PBS senior tour bowler Bob Markiewicz could become the new owner of Royal Lanes. He currently lives in California, but after his work with the center this fall, he is considering all options.
A funny thing happened to PBA member Bob Markiewicz on his way back home to San Diego after finishing out the PBA50 Tour season in Welch, Minn.
He turned into a "Good Samaritan" and may be the driving force in saving a small-town bowling center from extinction.
For bowling fans who don't know Markiewicz by name or face, you likely have been impacted by his role in the sport. He's the founder of InteGreat Software, the company that designed the "Brackman" software used around the world to manage "brackets" at bowling tournaments. He also developed "Tourneyman," a tournament management software program that is widely used in the sport, including in the PBA Regional events.
Markiewicz also is an accomplished bowler who had held PBA membership for several years before illness forced him into temporary retirement. He recently decided to kick-start his game, at age 51, and after bowling the final PBA50 Tour events of the year, decided to re-join the PBA.
Following the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open, he decided to visit his sister (Pam Spidahl) in Devil's Lake, N.D., before returning home to San Diego.
"It was only about a six-hour drive from Minnesota," Markiewicz said, "but when I got to Devil's Lake, I learned there is a 16-lane bowling center (Royal Lanes) that is in danger of closing. The proprietor (Jim Mellon) basically said if business doesn't improve this year, he's going to close the center.
"This town has really inspired me," he added. "It got me thinking about a lot of things in my life, and a cause like this just grabs you."
Markiewicz decided to do what he could to help rescue the center, which had seen its adult league-bowler base shrink from 730 men and women in 2006 to 191 adults last season. Even worse, Royal Lanes' youth program only included 18 kids. Markiewicz talked to the owner and offered to lend a hand.
"I helped organize a $1-a-game promotion a couple of weeks ago, had 120 people including the first waiting list the center had seen in years. It goes to show what you can do in a small town if you promote things," he said. "In small towns, everyone knows everyone, so word gets around if you know how to do it."
Taking on a challenge like trying to help save a failing bowling center is something Markiewicz understands. He was the lead programmer for a software company in San Diego, but got laid off. So using his skills and his passions for bowling, he started his own company - InteGreat Software.
"One door closed, another opened," he said. And in his newly re-discovered role as a PBA member, he is trying to use that status to rebuild the grassroots league bowling base in Devil's Lake.
"Every once in a while, as a professional, you're given an opportunity others don't have to influence people," he added, "but you have to have the desire to step forward. Other people can say the same thing I say, but because they aren't professionals, people don't listen the same way. It's an opportunity some people don't know how to handle, but it's something they can use if they choose to use it in a constructive way. I can honestly say the work I've done in Devil's Lake has made me feel better than anything else I've ever done in bowling."