Being Wes Malott is no simple task these days. With his Strike-A-Lott pro shop business to run, a career as one of the PBA Tour’s premier names to maintain, a growing youth scholarship tournament to organize and three children of his own to raise, life for the former Team USA member and PBA Player of the Year is about as far from simple as it has ever been.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Malott says. “And right now it’s more of a challenge because the Texas State Tournament is going on at one of the centers where I have a pro shop so on weekends I’m there from 7:30 a.m. to about 9:30 p.m.”
That center is Highland Lanes in Austin, Texas, where Malott will host the 2nd Annual Malott’s All Stars Youth Championship on May 25-27. Last year, the tournament awarded nearly $15,000 in scholarships, and this year, Malott seeks to top that.
“This year we’ve guaranteed $15,000, and hopefully we can award a little more than that,” Malott says. “Obviously, some of that is entry driven, but the biggest thing is we’re guaranteeing $1,500 for first place, and we have six squads in each division—scratch and handicap—and kids can bowl as many squads as they want to try to make it into the semifinals on Sunday.”
In addition to the weekend tournament, bowlers who show up early have the chance to bowl a sweeper on Friday night, which will award an additional total prize fund of $1,500, with $500 going to first place.
With all the logistics to pull together for an event that Malott hopes will become “one of the biggest youth tournaments in the state of Texas”—gathering sponsors, establishing rules, scheduling squad times and many other details—Malott credits the Scholarship Management and Accounting Reports for Tenpins (SMART) Corporation, which distributes scholarship funds to USBC Youth bowlers, for easing some of the burden.
“The SMART fund has been great,” Malott says. “It’s really easy. I just write a check and they distribute it. It takes a lot of pressure off my back, and obviously I’ve got enough with everything going on in my life right now. It just makes it really easy to do something like this. In the past, it might not have been so easy.”
Malott’s efforts in support of youth bowling and his pro shop business may be demanding a lot of his time these days, but that does not mean he plans to back out of the PBA Tour any time soon.
“Unless we get 30 tournaments a year again like we did years ago, you’ll probably see me at every event as long as it makes sense for me,” the seven-time PBA titlist explains. “I struggled on the animal patterns at the World Series last year, but Del Ballard has been an absolute mentor to me and we talked about some things and I rebounded.
“Even though I did not make any shows after the World Series, I still had decent finishes in Los Angeles and Detroit, and made a run at the Tournament of Champions, so that tells me I am getting it back and my head is right. A big part of this game is mental, and I am focusing on not thinking too much and just going out and bowling. I think I am close to that again.”
Malott’s 2011-12 PBA Tour season exemplifies the quality of competition on the tour. Though he did not qualify for another TV show after the 2011 World Series of Bowling, where he won the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman Doubles title with Norm Duke, he still averaged 225 for the season. Only six players bowled better than that, including names like Player of the Year contenders Mike Fagan, Jason Belmonte and Sean Rash as well as Duke. That is company any PBA player would like to keep.
“It’s crazy how that works,” Malott says. “If you don’t match up at the World Series, that puts a big weight on you for the rest of the season. It makes it difficult to bounce back. Like at the Masters a couple months later, I qualified second but finished in 26th. In these sprint events like the World Series or formats like you have at the Masters, you just never know how things are going to work out.”
One person who hopes to keep his father guessing how things will work out for him on the lanes is his eight-year-old son, Jordan, who already is averaging 180 and beat his father in league last summer at age seven.
“It’s just amazing to see him averaging 180 at eight years old and see the talent he has,” Malott says. “Yeah, he beat me at the age of seven last summer in league. We have a print out of the scores at the shop. It’s pretty funny.”
For more information about the Malott's All-Stars Youth Championship, send an email to MalottsAllStars@yahoo.com or call 512-458-1215.