In 2016 AMF Bowling requested a ruling from TBA as to whether string pin pin-spotter machines would be eligible to be approved for use in registered centres.
Due to the highly technical nature of this request, TBA sought the advice of the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and World Bowling (WB). After a lengthy deliberation, both organisations recently confirmed that they have no immediate plans to investigate/govern string pin centres and have advised TBA that it is our decision as to whether it is appropriate to recognise string pins.
TBA is aware that there has been much discussion in the bowling community recently on this issue and it is quite a divisive subject amongst proprietors and bowlers. Approval for virtually all significant innovations to the sport since its inception has usually been granted by USBC/FIQ/WB. This is a new precedent for the sport and TBA is quite clear that the ramifications and technical implications for the sport must be thoroughly investigated by those with the expertise to conduct the appropriate testing.
At the May 2017 TBA Board meeting it was voted that until such times as USBC/WB make a definitive ruling on the legality of string pins, TBA will establish a separate centre category to recognise string pin centres, commencing 1st January 2018. This of course assumes compliance by the centre to meet the other technical requirements of the sport as well as adherence to the other registered centre requirements; particularly sports registration targets.
The TBA Board also voted that bowlers in registered string pin centres will have the same membership benefits as all TBA members. This includes the entitlement to awards, however all achievements will be noted as being achieved in a string pin centre i.e. in a separate category.
Bowlers with only a string pin average that enter tournaments in traditional venues where an average is required must provide an entering average that is obtained from participating in a traditional registered bowling centre. This also applies for events that require a minimum number of games to be completed.
It should be noted that TBA reserves the right to review the approval of string pin centres moving forward should USBC/WB deem these machines and pins to be non-compliant or other relevant facts come to light.
Development of a separate rule book for string pin centres is currently underway and once that rule book is complete TBA will communicate this to all relevant stakeholders. TBA’s Technical Committee will also develop a set of recommendations for any specification changes that are required (if any) for pin deck measurements or the like that form part of the lane certification process.