The Proprietor's Cup Megabuck bowling tournament took place this past Sunday at Beaver Vu Bowl in Dayton, Ohio. Going into this event, I didn't know what to expect, nor did many other bowlers for that matter. How many bowlers would actually pay the $1,100 entry fee? In this economy, most would say not many.
Then there's Billy Eysoldt and Wayne Hathcock. These two fearless bowling enthusiasts are the creators of the Proprietor's Cup Megabuck bowling tournament. The effort put forth by these two Beaver Vu Bowl employees has no words to describe just how hard they worked to bring this tournament to fruition.
They did it right. They partnered with Ace Mitchell Distributor's Scott Shreve to bring a plethora of today's bowling greats to a team event on Friday night which generated 200+ highly talented bowlers. The Ace Mitchell Team Challenge had nearly every bowling company represented and each were loaded with their greatest talents. This was part 1 of their plan to drive entries for the Proprietor's Cup. With lots of brackets on Friday, some people would get back enough money to be able to pay for the $1,100 entry into the Proprietor's Cup. To see the results of the Ace Mitchell Team Challenge, visit my previous blog written Saturday.
Another large part of their marketing strategy was to hold satellite events throughout the country where bowler's could qualify for 1/10 the entry fee. Eysoldt traveled to Bowl Expo to push this concept to all of the proprietor's that attended. His vision is to create an event driven by proprietors, hence.... The Proprietor's Cup name.
Eysoldt's Facebook marketing is also another place where he thrives to be the very best. He contacted as many bowlers and news organizations as he could to help bring awareness to his Proprietor's Cup group on Facebook. We all got updates when new bowlers entered, and you could see a real genuine approach to his promotional tactics. He also hired us to do live-streaming as well as promoted through various message boards and online bowling shows. If this event would fail, you certainly couldn't say it's due to a lackluster marketing effort.
Saturday's action began at 11AM CST with 55 total entries. Among the entries were reigning PBA Player of the Year and most recent ESPY winner Sean Rash. Other touring professionals included Tom Hess, Rhino Page, Ryan Shafer, Jason Couch, and Dave Wodka. One female participant took to the lanes and it was Dayton's own Shannon Pluhowsky. Pluhowsky is one of the best female bowlers in the country being a past collegiate All-American and Team USA member. Shannon works at Capri Lanes as general manager and conducts many bowling tournaments in Dayton. The rest of the bowlers ranged from some of the best amateur bowlers to PBA Champions. Of course, some Cinderella stories were to be had with some typical league bowlers mixed in as well.
I noticed right away that the scores were going to be very high. This should have been no surprise to anyone as it was announced that the condition would be on an easy lane pattern or "modified house shot". One media source that reported this was Jeff Richgels back on March 19th. Read his blog here.
After 6 games of qualifying it was Jason Couch who led the way at +382 (263.6 average). With 55 entries, this meant that 11 players would cash and advance to Sunday. 11th place after 6 games was Chuck Fischerkeller at +206 (234.3 average). PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash found himself in 9th place at +219 despite a 180 game to start his opening block.
After 12 games of qualifying the field was set for Sunday's cashers round. It took +399 (233.2 average) to make the cut to Sunday. 7 bowlers missed cashing by 50 pins or less including PBA stars Rhino Page and Sean Rash.
Advancing after 12 games of qualifying:
1st - Jason Couch +656
2nd - Anthony Pepe +608
3rd - Frankie Calca +546
4th - Shannon Pluhowsky +523
5th - Brandon Novak +521
6th - Jon Van Hees +499
7th - Dean Billings +440
8th - Jim Petzel +438
9th - Fero Williams +432
10th - Mason Brantley +428
11th - Tommy Gollick +399
Sunday began with 6 games of cashers qualifying. The 11 bowlers that took to the lanes were competing for 10 spots. Only 1 bowler would be eliminated which seemed a little silly, but the format of the tournament was published months ago and was designed with a higher number of entrants expected.
With 1 game to go, 3 players were fighting for the last 2 spots. Williams bowled a solid 229 game which locked up a spot by throwing the first strike in the 10th frame. Petzel and Billings were a frame behind, and I noticed Petzel had a strike up in the 9th but only had a 170 max score left. Billings wrapped a solid 10-pin in the 9th frame and then again couldn't strike in the 10th frame. Billings finished with 209 which left the door open for Petzel to grab the last spot. Petzel needed a double and good count to advance. He buried 3 solid strikes which sent Billings packing. Billings missed by 5 pins, but was the first person to congratulate Petzel. This showed me the type of character Dean Billings has. Billings received $1,100 for 11th place.
