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Secret of their success: Keep rules to a minimum

Buck Johnson's year-around senior bowlers can't seem to get enough of the sport, probably because they march to a different drummer.

"Even though we are sanctioned with the ABC-WIBC, we have very few rules and regulations," Johnson said, "and that's why our bowlers really enjoy the game."

As a matter of fact, the Lunch Bunch Senior League at Unity Lanes in Zephyrhills doesn't even have teams, a treasurer or a bank account. It does, however, have a president, John Baron, and Johnson has been its secretary since the league was formed about five years ago. That's it for league officers.

Seniors bowl to a tune called "preferred singles," not a new league concept in the industry but one that seems to have caught on with the seniors here.

"Our seniors bowl against their own averages," Johnson explained. "If they bowl above their average, they get four points. If they bowl right on their average, they get three points, and, if they score within five pins of their average, they get two points.

"If they just show up, they get one point," Johnson said with a laugh.

Therein lies the secret to the league's year-round success.

"There is no schedule except that I am here on Friday mornings and the lanes are reserved for our league," Johnson said. "You are not penalized for not showing up and, if you do, you have a chance to win the points championship."

Points are accumulated over a six-week period, a champion is declared, and the race starts all over again. There's no team competition, no quarterly league champion, no rolloffs, and no hassle.

About 40 seniors bowl in the league, many of them all year long. "Our bowlers have no qualms about bowling all year long," Johnson said. "Our summer attendance is about 20-25 bowlers and it goes up to 35-40 bowlers in winter."

You have to be 55 years or up to join, but any other requirement beyond that is moot.

Rudy Bretzke, about 92, is the league's senior senior and carries about a 140 average. Stuart McQuay might be the next oldest and has a 124 average. "We don't discuss ages, only averages," Johnson joked.

Virginia Wilcox and Doris Collins each carry 157 averages and Betty Thomas has a 152 mark.

Ron Baker is high for average in the league with a 172, followed by Myles Murray at 169, Emmet Collins at 166, and Jack Fink at 165. A 258 is the highest game, possibly rolled by Collins, but Johnson's not sure of that either.

The league average is 142, pretty good for a senior bunch.

"We pay a fee that's supposed to include a lunch, too, but I'm not sure what that is and sometimes we don't eat either," Johnson said.

What the Lunch Bunch seniors actually do is ad lib their way through a summer full of fun, an altogether charming and successful idea.

Challenge finals set: Florida will field two teams in the ABC National Team Challenge Grand Championship at Reno, Nev., this weekend.

Scime Signs of Windermere, which won the challenge at Seminole Lanes last January, and Thermocarbon of Altamonte Springs, which lost to Scime Signs, are among the 12 teams in the competition. The winner earns $10,000 out of the $27,750 prize fund.

Thermocarbon came back to win its spot in the Atlanta regional. Ebonite Crush/R of Hopkinsville, Ky., earned the final team spot June 13.

Orlando centers busy: The Florida State YABA tournament and the state Team USA rolloffs will keep three Orlando area centers busy this weekend.

Nearly 2,000 youngsters from YABA qualifying programs across the state will compete in their two-day event. Suncoast area centers are sending more than 400 youngsters to the competition.

Seminole left-hander Bill Zuben and North Miami Beach's Laura Leavy will defend their state titles in the Team USA rolloffs at Colonial Lanes.

Burks-Angelus win: Youngster Tim Burks and adult Billy Angelus won the youth-adult no-tap Scotch doubles A Division championship at Lane-Glo Bowl on June 13. They rolled a handicap 753 series.

Rob Bedford and Bill Angelus won the B Division with a 795; Mike Stanzione and Jesse Perry were C Division winners with a 791; and Ryan and Rex Weirich won D Division with an 817.