Western Bowl

Among the few facilities offering bowling in Amarillo, the oldest and most well known is probably Western Bowl. Western Bowl was opened in 1958 and originally contained 32 lanes. Two years after opening, the alley put an additional 16 lanes in the building. Started by the Hoinke family, Western Bowl hosts the Hoinke Classic annually. The Hoinke Classic was started by Erwin Hoinke Sr in 1942 and passed down to his son when it turned into an annual event. It was started to raise funds for war bonds for World War II.

With the opening of Western Bowl, the Hoinke Classic expanded even further and in 1960, the tournament was no longer just for individuals and doubles, but also included a team event and racked up 416 entries. Another 20 lanes were put into Western Bowl as the Singles event was moved over to the alley. This helped transform the facility into a state-of-the-art bowling alley. The Hoinke family closed down their bowling alley in Cincinnati and devoted their time to Western Bowl which would become the new home to the classic.

The Hoinke Classic was at peak popularity in the 1980s reaching almost 15,000 entries at the start of the decade which was impressive considering entries were 1,915 in 1965. The prize money amounts for the Hoinke Classic were raised as entries increased each year and people from all over began taking part in the tournament. The first year it was put on in 1942, the prize money was $1,000 which is equal to about $15,830 today. Due to this fact, it’s no surprise that the Hoinke Classic was an instant success and continued to thrive even today.

The tournament was structured in 1980 to begin in mid-February and goes through Thanksgiving and continues to follow that schedule today. This was the same year Erwin Hoinke Sr passed away at 84 years old. After passing, he was inducted into the Ohio State Bowling Hall of Fame for his pioneering efforts in the world of bowling. By the 1990s, the Hoinke Classic had reached new heights of popularity. Around 40,000 bowlers travel to Amarillo to participate during the months when the tournament is active. There are “jackpot-like, mini-tournaments” that the tournament can attribute to its success according to the Cheviot Gazee. Because it was targeted at amateur bowlers and for entertainment purposes mainly, it attracted immense fame and helped keep recurring players.

In 2008, the world went through a worldwide recession which negatively affected business for entertainment industries across the globe. The Hoinke family struggled as well and the following year, due to a severe decrease in bowlers visiting the lanes, they sold Western Bowl to Larry Schmittou. In 2015 at 82 years old, Erwin Hoinke Jr passed away leaving the bowling legacy behind him.

Western Bowl is located at 5120 Canyon Dr, Amarillo, TX 79109 and opens at 9:00 am with different closing times throughout the week. In addition to bowling, the facility offers laser tag and arcade games for those who want a break from bowling. Make sure to pay the bowling alley’s diner a visit to grab a delicious bite to eat.

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Map from Western Bowl to Panhandle Blasting & Restoration:

Map from Western Bowl to Windows on the Plains Museum: