United States Bowling Congress

United States Bowling Congress
Abbreviation USBC
Type Ten-Pin Bowling
Headquarters 621 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, Texas, U.S.
Region served
Official language
Affiliations 3,000
Website bowl.com

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) is a sports membership organization dedicated to ten-pin bowling in the United States. It was formed in 2005 by a merger of the American Bowling Congress — the original codifier of all tenpin bowling standards, rules and regulations from 1895 onwards; the Women's International Bowling Congress — founded in 1916, as the female bowlers' counterpart to the then all-male ABC; the Young American Bowling Alliance, and USA Bowling. The USBC's headquarters are located in Arlington, Texas, after having moved from the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale, Wisconsin in November, 2008. The move enabled the USBC to combine its operations with the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA).[1]


The USBC is the national governing body for ten-pin bowling in the United States. It has approximately 3,000 local associations across the USA serving over 2 million members. Among its duties and responsibilities to these members are:[2]


Moses Bensinger was influential in setting up the American Bowling Congress (A.B.C.) in 1895.[3][4][5][6][7][8] On September 9, 1895, the A.B.C. was officially formed as a permanent organization at Beethoven Hall on east Fifth Street in New York City.[9][10] The A.B.C. had their first formal annual meeting four days later on September 13 at the Elephant club on Fulton Street in Brooklyn and adopted the proposed constitution and by-laws.[11] The new organization took effect officially on October 15, 1895.[12] It is a legislative body that enforces uniform bowlers' rules and regulations,[13][14][15] through a set of by-laws and a constitution of Articles,[16] for all in the United States to follow as the official standard for ten-pin bowling.[17][18][19][20] The A.B.C. standardizes and governs all bowling equipment as well for modern ten-pin bowling.[21] It is much like the baseball National League and the Bicycle law in the United States.[14] This was a codification of the preexisting rules and regulations through the by-laws of the American Bowling Congress.[22] It eliminated gambling on contests, since then prize money could be earned honestly in tournaments.[23][24] This was done by a uniform method of scoring that was enforceable by the A.B.C. bowling laws that then made it fair for all bowlers throughout the United States.[25][26][27][28] Bowling equipment made by the Brunswick Company, like the alleys, pins and balls, were uniform based on certain measurements and requirements set in place by the American Bowling Congress.[29][30][31][32] All the large national bowling centers with regulation Brunswick equipment were under the constitution and by-laws of the A.B.C. organization by 1905.[33][34][35]

Historically, the membership of the ABC was all male (white males only in 1916-1950), but beginning in 1993 women were permitted to join. In 1916 the Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC) was formed by a group of 40 women, and up until 2004 served as a partner organization of the ABC. The Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) was established in 1982, after previously existing as the American Junior Bowling Congress founded in 1958, to serve youth bowlers from pre-school through collegiate level. Prior to the formation of the USBC, the national governing body for bowling was USA Bowling, which oversaw the participation of Team USA in international events. These four organizations merged to form USBC on January 1, 2005.[2]

In 1994 86-year-old Joe Norris became the oldest player in ABC history to roll a 300 game.[36]

USBC Hall of Fame

The USBC Hall of Fame[37] was formed in 2005 by the merger of the ABC Hall of Fame (established 1941) and WIBC Hall of Fame (established 1953).

Through 2015, there are 412 Hall of Fame members[38] in five categories:

* Category introduced in 2011, with Jeff Richgels as the inaugural member.

