by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA — Sometimes older doesn’t mean older. Sometimes, it just means better.
Ed Chow will put that thesis to the test when he makes a rare tournament appearance in a West Coast Senior Tour event June 11 at Winnetka Bowl.
The 77-year-old Chow, a top-of-the-line league bowler for the past several decades, will be watched closely as he faces much younger competition. He’ll be one of the oldest players ever to compete in a WCST event, which is open this year to eligible bowlers 60 and older.
Chow competed only once in a WCST event – and that was in the 1990s at now-defunct AMF Bowlerland in Van Nuys. And he recalls that he didn’t do particularly well in that tournament.
But hope springs eternal, especially with the Winnetka tournament so close to Chow’s home in Granada Hills. Chow has been bowling as well as he ever has, drilling a practice 300 last week at Winnetka Bowl.
Chow acknowledged that the odds will be long for him to win the title considering he’ll contend with a tourna-ment pattern instead of a house shot. Additionally, he noted that he doesn’t have the tournament experience that others possess.
“Having not bowled in a tournament like that in 10 years, it will be something new for me,” said Chow, a left-hander who has five sanctioned perfect games and two 800 series. “I’m feeling a little goosy going in. I hope I can perform up to standards.”
Ron De Maio is the oldest player to win a WCST title, having finished first last year in a tournament at Del Rosa Lanes in San Bernardino. De Maio was 77 at the time. De Maio, who has won 11 WCST titles, also is entered in the Winnetka Bowl field.
So Chow, who turns 78 in October, has a chance to tie De Maio’s record for the oldest player to claim a WCST title. The competition, which starts at 10 a.m., has a double-elimination finals.
Added Chow: “I am entering this tournament to win. If I don’t, I will still have fun. After all, it’s only a game.”
Dick Sanders, the WCST owner and director, welcomed Chow’s entry. “[Chow] likes to bowl and likes to be around people,” said Sanders, whose tour is in its 24th year.
“We’ll be glad to have him because he’s 25 years ago,” he said, laughing.
The Winnetka tournament will represent a milestone of sorts. The WCST hasn’t made a stop in the Valley since May 2012 when now-defunct Mission Hills Bowl served as the tournament host.
Winnetka Bowl, formerly called Canoga Park Bowl, used to be a fixture in the WCST lineup. It served as a WCST tournament site 10 times between the tour’s debut year in 1993 and 2004.
When Winnetka Bowl stopped drawing enough competitors, the bowling house was dropped from the WCST schedule.
The WCST has attracted some of the premier bowlers in the L.A. area. They include Eric Forkel, a former San Fernando Valley resident and five-time Professional Bowlers Assn. tour champion, and the late Barry Gurney, a standout on the PBA senior circuit. Forkel has won 19 WCST events and Gurney captured 18 titles. Kevin Gan-non of Lakewood is far and away the all-time leader in WCST championships with 46. Gannon has entered the Winnetka event. The WCST is in the midst of holding 14 tournaments this year. The tour will next travel to Laughlin for a July 9-10 event.