by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – When Johnnie Englehart arrived at Country Club Bowl in San Rafael last May for the 2017 California United States Bowling Congress state championship tournament, he remembered that he had bowled there once before.
That was 30 years earlier – and it also was at the state championship event. It also was the year that Englehart claimed the all-events scratch championship.
“Wouldn’t it be great if I won it again? But let’s get real,” Englehart thought to himself.
Englehart wound up turning that dream into reality by winning the all-events scratch title again – giving him five career finishes in the top three in the all-events competition (two firsts, two seconds and one third).
Repeating as the state all-events champion 30 years apart is just one of the many memorable achievements in Englehart’s lengthy bowling resume.
Englehart, a Winnetka resident, has been one of L.A.’s most consistently prolific bowlers and thus it’s no surprise that he will be inducted into the California USBC Hall of Fame for superior performance.
The induction will take place June 9 at Hotel Picadilly in Fresno.
It will mark the second bowling Hall of Fame that Englehart will enter. In 2004, he was enshrined in the Los Angeles Bowling Assn. Hall of Fame.
Englehart, long an elite bowler, has blasted 69 perfect games and 68 800 series. That those numbers are so close together is extremely rare and provides a measure of Englehart’s extraordinary career. An 800 is much rarer than a 300 because a bowler has to be on a strike rampage through three games – instead of just one.
Englehart’s 68th perfecto came in last year’s state tournament – in his final game. He bowled nine games in the tournament, three in the singles event, three in doubles (with partner and son Scott Englehart) and three in the team event. He crushed the 300 in the third game of the team event.
“That was like a fairy tale,” said the right-handed Englehart of winning his second all-events scratch title.
He finished with 2,165 total pins (240.6 average), 12 pins ahead of the second-place bowler.
Englehart, who just turned 60, is averaging 240 this year in league play. His high average for a nine-month season is a gaudy 249, which he fashioned in 2010.
Englehart compiled an eye-popping 255 average in the three-month summer session of 2011. That comes out to a striking 765 for a series if the average holds for three games – and he continues to maintain a sizzling pace.
“I’m very lucky to be performing like that,” Englehart says. “Sometimes, I don’t believe some of the stuff I do. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.”