Bowling as a sport has been traced all the way back to the 3rd century A.D., and is said to have been begun by the German church. Parishioners would set up a club, or Kegel, which represented a sinner and roll a rock or stone at it in an effort to knock it down. If the parishioner did knock the Kegel over, the sinner was freed of sin.
Bowling eventually moved away from the church and became a pastime for common folk. The stone was replaced with a wooden ball; the Kegel with pins. Many events included bowling during the Middle Ages in Germany. Bowling then migrated to Spain, Switzerland, Austria and down from there. During this time, bowling branched off into an indoor game as well. It was moved into sheds that were covered or buildings with the lanes being made from sun-baked clay or wood.
Bowling came to the America during the 17th century, along with the Dutch colonists. The game they brought had 9 pins that were set up in the form of a triangle. Bowling Green, NY is the place where this Dutch version of bowling was the most popular.
At that time, bowling as a sport was mostly associated with taverns and inns. Ninepins, as it was called was banned in the state of Connecticut in 1841, due to the rampant gambling associated with it. It was later banned in other states as well.
Some people believe that the modern version of bowling was invented to get around this ban on Ninepins. This new version of indoor bowling gained popularity after indoor lanes were introduced in New York around the mid-nineteenth century.
The rules and standardization of bowling and bowling equipment came about in 1875. At that time, 11 New York bowling clubs gathered to set these regulations up. They were able to agree on the most basic rules, but not on the pin size or lane width.
In 1895, at Beethoven Hall, the ABC, or American Bowling Congress, was born. 300 became the established maximum score of the game. It was also set forth that the amount of space between pins would be 12 inches.
At that first meeting, only Buffalo, New York City and Brooklyn NY were represented. Cincinnati, Lowell, and Boston, Massachusetts joined the following year. The first man to ever get a perfect score in a league, while following the regulations of the ABC was Ernest Fosberg who was from Rockford, Ill. The year after, handicaps were introduced by E. D. Peifer. Until then, bowling was only based on actual scores. In 1906 is when bowling balls switched from being made of wood, to a more easily regulated hard rubber, and the maximum weight for them was set at 16lbs.Bowling balls made of hard rubber came about in 1906. This was when the maximum weight for a bowling ball was set at 16 pounds.
In the 192O’s the prohibition led to an increase in the popularity of bowling; it gave people something else to do. 1939 saw the advent of certification and annual inspections to bowling alleys, to see that they were safe and met regulations, before people were allowed to play on them. Until 1939, black people in America had no place to bowl, so The National Negro Bowling Association was founded then as well.
In 1948 arrow markers and dots were added to lanes, drastically improving bowlers’ ability for accuracy. After that, the PBA, or Professional Bowlers Association was started by Eddie Elias in 1958. There were originally 33 members, and the organization held 3-4 tournaments per year. The amount of these tournaments rose greatly in the ‘60’s, many believe because of television. In bowling tournaments now, the stepladder arrangement is used for finalists. The players with the top 5 scores are in the finals. 5th and 4th place compete. Then, the winner of that match competes against 3rd place and so on. The first place winner gets a special reward, such as gifts or cash money.