In Conversation with Professional Bowler Colton Bartel - The Bend Magazine

In Conversation with Professional Bowler Colton Bartel

The professional bowler, Colton Bartel, discusses the 2024 PBA Tour, how to perfect your game and more

Colton Bartel, a PBA player, launches his ball down a lane in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photography by Benjamin Zaragosa

When Colton Bartel was six years old, his grandmother took him and his brother to a weekly kids’ bowl event. At 10, Bartel saved up enough money to buy his own ball; by 11, he was competing in the junior leagues; by 14, he held a 200-plus average and by 16, he’d play his first perfect 300-point game. Through working at a local alley in his hometown for nine years, he added bowling mechanic, pro shop operator and certified bowling coach to his resume.

He joined the Professional Bowlers Association in 2011, but the birth of his son, a move to Corpus Christi and helping his parents with their family business put Bartel on a decade-long hiatus from the sport—until 2022, when he competed in his first PBA event. That first year, Bartel managed to obtain a major brand contract, cash in 30% of the events he entered and finish in the top 25% of the Southwest region season points list. Now in his second year as a professional, Bartel’s lifelong dream is an exciting reality.

Colton Bartel, a PBA player, sits inside a bowling alley in Corpus Christi, Texas and poses for a photo.

Kylie Cooper: With the 2024 PBA Tour season in full swing, how have things been going?

Colton Bartel: 2024 has already started great for my second year as a professional. I was awarded a contract extension with SWAG and signed an additional brand deal with Kameleon Sportswear, an athletic clothing company based in North Texas. On Jan. 20, I won the 2024 Singles Showdown at Bowlero in Corpus Christi. Currently, I’m scheduled for 12 PBA Tour events this season across nearly half the country, made possible by my amazing sponsors: New Life Refuge Ministries, JM Supply, Susann’s Custom Jewelers, Love Shots Jewelry, Jennie Dibala State Farm and South Texas Comfort Control.

KC: What are you most looking forward to for the remainder of the season? 

CB: It is always my first desire to honor and glorify God in every area of my life, and bowling is one of those areas. Another area that I’m looking forward to would be personal growth and improvement. I know I have the ability to compete with the best of the best but still have plenty of room to improve. Being on tour pushes me to improve and motivates me to constantly get better, more consistent, more accurate and more confident. Knowing that I am going up against the best this sport has to offer in the world and seeing my name shared with them is truly a dream come true. So, I guess what I’m looking forward to most is just seeing where this ride takes me and how far I can go. 

KC: What does a typical week during the PBA Tour season look like for you?

CB: Typically, the Monday before is a long practice at CM Lanes working on trouble areas or fine-tuning. Tuesday is work and league night. Wednesday is work and packing. Thursday is a travel day to the event. Friday is practice rounds and ProAm at the event. Saturday is qualifying rounds, and the field is usually cut to the top third. Sunday is advancer rounds and finals, and then traveling home to Corpus on Monday. 

KC: What does your training/fitness regimen look like?

CB: Training and practice are crucial to staying on top of my game. Each week, I spend hours on the lanes working on different aspects of my game. Targeting stamina, timing, release, spare shooting and general scoring are the main focuses. Mentally, I prepare by reading oil pattern diagrams and bowling ball specs, trying to determine a plan of attack for each pattern and how they change as the oil breaks down from bowling balls rolling over it. 

Colton Bartel, a PBA player, launches his ball down a lane in Corpus Christi, Texas.

KC: How do you determine the right ball for a game? 

CB: It’s all about the conditions we are playing on. Most people don’t know this, but the lanes are oiled — originally to protect the lane, but now also to raise the difficulty level to score. The bowling balls are manufactured in a bunch of different ways, with them having different weighted cores and the covers being made of different materials with different finishes. All of these factors, and how you roll the ball, come together to determine the best ball for the condition.

KC: What is one of your proudest moments as a professional bowler?

CB: My first time cashing in an event would probably be one of my proudest moments. It answered the question lingering in my head, “Do I really belong here?” That moment also brought back all of the memories of my past dreams and knowing that my Granny would’ve been so excited to have seen all of this unfold.

KC: What is something most people would be surprised to know about professional bowling?

CB: Everyone is shocked that different oil patterns change the difficulty level of play and how much technology goes into the oil, and that bowling balls try to combat the effects of the oil. 

Colton Bartel, a PBA player, sits inside a bowling alley in Corpus Christi, Texas and poses for a photo.

KC: What is the best tip you can give to someone who enjoys bowling and is looking to improve their game?

CB: Keep practicing and be patient with yourself, but above all have fun. If it isn’t fun, the game is pointless. 

KC: How can people support and/or watch you play?

CB: I am always looking to partner with new sponsors, especially local businesses that I can also help promote. I told my wife before I even got my [professional] card back, that if I do get the chance to chase this once-dead dream again, I wanted to work with only Texas-based companies if at all possible. SWAG is based in Wichita Falls and Kameleon Sportswear is a female-owned and operated company based in Dallas. This is in addition to my wonderful local sponsors mentioned above. People are invited to visit my professional page on Facebook or Instagram to see videos, Tour information and promotions for my sponsors. Tour event scoring is updated live on the PBA website and some events are broadcast on BowlTV and Fox Sports.

Next, read our conversation with GROW Local South Texas’ new executive director, Tevin Gray.