Keep­ing five-pin alive

Nearly half a cen­tury of the Rich­mond Hill Pro Bowl

Thornhill Post - - News - by Jessica Wei

Martin Berger is the cur­rent owner of the Rich­mond Hill Pro Bowl, but his his­tory with the lo­cal hang­out dates back to 1970, when his un­cle Len Fromm co-founded the bowl­ing cen­tre. Marty, then 16, was con­tracted to in­stall the lanes. Since tak­ing over in 2006, the Pro Bowl has un­der­gone some dra­matic facelifts — the smoking room was taken out in favour of a big­ger snack bar — but the spirit of 10-pin bowl­ing lives on.

How has the bowl­ing cen­tre changed since you were a teenager?

The leagues for five-pin bowl­ing have de­clined a lot. It’s a Cana­dian sport. When we first opened, it was all five-pin on one side and 10-pin on the other. Now I have 24 10-pin and eight five-pin. It’s more chal­leng­ing — you only have five pins and smaller bowl­ing balls. Now it’s only pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies with lit­tle kids. Fam­i­lies like the five-pins more be­cause the kids can hold the ball.

How have you up­dated your hard­ware since tak­ing over?

We put in all new lanes. We have all touch screen scor­ing sys­tems, with LED mon­i­tors. We were get­ting a lot of com­ments from the cus­tomers that we were stuck in the cave­man times. It’s im­por­tant that ev­ery­thing’s up to date. If you have all these new leagues com­ing in but a lot of old tech­nol­ogy, they might go back to where they came from.

Who are some of your most notable regulars?

A lot of my se­niors have been here for a long time. Ed Sack­field has been bowl­ing here since the begin­ning. He knew the mayor, and the mayor said, “One day, Ed, when­ever we build a new com­mu­nity cen­tre, we’re go­ing to name it af­ter you.” Now it’s his name on the arena. And the King City Mix­ers just cel­e­brated their 40th an­niver­sary. They were one of the first leagues here (10593 Yonge St.).

This lo­cal hang­out dates back to 1970

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