His name is Jason Belmonte. He is the poster child for the two-handed bowling crowd. A native of Australia, "Belmo" now lives in Nice, France. He is also a member of the PBA Tour for 2008-09.
If you have ever seen Belmonte throw a bowling ball, you know what all the hype is about. The 25-year-old right hander is coming to the U.S. from the European Tour. Prior to that he powered his way through the Asian Tour.
Now he will bring his unorthodox style to our country, as he will bowl in select events on the PBA Tour. In fact, he already has competed in three tournaments. He averaged 228.39 in his first event, the PBA World Championships. Though he had the second highest average in the field, he finished 10th.
In the Carmen Salvino Scorpion Championship he matched the scoring average, shooting 228.35, but was destined to finish 29th. A 60th-place finish in the Cheetah Championship where he averaged just a little over 196 may have people wondering about his ability.
I wouldn't dismiss him just yet. He has been successful everywhere he has gone, and I think he will be just fine on our Tour. It may take some time as he will be going up against the best in the world, but I think you will find him in the winner's circle and probably very soon.
His two-handed style is unique to say the least. It requires a lot of athleticism to just throw the ball the way he does. The most obvious benefit of the two-handed approach is the high revs it produces. His support hand allows his dominant hand to stay in a high rev position far underneath the ball.
So just how much difference are we talking about? Belmonte can generate between 575 and 630 revolutions. For comparison purposes, hard-throwing PBA star Tommy Jones generates about 500 rpm. The extra revs and speed allows the ball to cut through the pins. When he is on, the pins just explode into the pit.
Belmonte is not the first person to bring the two-handed approach to the PBA Tour. In 2003 Finland's Osku Palemaa went all the way to the title match against Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the U.S. Open. There are also a few bowlers in the U.S that use the two-handed style, but no two seem to be the same.
Neither Belmonte nor Palemaa utilize the thumb hole, while others do. Belmonte uses two hands on his spare attempts. Palemaa uses the more conventional one hand, but that may be enough considering that he clocks above 35 mph on his conversion tries
Since the two-handed approach has gained popularity around the globe, U.S. coaches are trying to get a grasp on the techniques used by Belmonte and others. The biggest concern is the physical impact the style will have on bowlers over the long haul. Will bowlers like Belmonte and Palemaa still be able to wing the rock at age 45? No one as yet can answer that question.
Will U.S. coaches need to learn the fundamentals of the two-handed release so they can help our young bowlers who use it? Well consider this: The youngest bowler to shoot a 300 game is Chaz Dennis of Galloway, Ohio. He was 10 years and two months old when he got his perfecto.
The youngest to shoot an 800 series? Again it is young Mr. Dennis (11 years, six months). Guess what style of bowling he uses? Yep, it's two for Chaz. Maybe two hands are really better than one.
So do you think I will try this two-handed technique? First, I will need to have a conversation. Tune in next week and I'll let you know how the talk went.
Mark Huffman fired a 715 to pace the Wednesday Morning League. Aaron Sherman shot 673, Greg Elchert 650, Ken Lofton 623 and Nate Holzhaver 623. For the ladies Beth Jones had 502, Cindy Conger 454 and Sue Stine 454. In the Alley Cats League Robin Dickman shot 535, Pat Cook 522, Barb Kuhn 505, Heather Butler 501 and Donna Shriner 486.
Glen Churchill topped the Twilight League with 584, while Tom Tiell had 581, Jim Slosser 578, Kristin Fitch 482, Rhonda Fitch 477 and Robin Brownell 441. In the Imperial-Majorette League, Steve Steinmetz Jr. shot 662, Steve Steinmetz Sr. 548 and Mike Williams 526. On the ladies side Brenda Birmingham posted a 581, while Dawn Davis had 519, Carrie Frankart 507 and Jamie Davis 506.
Scores from the Sunday Night Rock N Roll League included Gary Golden 683, Mark Phillips 676, Dirk Nimocks 653, Tom Tiell 629, Brett Babcock 614 and Ben Hoyda 610. Carl Bishop led the Sportsman League with 627. Justin Hoepf added 605, Al Stephenson 597, Chris Peck 595, Ben Hoyda 581, Rich Yates Sr. 580 and Ken Butturff, Jr. 577.
At the K of C Lanes, John Arend shot 516 and Tim Gassner 506 in the Senior League. Tuesday Night League scores included Mike Distel 595, Jim Kingseed 571, Denny Lofay 566, Steve Depinet 562, Carl Prenzlin 555, Dave Depinet 544 and Bill Lord 537.
Have a Happy New Year everybody!
Al Stephenson is the A-T's bowling columnist