It seems like anytime PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. bowls two-handed in a tournament, videos pop up on social media and people are mesmerized the 58-year-old is using the style. Truth is, he’s been messing around with it for over 10 years.
Williams, arguably the greatest bowler of all time, has won all of his 47 career national title and 11 PBA50 titles bowling one-handed. However, over the past year he’s started taking two-handed bowling a little more seriously.
“I’ve been able to bowl (two-handed) for 10 years, however I never really put much time into it,” Williams said. “I could do it without falling over and get the ball down the lane. Normally I would do it when I was basically out of the tournament. It was a way for me to have fun at the end of a tournament and not get upset.”
After years of watching PBA two-handed stars like Jason Belmonte, Osku Palermaa and Jesper Svensson have so much success, Williams finally became inspired to put a little more effort into two-handed bowling.
“Every year, I’d go out on the regular tour and see these kids, and I knew I needed to learn how to bowl two-handed but never worked at it,” Williams said. “This last winter, I worked at it a little bit, not a lot, but a little bit. I still have a long way to go, but the first thing I worked on was throwing the ball a lot harder. So now, I can throw the ball halfway decent, but I’m not as accurate, obviously, as I am bowling one-handed.”
In fact, at the recent United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters, Williams bowled seven of the 15 games in qualifying using the two-handed delivery. He ended up qualifying for the match-play bracket in a tie for 14th place with a 222.27 average.
“My plus number at the Senior Masters was higher for the seven games two-handed than it was for the eight games one-handed,” said Williams, who is the only bowler on the PBA50 Tour using the two-handed delivery. “However, when we got to match play and we are bowling on the fresh, I used my one-handed delivery.”
It’s clear based on his track record of success over nearly 40 years on tour that Williams’ bread and butter is still his dead-on accurate one-handed style. But he has noticed times when bowling two-handed can be a significant advantage, especially on the PBA50 Tour.
As the lanes break down during long qualifying blocks, it creates opportunities for Williams to take advantage of the higher revs bowling two-handed affords him. He can get left of the rest of the field and utilize the area created to the right with a bigger hook.
“When the lanes get very scoreable, my scores two-handed in tournaments have basically been higher than they have been one-handed,” said Williams, who has self-taught himself how to bowl both one-handed and two-handed. “I don’t do it on fresh conditions normally. If I saw a fresh condition I thought it would work on, I would probably do it.”
Williams said he finds bowling two-handed to be slightly more physically taxing on his 58-year-old frame, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.
“I would say it’s a little more effort,” Williams said. “I noticed in practice that I start sweating a little bit more. I think I’m exerting more energy bowling two-handed. I’ve also noticed my ball speed is about the same two-handed vs one-handed, and I have a higher rev rate.”
So, does Williams think his two-handed style will ever be good enough to take on the likes of Belmonte on the regular tour? Probably not.
“I don’t really know that I’m ever going to be good enough to be that competitive on the regular tour bowling two-handed,” Williams said. “They are so good, and I don’t put enough time into it.”
In the meantime, don’t be surprised to see even more videos on social media of Williams bowling two-handed, especially on the PBA50 Tour.