What could be better than having a few beers and watching some TV bowling? Well, a lot of things, actually. But for many Michiganders, watching pro and amateur bowling on TV was a favorite pastime…and we had plenty of ‘em to watch.

Arguably the best of the bunch was Beat the Champ. In the 70s it aired around 1am and then on Sunday mornings, giving the die-hards an excuse to miss church. The show was shot in Troy at Thunderbird Lanes.

Bowling for Dollars was another popular show, more so with lady bowlers, all competing to win some big bucks. In the late 70s the show aired about an hour before primetime. This one aired from Allen Park at Thunderbowl Lanes.

Make It and Take It This was held at Detroit’s former Timber Lanes, briefly airing around 1978 at 11:30pm.

Pin Busters was the kids version. It televised from Allen Park’s Thunderbowl in the late 70s. It aired when TV producers knew kids would be home watching: Saturday afternoons at 1pm, grabbing that core group of kids that didn’t want to play outside.

The public could not get enough of watching a bunch of fat guys bowling - it was always fun to watch them make that split...and not just in the seat of their pants. With the success of those shows came an onslaught of others, seen throughout the country: Celebrity Bowling
Championship Bowling
Jackpot Bowling
Let’s Bowl
Make That Spare …and many other low-budget programs, many televised and produced out of state.

Watching those shows when I was a kid, I could almost smell the cigarette smoke, mugs of beer, stale perfume, and cheap after shave…and that was enough to make me head down to our local bowling alley when I was of driving age.

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