Tinker bowling lanes to close for significant upgrades, snack bar remains open

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins, 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The bowling lanes at Tinker Air Force Base will be closed for nearly the entire month of July for significant upgrades.

While the snack bar will remain open, bowling will be closed from July 4 to July 31, 2024, while crews install United States Bowling Congress Certified string pinsetters.

Traditionally ‘free fall’ pinsetter systems use mechanical arms at bowling lanes across the country to sweep away fallen pins and reset. A string pinsetter system utilizes nylon strings attached to the top of pins to pull them up into a rack and reset each time a player throws a ball down the lane.

“String pinsetter systems have been around for a long time, but it has gotten to a point where everyone can use it now,” said Mike Nichols, professional bowler and bowling center manager at Tinker Lanes. “They are the same pins that bowlers are using today, they just have strings on them.”

The current free fall pinsetter system at Tinker Lanes is approaching 35 years old. With skyrocketing repair costs and mechanics becoming few and far between, the decision was difficult but necessary for the future of Tinker Lanes.

“Mechanics often can’t do the work that needs to be done on the older pinsetters because they require additional training which adds to the overall total cost of repairs. 

“With a string system, you train one time and everyone in the whole center can fix them,” Nichols added. “It’s so simple, you push a button, and the system will detangle itself usually, so we won’t have a call for a long time. We may not have a call for 2-3 months.”

Nichols says the transition to a string pinsetter system is similar to the transition from urethane bowling balls to plastic and wood lanes to synthetic.

“This is the way of the future, all bowling centers are going to this because of the high cost of parts and experienced mechanics,” said Nichols. 

While the transition to a string pinsetter system takes place, the snack bar will operate during the following hours:

July 1–3: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Sat CLOSED

July 8–31: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Sat CLOSED

Aug. 1: Mon – Fri 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Sat Sat 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Tinker Lanes opened for business over six decades ago in 1963.