Monday, 18 April 2022 13:59

Right Up Your Alley: Bowling in West Michigan

Written by  Josh Veal
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The human urge to knock over objects with a heavy ball goes back to ancient Egypt, over 7,000 years ago.

What began with stone spheres and alabaster vases has evolved to polyester balls and wooden pins, but the basic concept remains the same: roll a ball along the ground to knock something over. It’s simple, yet challenging, with a bit of luck — the perfect group activity. West Michigan is full of great bowling alleys, all offering a slightly different experience, and unique variations are starting to show up as well, including fowling and most recently, duckpin bowling. 

Woodrows Duckpin Bowling is a new fun spot inside the Amway Grand Plaza that resurrects a classic form of bowling. There are still 10 pins, but they’re much smaller, as is the ball itself. In fact, it fits right in your hand, so there are no finger holes! It’s a similar, yet different experience. We talked with Woodrows manager Chris Dow for the inside scoop.

Why should people try Duckpin?

Duckpin Bowling is a game that finds its origins on the East coast of the United States in the late 19th century. Duckpin is a bit more challenging than Ten Pin in my personal opinion. However, here at Woodrows, we have what is called “mini duckpin on strings.” It takes some difficulty away with shortened lanes, and it’s fun for all ages! This levels the playing field for all bowlers of every skill level. 

How does Duckpin feel different from 10-pin?

It’s a bit more challenging to score well. In duckpin, you get a third roll per frame, but it still counts as an open frame if you manage to get all 10 pins on your final roll. The action of the pins and the movement of the ball on the lanes is a bit different too. Duckpins are a shorter, squatter version. They are slightly farther apart, given their small stature, and they are easy to smash right through without much action if you roll with too much power. It’s a game involving a good amount of touch and finesse.

Any tips for a first-timer? 

Stay low to the lane, roll rather than toss, and don’t ramp up the speed or power of the ball too much. 

What else does Woodrows have, outside of bowling?

Woodrows has great selection of over 50 canned and draft beers, a well-rounded wine list, carefully crafted specialty cocktails, and a chic modern industrial vibe to relax and enjoy time with friends, family, and co-workers. We offer nine mounted televisions to take in the big game. We are also working with a fast casual taco counter called Taco Alley inside Woodrows. They’re damn good tacos, all housemade with select ingredients and served up quick!

Anything else you want our readers to know?

Woodrows offers private events for all of your Birthday Party, Team Building, Corporate Gathering, and Celebratory needs. You can find more information regarding booking on our website You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @woodrowsduckpin.

While not a comprehensive list, here’s our round-up of local spots to get your bowl on:

Fowling Warehouse

6797 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids

It’s bowling, with footballs! Fowling has become the go-to party activity for people who want to try something different. Tired of your friend who’s an expert bowler? This will level the playing field, along with a few drinks from the bar, which has tons of great craft beer. What’s better than having a brew and chucking the ol’ pigskin at some wooden pins? Not much!

Clique Lanes

533 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

A frequent winner of Best of the West, Clique has two floors, a nice jukebox, excellent beer, lots of food, and an all-around cool atmosphere with some retro vibes.

Wengers Bowling

629 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Also with two floors and 16 lanes, the retro Wengers has great food, beer and service packed into one compact, yet hugely popular spot.

Northfield Lanes

2222 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids

The spacious Northfield Lanes has a whole lot of character, from glow nights to sassy signage to old-school bowling screens with wacky animations, not to mention the attached bar with billiards!

Westgate Bowl

4486 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park

Westgate Bowl is the biggest alley I’ve ever seen, with 60 lanes on one floor. There are two full bars, billiards, Club Keno and so much more. 


3335 Fairlanes Ave. SW, Grandville

Fairlanes has 44 lanes, a large bar, billiards, an arcade, a full-service pro shop, and even volleyball courts in spring and summer. Come in on the weekend for glow bowling!

Spectrum Entertainment Complex

5656 Clyde Park Ave. SW, Wyoming

Bowling, a full bar, a restaurant, live entertainment, comedy, arcade, indoor golf simulators — there’s a reason this is called an “entertainment complex.”  Spectrum has it all!ν

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