by Fred Eisenhammer
LAS VEGAS – Kelly Gold’s name certainly fits because she was the Golden Girl in bowling in the San Fernando Valley for many, many years.
Mixing her striking good looks and outgoing charm with extraordinary bowling, Kelly asserted herself as everyone’s favorite among San Fernando Valley-area league bowlers for a decade and a half beginning in the early 2000s.
Then she picked up stakes from her West Hills home and moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago carrying a wealth of accomplishments on her resume.
She made a name for herself in January 2013 by rolling back-to-back 300s in her first two games at Winnetka Bowl (then known as Canoga Bowl). When she left the area, she carried a reputation as an elite amateur bowler with 10 perfect games to her credit.
Still, there was one achievement that was proving elusive.
Every year, Kelly said her New Year’s resolution was to record her first 800 series and every year her fellow bowlers encouraged her and encouraged her and encouraged her to reach that level . . . until it happened last month.
Kelly crushed an 820.
After rolling scores of 276, 268, 276 last month at Suncoast Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Kelly announced her milestone Jan. 23 on Facebook this way:
“Hi everyone. I know I haven’t posted anything in a long time. But most of you have been so supportive of me and my bowling. So, I came out of retirement in September after 2 years off. I finally shot my first 800 series today. I guess I can retire again. Lol.”
A longtime employee at Corbin Bowl in Tarzana, Kelly seemed a cinch to notch an 800 after she blasted back-to-back 300s during her women’s travel league. But after striking in the first frame of her third game, the stylish right-hander finished with a pedestrian 161 and a 761 series.
That was typical of the unpredictable Kelly Gold, who once rolled a gutter on her final shot after striking in the previous 11 shots. What wasn’t unpredictable was Kelly’s perpetual graciousness and smile – during nights that were good and nights that were, well, they always felt good for Kelly when she was on the lanes.
“It’s more than a hobby, I love it,” she said about her bowling a few years ago. “I’m so glad I found it. I love everything about it. I wish I was better at it, but I’ll work on it. I just have to bowl more.”
It was this modesty that brought out the tributes. Bob Englehart, a local bowling legend who has rolled several dozen 800 series, ranks as one of her biggest supporters.
“Bowling back-to-back 300s is just an awesome accomplishment,” he once said. “I’ve never done that. And she’s very humble and that makes her more attractive.”
After bowling her 820, Kelly sent a cheery text to this reporter. “I’m blessed beyond,” Kelly said. “I’ve been able to accomplish my goals. AND I’M NOT DONE YET.”
Once she posted the news on Facebook, friends from everywhere chimed in with messages of congratulations.
Roger Lyn Greene’s post was typical: “You are adorable and awesome at the same time.”
Back in L.A., the joy was palpable.
Liz Rogers, a longtime bowler, said “when I heard the news, I was so happy. I bowled with Kelly at [AMF] Woodlake [in Woodland Hills] during her first season bowling. She averaged 175. Everyone else would have averaged 125, 130. She was a natural. Just a natural.”
Ace Craig Kisro, who has bowled seven 800s, said: “I didn’t know Kelly that well. I did see her bowl a little bit and she does throw it great. I didn’t get my first 800 till I was over 50. I remember how happy I was and I’m really happy for her because I know how she feels. Congratulations! I’m sure the next one will come a lot sooner.” Elite bowler and coach Rusty Bryant, the pro-shop operator at Winnetka Bowl, summed up sentiment: “A wonderful series for a wonderful lady.”