Canton’s Cherokee Lanes will be hosting a PBA50 South Region event beginning next Thursday. The three-day event will bring some of the country’s top professional senior bowlers to the area, and as the pros compete in the Cherokee Lanes Canton South Open, local bowlers will have a chance to get in on the action in Friday’s pro-am.
Stoney Baker, a 24-time PBA champion who owns Cherokee Lanes, began participating in PBA50 events this year, when he turned 50. A pro bowler since he was in his early 20s, Baker won his first PBA50 event and finished second in the next one.
Baker has hosted PBA events at Cherokee Lanes in the past, but this is his first time hosting a senior event — and he is going all out for it. The facility has undergone improvements in the last few weeks, which included new flooring.
“This is my first senior event,” Baker said. “I hosted the other events before because I could participate in them because I was younger. Now, I can participate in this one.”
Baker said bowling on the national tour isn’t his style because he doesn’t like living out of a suitcase. He purchased the bowling center in 2000, after previously running a pro shop in Cumming, and he’s made his home in Canton since.
“I didn’t like being away from home so much, so I decided to bowl the local events in the Southeast mainly,” Baker said. “I love it here. I love the business.”
He said his favorite part is getting to know the people, some of whom bowl two or three times a week. In fact, he has his local bowlers in mind when he hosts the PBA events in conjunction with the pro-am.
“Bowling, you can do it from 2 years old to 90 years old,” Baker said. “In the pro-am, we have a junior division, an adult division and a senior division.”
The pro-am, which will be held April 26 at 7:30 p.m., is open to bowlers of all ages. There is an entry fee of $25 for juniors and $40 for seniors and adults.
Amateurs will bowl three games, each with a different pro. The combined score of the amateur and pro for all three games — a nine-pin, no-tap format where nine pins down counts as a strike — determines the winner.
Prize money is awarded in each division, and the top boy and top girl will receive a $250 scholarship.
The pros will arrive in town Thursday for practice. They will bowl eight games the following day for qualifying, and the top 16 will advance to single-elimination match play Saturday. The public is welcome to attend.
Baker said that he is running a Thursday-through-Saturday event in order to accommodate the professionals. There is a national event this weekend in Florida, and an event the following weekend in Birmingham, Ala.
“I’m sandwiching it in there during their off time,” Baker said. “We couldn’t do it Sunday, because practice for the event in Birmingham is on Sunday, so we had to work it a little bit different.”
Baker expects 100 participants, and with a $220 entry fee, the winnings will be between $2,500 and $3,000 for first place. The top three receive prize money.
Among the professionals registered for the event are Ron Mohr, Bob Learn Jr., Tom Baker, Harry Sullins, George Pappas and Guppy Troup.
“They go non-stop,” Baker said. “It’s pretty exciting, because it’s single-elimination. So, if you lose, you’re done.”