By Kevin Albarez
In the coming months, we'll talk with some of the best-known bowlers at the USBC Open Championships and get their thoughts on their time at the tournament and what it takes to succeed on the championship lanes.
This week, we heard from Randy Lightfoot, a 35-time Open Championships participant, who won the 1981 USBC Masters over Skip Tucker, 194-178.
In 2002, Lightfoot took over as Lindenwood University men's bowling coach and led the program to its first USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships title in 2005. Three years later, he was listed as one of the top 100 coaches in the country by Bowlers Journal Magazine. In less than two weeks (April 19), Lightfoot will lead the Lions into the 2012 ITC at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Neb., where they will make their eighth consecutive appearance.
When he is not busy coaching at Lindenwood, Lightfoot can be found at St. Charles Lanes in St. Charles, Mo., where he runs the bowling center with his family.
Lightfoot has experienced many successes on the lanes as well. In 1976, as an 18-year-old senior in high school, he made his Professional Bowlers Association television debut at the Rolaids Open in Florissant, Mo. He would go on to win three PBA titles.
The former USBC Masters champion owned another place in the USBC record books as part of the O.T. Hill's team of St. Charles, Mo., that shot the highest five-person team game in USBC history with 1,413 in 2001. That record recently was broken by Buckets on Deck of St. Peters, Mo. (1,434). The record-breaking squad was composed of three current and two former Lindenwood bowlers.
The 54-year-old right-hander recently tried to find some of that magic again when he hit the lanes at the Baton Rouge River Center for the 2012 Open Championships on March 30-31.
This year on the tournament lanes, Lightfoot shot 633 in doubles, 587 in team and 563 in singles for a 1,797 all-events total. In 35 Open Championships appearances, he has maintained a career average of 201.4.
HOMETOWN: St. Charles, Mo.
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS APPEARANCES: 35
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS TITLES: One sort of (does the Masters count?)
BOWLING BALL WEIGHT: 15 lbs.
FAVORITE BRAND OF BOWLING BALLS: Brunswick (for everything they have done for Lindenwood)
ONE all-time favorite host city: Baton Rouge. How could I pick anyplace else?
TWO best Open Championships memories:
1. Reno (1995)- I got married that year on March 12th, had the front nine in a game and shot in the mid-1900s. But, mostly for conning my wife into marrying me; 2. Again, does the '81 Masters apply?
THREE keys to success at the Open Championships:
1. team play- the ability to set the lanes up early in your block as a team and then take advantage of the burn area; 2. choose the right equipment and make the correct lane reads; 3. remember that total dumb luck plays a factor, and there's always next year.
FOURgettable Open Championships moment:
1. 1975- first year, shot a doubles game of 250 with my partner; 2. 1979 - Tampa, Fla.- shot a low 1,600; 3. last year- it sucks to get old. 4. 2005 - Baton Rouge. The Weber Family was our companion team for 15 plus years. Dick passed away in February of that year, and we bowled in March. Dick's sons, John and Rich, decided to bowl with a blind in the anchor position rather than replace their father. It's still hard to think back to that day. Baton Rouge will always touch my heart.
FIVE bowlers in history on your Open Championships fantasy all-star team:
Bo Burton - he was an animal on the ol' ABC conditions; Dale Traber and Jeff Richgels - those cheese heads own the OC; Earl Anthony - once again, Masters? Richard Anthony Weber - with all due respect to Pete, the greatest bowler ever.
SIX bowling balls currently in your Open Championships arsenal: Columbia 300 Blue Dot, Hammer Taboo, Columbia 300 Dark Encounter, Track 916C, Storm Victory Road, Storm Nano (I give all my Brunswick stuff to the Lindenwood kids).
SEVEN cities you'd like to see the Open Championships go to/return to: Reno, Nev.; Memphis, Tenn.; Las Vegas; Corpus Christi, Texas; St. Louis; Albuquerque, N.M.; Paris (France) and maybe Reno...
EIGHT favorite bowling balls ever: 8. Brunswick Gold Crown Jewel; 7. 5-series Yellow Dot; 6. Roto Grip Cell; 5. Brunswick Block-Letter LT48; 4. Red Hammer; 3. Brunswick Teal Rhino; 2. AMF Angle; 1. The 1975-series AMF Pro-Classic.
NINE other current/eligible bowlers you would choose to join you on your ideal pair of companion teams at the Open Championships: Bob Handley, Mike Aulby, Brian Valenta, Brad Miller, Rich Orf, Shea Bittenbender, Dean Richards, R.J. Klann and Emil Williams Jr.
TEN seconds or less, who is your favorite bowler of all-time?: Dick Weber, duh.
ELEVEN strikes in a row to start a game at the Open Championships, what's going through your head?: I wonder if this place has a defibrillator close by?
TWELVE years from now, where do you hope to be in your bowling career?: I would still like to average 230 on a house shot, but I really don't want to travel and bowl anymore. I'm happy coaching and making my yearly trip to the OC, but a couple more LU champion ITC banners would be nice.