Texas bowler joins 50-Year Club at 2021 USBC Open Championships

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By Ronald Kirsh
USBC Communications

Remember 1971?

A gallon of gas cost 40 cents. A movie ticket was $1.50. The voting age was lowered to 18 years old. Disney World opened its gates in Orlando, Florida, and we were watching The Odd Couple and The Partridge Family on television.

Oh, and Robert Hansen of North Richland Hills, Texas, was in Detroit participating in his first United States Bowling Congress Open Championships.

The other benchmarks from 1971 have come and gone, but Hansen keeps on rolling, and he was recognized this week for 50 consecutive years of participation in the event.

To honor his many years of dedication to the USBC Open Championships, he received a plaque, chevron and diamond lapel pin Wednesday at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

One of the more outgoing participants to grace the lanes, his consistent smile shows how happy he is to achieve this incredible accomplishment.

"It makes me proud," Hansen said. "Reaching 50 continuous years wasn't something I aimed for, but every year, I just made sure I was on a team. I've enjoyed the camaraderie, the spectacle of the tournament, the friendships and the people I've met from all over the country."

In his 50 years, Hansen has traveled to 29 states across the country.

"I really don't have a favorite city, but Niagara Falls (New York), Salt Lake City, Albuquerque (New Mexico), and Reno (Nevada) were standouts," Hansen said.

Plus, a couple of stories from St. Louis and Memphis (Tennessee) with some unforeseen weather and mechanical situations that may have been distracting or frustrating in the moment but ended up being fun antidotes decades later when reflecting on a lifetime of travel and competition.

One of the most wonderful things to see during the 2021 Open Championships is the respect and admiration Hansen receives from the younger bowlers.

"Our sport is in good hands," Hansen said. "A lot of bowlers come up and ask me questions about my career in the Open Championships. They are really interested in hearing the stories."

As an added plus to his traveling the country, his wife, Micki, has joined him for 48 of his 50 tournaments. But, did he have any other good luck charms with him this year?

"Yes, I have a pink towel I used in my first Open Championships in 1971 in Detroit," Hansen said. "It looks pretty good for being 50 years old."

This year at the South Point Bowling Plaza and South Point Bowling Center, Hansen rolled sets of 506 in singles, 455 in doubles and 452 in team for a 1,413 all-events total.

In 50 years on the tournament lanes, he has knocked down 81,963 pins for a career average of 182.1.

In two weeks, Hansen will celebrate his 80th birthday. As a gift to himself, on the final ball of his team event, he bowled a strong strike. Another smile lit up the lanes.

"This is a great month," Hansen said. "I reached my 50th consecutive tournament, and I will turn 80 years old in good health."

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