The Valley Tournament Club now offers a new way for Santa Clarita residents with a competitive itch to try out their skills: tournament bowling.
On Sunday, the club held its third “Battle of the Leagues” tournament at Valencia Lanes. Jesse Gutierrez, one of the tournament directors and self-described “average bowler,” said he started the tournament series to provide a more affordable option for people who wanted to bowl more seriously.
“I only started bowling two years ago and I would see tournaments everywhere but I couldn’t afford to pay at least $100 every time I wanted to compete,” Gutierrez said. “I talked to my wife about starting something that was more affordable and since we keep costs down to about $20 to $30, a lot of average league bowlers are more willing to come out and play.”
Each team consists of four players, one of which must be female. The team must not exceed a maximum average score, which Gutierrez says helps to keep the playing field fair and give lower skill bowlers more opportunities to play. Each tournament has a cash prize which depends on the number of competitors along with smaller side pots of cash for other winners. Sunday’s tournament had an estimated main prize of $300 to $500.
Ramsey Basurto, who owns the Competitive Bowling Tournaments club, said that he’s happy to see local tournaments happen as the sport grows in popularity.
“Competitive bowling is really becoming mainstream,” Basurto said. “It’s on several major television networks and the competitions are giving out more and more money. Bowling is one of the only sports where no matter who you are, the playing field is pretty much level and the great thing about tournaments like this is you can have eight-year-olds competing against 90-year-olds.”
Despite the holiday season, Gutierrez said interest and attendance is growing. He plans to host 12 tournaments next year that will determine the best team in the valley.
“My focus will be keeping the tournament affordable and making it a more family-oriented events so that the entire family can play as one team,” Gutierrez said.
Matt Adalian, who works at Valencia Lanes and competed on one of the Valencia teams, grew up around bowling. He competed in each of the three tournaments held so far.
“The tournament moves around to different bowling houses each time so I was waiting for it to come to Valencia since this is my home,” Adalian said. “This is the most people we’ve had in a competition so far and I just hope that more bowlers will come out in the future.”
Gutierrez said that Santa Clarita and the surrounding valleys have a large competitive bowling community and it is only getting larger as more young people become interested in the sport.