North American Bowling News

Will the 3rd Time Be the Charm for Candlepins?

Or more pointedly, will the 3rd time be the break-through year for Halifax, MA's Bob Whitcomb?

Being one of the Candlepin game's premiere players, Whitcomb will be readying himself for the DPBA tour later this year in an attempt to become the first candlepin bowler to win a pro duckpin event. Whitcomb has really made a splash on the pro duckpin circuit since his debut on the tour in 2009. It was in August of that year that Bob nearly made history, as he finished 3rd in an unprecedented overall performance.

Whitcomb returned to the duckpin scene during the candlepin off-season in 2010 with a solid performance at White Oak Lanes. Although he didn't advance to the semi-final round that day, he did roll a not-too-shabby 1103 total for his 8-game qualifier block. But Bob rebounded at Town Hall Lanes the following month, revisiting the scene of his 2009 triumphant debut, and he once again qualified for the semi-finals and attained a 3-2 won/lost record in match play, finishing one game behind the division winner, hall-of-famer Peter Pierce.

In spite of being a big, strapping individual in physical size, Whitcomb is a phenom for small ball bowling in that he's been able to make a successful transition from the smaller, lighter weight balls of candlepin bowling, to the increased one pound in weight (about a 40% increase) and larger diameter duckpin balls.

Candlepin bowling involves the use of bowling balls that are approximately 4¾" in diameter, at a weight of about 2 lbs, 8 oz. To generate decent pin action in the candlepin sport, a good deal of velocity is advantageous, and makes a significant difference when migrating to duckpins, where creating additional pin action helps with striking.

Tens, Ducks, and Candle Balls. Kind of like comparing planets Nepture, Earth, and Mercury

Shown here are the size differences between candlepins and duckpins, along with an overall comparison to the size of a tenpin ball.

Whitcomb feels that bowling duckpins in the candlepin off-season strengthens his candlepin game. But to excel in the manner that Bob has progressed in duckpins is truly remarkable, especially when you consider the stamina involved with heaving the heavier ball accurately for a span of 8 games during preliminary rounds, and then a minimum of 5 games during the Sunday semifinals—and, on consecutive days. Keep in mind also, that all of the above is performed in a competitive atmosphere where a bowler is putting a lot into each and every delivery. (Editor's note to all the duckpin bowlers: Try rolling a 4½ lb. ball for 8 straight games!)

The mingling of Bob Whitcomb as a candlepinner in DPBA tournaments does in fact pose a competitive threat to the pros on the duckpin tour. However, the overall picture is a rosy one for the Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association, as membership will undoubtedly increase with the addition of candlepin bowlers, just as was the case with the intermixing of fivepin bowlers into the tour.

Fivepin entrants have been on the increase and more are slated to join the DPBA in the coming year. Ultimately, the duckpin tour may end up mirroring the tenpin game's World Series of Bowling, except the variety will be in the combination of small ball games.

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