If you want to bowl the fastest perfect game ever, it helps to bowl 50 games a week. And it really helps to work at a bowling alley. Ben Kertola was well prepared to bowl 12 strikes in a row in 86.9 seconds on April 5. Once league bowlers left for the night, Kertola got to work, rapid-fire bowling a perfect game over ten empty lanes, running back to use the first and second lanes for his final two strikes. This won’t be his last attempt at a bowling stunt. “Next time I may set up all spares on the lanes and see how fast I can make those,” Kertola told Syracuse.com.
Kertola’s speedy perfect game may not be certified by the U.S. Bowling Congress (that is, with an approved lane and ball, earning the bowler a ring, kind of like winning the Super Bowl), but it joins a long list of distinctive displays of perfection. The previous fastest perfect game took Tom Dougherty 110.99 seconds to roll. Hannah Diem was just nine years, six months, and 19 days old when she bowled 12 consecutive strikes back in 2013, which set the record for youngest bowler with a 300. And the mark for oldest person to bowl a perfect game is held by Arthur Ulmer, who was 89 years, six months, and 11 days old when he bowled his second-ever perfect game in late 2010.
Perfect games are more common these days thanks to improvements in bowling ball technology and lane oiling techniques. For decades there was only one certified perfect game every few years, but by the late 1980s, the number of bowlers rolling 300s exploded. Now, many consider a perfect series—three perfect games in a row—the mark of a true great. The first perfect series was sanctioned in 1997, when Jeremy Sonnenfeld, then a student at the University of Nebraska, accomplished the feat. The mark has since been matched 31 times.
You can try to roll your own perfect game—though it will take much longer than Kertola’s, since the pin mechanism is reloaded manually by a crew of pin-boys—and learn about bowling history at the historic Holler House on Obscura Day, May 6th, 2017.