Meet a local professional bowler.
The last time that local readers heard from Brian Menini, owner of the Brookfield Bowl and professional bowler, he had placed fifth in the World Series of Bowling in 2010. After that, and some other regional PBA Tour wins, Menini stepped aside from the tour to focus on his business.
“I decided to focus on paying bills, and making the upgrades that we've made at the Brookfield Bowl,” said Menini. “Financially, it costs $220 to enter the event, then it costs about $75 for gas. Then you put hotel stays and meals on top of that, and you can end up with a $400-$500 bill for a weekend. If you are one of the last to cash out, you lose money. So when you have a few of those in a row, that can take a toll on you.”
Cashing out at a PBA Tour event happens for the top-third of entrants. These payouts are basically the entry fee for the tournament in some cases. Menini, though, ever the professional athlete, was bitten by the competition bug once again.
“I decided to get back into [competitive bowling] by bowling more local events, which allowed me to save some money up to re-enter the tour,” said Menini. “I turn 49 soon, and when I turn 50, I’m eligible for the PBA Senior Tour.”
Menini continued: “It's scary to think about being a senior, but I’ve been getting ready for that. When I join that tour, I’ll compete in national events. It'll be nice, but I’ll also be competing against some of the biggest names in bowling history.”
Recently, Menini competed at a pair of PBA events. He got his feet wet at a Regional event in Junction City, Ks. Menini qualified for the final day of competition, and cashed out with a 15th place finish.
The next event, held over Father’s Day weekend, saw the local pro earn some more success. He traveled to the PBA Glo Bowl Midwest Open in Marengo Il. Menini qualified in the top eight in eight games, and earned a spot in the eight-man match play the next day to determine a champion.
Menini explained that the PBA Tour uses different oil patterns on the lane, in an effort to make things more challenging for professional bowlers. In contrast, the oil used for recreational bowling helps guide the ball to the optimal striking area.
“The PBA Tour has several different patterns,” said Menini. “When you bowl recreationally, there is always oil on the lane. It's designed to guide your ball into the pocket. It's drier on the outside, and guides your ball to the center.”
He continued: “When we bowl on the Tour, there are many different oil patterns, where different areas are slicker or drier than recreational bowling. The idea is to make things more challenging for the pros, and requires more skill. I take 15 balls with me to a tournament due to the different surfaces, layouts, and oil patterns. You have to decide what to throw, when to throw, and when to make a change.”
Menini won this event in match play, besting A.J. Johnson in a best of five series; Nathan Michalowski in a best of three series; and winning the title 241-228 over David Beres in a one-game match.
Menini’s passion for professional bowling has been a lifelong pursuit. When he left the Air Force as a young father, he supported his burgeoning family by throwing as many games in Nevada as he could manage.
“It would have cost me over $1200 per week to bowl professionally when I was in my twenties,” said Menini. “So you had to work your way up, I used to bowl eight leagues in a week when I got out of the Air Force. I bowled three double shifts, and then a single shift. I would take my infant daughter with me, and would make money in side pots, and side games.”
Menini concluded: “It's like any other professional sport, you have to build your skill-set in order to get better. They are always changing the balls and the oil patterns. You have to work to get better. My ultimate goal is to get the Rookie of the Year award, and Player of the Year award on the Senior Tour. It would mean a lot to me.”