Allenhurst City Councilman James Willis is somewhat quiet when it comes to his recent accomplishment. Willis bowled a perfect 300 and a three-game series of 801 on Feb. 1, during the Friday night league’s team competitions at Marne Lanes.
Willis said he started bowling in 1995.
“My wife was a bowler and when we met and started dating, she bowled and I didn’t, but she got me into it,” he said. He and Wanda Willis married in 1994.
His wife said it took a little while before she persuaded him to give the sport a try.
“He would not bowl with me until I bought him his own pair of bowling shoes and a bowling ball,” Wanda Willis said. “He is left-handed and most of the balls at the bowling center are for right-handed bowlers. It makes a difference. After that, he started going with me to the bowling center on Friday nights and practiced while I bowled in the Friday night league.”
She said her husband soon became a student of the sport and began checking out books on bowling from the library.
“The next year, he joined the Friday night league with me,” she said. “He bowled a 299 game in 1998,
but he hadn’t been bowling long enough at that time to appreciate the accomplishment.”
Willis served in the Army for two years and retired from civil service after working as a financial analyst for the Fort Stewart Directorate of Resource Management.
He said he also bowls in the Wednesday night league but, on average, he usually hits around 214 on Wednesdays and 217 on Fridays.
He said letting go of the ball and watching it roll down the lane during the final frame was a surreal moment.
“It was very exciting,” he said. “It’s like when you are pitching a no-hitter … no one mentions it … everything is quiet and everyone walked over to watch what was going on. Then, all of a sudden, everyone was clapping and cheering.”
“Bowling a 300 game is an accomplishment in itself, but to finish with an 801 series is an even greater accomplishment, especially considering the 300 was his second game,” his wife said. “He will receive two rings from United States Bowling Committee — one for the 300 game and the other for the 801 series.”