California Bowling Writers

December 22, 2008

For the Love of the Sport
by Tina Martin

They have given their heart and soul to our sport. They are a huge part of what makes bowlers a family in Marin County. Working for two proprietors through the years has been a great experience for this writer. The centers were just 10 miles apart in the land where hot tubs and peacock feathers were affluent in the 70’s. We all live in Novato, which really doesn’t fit in with that Marin County 70’s “image”.

I began volunteering as a coach in the youth bowling program in the 70’s. In the early 90’s, when family situations made it so that I needed to “cut back” on volunteering and bring in some extra funds, I took on two part-time jobs. I was then offered and accepted the third one, in promotion, for Nave Lanes under the guidance of Paul Panholzer. After the first year, I gave up the first two jobs to work more at the center.

Paul started bowling at Nave Lanes the day it opened in 1958. He began his career at the center as porter while in high school. As the manager of the center, he worked long hours each day doing the repairs and improvements and was back in the evenings to greet the bowlers by name and to work the desk and might even run in back to fix the machine. He made himself available to all for instruction and also worked in the Pro Shop. He was always first in line to donate to any bowling fundraiser and supported the association to the fullest. He was a friend to everyone. He promoted the sport of bowling and participated in all the events including the annual State and National tournaments and bowling several perfect games. Paul made the employees feel important and part of decision making. In his spare time, he did have another passion - that of table shuffleboard and custom woodworking.

After bowling at the center for over 40 years, in 1999, Nave Lanes closed. I was president of the Marin County WBA at the time and we went from two bowling centers now to only one. Let’s keep those bowlers in Marin! Together Paul and I encouraged as many bowlers as possible to bowl at Country Club Bowl.

Mike Curry, Ferd along with his son John Masberg welcomed us to their center, Country Club Bowl known as “The friendly place to Bowl”. It wasn’t long before Mike asked me to come to work for him as league coordinator and do promotion for the center. We were able to get those bowlers from Nave to start bowling in just a few weeks. As I knew each bowler by name, it was easy for Mike to greet his newest bowlers and get to know them. It wasn’t long before I knew how the center came by the name “the friendly place to bowl”. With all the new bowlers coming to the center lots of upgrades were made, including new lanes. John, known to be the shy one, was the mechanic-in-charge.

Mike, much like Paul, started bowling at Country Club Bowl the year it opened in 1959. He too, started working as the porter, working his way up to Manager, bookkeeper and part owner. He worked mostly during the day hours and had staff to cover the evenings and was always just a phone call away. He cared about all his bowlers and was active in association activities. He supervised his employees to work as a team, also engaging them in decision making at the bowl, participating in all the activities and fundraising at the center, as well as promotions with the association. Mike was also a bowler, and competed in 40 years of State Tournaments and several National Tournaments.

Mike and Paul were not just center managers, they were also friends through the years. They worked together hosting the 1987 California State Men’s tournament at their centers as well as funding and helping the association with league promotions at shopping malls and the county fair. They were on the local Bowling Council and both have been inducted into Marin County Bowling Association Hall of Fame.

While guys like Paul and Mike don’t really choose to, and never really leave their jobs and the sport, they have both definitely earned a very well deserved retirement. Paul retired in 1999 when Nave Lanes closed and Mike just recently retired. They both gave their heart and soul for our sport and gave me the experience to lead and have made my job special and fun. Marin County has been fortunate to have both of them as caring manager/proprietors. They loved bowling and managing the center. While both still think about the bowlers and their center, now they might sometimes be found in that hot tub, without the peacock feathers, healing those bowling injuries. You might find Paul building a table from the old lanes or a shuffleboard in his garage. Mike will be on the golf course or maybe at his cabin or doing some honey-do jobs. Not everyone can say they love their job but Paul Panholzer and Mike Curry loved their job and cared about the bowlers. They will forever be remembered in the hearts of all the bowlers. Together, they provided us with 90 plus years of service to our sport-all for their love of BOWLING and the bowlers!