to bowl like the big boys – their form was hysterical. The teens were a big help falling in love with scoring. They became experts quickly and were quick to help the younger players. They even ran into a few friends about halfway into our time there, but opted to stick with us, which made me smile inside.
Bowling truly is a timeless classic, great for all ages to spend time with one another. It has seen a few changes through the years; scoring has gone digital in some alleys, and lights have gotten a little wild, but all in all it’s exactly the same as when I was a kid. Lots of face time which is priceless these days. I cannot remember an afternoon where we all had so much fun together. It’s safe to say we are all looking forward to another family outing and I am hoping to improve my score!
Lane Hours By Day:
Monday 11:00 a.m. – Midnight
Tuesday 11:00 a.m. – Midnight
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – Midnight
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – Midnight
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Admission: $2.95 / person, 4-5 people per lane, $3.60 shoe rental
Meghan Marx was born and raised in the mid-west, where outdoor activity is her second nature. Meghan is a graphics artist, college professor, and web designer. Follow Meg at @designingmarx.