Since ancient times bowling has been seen as a favorite pastime and sport.
Evidence of this great game has been found dating back as far as 3000 B.C., with crude bowling equipment found buried in ancient Egyptian tombs.
As the years have progressed this beloved sport has evolved alongside humanity, transforming itself into the strategic sport we know and love today.
In modern times, bowling has now evolved into a sport that can be used for both family fun and professional competition.
As you enter the exciting world of bowling and work your way up through the leagues, there may be a question you have to ask yourself.
Should you take the next step?
Should you try to become a professional bowler?
The answer you will have to figure out yourself but before you do it would be wise to really look at how you take this step and what you can expect as you branch out into the new and exciting world.
- 1 How Do Professional Bowlers Make Money?
- 2 How Much Money Does a Pro Bowler Make a Year?
- 3 What’s the Average Score for Professional Bowlers?
- 4 How Do You Qualify for PBA?
- 5 How Much Does It Cost to Enter a PBA Tournament?
- 6 Do I Have to Join the PBA to Participate in a PBA Tournament?
- 7 What Kinds of Memberships Does the PBA Have?
How Do Professional Bowlers Make Money?
While professional bowlers may not make salaries similar to those of other professional sports, they are still able to carve out quite a comfortable lifestyle for themselves.
There are several ways for professional bowlers to earn money to support both themselves and their families. This is done usually by participating in tournaments, finding sponsors and working other odd jobs that come there way.
Tournaments are the big money makers for professional bowlers!
By participating in different bowling tournaments, professional bowlers increase their chances of earning part of the prize money pool that can be found at these big events. The bigger the tournament name, the larger the pool is for the winner!
As nice as this sounds, getting into high paying tournaments is not easy. The most esteemed bowling tournament is the one hosted by the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), but in order to get into this tournament, you have to jump through several hoops and qualifications.
As a new professional bowler, it is probably a good idea to start small and work your way up through the tournaments, since most of these tournaments do come with a good sized entry fee.
If you have watched a televised professional bowling tournament (which is probably a very good idea if you are looking to enter the professional bowling world) then you may have noticed that many of the pros are sporting company names, logos or patches on their shirts.
While these dashing emblems do serve as eye-catching decorations they are put on the shirts for more reasons than simply design.
These symbols and sayings are representing the sponsors of that particular professional bowler. These bowling sponsorships work just like the sponsorships found in other sports.
Companies pay their chosen bowler to broadcast their brand, either through shirt patch representation or commercial appearances and the bowler is able to earn extra money as well as network and gain publicity.
As odd as this category may sound the opportunity for professional bowlers to pick up odd jobs is there.
Some professionals make a little extra money by performing in trick shot tournaments, others take up teaching the sport of bowling to help make ends meet.
Some will even appear in movies as stand-ins, performing bowling shots for actors to make the shots look more authentic. Regardless of what comes your way these little odd jobs are still a great chance to get your name out there and earn some additional income.
How Much Money Does a Pro Bowler Make a Year?
The salary of a pro bowler is very dependent on wins and placement in tournaments. Tournaments really are the key income point for professionals since winning these tournaments increases your popularity and chances of landing sponsorships and other jobs.
The amount of money you can earn in a tournament also depends on how big an event the tournament is overall. Generally speaking, bigger names equal bigger prize pools.
The average salary of a professional bowler is usually in the six-figure range, with salaries ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 for men and $60,000 to $80,000 for women, depending on sponsors, tournament wins and placements.
These salaries are hard to win and certainly not guaranteed, many bowlers work second jobs to help support themselves as they pursue professional bowling careers.
However, with practice, hard work and a little bit of luck there is no reason why anyone couldn’t be a professional bowler.
What’s the Average Score for Professional Bowlers?
In order to qualify as a professional bowler, in many of the professional tournaments, one of the requirements that you will need to meet is boasting an average of 200 or over.
Each tournament holds a unique series of rules though, with the general requirements often aligning with each other, so it is best to research the requirements needed in order to participate. This average score also generally needs to take place over a certain number of games for consistency.
How Do You Qualify for PBA?
The Professional Bowlers Association is perhaps the most esteemed bowling association in America. With large-scale tours and tournaments, as well as padded prize money pools, bowlers of all ages, abilities, and gender aspire to become a member of this association.
However, getting into this association is not necessarily a walk in the park. Due to the PBA’s reputation, not just anyone can enter a tournament if they feel like it.
In order to qualify for entry into a PBA tournament, you must first meet one of three requirements.
1. Cash in (Buy in) to a PBA Regional Tournament
In the PBA, the regular tournaments are the ones where professionals from around the country meet and compete. Regional tournaments are similar to the regular tournaments but on a lesser scale.
Bowlers, both professional and those aspiring to be professional, can enter these regional tournaments. If you place in these tournaments you then qualify to join the PBA!
Now just to clarify, buying into a regional tournament and placing in it does not automatically mean you’ll be bowling on the professional level with the big names.
You’ll probably have to work your way up through tour qualifying rounds and through the ranks before you come across well known professional bowlers.
