Get to Know: Professional Bowler
Professional bowler Bill O’Neill has earned the nickname “The Real Deal” in the bowling community – and it couldn’t be more accurate. O’Neill is a graduate of local high school Conwell-Egan and currently resides in Langhorne with his wife and two children. Fresh off the 2019 Professional Bowling Association (PBA) tournament, Bill “spared” us some time to send a few reasons why he’s proud to call Bucks County home.
How did you begin your career in bowling?
I started bowling when I was around 5 years old. My whole family bowled leagues and I always wanted to be around my dad and grandfather so I spent a lot of time with them at the bowling alley. As I got older, I competed in youth events and for high school and did well in both. At the time, it was a dream to become a professional but I had no idea if I was good enough, so I went to a really good bowling college (Saginaw Valley State University) to see how I competed with the best collegiate bowlers. I had success there, so I decided to try the tour and 14 years later here we are!
What is your favorite part about bowling professionally?
My favorite part about competing professionally is the challenge to be great and what it takes to continue to be great. As I get older, the younger generation continues to get better and better. It drives me so much to try and keep up. The worst part is definitely the travel. I have been flying between 75,000-100,000 miles every year for the last 8 years or so and will probably do the same for the next few years. I am married with 2 young children so being on the road as much as I am gets very difficult at times.
As of 2019, you have won 10 PBA championships! What would you say is your key to winning?
Yes, I have won 10 times including 1 major (US Open). To win on the PBA is very difficult and my key is to just try and put myself in that position as much as possible. Our formats take the top 5 for a 1 game step ladder style final (5v4 and winner bowls 3, etc.) so anything can happen. I try and believe that with enough chances I will win more often than not.
What’s something unique about being a professional bowler most people might not know?
I could write 5,000 words on this but I will try and keep it short! There is a tremendous amount of complexity in bowling that people do not know because it is invisible and we have done a terrible job as a sport of educating people. There is a certain angle that you have to achieve in order to maximize your chances to strike. Because of that, they (alleys) can put down very difficult oil patterns to make it very hard to get that angle. The bowling balls are also very complex with different cores and outer shells to make the ball hook in different parts of the lane. I know this probably doesn’t make sense to most people, and that is why the science aspect is the most difficult to me.
What is your advice for others trying to break into the professional world of bowling?
My advice is always the same to every person that asks. The best way to become a professional is bowl every single tournament you can find. There is nothing better than gaining experience and learning how to win. If you can’t win at the local and state level, then you know you can’t compete professionally.
What was your favorite part about growing up in Bucks County?
My favorite part of growing up in Bucks County was how close we are to everything. If we wanted to go to the beach, mountains or visit major historical cities they were all within a couple hours of us. As I travel around the world now, I realize how spoiled we are in Bucks County with something that seems so small to us. Since I have children now all of my favorite things revolve around them, I love that we can take them to several different parks and spend hours there and they don’t get bored. Sesame Place is also a place we spend a lot of time at in the summer.
What restaurants do you recommend to tourists?
Why are you proud to call Bucks County home?
I have lived in Bucks County my whole life. Where I live has made me who I am today. Because of what I do for a living I can move anywhere but have chosen to stay here. I couldn’t imagine coming off of a long trip away from home and it not being here.