Pennsylvania's Barry Gulden celebrates 50 appearances at USBC Open Championships Article Image
By Marissa Woolard
USBC Communications

A love of bowling and the determination to achieve a dream. That's what has kept Barry Gulden of Hanover, Pennsylvania, coming back to the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships nearly every year since his debut in 1970.

During the opening weekend of the 2021 event at South Point, Gulden added his name to the list of bowlers who have reached 50 years of participation at the storied event.

He was the second bowler of the day Sunday to be recognized for the milestone and one of 25 bowlers scheduled to eclipse the mark this year.

The 76-year-old right-hander received a chevron, plaque and diamond lapel pin prior to the start of his team event to commemorate the accomplishment.

"This is exciting to be a part of," Gulden said. "It hurt last year when we had to cancel, but it definitely feels good to be back."

Due to COVID-19, Gulden's entrance into the 50-Year Club was delayed by a year. The 2020 USBC Open Championships was scheduled to be held in Reno, Nevada. It was postponed twice and then canceled.

Gulden makes it a point to compete every year in the Open Championships, but not just for the coveted Eagle trophy awarded to each tournament champion.

"I'm not sure why I do it, it's definitely not because of my bowling ability," Gulden chuckled. "But, it's one of those things where once I got to 25, I wanted to get to 30. It has just kept going on from there."

This year on the tournament lanes, Gulden bowled sets of 502 in team, 472 in doubles and 465 in singles for a 1,439 all-events total.

In his 50 Open Championships appearances, Gulden has knocked down 78,270 pins for a career average of 173.9.

The annual journey to the tournament's host city has allowed Gulden to see much of the United States, and this year in Las Vegas, he found himself reminiscing about his first tournament appearance, back in 1970.

"I remember my first time in 1970, especially the opening ceremony," Gulden said. "I came (to the opening ceremony) last night just to bring back the memories of Joe Bowler and the excitement. It meant a lot to me to be here yesterday."

Shifting focus to the future, Gulden hopes to keep the tradition alive, and he has no plans to stop competing in the Open Championships.

Also among his career highlights was a near-perfect effort in 1995, as he rolled a 299 game during doubles. That year's event marked the opening of the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada, and the tournament saw a record turnout of 17,285 teams.

Along with the 25 bowlers reaching 50 years at South Point in 2021, two more will join the 60-Year Club, while USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart of Suwanee, Georgia, will compete for the 65th time.

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