In sports, dedication and intensity can elevate one's game to the top level.
|Bowler Brian Close with his ball at lane 9 in Al-Mar Lanes. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Such is the case for one local bowler. Brian Close has been a keen bowler from an early age. His emphasis recently earned him his 50th career 300 game.
Close, called simply BC around local lanes, first began bowling at age 6. With his 50th "perfect game," at the age of 42, the Perrysburg resident has reached a plateau few bowlers achieve.
As a younger man, he regularly crossed the boundaries of respectful behavior on the lanes. Close would display strong emotion in both language and actions when he failed to strike.
Bill Wammes, proprietor of Al-Mar Lanes, recalls being one of his teammates the first year Close joined the adult leagues.
"He could barely hook the ball, but you could tell the kid had a lot of talent. He needed to learn how to bowl," Wammes said.
More importantly, he had to work on his attitude. After rebuking Close for his choices, Wammes gave him a book to read, "The Mental Game" by George Allen. He said Close read it and heeded the message.
Among the synonyms for intensity are wildness, deepness, strength, concentration and fervor. Close has embodied all those varied traits.
For non-bowlers, a 300 game consists of all 12 strikes in any given game. Though modern conditions and technology have increased the number of 300 games rolled, the vast majority of bowlers are still waiting on their first 300.
Close's first came in 1992 in a city bowling tournament being held at Varsity Lanes. His 50th also was achieved in a tournament, the "Super Bowl" event held at Al-Mar.
Because of his intensity, many of Close's 300s have been rolled in tournaments, including two in the Ohio Championships in back-to-back years (2010-2011). He is also proud of his two consecutive 300 games rolled in the Shammy Burt tournament in Toledo in 2009.
The top bowler was inducted into the Bowling Green Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 2005, one of the youngest to achieve the honor.
Though 300 games gain the most notoriety, an 800 series is more difficult to achieve. He has 21 of those including his career best of 841, bowled about five years ago.
"I think those (800 series) are better than the 300s because you have to bowl good all three games," Close said.
He is also very proud of having the high game bowled in the Peterson Classic in Chicago one year when he shot a 279 game. That tournament is a rare test for bowlers, as no two lanes are dressed similarly with very heavy pins and other challenging conditions.
"The Peterson is absolutely brutal," Wammes said of that challenge.
The power-bowling Close is extremely proud of being able to average 200 for his 21 years in the national tournament. Formerly the American Bowling Congress, now the United States Bowling Congress event, challenges bowlers on difficult lane conditions. This year he totaled 1,926 for nine games, a 214 average. His 728 series in singles places him in 45th place among the thousands of bowlers entered, with a few weeks remaining.
"It's a small group that can claim that kind of average for that period of time," Wammes said of the ABC/USBC average. "That's a bigger feat than averaging 225 in a league in Bowling Green, Ohio."
Close's high average is 231 in Bowling Green.
Wammes said Close's games were rolled in numerous different bowling centers on a variety of conditions.
"That makes the number more impressive to me," Wammes said.
Not surprisingly, Close works at a bowling center. He has served in various roles at Al-Mar including his current post as food and beverage manager.
"As an employee, he has a great work ethic and he is a valuable asset," Wammes said.
Close also works part-time as a cook at Ralphies in Perrysburg.
When not on the lanes, Close likes to play golf. He has yet to earn golf's version of a 300 game, a hole-in-one.
Though his intensity remains, he has definitely toned down his wildness.
"I just like to bowl and have fun," Close said.
He credits his father, Chuck, with teaching him the fundamentals.
"Brian started at a young age, and he always took it pretty serious," his father said. "He's just phenomenal and obviously I'm very, very proud of him. He has really worked at it."
Stressing the outstanding accomplishments, his father shared his son had 35 300 games, before his own first of five.
"It took me 40 years to get my first one," Chuck Close said.
BC and his wife, Tracy, have a 4-year-old son, Brock, who already has bowled a high game of 61. A third generation talent is brewing.