On Dec 2, 1959, twenty-three women gathered at the Chicago’s Congress Hotel to finalize rules and regulations to adopt a constitution for the Professional Women’s Bowling Association. The Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) was officially formed in 1960 and held its first tournament in Miami Florida September 3-4 of the same year. The tournament accepted 72 entrants and the winner of the 16 game marathon was PWBA Hall of Famer Marion Ladewig, establishing a long legacy of superior women’s bowling.
Since then, the PWBA has seen many metamorphoses to become what it is today, an opportunity for women to compete in events throughout the country, offering high-level competition and top prize money. In 1995, The PWBA Hall of Fame was established and inducted Donna Adamek, LaVerne Carter, Patty Costello, Helen Duval, Dorothy Fothergill, Shirley Garms, Mildred Ignizio, Marion Ladewig, Betty Morris, and Georgia Veatch as its inaugural members. The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame serves as the home of the PWBA Hall of Fame and is proud to showcase these 2020 inductees; Pam Buckner, Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, and Carol Gianotti.
Pam Buckner of Reno, Nevada, won her first PWBA title at the 1975 PWBA Championships, and picked up her second major championship at the 1976 USBC Queens.She won seven total PWBA titles between 1975 and 1980.
Along with her two major titles, Buckner owns nine career PWBA 300 games, four PWBA 800 series awards, and averaged a career-high 214.5 in 1980. At the 1980 Stroh’s Light Classic, Buckner tossed 30 consecutive strikes during games 8-10 of qualifying. The run featured back-to-back 300 games ahead of a 280 game.
She had five top-five finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open and added two fifth-place finishes at the PWBA Championships. A nine-time Bowlers Journal International All-American selection, Buckner was named a first-team selection three times. Buckner was also inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 1990.
Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of Keller, Texas, captured 20 PWBA titles from 1991 through 2003, including the 2001 USBC Queens. She was the 2001 PWBA Player of the Year after winning a record-tying seven titles (Patty Costello, 1976). Her 20 PWBA titles is tied for seventh on the PWBA all-time titles list with 2019 PWBA Hall of Fame inductee Wendy Macpherson.
Dorin-Ballard tied or broke 11 PWBA records that season, setting the record for most TV appearances in a season with 18. In 2001 and 2003, she led the PWBA in earnings and average and was named the International Bowling Media Association Female Bowler of the Year. She was selected to the Bowlers Journal International All-American Team 14 times in her career, including 10 selections to the first team.
Dorin-Ballard also was named the Bowlers Journal International Female Player of the Decade (2000s) and the first woman to be named the publication’s Person of the Year (2001). Dorin-Ballard was inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2008.
Carol Gianotti became a major champion at age 21, capturing her first professional title at the 1989 USBC Queens. The Perth, Australia, native claimed 16 PWBA titles from 1989 through 2000, adding her second major title at the 1996 Sam’s Town Invitational.
Gianotti won a career-best four titles during the 1992 season, which helped her earn Quit Australian Sportswoman of the Year honors in 1992 and 1993. In 1998, she won two titles and led the PWBA in earnings and average to be named PWBA Player of the Year.
Gianotti was named the 1998 International Bowling Media Association (IBMA) Female Bowler of the Year, the 1998 Bowling Digest Female Pro Bowler of the Year and was selected to the Bowlers Journal All-American Team 12 times, including four times as a first-team selection. Gianotti was also inducted into the USBC Hall of Fame in 2011.
Starting in 1960, the PWBA has immortalized some of the best woman bowlers of all time and with the support of BPAA and USBC, it continues to showcase outstanding athletes in the sport. Today, PWBA Headquarters operates out of the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas and perpetuates members representing more than 21 countries.