In 1962, members of the PBA developed a tournament to showcase all of the season’s champions (there were 25 that year) in one event to find out who was the best, naming it The Tournament of Champions.
In 1965, Firestone took on the sponsorship of this unique event, renaming it the Firestone Tournament of Champions. Many believe that this sponsorship not only put pro bowling on the map, it helped catapult the PBA into mainstream sports.
Although the sponsorship has changed hands a few times since 1994 (Firestone relinquished its sponsorship that year), over the span of 51 years, this one of a kind event has been filled with unforgettable moments, memorable matches and incredible personal achievements.
The TOC remains the only PBA “invitational” event for champions only, and is considered by most, the holy grail of PBA tournaments.
During the past few years, the TOC has gone through an evolution of sorts, experimenting with expanding the field. However, this year (sponsored by H&R Block) the TOC returns to its grass roots.
The first 48 entrants are the most recent 48 PBA champions, who hold a Touring 1 or Touring 2 status—meaning the bowler had to participate in at least 60 percent of last season’s events.
If this total does not equal 48, then extra invites are extended to recent champions that are not of Touring 1 or Touring 2 status. Also, any previous winner of the TOC, regardless of status, can enter, possibly pushing the field over the 48 player mark. As of this writing, the field stood at 53 contestants.
With nothing but champions on the stage, it just doesn’t get any better than this for the PBA, or any pro sport organization for that matter!
It all starts Wednesday, March 27th at the Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 10AM with the first of three qualifying blocks of eight games.
Read on to relive some of the historical magic, and find out what some of the pros have to say about the prestigious Tournament of Champions.