This weekend, All-Star Lanes, on Old 41, will be a very busy place as some of the top senior bowlers in the region converge for the Professional Bowlers Association Senior Regional tournament.
It will be the second straight year the facility will host the event, which is one of the final tune-ups before the regular tour kicks off next week.
For Bill Hanson, owner of All-Star Lanes, it's an opportunity to put his facility on the map as one of the best in the area and an honor to be asked to do it again.
"They contacted me to do it again. It was successful last year, and we think it can be this year," Hanson said. "It's nice to bring professional bowling to North Fort Myers."
The tournament will encompass the south region, with goes from North Carolina south and from Louisiana east.
Hanson said he expects between 70 and 80 bowlers to come, with some of them having great credentials, including PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker, who won the event last year and has 10 regular PBA and nine Senior PBA titles to his name.
"They tend to sign up at the last minute so they don't scare away the other bowlers," Hanson said. "They had until midnight Monday to sign up."
Hanson said the event gives the facility recognition, although it isn't as great a money maker as one would think, as hosting such an event costs about $2,500 for a regional, and as much as $15,000 for a national event.
In addition, the lanes are tied up for the professionals and oiled in a way so it makes things challenging for the pros.
But the publicity it gives All-Star Lanes is immeasurable, Hanson said.
"It gives us exposure within the bowling community. We have a heavy senior population and most of the bowlers appeal to people down here," Hanson said. "It's good for bowling."
The actual senior tour kicks off next week in New Port Richey. So, for most of the bowlers, this is a good final tune up before the spring tour kicks off in an event that could be considered the equal of the Nationwide Tour in the PGA, for seniors hungry to make it onto the full tour.
Among them is Lee Rucker a professional bowler who also runs the pro shop. Rucker bowled in the event last year, but fell ill during qualifying and failed to make the top 24.
He hopes for better luck this year, but bowling on his home lanes is a mixed blessing.
"It's nice that I don't have to travel, but it also creates a lot of pressure. You're bowling in front of your people and you want to do good," Rucker said. "It's added pressure but I bowl here. I practice here. That's one of the benefits for me running the shop."
The event starts on Friday evening with the pro-am. All bowlers will get an opportunity to player with their pros. It will be $20 for the Junior and Senior division and $30 for open division.
Squads will play at 6 and 8 p.m.
The winners in the Junior and Senior division will get trophies, while the open division will give out prize money. There were still some openings at press time.
The bowlers will qualify on Saturday, playing eight games in hopes of making the Top 24 on Sunday, who will play six head-to-head games, with the top 5 playing in a stepladder final that evening, just as they do on TV.
"It's a win-win. It gives us exposure and gives the fans a chance to see the guys they watched on TV when they were younger," Rucker said.
For more info, call All-Star lanes at 995-2138.