This post is a little outdated. Kelly Kulick was the first woman ever to win the PBA Tournament – in January 2010. Didn’t hear about her or the tournament either, eh?
Kulick had been a member of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association, but the organization folded a few years ago. In an article for Daily Finance, Jonathan Berr states Kulick, 32, “bowled 50 games over three days to win the tour’s premiere event, the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.” See Kulick in action on ESPN here and see her PBA athlete profile here.
She crushed a former Player of the Year, Chris Barnes, 265-195 in the championship match to win a $40,000 first prize. She also won a two-year exemption on the PBA Tour, virtually assuring her a chance to make a living as a pro bowler, because she does not need to qualify for individual events. She’s hoping Sunday’s win could lead to a full-time women’s tour, instead of just a series.
“Kelly Kulick’s win today at the PBA Tour’s Tournament of Champions is not only historic, it serves as a motivational and inspirational event for girls and women competing at all levels all around the world,” Women’s Sports Foundation Founder Billie Jean King said in a release.
Berr says, “But so far, these victories haven’t left her swimming in endorsements. These days, when she’s not bowling, she handles secretarial work at her father’s auto-body shop.”
Berr argues that her lack of support isn’t just due to her gender, and the sport’s general unfriendliness to women, but also from bowling’s history in pop culture as being a sport for troglodytes, drug pushers, and generally strange men. Take such classics as The Flintstones, The Big Lebowski, and Kingpin. Fred Flintstone, the unofficial mayor of Bedrock, hurls his ball down the lane with all his might. (Actually, Fred lofts his ball, which only novices do, and which damages the lanes, driving bowling-center managers crazy.) Kingpin and The Big Lebowski both treat bowling as camp, not as a serious sport.