Bailey’s Tiger Bowl in Battle Ground is one of the first bowling alleys in the country to utilize the Edge String Pinspotter, which is a new technology that helps cut costs when operating a bowling lane.
Robin Bailey, a co-owner of the alley, said she incorporated the new pin system in November, which eliminated the need for a professional engineer to operate the equipment.
“John Searcy shot the first 300 the first night that we had (the string pinspotter),” Bailey said. “We have a league on Friday nights that’s called ‘the thousand-dollar double,’ and he was the first one to do 300 on the new machines. And then Zac Hawkins had a 300 and all these were during leagues.”
She said Hawkins was overdue to score a 300. He was able to do that in late May on the day the winter leagues concluded. Across his three games on that day, Hawkins scored a total of 721, while Searcy scored a total of 739 on his last day in the league.
The new technology has helped improve the experience of their customers, Bailey said.
“It’s done really good,” Bailey said. “The averages aren’t that big of a difference. We call what we have string pins. What we used to have was called freefall. The (old) machines have been here since 1958 when the building opened, and so it was time to get new machines, and the new machines have been wonderful for us because we don’t need a mechanic anymore like we did before, and it’s a lot better of an experience for our customers.”
Other things were added in November, like bumpers, a new scoring system, and online reservations, she said.
“After living through COVID, we were only open 12 weeks out of 52 in 2020, so this was a really great boost for us,” Bailey said.
Bailey admits it was scary to adopt the string pin technology at first, but she is happy with how it’s turned out. Since bowling is a traditional sport, she wasn’t sure how the new changes would be received, especially by experienced bowlers, but Bailey is glad she took the risk.
Bowlers from Japan also came to observe the pinspotter. They now plan to use the technology at their alleys, she said.
Bailey said local bowlers were nervous about the changes in the beginning but noted the business has since received positive feedback.
“It’s nice to be able to go through league and not have a machine break down or anything like that,” she said.
In the long term, Bailey said the new technology will bring more longevity to the alley.
“It’s going to keep things going because it’s really hard to find people to work on the older machines we had before. … I don’t have to have someone who’s gone to mechanic school to work at our bowling alleys,” she said.
Each Edge String Pinspotter comes with a toolbox that does not require a professional to use them. Once the pins are knocked down, strings attached to the pins lift them back in place for the next round.
Along with being easier to operate, Bailey said the pinspotter saves over 45% on the electric bill, since it is more energy-efficient.
Ron Hawkins, an experienced bowler, said the pinspotter technology has not yet been sanctioned by the United States Bowling Congress, but he noted they’re in the process of approving it so more alleys can utilize it. He also said the pinspotter only costs one-tenth of a freefall machine. The freefall machines can cost as much as $100,000 per lane if it’s built from scratch, he said.
Bailey’s Tiger Bowl is located at 211 N. Parkway Ave., Battle Ground.
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