The Importance of Lane Measuring and How it’s done

By Tenpin Bowling Australia
September 29, 2022

Whether you are new or old to the sport of Tenpin Bowling, not many people know what lane measuring is, what’s involved or why it’s important.

An important aspect of a Tenpin Bowling Australia (TBA) registered centre is that all bowling lanes are approved and are technically correct by IBF World Standards. This process also helps centres maintain their most valuable assets to a high standard.

When measuring lanes,36 individual measurements (or readings) are taken on each lane by a TBA registered lane measurer when performing lane certification, along with 12 other checks. These measurements include the length and width of lanes, the crosswise tilt of the lane, the length of approaches, the depth and width of gutters and careful scrutiny of the pin-decks.

As with other sports, a compliance factor must be in place to ensure that the playing surface is constructed and maintained to meet the required standard of the sport. TBA’s Administration Officer, Kris McCahon, explains the strictness when it comes to ensuring all TBA registered centres fit the requirements.

“All of the dimensions of a bowling lane are strictly controlled by TBA and it is a requirement of all TBA Registered Centres to have their lanes measured and inspected every two years by a Licensed (accredited/registered) TBA Lane Inspector,” McCahon said.

“If there are any physical dimensions outside of the allowable tolerances, the discrepancies must be attended to immediately, so that the lane is within specification for all TBA Accredited play.”

Bruce Jefferson is one of 26 qualified and active lane measurers in Australia and has been since 1995. Jefferson has measured in excess of 10,000 lanes in his career.

“There is a lot of satisfaction knowing you are doing something for the sport – providing a service to the sport and the bowlers!” Jefferson said.

 “That you are helping the centres and helping the members, inspires me to continue my role in the sport!”

In bowling, there are many factors that affect the travel of the ball and the fall of the pins, which is why lanes must be inspected. Inspectors are looking at things such as:

  • The length of the approach, from the end of the approach to the foul line.
  • The accuracy with which the pin-setting machine places the pins upon the pin spots.
  • The depth of the pit, which is the distance from the pin deck surface to the highest point on the pit carpet.
  • The surfaces of the lanes, to be sure they are level and do not contain excessive depressions or grooves.
  • The width of the lane itself, in the pin deck area.

McCahon details the frequency of lane measuring and how it is required that lanes used in accredited leagues or tournaments be inspected and certified every two years as part of TBA centre registration, unless there is a TBA ranked event run in the centre, in which case it must be done yearly.

“If some lanes are resurfaced or have other major work done on them during this time, they must be reinspected and recertified before they may be used for accredited play,” she explained.

“Any lanes that are newly built, either for a new centre or for a centre that has added or replaced lanes, must be certified before accredited play is allowed. There is no charge from TBA to the centres for this service,” McCahon added.

As one of the centre’s most significant investments, lanes cost thousands of dollars to maintain each year, and even more to replace. More frequent maintenance is better maintenance and contributes to equipment longevity, allowing athletes to bowl on and centres to thrive.