VIP program sells out in Baton Rouge

VIPwelcome2012LARGEBATON ROUGE, La. - In 2012, the United States Bowling Congress introduced a VIP program to help enhance the tournament experience at the USBC Open Championships, while the one-of-a-kind Showcase Lanes were created to add a new dimension to preparing for competition.

Both additions to the tournament landscape have proven to be extremely popular as more than 250 bowlers signed up for the VIP program in its inaugural year, making it a sellout for 2012. Bowlers interested in signing up for 2013 should visit for more information.

With the 2012 event just past the halfway point of its 151-day run, reservations continue to roll in for the Showcase Lanes. More than 1,100 practice and coaching sessions already have been booked, but times are still available for interested bowlers headed to Baton Rouge.

"We are very pleased with the response to the addition of the VIP program and Showcase Lanes, and we're already looking at how to make them even more successful in 2013," said Brian Lewis, USBC Managing Director of Tournaments. "We're excited to be able to offer both programs again next year, and we're developing a VIP program for the USBC Women's Championships as well."

VIPlockers2012LARGEThe current VIP program includes 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. USBC plans to adjust and enhance the program in 2013 based on customer feedback.

The Showcase Lanes, four lanes constructed on the second level of the Baton Rouge River Center, give bowlers the opportunity to practice on the same lane surface and oil pattern they'll be facing downstairs on the 48 tournament lanes.

Here's what some VIP members are saying:

StrickerDanVIP2012LARGEDan Stricker, Washington, D.C.
Age: 58
Number of Open Championships: Seven

Why did you choose to take advantage of the VIP program?
When I saw everything that was included in the package, it sounded like a really good deal. I knew it would be cool to see everything behind the scenes, and it gave me a chance to experience some things I've never taken advantage of before while in town for the tournament.

What was your favorite/most enticing feature of the program?
1. The locker- I've been in an out of that thing 10 times; 2. The lesson- I've never had an hour lesson that gave me that much good information. It was something I could use immediately and can continue to use in the future.

What was the experience like for you?
The VIP experience has been a great value, and I will take advantage of it at every tournament I bowl. The customer service has been outstanding. From the moment I walked through the door, I have been truly treated like a Very Important Person, from being greeted as I arrived by Duane Hagen, the tournament manager, to being in the front of the line at every stop along the way.

All the staff members I have interacted with have greeted me with a genuine smile, asking me what they can do to make my experience better. They've done it. It's been a great experience. Now if I can just BOWL well!

MartinTimothyVIP2012LARGETimothy Martin, Harrisville, R.I.
Number of Open Championships: Four

Why did you choose to take advantage of the VIP program?
For the coaching session. It was a great experience. He gave me two key learning points, which were fixing the position of the ball in my hand and showing me a certain way to start, which helped my timing as a new left-hander.

What was your favorite/most enticing feature of the program?
The coaching and use of the current (2012) tournament lane condition.

What was the experience like for you?
Very positive. But honestly, I didn't know if it would be worth the cost at first. Initially, I thought $200 was a big number, but once I got on-site, I realized what a great value it really was just for the preferred times and the lesson. The other things were a bonus at that point.

CarterSam2012LARGESam Carter, Ben Lomond, Calif.
Age: 60
Number of Open Championships: 25

Why did you choose to take advantage of the VIP program?
1. practice lanes; 2. Bowling Ball Express discount; 3. the VIP lounge area with Internet access

What was your favorite/most enticing feature of the program?
The practice lanes: Our companion team had a VIP also, so we got two one-hour practice sessions instead of the one-on-one coaching sessions.

You can practice on the shot at home, but it's so much better to practice on it on the same surface in the same building.

What was the experience like for you?
Great. Hopefully, they continue this in the future.

Note: Carter rolled a 300 game in doubles on the way to a 2,028 all-events total.

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; US Steltronic, official scoring system; Storm Bowling Products and Nationwide Insurance.