The USBC Hall of Fame has its home at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame on the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas. The induction ceremony is held annually in the spring.[39]

USBC in the Media

The USBC Masters, one of four major tournaments on the PBA Tour, is conducted by the USBC with the finals televised live on ESPN as a part of the PBA Tour. The 2013 event was won by Australian Jason Belmonte[40]

The USBC Queens, one of two major women's professional tournaments, is conducted by the USBC with the finals televised live on ESPN2. The 2012 event was won by Diandra Asbaty.[41]

The USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships, a.k.a. ITC, the national championship of collegiate bowling, is conducted by USBC and has been televised on a tape-delay basis since 2002.[42] For the first time, in 2012, USBC also televised the Intercollegiate Singles Championships as part of a four-week series on CBS Sports Network.[43] Both events were televised in high definition for the first time in 2012.[44]

USBC was the presenting sponsor of the PBA Women's Series for three seasons, beginning with the 2007-08 season. In the 2009-10 season, USBC changed the name of its presenting sponsorship to BOWL.com, the organization's website, which was re-launched on August 3, 2009. USBC did not renew its sponsorship for the 2010-11 season.[45]

In 2007, USBC acquired the rights to the U.S. Women's Open from the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA). The event, which had been on a three-year hiatus since the disbanding of the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) in 2003, was telecast for five weeks on ESPN in September–October, 2007. ESPN again held multi-week broadcasts of the event in 2008, while ESPN2 did the same in 2009. In 2010, USBC reverted to a more traditional format and a one-day stepladder-style TV finals, airing live on ESPN2. That event was held in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with Kelly Kulick winning. Kulick became the first bowler ever to win the USBC Queens and US Women's Open in the same year.[46] USBC announced in May, 2010 that it would not conduct the US Women's Open in 2011,[45] as the BPAA had agreed to resume its association with the tournament. The TV finals took place June 30, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where Leanne Hulsenberg was crowned champion.[47]

In May 2008, USBC conducted a special, made-for-TV event called "Bowling's Clash of the Champions." The taped telecast was broadcast May 10 and 11 on CBS, marking the first time bowling had been broadcast on regular network television since June 26, 1999.[48] The event featured eight male and eight female bowlers representing youth, college, senior, amateur and professional bowlers who had won recent USBC titles. It was won by Lynda Barnes.[49] The event returned to CBS in 2009, when it was won by Chris Barnes, Lynda's husband.[50]

In 2009, USBC began showing championship competition live on its website, BOWL.com. This offering, which is free to all users, was designed to give viewers additional coverage of events that they wouldn't normally see.[51] In 2011, USBC moved this coverage to its YouTube channel, YouTube.com/BowlTV.[52] BowlTV's coverage was primarily anchored by Lucas Wiseman before he left the organization in December 2015.[53]

USBC rule changes

USBC rule changes occur at the national convention, and take effect for leagues starting after August 1 of each year. Rule changes are published in a new printed guide every two years. Updated rulebooks are available online at bowl.com.

SMART Program

The SMART program (Scholarship Management and Accounting Report for Tenpins) was established in 1994 in order to manage and store bowling scholarships until the youth bowler requests the use of the scholarships for college.[54] The bowling scholarships can be from winning tournaments to filling out scholarship application forms. Recently the validity of the term "scholarship" for the SMART program has been questioned by the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association). The association questions where the education requirements are in earning the "scholarships." Most bowling scholarships earned are from winning a tournament, and are awarded as a cash prize in the form of a scholarship with no GPA or formal scholarly work necessary to claim the money once in college. This in turn has caused the MHSAA to rule high school athletes "ineligible" due to "accepting cash, checks, or any other form of award over $25 in value." This rule is highly debated and has questionable means of enforcement.[55] To receive such scholarships, the athlete must simply sign into their SMART account and fill out the necessary information whereupon the money is sent directly to the schools, not given to the athlete themselves. There are special circumstances which allow money be sent directly to the athlete.[56]



