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In Striking Distance

Published Sep. 9, 2005

Recent renovations at Spring Hill Lanes and Mariner Lanes are aimed to keep bowling just as popular now as it has been in the past.

Two popular Spring Hill bowling alleys are getting back in shape and hoping to score strikes with updated facilities.

After months of renovations, the scaffolding has been cleared from the facade of Spring Hill Lanes, 3447 Commercial Way, revealing revamped arched windows and columned entrances.

Inside, a newly renovated snack bar sports black and pink checked tile in the diner style that was popular in the 1950s. The facelift won an award for "best snack bar renovation" from Bowler's Journal.

"I think our customers like the idea that we put money back into the place," general manager George Martins said as he staffed the front desk during Monday afternoon league play. "They feel like they can watch us grow."

The yearlong, $900,000 project also included a new ventilation system that cleans the air of smoke and keeps things comfortable for bowlers at all 44 lanes, Martins said. New computerized scoreboards have sound effects and cartoon characters to announce strikes and spares.

"We want to shed the old idea of a dark, smokey bowling area," Martins said.

Across town at Mariner Lanes, 3544 Mariner Blvd., about $20,000 worth of improvements have gone into the game room to make it the largest in Spring Hill, owner Edie Jo Norman said.

"It's always a challenge to keep things fresh and up to date," said Norman, who built the lanes in 1989. "We are constantly renovating, replacing, renewing and updating. It's unbelievable what goes into it."

About $100,000 worth of gaming equipment is in the area at any one time, Norman said, and the games are frequently rotated to bring in new ones. Currently, the game room has four pool tables, an air hockey table, several racing machines and miniature basketball hoops.

Birthday parties, teen nights and Cosmic Bowling with lights and music are all popular draws at both Mariner Lanes and Spring Hill Lanes. Norman said the reason is that bowling alleys try to reach out to those who only want to bowl for fun without the competition of joining a league.

"We strive to have something for all of them," she said. "Our future is in the younger bowlers."

Although his right arm is in a sling, thanks to recent shoulder surgery, Steve Stevens came to Spring Hill Lanes recently to support his bowling league, the Timber Pines Monday Bowling League.

"My substitute bowled a 220," he said with a laugh. "That's pretty darn good, if you ask me."

A five-year customer of Spring Hill Lanes, Stevens, 61, said he has watched the renovations from the beginning.

"I think they've done a fantastic job," he said. "It's important that they keep up with the times and keep things nice. I can't wait to get back out there. I'm ready to go."

Games at Spring Hill Lanes are $2.10 during the day and $2.35 in the evenings.

At Mariner Lanes, games cost $2.20 for adults and $2.05 for kids and seniors during the day. During the evening, games are $2.45 for everyone.

At both alleys, league and other discounts may apply.