If Pete Weber isn’t the Tiger Woods of bowling, he’s close. In his legendary four-decade career, Weber notched 37 titles on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour, including 10 majors, half of which were U.S Opens. When you include his starts on the PBA’s regional and senior circuits, Weber, 58, is one of only two bowlers in history to have won more than 100 PBA titles.
Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Last Wednesday, Weber — whose feisty demeanor also earned him a rep as pro bowling’s “bad boy” — bowled his final competitive frame, at the PBA Scorpion Championship, in Tampa, Fla., a moment that was captured on a video that as of this writing has been viewed nearly 3 million times on Twitter. Fighting off tears, Weber says, “Hate me or love me, you watched. That’s all you could do.”
He then strides toward the lane, draws back his ball and — wait…is that a golf glove on his right hand?!
Indeed, it is — a FootJoy to be more specific, apparently from the company’s StaSof line. Or at least it’s most of the glove. Weber had tailored the material to create an opening for his thumb.
Golf gloves on bowlers? Who knew? I, for one, didn’t, and neither did my eagle-eyed colleague, Dylan Dethier, who first spotted the curiosity. And, no, Weber isn’t an outlier. Check the bowling forums. “I use a golf glove to protect against caluses (sic) on the palm of my hand and on the side of my pinky,” a poster wrote on a message board on ballreviews.com. “I cut the middle and ring finger off just after the first knuckle and cut off the thumb. I actually like the feel from the glove and have not had and performance issues.”
Added another poster: “For a lot of years back in the early 90’s I used a golf glove..I would cut off the ring and middle at the first knuckle.. and edit the thumb. My reasons were, for some stupid reason i have insanly (sic) sweaty hands. and over the course of a long season back then (5 leagues) rosin would dry my hands to the point they would crack and start bleeding. On a whim i crafted my first glove and liked the results.”
Any downsides? Only one or two, it seems. An avowed golf glove user on MrBowling300.net wrote that “they did get stinky and dirty, and would ware out quite fast.”
But what of Weber’s glove of choice? Given Weber’s stature, it feels like his handwear from another sport should get more attention. Imagine the frenzy that would ensue if LeBron James wore Nike soft spikes at the Staples Center, or Serena Williams wrapped her rackets with Lamkin grips.
Attempts to reach Weber through the PBA were unsuccessful but the association’s commissioner, Tom Clark, did tell me that “golf-type gloves are popular” across the sport. He said they’re usually worn with the bowling fingers — that is, the ring and middle fingers — snipped off so the player has “the same feel in the bowling finger holes but gains the consistent traction in the palm that the glove provides.”
Weber, Clark added, “is by far the most prominent bowler to wear a glove with all the gloved fingers, including the bowling fingers, intact, and many ‘regular’ bowlers have taken the idea from him and utilized in local recreational league bowling.”
Clark said the gloves help protect the hand from finger cuts, soreness and blisters.
“Another common issue is the palm having grip on the ball when the ball can become slippery due to a combination of factors,” he said. “Pete Weber combines solving both issues by using a glove with no fingers cut out [other than the thumb], which was much more unique until he started doing it.”
If Weber’s FootJoy loyalty was an endorsement opportunity, it seems he did not pursue it with the Fairhaven, Mass.-based company. Chris Garrett, FootJoy’s director of consumer marketing, said he was unaware that Weber is a FootJoy guy — in fact, Garrett said he was unaware that bowlers use golf gloves at all.
“Wow, this is a new one,” he said in an email. “We’ve seen a very wide variety of ‘non-golfers’ choose to wear FJ gloves through the years, including Olympic speed skaters, trap shooters, drummers, hockey goalies, equestrian riders (Mrs. Erin Walker, wife of Jimmy, for one) and ice climbers. Not to mention WinterSof gloves for those of us who ski, shovel and run in the winter.”
Indeed, Apolo Ohno, in his speedskating prime, wore a FootJoy on his right hand, including on his way to three medals at the 2010 Winter Games, in Vancouver. Håkan Dahlby, a Swedish double trap shooter, also won an Olympic medal donning a golf glove. With a FootJoy SciFlex on his leading hand (which cradles the barrels of the shotgun), Dahlby took home silver at the 2012 London Games.
Among the drummers who are partial to golf gloves: Steward Copeland of The Police, who reportedly favors Nike Tech Extremes, and Carter Beauford of the Dave Matthews Band, who prefers FootJoys — so much so that he partnered with the brand to produce his own line of custom drumming gloves with his signature embroidered on each pointer finger.
“Made with advanced performance leather, you can catch Carter using these on stage at every show,” the product description reads. “If you’re not tearing up drum kits, take these to the links to use as a quality golf glove.”
Or to the bowling alley, or the shooting range, or the ice rink or the…