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Bowling tournament takes Ayr Lanes to next level PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:53

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



The facility at the Ayr Lanes bowling alley has been recently revamped, and this weekend, the lanes will see some of the best of the best in Liberal to knock over as many pins as they can.

Ayr Lanes is playing host to the PBA Liberal Southwest Open, and Kelly Hill of Ayr Lanes said this tournament came as part of a commitment made to the center after the renovations took place.

“When we bought the bowling alley, our long-term goal was to revamp bowling in Liberal, revive it in Liberal, and staying true with those things comes along to the next level,” he said.

Also as part of that commitment, Ayr Lanes has hosted some tournaments, much of which took place after what Hill called two years of mess.

“The first year was remodel, moving in and building the restaurant, and then we had to close down with the rain and the flood,” he said.

With the work now done, Hill said the bowling alley got through last season, and now, there is a brand new state-of-the-art facility welcoming bowlers this weekend.

“What better way to show that off and continue with it than to bring in some of the best of the best,” he said. “That’s holding a regional PBA event. This is one of many events. We’d like to make it an annual thing.”

Hill said a good turnout is expected for this weekend, including a youth from Garden City, who won a regional last week in Oklahoma.

“He’ll be here,” he said. “There will be a lot of really good players in here this weekend.”

And the Liberal PBA event is bringing in people from other locales in the region as well, Hill said.

“I heard there’s a guy from Durango, Colorado, that’s signed up,” he said. “I know of a couple from Kansas City, couple from Dallas, Houston. There’s one from Houston. There’s a couple from Oklahoma City. We’re the southwest region, and that encompasses, I think, five or six different states.”

The Southwest Open starts Friday with a practice session from 2 to 4 p.m., a sweeper starting at 4 p.m. and a pro-am beginning at 6:30 p.m. Hill said the fun, which continues through Sunday afternoon, is part of a PBA qualifier.

“This counts toward the PBA 2018 Grand Casino Resort,” he said. “That’s their annual points competition for that. The four-game sweeper we’re having on Friday afternoon, that’s where a local bowler or an area bowler, they can see how they stack up against the pros. They’re going to bowl on the same pattern as the pros will for the weekend, and they’ll get to go head to head and see how they do.”

Hill said some better area bowlers likely will not bowl in the weekend’s pro tournament, but could likely participate in the sweeper.

“I have to think they’ll probably do okay,” he said.

Hill said bringing a tournament of this significance to Liberal is just part of doing things right. He added getting it here has been a process, which he said has to be trusted.

“We had a great restaurant,” he said. “We bought the bowling alley. We started improving the bowling alley. We ran into some hiccups there getting it done, but now, we have one of the nicest bowling alleys in the world for that matter. This just continues on. It means we’re still doing it right.”

This weekend’s PBA tournament is a scratch event, and Hill said this is just the beginning of the plans for events at Ayr Lanes.

“Professional bowlers and bowlers, highly competitive bowlers, make up about 5 percent of our total bowling population around the country,” he said. “We look forward to some larger, well-planned handicapped tournaments for your bowlers that aren’t scratch bowlers. It evens the playing field. I have a chance bowling against the good guys as much as they do. I think the pro-am side is a good time for amateurs to be around someone that’s an excellent bowler. They’ll do some trick shots and stuff while they’re bowling with them.”

Hill emphasized that bringing events such as the Southwest Open to Liberal and Ayr Lanes is a great chance for everyone to see the work in both the bowling alley and the community as a whole.

“We’re proud of our facility,” he said. “We’re proud of what we have. We’re proud of everything we offer in our total package. We’re not just a bowling alley now, We’re not just a restaurant. We’re a total entertainment center, and these people are going to come in. They’re going to bowl their eight games, and after that, they’re free. They’re going to want to do something in Liberal, and it’s just one more feather in Liberal’s hat. They can say, ‘Maybe we are doing something that Dodge, Garden and those folks aren’t doing’ because they’re not holding PBA tournaments.”

With first place taking home $4,000, much above the average PBA payout of $1,200 for the top finisher, and 16th place taking home $600 and final cash spots guaranteed a minimum of $450, Hill said there will be plenty of prize money for those who take part in the Liberal tournament.

“That’s how you attract the best players,” he said. “It’s the money.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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