I have had this one running debate for years, "Which is harder, hitting a hole-in-one in golf, or bowling a perfect game?" - My answer will always be magical "300". I have played both sports, and here is what I have observed, you can make the worst possible tee-shot, have your ball bounce 456 times towards the green, bounce off a tree, ricochet off an unlucky bird's head, and land close to the pin, and trickle in for an ugly ace. There is NO margin of error in knocking down twelve strikes in a row - heck your ball ends up in the gutter, and bye-bye, you are done. I have a friend who has been perfect many times over, and that still boggles my mind.

Al Benjamin grew up in Grand Forks, his dad hit the lanes five nights a week, and that where you could find Al many times as well, because that's what young kids do, to absorb themselves in their parent's footsteps. Lacing up his bowling shoes at the age of eight, he found himself entered in tournaments. My friend has bowled at alleys in Minot (he has some family there), Fargo, Bismarck. The Competition runs in the family as his oldest brother Matt rolls a mean game as well.

The year was 2016, at a city tournament in Grand Forks, Red Ray Lanes, the "King of Choke" was about ready to test his nickname - he was labeled this for a reason "If there was a way to screw up a "300" I would find it" - He had the painful Front 11 Strikes two dozen times - Yes just one tiny strike away to complete greatness and it always eluded him. On this night though, as he took his stance and gripped his ball, staring at the final set of pins - he took a deep breath and reached out to his father, who had passed away two years before - "Dad can you just help me out?"

With that very first sanctioned perfect game in Grand Forks, he continued to compete, and in 2017 he finished 2nd at a State Tournament in Minot - The first place finisher could NOT move on to Syracuse, New York, and that's when Al was given the "Golden Ticket To The Masters" - a HUGE honor!

Check this out, in his career, Mr "No LONGER The King Of Choke" has rolled seven Non-sanctioned perfect games. Last night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Lane 8 at Eastway Bowl it was all good through eight frames when after blasting his 9th straight strike, realizing that this sanctioned game was perfect so far, he suddenly started feeling nervous. A professional bowler right next to him took the edge off and convinced him to stay loose and have fun. Now my best game ever, I threw six strikes in a row, I can't even imagine what goes on in your head when you are "On a roll" (yes pun intended). Nerves of steel have got to be a must. The stage was set now, the overhead scoreboard displayed eleven pretty X's, he needed just one more. With a hushed crowd directly behind him, wearing his dad's Pro Transport shirt, Al set the pins down without a fight.

The skillset of a true champ stands tall, with his father always by his side.



 

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