This Thanksgiving, we held a No-Tap tournament at Fugate’s Bowl-a-rama. This comes less than a week after the passing of Fred Fugate, the owner and proprietor of the Bowling center. It was hard to really get motivated to work on the lanes, knowing that Fred wouldn’t be there and that he had buried just 4 days before.Fred was a charismatic, straight laced man who told it as he saw and was super friendly with you the first time you met him. He took a small risk to take me on and allow me to work on the lanes, but I believe I have done him proud. I can only hope that we can continue his memory at the bowling center.
Now, after going to Thanksgiving lunch at Grandma Colwell’s place, Jennifer dropped me off at the bowling alley at about 3.15. The tournament was due to start at 7pm, so I had plenty of time get the work done have the lanes in good shape to bowl on.
After I got through with the lanes, there was still some 90 minutes before the tournament was due to start, so I decided to bowl a few games to get warmed. Three games later, I was wishing I hadn’t bothered. My timing was off, I couldn’t hit anything I was aiming at and I was pulling all my spare shots as well. I think the best game I shot over those three games was a meager 177. After those games were done, there was still about 30 minutes until we were due to start, so I decided to get a warm hoodie on and just mill around as people started to arrive. So I got my ball cleaned up and did just that: I waited and talked to a few friends as they strolled on in, stuff to the gills with turkey.
Now, to explain what a No-Tap tournament is, I first need to explain what a Tap is. The expression Tap is used whenever you throw what appears to be a perfect shot and you get left with a single, solitary pin staring back at you. Why is it called a Tap? Often, when this occurs, the pin that is left standing actually gets tapped by one of the surrounding pins as the leave the pin deck, it just doesn’t fall. This pin tends to be the 10 pin (7 pin for left handers), though its not unusual to see the 8 or 9 pins standing as well, but I digress. When you bowl a No-Tap tournament, every time you get tapped, you get credited with a strike, otherwise you need to clean up the spare that’s left. So whenever you leave a single pin on the pin deck, no matter what pin that is, you get credited with a strike. As you might imagine, this format of tournament rewards those bowlers who can consistently find the pocket, because the general rule of thumb is if you can hit the pocket, you will usually be left with a single pin spare, but it also rewards those that can pick up the majority of their spares, because those spares become even more important, since your odds of striking have just been increased. Okay, so thats the explanation of what No-Tap means, on to the tournament…
To chose teams, we had to draw a number. Obviously, those with the same number were teams mates. From there, you picked a lane to bowl on, then away you went. Now, I wasn’t feeling too confident, after the warm up session, but I knew I had committed myself to bowl and I had to bowl as good as I could, or I would be letting my partner down.
Thankfully, in the first game I drew one of the best bowlers in the house: Randy Claunch. Randy averages around 210 bowling in league, some 50 pins higher than me at present. So I open up with strike, then follow up with an 8-spare. From there things REALLY take off and I strike the next seven frames in a row. Meanwhile, Randy is having problems and by the 8th frame has left two open frames but still sets himself up for a decent 200 game. I finish the 10th with 8-spare, 8 for a grand total of 256. Randy finishes his 10th with three in a row for a 220 finish, giving us a team total of 476. Not bad, right? Well, Anthony Dixon and Troy Walker finish with a 531 after shooting 275 and 256 respectively. Whats more, there was another team that went just below that, with Ben Holliday posting a 278! With payouts going to the top two team scores, we missed out by a few of pins. Either way, I’m happy to because thats a good start to the night.
Game two. I draw Rick Wooton. We are put on a lane that has 4 teams on it, so the shot is likely to break down alot faster than the previous game, especially since there has already been a game bowled on it. Whats more, this game I’m bowling on the same pair as Ben Holliday. Fun times! LOL! So this game, I pretty much picked up where I left off, and open up with a strike and an 8-spare. Rick, however, gets out really fast with the first 5 in a row! I went on to strike the next 5 in a row, missing another couple in the 8th and 9th and finishing with a double and 6 count in the tenth for a respectable 247. Rick managed to keep his strike-athon going for a few more frames than started to lose a little steam. I think we finished up with a team game of about 456. Theresa Woolum and Bobby Nopliss, Jr. rolled 485 with 230 and 255, putting Rick and I in second place. This time, Rick and I manage to hold off the pack and keep our second place finish. Yes! I just made my money back!
The last game, I drew Bobby Nopliss, Jr. so I was hoping we would finish well for the night. As it turns out, the lanes we were on were the lanes I started on and were now well and truly dried up. Whats more, Bobby doesn’t usually bowl at this house. His dad does, but he doesn’t so much. He said he had been having trouble on the earlier pairs (didn’t he just bowl a 255?), one of which I had bowled on earlier, not realizing they would be part of the tournament pairs. Anyway, so we get started neither one of us starts well. I shoot a 9-spare and Bobby shoots an 8 count. The next frame, Bobby throws a strike and its my turn for an 9 count. This continues all the way up to the 5th frame, leaving me on 89 in the 5th and Bobby with 60 something. We both got firing from there. I decided to make a ball change in the 5th frame, going to something a little weaker, so it would push further through the now dried up midlane before hooking back to the pocket. We both struck the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th frames. I finished the 10th frame with double and 6 to finish with 235. Bobby unfortunately, left a split to shoot177. We had lost to the other team on our pair by 12 pins. At the point, I knew we were out of contention for any money spots.
In the end, I had got my money back, almost twice and managed to roll a 738. Yes, it was No-Tap, but the truth be told, I rolled more natural strikes than No-Tap strikes, just just 5 or 6 in the whole night, which still would put me in the high 600’s still. All in all, I had a great night and I think the tournament was a great success. We’re already planning the next one for December 23rd.
As I was leaving, I couldn’t help but notice Randy standing outside of Fred’s office peering in, with a somewhat sombre expression on his face. After the successes of the night, it was stone cold reminder of the fact that Fred was no longer among us. I think there will be many more moments such as Randy’s to come over the coming months. I can only hope that the memories we all keep will be warm ones.