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Apr 9, 2018 4:56 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Clubhouse, A 10-Lane Bowling Alley At East Hampton Indoor Tennis, To Revive East Hampton Varsity Bowling Program

The bowling alley at East Hampton Indoor Tennis is slated to be open by May. East Hampton School District may bring back its varsity bowling team thanks to the new bowling alley. KYRIL BROMLEY
Apr 9, 2018 5:26 PM

In June of 2013, East Hampton Bowl—considered a local landmark after more than 50 years in business—shuttered its doors, and in the process, took away what was at the time the last remaining bowing alley on the South Fork.

Since the closure, Scott Rubenstein and his team at East Hampton Indoor Tennis saw a need for the community, so they created The Clubhouse, what will be a 10-lane bowling alley on the EHIT property that is currently in the middle of construction, due to be completed by the end of May. EHIT is also incorporating miniature golf and an arcade to the property to go along with the bowling alley.

“The minute they took the bowling alley away, the partners here thought it would be a good addition and something needed in town,” Rubenstein said. “We thought it would be good for us as a business. Everyone will be able to come bowl, play arcade games, shoot pool, play some mini golf, grab a burger and a beer. We hope it’s used by the entire community. Bowling is something that’s typically affordable for everyone, it’s not exclusive at all, and we really think it’s going to reach out to the entire community and will give people a reason to come in on a rainy day in the summer, or play mini golf under the lights. There’s not a lot out here that everyone can do.”

The Clubhouse bowling alley is also going to revive the East Hampton varsity bowling program, which was canceled after East Hampton Bowl closed, due to there not being a relatively close alley where the team could practice. East Hampton Athletic Director Joe Vasile-Cozzo confirmed on April 2 that funding for an East Hampton varsity bowling team had been included in the school’s budget for next year—both boys and girls bowling is played during the winter—and he is confident the team will be back, thanks to the new bowling alley at EHIT.

East Hampton has had a successful program in the past, producing college prospects, such as Erick Bock, who was the first ever six-year varsity bowler for East Hampton and was the first Bonacker to bowl a perfect game. He was the fourth-ranked rookie in the country, 46th overall, in his graduating year, 2002. He turned his successful high school bowling career into a full scholarship to bowl in college and later on turned pro. Bock was recently inducted into East Hampton’s most recent Hall of Fame class last year.

“There seems to be student interest. I think right now we would have about 12 student-athletes on the team, which is more than enough,” said Vasile-Cozzo. “It’s a great lifetime activity. I’d love to see it happen.”

One of those 12 student-athletes is junior Samantha Schurr, who has been an avid bowler since she was four years old. She had been a part of the East Hampton bowling program until it was discontinued. Since then she has been traveling across Suffolk County to bowl in various leagues. She was competing at the Shirley Lanes until that closed in the past year and has since been traveling to lanes in both Coram and Patchogue, about an hour to an hour and a half away.

Currently, Schurr, who is also on East Hampton’s varsity tennis team, competes in three different leagues and is on the travel team Suffolk County Bowlympics and plays in the Long Island Youth Bowling Tour, which has events on a bi-monthly basis. She is also slated to participate in the Junior Gold Championships in Dallas in July, an annual national tournament for the top male and female youth bowlers in the country. Schurr’s average on a house shot is a 178, with a 160 on a sport shot. The difference between house and sport shots are different oil patterns on the lane—the specific oil patterns on sport lanes create a higher degree of difficulty.

Needless to say, the addition of the lanes at EHIT was music to Schurr’s ears when she first heard the rumor that it was going to happen over a year ago.

“I remember saying, ‘Oh my god, that’s so cool!’ Schurr said from New Orleans on April 2, where she was visiting Tulane University to possibly attend and compete on the women’s bowling team. “I’m just happy that we’re possibly going to have a team and that we’re going to have a place to practice. I’ve been practicing three or four times a week up island.

“I like the sport. I love the people I bowl with,” she added. “I don’t know what I like about it most, it’s just fun.”

East Hampton’s bowling team will only be able to practice—not host matches—at The Clubhouse, at least for the time being, due to it implementing a string-pin system, rather than a mechanical system that is more commonly used. The string-pin system holds the bowling pins in place with strings. Pins that are knocked down by bowling balls move up and down on the string. The string-pin system is currently not sanctioned by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association or Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics. East Hampton will be allowed to practice on such a system but will not be allowed to host matches. Therefore, East Hampton will host its home matches at The All Star bowling alley in Riverhead, something the school was aware of prior to including the team in next year’s budget, Vasile-Cozzo said.

Rubenstein said that the string-pin system is gaining steam across the country and he expects that it will be sanctioned by the U.S. Bowling Congress, the national governing body of the sport, which in turn will be sanctioned by NYSPHSAA and Section XI in due time. He mentioned that the women’s bowling team at the University of Nebraska, one of the most successful college bowling programs in the country, only practices on a string-pin system.

Rubenstein said that his decision to use a string-pin system was based on a number of factors. He went to a convention this past November where he learned that a number of new facilities are going with it and he was urged to do the same thing. Also, with a 10-lane facility, EHIT would need to hire more than two engineers to keep the mechanical system in prime working condition, something he admitted he would not be able afford nor would he be able to find engineers specifically for a bowling alley on the East End.

“What I’m told is the strings take a lot of pressure off of a strong hit from the front pin. Basically it’s a strike whether it’s on a string or the old school mechanical system. There would be no difference,” Rubenstein said.

Schurr said she is aware of the string-pin system that would be at EHIT. She said that a drawback from using the strings is that they sometimes get tangled. Having to play the team’s home matches in Riverhead didn’t seem to bother her, as long as the team has a local spot to practice.

“The pins do fall down differently on the strings. They fall down easier,” Schurr explained. “It makes sense to have our home matches someplace else. It would be easier if we could have our home matches in East Hampton—we don’t get to have opposing teams come out to East Hampton—but I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. Having a place to practice was the main problem.”

Having a local team couldn’t have come at a better time, Schurr said, with her senior year approaching.

“It’s unfortunate that I’ve had to wait until now, but being able to compete on a high school team in high school competition will help me get into college and possibly help me join a team in college,” she said. “I’ve based most of my college visits on whether they have bowling or not and it’s something I’m definitely interested in playing in college.”

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With the Funk string pinsetters being replaced all over Europe with AMF or Brunswick pinsetter machines due to the rise of competive bowling and the need for sanctioned play and proper pin action. Here, the USBC will never sanction string pinsetters. With all of the surplus used and reconditioned pinsetters available from closing centers, it’s a shame that these weren’t chosen. As for “engineers” needed to maintain AMF 82-70-based or Brunswick GS-X or A2 pinsetters, there ...more
By Nukiepoo (115), Southampton on Apr 12, 18 10:14 PM