The Chief of Staff of the Army emphasizes ‘Winning matters.’ Fort Stewart continued its winning ways with a Department of Defense recognition at its bowling center.
Marne Lanes Bowling Center manager Roni Stevens and her crew earned a near-perfect score from the United States Bowling Congress during a recent inspection. The USBC issued the Fort Stewart facility a score of 98.5 making Marne Lanes the highest ranked bowling center in the DOD to date.
“The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation does an outstanding job supporting the Soldiers and their families throughout the Coastal Region,” said Col. Manny Ramirez, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander. “It comes as no surprise that Marne Lanes was recognized as the best in the Department of Defense. Roni and her team of teams have scored a 300 in my eyes.”
The USBC is the national governing body of bowling that is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee. According to the organization’s website, the USBC has provided standardized rules, regulations, and benefits to make bowling fair and fun for everyone since 2005. The organization currently serves approximately one million members from youth to professional bowlers.
Participating bowling facilities are graded every three years and receive a score on a scale from 0-100. The highest rank the USBC has ever issued a bowling center is 99. Surprisingly, the elements that are assessed are more scientific than the facilities’ aesthetic or snack bar options. Instead, the USBC focuses on the technical elements of a facility that ensure an equal playing field for league bowlers. Technical elements that Marne Lanes lead mechanic George Kessner and recreation specialist, JR Barnard have spent their days perfecting.
From the slope of the lanes, to gutter depth, and the positioning of the bowling pins, passing the inspection allows participating bowling facilities to host sanctioned bowling leagues and games.
“Playing sanctioned games is a priority for league bowlers because that means that the points and averages earned during tournaments will count if they choose to move on to the Professional Bowlers Association,” Stevens said. “Every single bowling alley in the country is inspected by the USBC team.”
Preparing for the inspection means several hours of meticulous observation and tweaking are required.
“Long hours of preparation go into preparing a bowling alley for inspection,” Barnard said. “From checking pin spots to the depth of the gutters and even the slope of the lanes, each element of the bowling lane must meet the USBC standard within .0125 inches in order to receive a passing score.”
For Kessler and Barnard, the science behind the sport is what keeps the good times rolling at Marne Lanes.
Barnard, a seasoned mechanic, has worked for the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation as a bowling recreation assistant on Fort Stewart since 2003. His length of service is a stark contrast to Kessler, the newest member of the team. With only eight months under his belt, the high score from the USBC holds a high significance for the retiree who was once a member of the 24th Infantry Division here.
“I used to bowl in this facility back when I was a sergeant assigned to the Victory Division,” Kessler said. “I remember what I wanted to see in this facility back then when I was a Soldier so I strive each day to make it the best facility it can be for the Soldiers and Families of the 3rd Infantry Division.”
But familiarity with the facility is only a part of why Stevens feels that Kessler is the right fit for the lead mechanic role at Marne Lanes and instead credits his success to his willingness to never stop learning.
“Receiving such a high score is great for George because this is the first time he’s ever worked in a bowling facility,” Stevens said. “For him to have just come on board and excel at this has been really amazing. He’s a self-taught mechanic. These days, you must be self-taught if you want to work in the bowling world. Every day something new pops up that you need to know and he’s right along there learning it by watching videos and doing the research.”
The next USBC inspection will take place at Marne Lanes in 2026 and Stevens and the team plan to be there to see it.
“It feels great to receive such a high score and know that our lanes and our facility is in great shape,” Sevens said. “I’ve got a really good crew. Receiving and maintaining a score like this is what we will continue to strive for when coming to work each day.”
In addition to weekly bowling leagues, Marne Lanes offers a variety of entertainment options for all ages. For more information, hours of operation, or to book an event, visit them online at https://stewarthunter.armymwr.com/programs/marne-bowling-center.