From here participants then moved to lanes 3-4 & 5-6 to bowl 2 game total-pin matches with 2 bowlers being eliminated after each round. They would keep moving right after each elimination until the final four were set. The final four would bowl the duration of the tournament on lanes 17-18. This allowed all players to bowl a game on each pair. It was the fairest way to determine who advanced and was well thought out.
The first casualties were Williams and Van Hees. Williams received $1,315 for 10th and Van Hees received $1,710 for 9th.
Action then resumed for the round of 8 which would then be cut down to 6. Finishing 8th was Jim Petzolt who received $2,475 and finishing 7th was Tommy Gollick who received $3,025.
The round of 6 provided a lot of talk in the chat as scores began to rise. It was here where Frankie Calca struggled and came home 6th receiving $3,575. There was a tie for the 4th spot at +60 between Pepe and Couch. To break the tie, a 1 ball roll-off was won by Couch by a pin fall of 9 to 8. Pepe received $4,290 for 5th place.
The final four were set with Mason Brantley (PBA Central Region Player of the Year), Jason Couch (PBA Hall of Famer), Shannon Pluhowsky (Team USA), and the local unknown bowler Brandon Novak. Advancing were Couch (247), Novak (238), and Pluhowsky (236). Brantley who bowled 299 and 300 earlier in the day and looked nearly unstoppable, never got comfortable and finished with just 219. He took home $5,225 for 4th place.
The round of 3 proved to be the best match of the tournament. All 3 bowlers totaled and incredible 836 between them. It was Pluhowsky who provided excitement by nearly firing a perfect game, but fell just short by leaving a 6-pin on her final ball for 299. Novak struck out for 269 applying pressure to Couch. Couch had 279 left but fell just short after leaving a 6-pin on his 2nd shot in the 10th. Couch received $6,435 for 3rd place. Watch this exciting match here.
For the final match, a man in a suit came out and delivered the nearly $16,000 in cash. He dumped it on the table behind the final pair and guarded it throughout the entire match. Nerves may have played a role in the final match as Novak missed two single pins early in the game giving Pluhowsky the comfort she needed to take home the title. Pluhowsky defeated Novak 226-182 to win the inaugural Proprietor's Cup and a cool $15,950. Novak received $9,900 for his efforts. Watch my interview with Novak and Pluhowsky on our YouTube channel.
This tournament proved to live up to the hype that Eysoldt promoted. At the end of the day, the Proprietor's Cup paid out a first prize that rivals a National PBA Tour event.
Women bowlers don't have much to bowl other than the Queens and US Open. It was pretty cool to see a female talent such as Pluhowsky win this event and be rewarded with a huge monetary prize.
Criticism came from some bowling purists that believe the condition should have been a bit tougher, but Eysoldt stands strong behind his "modified house" condition. I personally know of many bowlers in my area that average 240+ on house conditions. These bowlers can now look at this tournament and consider it next year because they can actually do what they do best...... STRIKE! The target demographic for this tournament is what I like to call "wall whackers." I hope they come out in droves for next year's event and enter the satellite tournaments. Are the elite stars of the game afraid to get beat by a "wall whacker?" I always thought that the cream rises to the top no-matter the format. Couch and Pluhowsky are elite players of the game, and were strong the entire event.
I commend the entire staff of Beaver Vu Bowl and of course the Proprietor's Cup team led by Eysoldt and Hathcock. They built a tournament from scratch and partnered with reputable people in the industry. I appreciate the opportunity to live-stream the event from start to finish and hope that I'm asked back next year to provide coverage.
Special thanks goes out to our web-guru Brian Burkhardt for his round-the-clock dedication to improving our website and services. Also thanks to Tim Burg from Above180.com for sitting in the booth with me all weekend as well as Dave Wodka from Ebonite International for his time spent with me on Sunday.
The weekend from a technical side of things was extremely demanding. We had to switch between LiveStream and UStream. Visit our UStream channel here and our LiveStream channel here to watch all of the action.