Doug Mahoe has bowled as high as 275 and has rolled a breakthrough 701 series, but on Friday he was exulting over the memorable 459 series that he rolled the night before at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills.
“Last week I was terrible,” said Mahoe, a Woodland Hills resident. “I ended up with a 303 series and my lowest game was a 79. It was an embarrassment.
“But last night, I had a great time. It was a 180-degree turn.”
Mahoe’s games of 144, 158 and 157 – 669 with handicap – marked his high as a left-hander as he blazes a comeback trail with his “off” hand. Mahoe’s series also was an impressive 21 pins above his 132 average.
He’s been bowling as a lefty since the summer of 2011 as he doggedly pursues his goal of attaining the same average he held as a right-hander, which was in the 170s.
Mahoe, who will turn 70 in March, is another of the ever-increasing group of bowlers who steadfastly refuse to succumb to injury and give up the game. For Mahoe, his injury came in October 2010.
“While bowling, I felt the bicep muscle of my right arm pop,” Mahoe explained. “I shook it off and threw another ball down the lane. I heard another pop sound from my right arm. At that point, I could not hold on to my ball. I withdrew from the league and rested my arm.”
Bowling now on the “Hawaii Five-Oh” team during Thursday’s league competition, Mahoe is one of three lefties on the team. Gaynell Jackson also converted to her left hand after an injury and Debbie Stelle is a natural lefty.
Mahoe and Jackson, who shifted to a left-hander about nine years ago, often confer about how to handle the transition to the opposite hand. Asked how much Jackson has meant to his development, Mahoe said, “Oh God, if I had to put a number on it . . . 100 percent. She’s always pushing, watching. She’s helped me tremendously. She makes it comfortable. And having Debbie there as a natural lefty also is a help.”
Carol Tucker, who bowls with Mahoe in the same league, is extremely impressed with Mahoe. “He has a wonderful spirit,” she gushed.
Discussing his early days as a lefty, the good-natured Mahoe has plenty of stories:
“When I first stated bowling left-handed, I was the entertainer for my friends,” Mahoe stated. “I had a hard time keeping the ball on the lanes. It would always find its way to the gutter. I’ve been known to throw the ball in the wrong lanes. For weeks, I kept everyone laughing.
“It got so bad, they stopped talking to me. Another thing I had to work on was my approach. My footsteps were all wrong. I wasn’t sure if I had two left feet.”
Mahoe prepared for his return to league action two years ago by bowling left-handed with his “senior friends” at Canoga Park Bowl on Sunday mornings. “Canoga Park Lanes was referred to us as ‘church,’ ’’ Mahoe said. “So when someone asks, ‘Where are you going?’ we would just say, ‘to the church.’ ”
Asked how long he plans to bowl, Mahoe said “as long as I can. Right now I’m getting comfortable with my left hand. I’ll bowl, and I’ll golf and I’ll fish for as long as I can.
“I love doing those things.”