Bowling legend gets creative in his back yard
Many years ago, Brian Floen was having trouble with wildlife in the back yard of his home in northeast Rochester. Gophers and woodchucks were digging holes, and because his yard slopes steeply toward a creek, that wasn't a good situation.
Floen came up with an innovative solution.
"I'd take an old bowling ball and plug it into the hole," he said. "Eventually, I started doing some landscaping back there, putting in some irises, and I started burying balls halfway into the ground, with the finger holes in the ground so someone can't just walk up and pull the balls out."
To date, Floen has incorporated more than 100 bowling balls into his landscaping, and he's not done yet. "I've got five more balls waiting to go back there right now," he said. "A few friends have donated bowling balls to me, but most of them are mine."
Life on the lanes
Floen, 57, said he basically grew up at Colonial Lanes in Rochester. "My parents bowled, and my brother bowled," he said. "My brother worked at the bowling alley, and I worked at the bowling alley until I graduated from high school. Got a lot of free bowling that way!"
He kept bowling after high school, and he eventually became one of the best bowlers in the state, with 41 perfect games to his credit. He retired from the Postal Service three years ago, and although he's cut back on his bowling a bit, it's not unusual for him to bowl three times a week, getting in about 15 games.
Which explains why he needs to find a use for so many worn-out bowling balls.
"I go through five or six balls every year," he said. "The oil soaks into the ball over time, and they kind of lose their force into the pins. A ball today will wear out in 60 or 80 games."
Floen said he's not heard of anyone else using bowling balls in their landscaping. "A lot of people just throw their old balls down in their basement and let them sit there," he said, "but I know of a guy who used to take them up to the lake and drop them off his dock to build a little reef for fish. I don't know how legal that is."
He also said some people use old bowling balls to start fires in their fire pits. Again, the legality of such a disposal method is uncertain. "That does smell a little bit," he said.
Strikes, spares and scents
For his part, Floen said he prefers bowling balls that smell nice, even while he's using them -- and he's in luck in that regard. He bowls on a senior team that is sponsored by Storm, a bowling manufacturer that produces high-end balls that knock down pins at the lanes and can serve as air fresheners at home.
"Each new ball they make will have a different fragrance infused into it," he said. "They come out with two or three new balls every year." Among the many offerings are boysenberry, apple crisp, butterscotch, pina colada, spearmint, ice cranberry, aromatherapy and birthday cake.
"There's a lot more to bowling than you'd think!" Floen said with a laugh.