If anyone is keeping score, it seems Langford Lanes started its first frame with a strike.
The bowling centre has become an overnight success, with lanes reserved months in advance and drop-in bowlers often having to wait two to three hours for a lane.
The overwhelming popularity and pent up demand for bowling has taken management by surprise.
“We never expected to be this busy,” said Corey Barager, Langford Lanes general manager.
“We definitely anticipated a huge need for a bowling alley,” said Laynia Palubeskie, director of marketing. “But, we didn’t anticipate it to be this busy.”
The 20-lane facility is packed with a combination of public bowling, league play and private bookings.
The 18 leagues at Langford Lanes — populated with men’s, women’s, mixed, youth and special needs teams — have about 500 active members, with another 500 on waiting lists.
Su Brock, Langford Lanes league and tournament manager, isn’t surprised with the numbers.
“There hasn’t been a bowling centre for five years and at the previous centre they had more than 500 in the league,” Brock said. “What did surprise me what that 80 per cent (of our league players) hadn’t bowled in a league before.”
With the popularity of leagues, the bowling centre is looking into adding more league play on some nights. The centre offers two 20-week leagues during the year and the next league season is starting in March.
Langford Lanes is also looking into opening a high school league that will run weekdays after school.
Leagues operate nearly every day, but Brock said the centre has tried to create an equal balance for all bowlers. Many lanes during high-volume weekend times remain open to the public.
Staff try to keep walk-in times available, but it can be tough to roll a few frames without booking in advance.
Any given Saturday has about 300 bowlers walk through the doors, and weekends often have wait times of several hours. Lane reservations are booked solid until February.
“The slowest times (for public bowling) are weekdays in the late afternoon,” Barager said. “We do try to save some room for drop-ins.”
Barager is glad to be managing such a popular facility. His advice to people who want to come play is “show up early.”
Barager loves bowling, but even he hasn’t had much time to knock down pins.
Langford Lanes is the first 10-pin bowling alley in the region since Mayfair Lanes closed in 2006. Before the centre opened, the closest 10-pin bowling alley was in Duncan.
When anything new opens there is always a bit of novelty, but Barager said, “I think it’s going to stay pretty steady.”