2. Consistently Bowl a 190 Average
This qualification comes with a couple of requirements in order to qualify to join the PBA. First, you need to bowl in a league that is sanctioned by a Sport or PBA Experience league.
Also, while participating in this league you need to bowl an average score of 190 or more in order to move towards becoming a PBA member.
3. Participate in a USBC Sports Bowling League
The third qualification for joining the PBA is being able to bowl a 200 average in a league over the course of (at least) thirty-six games.
This method requires the league to be USBC certified and the use of PBA oil patterns in order for the qualification to be valid. You definitely need to work hard to boost your average though, so this method is a lot harder than it sounds.
How Much Does It Cost to Enter a PBA Tournament?
When looking to enter a PBA tournament the cost of entry is certainly something you need to consider.
Entering bowling tournaments is not cheap, especially those of big names like the Professional Bowlers Association. When looking to PBA tournaments you need to select which type of tour you wish to participate in with your choices being the Regional Tour, the Senior Tour, and the PBA Tour.
The fee of each tournament as well as which tournaments you can enter also varies on if you are a member or non-member of the PBA.
Members get to enjoy lower tournament prices as well as more selection in which tournaments they can enter, though the amount of entries also varies by the membership.
Here is a list of current member and non-member prices for tournament entry. These prices are subject to change so it never hurts to check out the price listing at PBA’s official website, www.pba.com.
* These prices are estimates as of November 24th, 2018. Prices are subject to change at any time.
Do I Have to Join the PBA to Participate in a PBA Tournament?
No, you do not have to join the PBA in order to participate in a PBA tournament. The amount of times that you can participate in PBA tournaments is slim though compared to PBA members.
The type of tour you want to participate in also affects the amount of times you can participate in a tour through out the year as well.
If you want to participate in the PBA Regional Tour as a non-member you are allowed to cash in to a tournament twice in one calendar year.
If you really want to participate in more than one Regional tournament you will then be required to join the PBA or must give up your rights to any prize money you would have earned.
For the PBA Regular Tours you only get one pass to cash in to a tournament, all other tournaments in the tour require PBA membership. However, the USBC Masters and U.S. Open are not available for cash in entries.
What Kinds of Memberships Does the PBA Have?
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) offers several different types of memberships to suite different needs found in all bowlers.
These different types of memberships allow for different access to tournaments, the amount of times a bowler can enter a tournament and the fees needed to get in to a tournament.
The standard membership is perhaps the most commonly used membership of the PBA. While this membership does not give you the full perks of being a PBA member it offers a good balance between usage and price.
As a professional bowler having access to a standard membership works well when you are just starting out or if your name has not gotten into the public eye yet.
The membership gives you a chance to place yourself into tournaments that are good for publicity while helping take the edge off your wallet.
To be a standard member of the PBA you need to pay either $15 a month for a year or pay it all in one payment of $144.
Even with the membership payment you will still be expected to pay the fees needed to enter PBA tournaments but those entry fees are not discounted to member prices.
You can also save money since this membership knocks down the prices of your bowling games to $0-$2 depending on if the center is an official PBA site.
With this membership you gain the opportunity to bowl at three PBA Regional Tour Tournaments compared to a non-members one tournament and you also get the opportunity to bowl in one PBA Tour event.
This perk gives you more chances to win larger money prizes as well as offers more chances to gain publicity as your work your way through the professional ranks.
Now as you move up in the professional bowling world changing your PBA membership to a full membership would probably be a good idea. This membership offers you more chances to participate in tours as well as works towards helping you make a name for yourself.
The yearly price of this membership is $28 a month, or an annual payment of $300. Paying the large price for the full membership can really pay off as a professional bowler, since the full membership has no restrictions on how many tournaments you can enter.
You want to bowl in fifteen tournaments in a year? You go right ahead, nothing (except qualifications if they are not met) is stopping you!
With this membership you would also only pay the member entry fee to get into a tournament, though the price of the membership fee does not change with each level of membership.
This membership is offered to the young bowlers out there, aspiring to turn bowling into a professional career. If a bowler is from the ages 18 to 24, they qualify for this PBA membership for the yearly price of $49!
This membership also comes with a $50 coupon towards their first official tournament with the PBA and these bowlers only need to pay membership entry fees as well.
This level of membership is restricted in the amount of tournaments a bowler can enter though. Like the standard membership, the PBA24 only allows members to participate in three Regional Tours and one PBA Tour during the course of a year.
It is a system that works well to help young bowlers branch out into the exciting world of professional bowling while helping them learn to balance timing and training.
This membership is for the international bowlers who want to participate in PBA Tours. For the price of $99, bowlers under this level of membership are eligible to win PBA Tours (at designated events) and can participate in three Regional Tours and one PBA Tour.
This membership helps professional bowlers from around the world branch out and test their skills against PBA’s best.
The world of professional bowling is not easy, many bowlers try for years to become professionals and they never make it.
That being said, becoming a professional bowler is entirely possible and there are those that make quite a decent living participating in the sport they love.
As you decide wether or not to enter this competitive world, know that this is path that will require dedication, hard work, and perhaps a little bit of luck. If you enjoy bowling and you are passionate about the sport than go for it, you’ll never know unless you try!