In 1997, I was part of the start of BuddiesProShop.com. During that time, BallReviews.com was the only bowling industry forum. BallReviews.com had information on all current releases but no older equipment information. In 1998, Paul Forry passed away, and while cleaning out his pro shop, I stumbled across boxes of old bowling magazines. I thought this information would be valuable to bowlers. At this time, every bowling equipment manufacturer didn't keep information of retired equipment on their website.
During the trade show season, I ask each manufacturer's representative if they would be willing to supply me with any old information that they might have, so that I could build a website to store this information. Each company told me the same thing. That they were only concerned about current bowling balls. At that time, when a bowling ball was discontinued, it was removed from the company's website. No company kept any information of their retired balls.
I decided to scrape some money together and buy a domain name, and look for a company that could build what I needed. BowlingBallReviews.com was the domain I originally bought. I got a version of Photoshop, and learned the basic skills necessary to scan images. Some images are much tougher than other, and you might still be able to find some of the terrible images on the site. At the time, I didn't see the need for bowling ball advertisements to be catalogued, so I scanned the information I need, and tossed the magazines. I also knew that manufacturers had international releases, which very rarely, would be released in the US. I wanted to add this information to the site as well, but I didn't know how to find it. A member of the website, emailed me. He owned a pro shop in Australia, and supplied me with images to numerous bowling balls, but I knew there were more balls out there that I didn't have any information.
The USBC had a list of bowling balls that were cleared for use. This page was just one giant list, unlike now where it is various separate pages. On this list, it showed the names of international releases that were cleared by the USBC. Also bear in mind, that most international manufacturer didn't clear their balls in the US, at that time. I decided to print out the complete list, and start doing online searches. At the time, AOL, Yahoo, and Alta Vista were some of the main search engines. Alta Vista had something called BabelFish that would translate text to another language. I would input a name, and translate it. I would then paste it into various search engines, and see what turned up. I would click around, and see if I could stumble into something. Once I found a site, I would bookmark it, and start over again. One thing I learned later, was that some ball names are exclusive to a specific distibutor. Knowning this, I might have had an easier time finding information.
Once the manufacturers started to get emails about their international releases from customers, then I started to get calls and emails about removing the information. This was a delicate situation. I worked for Buddies Pro Shop, and the company had a good working relationship with all the manufacturers, but they weren't happy about this. Sometimes, I would have to hide information for a period of time, because the information wasn't known yet to US suppliers.
Like BallReviews.com, I tried to add forums to the site, to allow bowlers to interact. This feature was exhausting. Each day, I would have to go through each forum and police what was being said. Remove any offensive statements, and any spam posts.
Around 2004, I lost the BowlingBallReviews.com domain due to stupidity. I just didn't pay any attention to the emails that I would get about renewing the domain. Lucky for me, I had also reserved 123bowl.com domain about a year earlier, so I just redirected everything. I did make several attempts to purchase the BowlingBallReviews.com name back, but during those times, people would renew a popular domain, then try and sell it back for a premium.
Around 2011 or 2012, the coding for the site was very outdated. I talked to the designer of the site, and he no longer wanted to do any kind of work on the site. This was the same time, a security issue came up. A hacker would use the login box to input script, that would shut down the site, and put code into each member of the site and bowling ball entry. The designer would run script to remove the information, and try and patch the hole that the hacker was getting into the site. After 5 or more attacks, the designer gave up.
The site was died. I was sent a link to download all the information from a clean version of the site, and told to have the site redesigned. I began to look into having a new version of the site built. Estimates were over $10,000. This was impossible for me to pay for. I backedup the site to a hard drive, and hoped to figure out a way to bring the site back.
A friend of Buddies Pro Shop, Scott Widmer, talked to Chris Forry, the owner of Buddies Pro Shop, about bringing the site back. Scott, a website coder, was able to bring the site back, with the same look and feel of the original site. The site was dead for a few years, so this meant, the site needed a lot of new information. It took me a few weeks to gather all the information and get the site back up to speed.
Around 2016, I turned the site over to Buddies Pro Shop to continue adding the new releases. Shortly there after, an updated to the look of the site was done, to match the site more closely to the Buddies brand.
In late 2017, I took back over the updating of the site. While I was away, I was still gather information for old balls and international releases.
In September of 2018, I began adding Bowling advertisements to the site. Since the site only features bowling balls, Any none bowling ball related ads are being added to the Facebook page. Special Thanks to Darwin W. In Las Vegas, Nevada. He donated his stash of bowling magazines, so that I could add bowling advertisements to the website.
I continue to look for new website's with information on international releases. I also still look for information on old bowling balls. I check eBay daily for old equipment that I might not have known about.
If you find any information on equipment that I am missing or you think should be added to the site, be sure and let me know.
Thank you for reading about the history of the site. I know I should have kept more complete details, but I didn't know that the site would still be as unique today as it was back then.