Residents and out-of-towners alike seemed to enjoy the fifth annual Senior PBA Saguaro Open in the nice and cool R.H. Johnson Sports Pavilion in Sun City West.
Wednesday was the last day of tournament play and then the senior pro bowlers were headed off to Flagstaff for another tournament.
Sun City West couple Jim and Donna Natalie, who used to bowl, are soon celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. So, I guess the couple that bowls together, stays together.
As we heard the pins falling in the background, Jim said, “Years ago I bowled in two leagues. My wife and I bowled in a church league and I bowled in a league at work.” Now he only bowls when the grandkids come out.
Donna likes the idea that the pro bowlers are in Sun City West. “It’s much more interesting to watch them, to see their techniques.”
The couple does Wii bowling now.
Alan Wagner of Phoenix, a bowling enthusiast, came in to watch “the competition. I like to watch good bowlers.”
Stan Winters of Simi Valley, Calif., has been bowling since the mid ‘60s and participated in the tournament, but by Wednesday, he was watching it from the sidelines after being eliminated Tuesday.
He has bowled in Sun City West the last four years and said he’s enjoyed it.
From Henderson, Nev., Jackie Baker’s husband, Dick Baker, was in the finals and probably the oldest player there at 72.
She gave up bowling a few years ago, travels to all the tournaments with him and said she enjoys “watching the bowlers and him of course, and it’s kind of like a vacation.”
On Sun City West, she said it’s “wonderful. I wish all the stops were like this. The people are friendly, it’s so clean, it’s just wonderful,” adding that they provide snacks and beverages for the bowlers. “They really take care of them really well.”
Jackie noted that the tournament sponsor, Realtor Lona King, was there “rooting on the bowlers.”
Dick said this is their “favorite place to come to for the regionals,” and “the staff and everybody treats us so well.”
He said they don’t miss it if they can help it and didn’t know if he could make it until the week before because he was bowling in a league and had a chance to win the league.
The tournament in Sun City West is their favorite. He said: “It’s our favorite regional in all of the country because of the fact that they treat us so well,” and the support from the people who come out and watch.
“The community as a whole is very supportive of our tour and there’s a lot of guys from Michigan and New York, Ohio, they talk about this stop all the time.”
Dick has been bowling since he was 50 and joined the senior tour. Originally from Illinois, he and Jackie owned a restaurant and a steel-erecting business in the Chicago area.
“There’d be weeks when my wife would work 80 hours a week and we would meet in a restaurant at night for dinner because that was the only time we got to see each other.”
Now Dick is competing and hanging out with the guys.
The bowler who took home the $4,000 top prize was Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich.