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This week’s question was asked by a bowling friend.

Question: Is picking up a 7-10 split in bowling possible?

ANSWER: No, not possible. A split describes a number of situations where two or more pins remain standing after the first ball is thrown. The impossible 7-10 split happens when the bowler is left with the leftmost and the rightmost pins in the back row. These pins are often referred to as the goal posts or bed posts.

Experts say the only way to pick up a 7-10 split is when one pin flies back from the pit area and hits the other. Or one pin is hit and rolls over and hits the remaining pin. That does not happen very often and is more a matter of luck than skill. Sliding one pin over to hit the other does not work, because the bowling ball will fall off the lane and into the gutter before it is far enough to the side of the pin to cause the pin that is hit to slide horizontally to hit the other.

Movies sometimes show the 7-10 split, but they are all staged. The best known is in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski, starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Julianne Moore.

Statistics have been compiled on the 7-10 split. Several years ago, Ben Blatt, a writer for Slate magazine, analyzed 447,000 frames from the PBA (Professional Bowling Association) over a 12-year period. He found that the average bowler would never likely convert a 7-10 split in his/her lifetime. However, a pro bowler does so in one out of 145 tries, less than one percent.

How is it done? Explains one right-handed pro bowler, “I hit the 10-pin on its right side. The 10-pin hits the back wall, bounces back and gets the 7-pin.” The reverse would be true for a left-handed bowler.

Blatt said that an even tougher split is the 4-6-7 or the 4-6-10. Another near impossible split is called the “Greek Church.” The 4-6-7-9-10 split resembles an old-fashioned cathedral with spires.

If picking up the 7-10 split is beyond the realm of possibility, how about some bowling trivia? The distance from the foul line to the headpin is 60 feet. That’s the same distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate in baseball. Bowling lanes are 43 inches wide and made of hard rock maple in the approach or runway area and in the pin area, with pine wood in between. Newer lanes use synthetic materials. A bowling pin is 15 inches tall and 15 inches in circumference (distance around its widest part). A bowler is known as a kegler, of German origin. A perfect game is 300.

Dick Weber (1929-2005) is considered bowling’s first superstar. Weber won titles in 30 PBA events, including four major titles. His best decade was the 1960s. He earned close to $1 million dollars in an era of really low prize money. Weber was a spokesman for a major manufacturing company, AMF bowling.

Weber was a tireless ambassador for bowling. One promotion had him bowling the highest altitude game ever in “Operation AstroBowl.” It took place in an American Airlines 707 cargo hold on January 7, 1964. A single AMF lane was installed in the main cargo hold. The flight went from New York to Washington’s Dulles Airport.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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