Muskegon among Michigan venues hosting top youth bowlers in U.S.

Two Muskegon bowling alleys are among eight venues across west and central Michigan marking a first for the region. 

More than 4,000 bowlers are in West Michigan this week for the 2022 Junior Gold Championships. Northway Lanes, 1751 Evanston Ave. and Sherman Bowling Center, 1531 W. Sherman Blvd. are hosting the tournaments for U15 Boys and U12 Girls. 

The bowlers, including 315 from Michigan, hail from every state plus Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. Also competing are American youths from Germany, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, where their families are stationed with the U.S. Armed Forces. 

The 13-day event runs July 11-23. Hosted by the West Michigan Sports Commission, it is one of the region’s largest sporting events ever in terms of attendees, tournament length, and economic impact, with 8,000 spectators expected. 
First time in West Michigan

Junior Gold is a first for West and Central Michigan. It showcases bowlers in four age divisions for boys and girls – 12 and under (U12), 15 and under (U15), 18 and under (U18), and 20 and under (U20). They are competing at four bowling centers in the Grand Rapids area, two in Muskegon, and two in Lansing. This is only the second region of Michigan to host Junior Gold, with the event taking place in Detroit most recently in 2019.
"We've enjoyed tremendous success with our past Junior Gold Championships that were contested in Southeast Michigan,” says Gary Brown, International Bowling Campus Youth Development managing director. “We’re looking forward to coming to a new part of the state, which also holds a rich tradition and history in the sport. 

“It’s a great time of year to be in West Michigan, and we know our young athletes are looking forward to exploring all there is to do in the region when they’re not competing in one of the outstanding bowling centers that are hosting this premier event.”

The event is estimated to generate more than $7.3 million in economic impact and 10,000 hotel nights booked at more than 30 hotel properties throughout Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Lansing. The Sheraton Airport Hotel in Grand Rapids is the host hotel. 

Economic boost

At 13 days long, the Junior Gold Championships is one of the largest events hosted by the West Michigan Sports Commission in terms of number of venues and number of consecutive days, outside of multi-sport, state games-type events.
“We are thrilled to host this prestigious national youth bowling championship that will bring thousands of young bowlers and their families to our region,” says Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission, who bid on and won this event. “The bowlers will spend only a few hours each day in competition, giving them a lot of time with their families to enjoy all that West Michigan has to offer while patronizing our local businesses.”
Last year, the event awarded $500,000 in collegiate scholarships, and it is expected to equal or exceed that amount this year. Bowlers also are competing for spots on Junior Team USA and Junior Team USA’s developmental team.

Muskegon’s passion for bowling runs deep. The city was home to a Brunswick bowling ball plant for a century before its closure in 2006, according to Muskegon Heritage Museum of Business & Industry, which has a Brunswick exhibit. 


Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.