As It Happens

Amateur bowler scores a perfect game in less than 90 seconds

Ben Ketola of Cortland, New York, recently bowled 12 consecutive strikes in 86.9 seconds.
(Facebook/courtesy of Ben Ketola)

Read Story Transcript

Ben Ketola dreamed of life in the fast lane. And with his eye on the ball, he's made that dream a reality at the local bowling alley in Cortland, New York, where he works. 

Earlier this month Ketola bowled 12 strikes — consecutively — in exactly 86.9 seconds. He told As it Happens host Carol Off how he managed to pull off the feat. 
Ben Ketola (Facebook/courtesy of Ben Ketola)

Carol Off: Ben, what inspired you to try to bowl 12 strikes in less than two minutes?

Ben Ketola: There was a video done by a professional bowler named Tom Dougherty. He did the same thing a few years back. When he did it, he had 12 different lanes that were all freshly oiled. He had four brand new bowling balls that were all identical, drilled the same way. And he had someone moving the balls for him so he could keep throwing the same balls the same way. When I saw him do it, I thought it would be a lot of fun to try.

CO: Okay, set the scene for us for when you pulled this off?

BK: So I had tried it a few times. Now that I work at a bowling alley, I had access to all the lanes at the same time. And every time I tried it, I was getting quite a few strikes. Never all twelve, but I was getting quite a few strikes. And the manager at the bowling alley, John Bishop, was watching me do it, and he goes, "Dude, we've got to record you doing this and make a challenge out of it. Like, what's the greatest amount of strikes you can get in a small time frame out of twelve shots?"

BK: So I just lined-up the bowling balls and started throwing strike after strike after strike ... and I thought, "Alright, I'm off to a really good start here," and I kept striking. After I threw the seventh one, it got in my head and I was like, "I might actually clear all twelve lanes here." And when I let go of that last ball, I knew it was great and I freaked out when it struck. I was very overwhelmed with excitement.

CO: So how much luck do you think went into this and how much skill?

BK: Well, a great bowler once told me, "The game of bowling is 90 per cent luck and then the other 90 per cent is physical".

CO: It sounds like a line from The Big Lebowski. 

BK: Yeah, you know, there's a lot of luck involved in bowling a perfect game anytime. Because, honestly, throwing twelve good shots without getting a bad break is lucky. You could throw the ball dead perfect 12 times and you should still feel lucky they all struck. 

CO: But in the video you have something quite extraordinary — you have a two-handed throw. Why is that? 

BK: I started bowling a little bit after my grandpa passed away because it was something that he always loved to do ... And I really fell in love with the game. And the first year I bowled one-handed, you know, regular shot. But right before my second year of bowling, I crashed my dirt bike. And, basically, when I fell, I landed on my thumb .... And it took about six months to heal so I could actually grip the ball again. So I said, "OK,I'm just going to bowl without my thumb."

Related: Making bowling sexy, or at least making it less boring

CO: Now, are you getting much response from your video?

BK: Oh, yes. I've been getting calls about doing this and that, left and right. And obviously tons of people just sending me messages, people who I've never heard of before. Yeah, it's been cool. I've been getting a lot of attention for it and, you know, the fifteen minutes of fame is fun.     

CO: What are you going to do next?

BK: Well, I'm thinking that I'm going to try to make a little series of bowling videos. Not necessarily trying this again, but doing some trick shots, just showcasing some cool bowling skills and see if I can keep getting some views on them.