The West Coast Senior Tour seems to have its mojo back.
Struggling to lure entries last season, the tour has found traction this year after changing its format to increase participation.
The tour changed its eligibility rules to make its 2014 events strictly for certified bowlers 60 and older. Previously, the tour allowed bowlers as young as 50 to take part in many of its events.
Dick Sanders, the tour’s owner and director, noted that many of the older bowlers were disgruntled at what they considered the domination by the 50-59 group. So he raised the eligibility age and that controversial move has resulted in increased fields through the first seven events of the year.
The downside of that change is that many loyal participants in the tour were locked out of events because they were too young. Sanders sympathized that some younger stalwarts such as Johnnie Englehart of Canoga Park and Eric Forkel of Henderson, Nev., weren’t eligible to bowl anymore.
But Sanders cited how “our entries are down 40% in three years” for raising the age eligibility. He also reduced the number of tournaments to 12 this year and made most of the events a one-day affair – instead of two.
The tour will hold its eighth event of the year Saturday at Buena Lanes in Ventura. Indicative of the increased WCST support is the fact that the 36-player field was filled more than a week ago.
The tour will use a new wrinkle for the Ventura event when it goes to a double-elimination format in the finals to crown the champion.
“It’ll be like the [United States Bowling Congress] Masters [tournament],” Sanders said. “But instead of 64 making the finals, we’ll have eight. It’ll be a smaller version of the Masters.
“I think it will be a lot of fun. We’ve never had that [format] before.”
The tour is in its 22nd season.
For more information, call Sanders at 760-363-6064.