BATON ROUGE, La. - As a 10-year-old, Sam Carter of Ben Lomond, Calif., read about the legends of the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in Bowlers Journal International magazine and knew he wanted to create his own history at the storied event someday.
Having already received a 25-year plaque for his dedicated participation before his team event, Carter etched his name into the history books again when he fired the 16th perfect game of the 2012 USBC Open Championships during doubles at the Baton Rouge River Center on Monday night.
The 60-year-old right-hander opened with games of 192 and 249 before stringing 12 consecutive strikes for a 300 game and 741 series. He teamed with Ron Case of Oakley, Calif., to move into ninth place in Regular Doubles with a 1,401 total. Matt McNiel of Prior Lake, Minn., and Charles Vashaw of Deephaven, Minn., lead with 1,489.
"It's the best feeling I've ever had in bowling," said Carter, who bowls league at Boardwalk Bowl in Santa Cruz, Calif. "I started bowling when I was 10, and when I was kid, I used to read Bowlers Journal and would see pictures of all the greats from the tournament. It took me a long time to put a team together. When I lived in Fresno, I went in 1977, and then I moved to the Bay Area. Then, it took me a few more years to find some guys from there to go. It took me 35 years to get to 25 years at the tournament."
Carter is no stranger to success, having won the scratch portion of the 2011 Winter Mini-Eliminator to go with two previous High Roller victories, but that megabuck success doesn't compare to his milestone moment at the Open Championships.
"This is better," said Carter, who is the Chief Financial Officer for Reed and Graham Inc. in San Jose, Calif. "You're going to win tournaments. You get a trophy. You get the money. But now, my name is going to be on that wall. It doesn't get much better than this. This is definitely the highlight."
Carter bowls with two individuals who have rolled 300s at the Open Championships and looks forward to hearing his name announced in the squad room along with his teammates.
"My teammate Mike Dray shot 300 before (1996)," Carter said. "And I crossed with Bobby Huckaby today. He shot 300 a few years ago (2006). Last year, I had 279 the last game, and I've had 280 once. Ron looked at me before the last game and said 'we both need to make the move in, and we have to trust it.' We did just that, and it worked."
Before making the trip to Baton Rouge, Carter researched the new VIP program at the Open Championships and added his name to the growing list of bowlers who have taken advantage of the club's benefits.
The program provides several things, including front-of-the-line service at check-in and in the scale room, a one-hour lesson with USBC Silver coach Bill Hall, VIP polo shirt, complimentary locker, bonus coupons, Bowling Ball Express discount, tickets to the televised finals of the USBC Masters and Queens and discounts on merchandise, photos and videos - all for $199.95.
While Carter enjoyed the VIP benefits, he and his group opted to only practice on the Showcase Lanes and purchased an extra practice session to make sure they were tuned-up for the big stage. Groups of up to 10 bowlers can use the Showcase Lanes for an hour for $90 or $125, depending on the time of day.
"We had two separate practice sessions," said Carter, who added 663 in team and 624 in singles for a 2,028 all-events total. "That was huge. We got two hours of practice on the lane condition. We came out and were comfortable immediately. We knew what to expect and what to do. I was able to just sit and relax in the VIP Lounge and check my email. The locker was great as well. Last night, they brought my equipment out to the lanes for me. There are so many positives about that program."
Sponsors for the 2012 USBC Open Championships include Circus Circus Reno, Eldorado Hotel Casino Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno. Other sponsors include the Belle of Baton Rouge, official brackets sponsor; Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Humana, official registration sponsor; Bud Light and Budweiser, official beer sponsors; The Advocate, official publication sponsor; Brunswick, official lane provider; Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.