LAS VEGAS –A lifetime of individual success on the lanes has helped Frank Massengale Jr. of Hixson, Tennessee, and his son, Chris Massengale of Chattanooga, Tennessee, earn a special place in the United States Bowling Congress record book, while a recent visit to the South Point Bowling Plaza offered an unforgettable experience.
The two own the USBC marks for career 300 games and 800 series by a father and son, with nearly 200 perfect games and more than 150 800s between them, but this week’s trip to the 2017 USBC Open Championships marked the first time the two have competed together on the biggest stage in bowling.
In fact, the two have very limited participation records at the premier event for USBC members, combining for just nine tournament appearances, including 2017.
Frank Massengale, now 51, made his Open Championships debut at the 1991 event in Toledo, Ohio, and found instant success, helping Tri-State Lanes of Chattanooga to the Regular Team title. Despite the immediate glory, he didn’t return again until 1997 and added appearances in 2003 and 2005.
Chris Massengale competed in the tournament for the first time in 2011 and returned in 2012 and 2015.
Some health issues in recent years delayed their first tandem outing on the championship lanes, but the chance to make that happen in 2017 was a priority.
“I guess it was more of a financial decision to miss many of the tournaments, and the main reason I am here today is to have the chance to bowl with my son for the first time at Nationals,” Frank Massengale said. “I ended up having a heart attack in 2013 and was not able to make it to the tournament that year or in 2014. That is the reason that I am here today. Finally getting to bowl in this tournament with my son is the most important thing to me right now.”
Frank Massengale has enjoyed success on the lanes at all levels of the sport.
In 1988, at 22, he found himself as the top amateur at the U.S. Open, finishing in the top 25. He also has finished in the top eight at the Hoinke Super Classic, is a two-time Southern Match Game champion and is a member of the team that owns the second-highest three-game team series in USBC history, a 3,937 effort posted in 2009.
His dedication to the sport has earned him spots in three halls of fame in his home state – Chattanooga Area, Chattanooga Sports and Tennessee State USBC Bowling Association Halls of Fame.
Growing up in a bowling family truly is special. The young bowlers learn the sounds and smells associated with the bowling center and grow up in its surroundings. When the time comes for them to get out on their own, it’s a special moment for the parents, but what about the children?
“Growing up in a bowling center is what I did my whole life,” Chris Massengale said. “No matter if he was bowling in a local tournament or one farther away. I remember first-hand when my dad won the Southern Match Game tournament and even going to some Professional Bowlers Association tournaments as well. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him do what he loves to do since I was 5 years old.”
Chris was there to witness the greatest victories and hardest defeats his father had. He learned from both and has been able to use those experiences to find his own path and success on the lanes.
Also like his father, life’s responsibilities, including a child of his own, have limited his participation in the Open Championships.
“Mainly the jobs I had in the past made it really hard to take a few days off to come out and bowl,” said Chris, a 29-year-old right-hander. “Now, I have a 4-year-old, and he is the top priority.”
Chris definitely has been shown and given all the tools needed to succeeded in the sport. He also understands the significance of the Open Championships and the win his father experienced in 1991.
Getting to bowl together at the world’s largest participatory sport events has been a long time coming, not only on the same team, but as doubles partners as well.
“The 300 record for me, just means there are big shoes to fill, and every time I see or hear that my dad has the first nine strikes, there is no doubt in my mind he is going to put the next three balls right where they need to be,” Chris Massengale said. “The 800s, that’s even harder to do, as you need to average 266 to get there. You have to get up each time and throw a quality shot and hope for a little luck, too.”
This week at the South Point Bowling Plaza, Frank Massengale set the pace with sets of 596 in singles, 555 in team and 522 in doubles for a 1,673 all-events total. Chris has 596 in singles, 567 in doubles and 486 in team for 1,649. The two posted a 1,089 total in their Open Championships doubles debut.
Visit us on Facebook at the official USBC Open Championships Facebook page.