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Don Carter," said a leading bowling instructor in 1952, "has an awkward style and an ineffective ball. His performance must be regarded as a fluke." This observation was made in the knowledge of the fact that Carter (pictured at left) had just finished fourth in the All-Star, a tournament whose winner is recognized generally as U.S. match game champion. Then in 1953 Carter won the match game crown and became the first man in history to bowl more than 1,900 pins for nine games in three consecutive American Bowling Congress Championships. Last December he scored an unprecedented third All-Star victory. Some old-line experts still criticize the revolutionary Carter style, though conceding that he is the man to beat in the world championships opening December 4 in Chicago and in the All-Star next January in Minneapolis. "He has awful form," they assert, "but he makes up for it with his uncanny accuracy." The illogic behind such statements is blatant. Carter is accurate because of his style. What he has done, as the following pages reveal, is develop—step by step—a method of bowling which reduces the margin of human error so that the ball will achieve its objective: knock down pins.
None of this came easily. The 6-foot, 190-pound St. Louisan practiced constantly for seven years before he hit the big time; five years more before he proved himself head and shoulders above the field. He still spends from two to 10 hours on the lanes daily. His years of search for better methods, and hours of practice to improve the ones he discovered, have paid off handsomely. His annual income from exhibitions ($20,000), tournament prize money ($15,000), television (more than $10,000), endorsements and other fees ($10,000), plus promotion-department salaries from Anheuser-Busch ( Budweiser) Brewery and the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co., make him one of the highest paid men in sports. He also is president of two corporations which recently erected plush bowling establishments in St. Louis and Rockford, Ill. His wife, La Verne, a former Hollywood starlet, is among the nation's best women bowlers. Kathy, 7, and Jimmy, 3, already show promise of following their parents' shuffle to stardom.
Carter was born in St. Louis 31 years ago. A stellar all-round athlete, he felt certain his future lay in sports. He tried baseball first, but gave it up when, as pitcher-outfielder for a Philadelphia A's farm club, his weight dropped from 180 to 140 in a single season. Like many ballplayers, he had bowled to strengthen his arm, "and I found myself getting better and better," he recalled recently. "After quitting baseball I began devoting practically all my waking hours to bowling." In January 1952, aged 25, he qualified for the All-Star from St. Louis and made a good enough showing to receive a bid from a top Detroit team. From that point on, competing weekly against the biggest names in the sport, he worked even harder to improve his game. He did not stop experimenting when he returned to St. Louis three years ago to join the Budweisers, nor has he stopped studying the game today. In the illustrated guide starting on the next page, Carter and Artist Anthony Ravielli show you, in lucid detail, 10 of the reasons why he is the world's best bowler—and how you can radically improve your game. Although Carter deals entirely with fundamentals—"Learn them first and the rest comes easy," he says—you can pick up valuable information there, no matter how good a bowler you are. And to the champion it is a matter of pure delight that the same instructor who laughed at his "bent arm" form in 1952 is teaching the Carter method today.
1 The Grip
The first basic step toward proficiency is to grip the ball properly. Place your thumb in the thumb hole first, as deeply as it will go without your having to force it. It should feel comfortable.
Rest your fingers naturally on the ball, as illustrated above. As they cross the finger holes, the first joints of the middle and third fingers should extend about� inch past the edge of the holes.
Now, without raising your thumb, place your fingers in the holes. Note that mine grip the ball between the first and the second joints. I have found this grip to be most natural and most effective.
My "secret weapon," as far as gripping the ball is concerned, is to crook my pinky. This acts as a cushion for the ball, relieving strain on the fingers. More important, it increases accuracy.
Here is another view of the hand, illustrating how the little finger is eliminated from play so that it cannot "turn" the ball at the point of release. Keep the wrist firm to avoid violent hooking.
2 The Stance