  1. Miller, Mark. "Preparations for USBC's new home in Texas begin." Article at www.bowl.com, July 23, 2008.
  2. 1 2 United States Bowling Congress "About USBC" page
  3. Jones 2012, p. 66.
  4. Riess & Gems 2009, p. 13.
  5. Pfister 2013, p. 47.
  6. Mitchell 2001, p. 401.
  7. Martin & Lehman 1994, p. 298.
  8. Cayton, Andrew R. L., Editor; Sisson, Richard; Zacher, Chris. The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 26, 2016. In 1895, Moses Bensinger of the Brunswick Company founded the primarily mid-western American Bowling Congress.
  9. Bunyan 2010, p. 164.
  10. "New Rules for Bowlers". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. September 10, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  11. "American Bowling Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. December 30, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  12. "Bowlers leave today for Buffalo Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. January 19, 1902 via Newspapers.com .
  13. Belsky 2016, p. 190.
  14. 1 2 "American Bowling Congress / It will introduce uniform playing Rules throughout the country". St. Louis Dispatch. St. Louis. January 22, 1896 via Newspapers.com .
  15. "A.B.C. Institutes Tourney Reforms". Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 1, 1911 via Newspapers.com .
  16. "A Bowling Congress". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. January 14, 1896 via Newspapers.com .
  17. Schmidt 2007, p. 4.
  18. Grasso & Hartman 2014, p. 27.
  19. "New Bowling Rules". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. October 12, 1895 via Newspapers.com .
  20. "BOWLING". Harrisburg Telegraph. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. January 19, 1945 via Newspapers.com .
  21. Rotary International 1960, p. 57.
  22. Wiedman 2015, p. 9.
  23. Nauright & Parrish 2012, p. 407.
  24. "Among the Local Bowlers". Pittsburgh Daily Post. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. September 11, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  25. "Western Bowlers Firm". Indianapolis News. Indianapolis, Indiana. January 27, 1904 via Newspapers.com .
  26. "Another Row at the Tourney". Minneapolis. Minneapolis, Minnesota. March 22, 1906 via Newspapers.com .
  27. "Tourney Trouble". Morning News. Wilmington, Delaware. March 23, 1906 via Newspapers.com .
  28. "Trouble Started in Bowling Meet". Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake, Utah. March 24, 1906 via Newspapers.com .
  29. De Puy 1908, p. 552.
  30. Werner Company 1905, p. 562.
  31. "Bowling Notes". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. October 25, 1900 via Newspapers.com .
  32. "American Bowling Congress restricts weight of ball to 16 1/2 pounds". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. February 24, 1903 via Newspapers.com .
  33. "On The Bowling Alleys". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. January 15, 1905 via Newspapers.com .
  34. "Champion Bowlers compete for $10,000 in prizes". Arkansas Democrat. Little Rock, Arkansas. February 19, 1905 via Newspapers.com .
  35. "Big Bowling Tourney Is On". Reading Times. Reading, Pennsylvania. February 20, 1905 via Newspapers.com .
  36. www.nytimes.com
  37. United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame official webpage. USBC website. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  38. Cannizzaro, Matt (December 30, 2015). "Adler, Durbin to join USBC Hall of Fame in 2016". bowl.com. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  39. United States Bowling Congress "Hall of Fame" page
  40. Australia’s Jason Belmonte Wins First Major, Tops Wes Malott in USBC Masters Title Match, pba.com on Feb. 24, 2013.
  41. Official Queens webpage
  42. Official ITC webpage
  43. Official ISC webpage
  44. 1 2 USBC press release
  45. USOC's official bowling webpage
  46. BPAA press release
  47. "Special event brings bowling back to network television" January 22, 2008.
  48. Bill Zuben
  49. Bowling Digital
  50. BOWL.com
  51. Lucas Wiseman, the main voice of BowlTV, leaves USBC after 13 successful years
  52. "USBC SMART Program Manual" (PDF). USBC SMART Program. United States Bowling Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  53. Allen, Randy. "MHSAA Bowling Coaches Rules Meeting PowerPoint". MHSAA Bowling Coaches Rules Meeting. MHSAA. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  54. "USBC SMART Program Manual" (PDF). USBC SMART Program. United States Bowling Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2011.


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