Bowling History

What is the history of Bowling? What are its origins? Where did Bowling come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Bowling.


Bowling is actually a very old sport, having found historical artifacts from 3200 BC that suggested that they played a game with a similar concept to that of bowling. The Professional Bowling Association (PBA) was founded in 1958 and became similar to the concept of the professional golfing tours. The tour’s total prize money totaled about $4 million in the early 21st century. The PBA hosts many tournaments throughout the year but only have four that are considered major tournaments. These major tournaments consist of The USBC Masters, The PBA World Championship, The Tournament of Champions, and The U.S. Open. Some of the top PBA players ever include Pete Weber, Walter Ray Willians Jr., Earl Anthony, Norme Duke, and Mark Roth.

Key Facts and Timeline

Bowling was created around 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt but was modernized into what we know today only recently, in 1930. Bowling dates back further than the Roman Empire and the first Olympics that ever took place. Other than Egypt, traces of bowling have been found in Germany dating back to 300 CE. Also, a form of bowling can be dated back to 1299 in England but was soon banned because King Henry III believed it to be a distraction for his army. Traces of bowling can also be found in America in the 17th century when it is believed that the game was introduced by British, German, and Dutch settlers. 

  • In the early 1900s bowling balls were actually made out of wood and heavy rubber and did not change to the ball we know today, using polyester resin until the 1960s.
  • Women were not allowed to play the sport of bowling until their own bowling association was created in 1917.
  • The largest bowling alley in the world is located in Japan and has 116 lanes.
  • Originally bowling only included nine pins but was changed to ten pins because of the link that the nine pin game had to gambling in the early 20th century.
  • There is a bowling alley located in the White House.
  • The first athlete to receive a million dollar endorsement deal was a bowler.
  • Bowling has been seen to burn calories, regulate blood pressure, and work muscle groups that are normally not exercised.

Which Country Started Bowling?

In 1930, a British scientist discovered an old bowling set in the grave of a child that dated back nearly 5,000 years. Since this was found other scientists around the world have found artwork (hieroglyphics) in Egypt that suggests that they would play a game similar to that of bowling. An ancient hall was found in Egypt that appeared to be a bowling alley that Egyptians would play in. Other forms of ancient bowling have also been found by historians in Germany and England but the materials that were found in Egypt dates back much farther than the ones in Germany and England. 

Inventor of Bowling

Historians from across the world have found different forms of the game in different countries. The modern game of bowling was created by Sir Flinders Petrie, a British anthropologist, after he discovered the version played in ancient Egypt. People claim that other forms of bowling were played in other countries around the world including Germany, England, and America. It is incapable of finding the true inventor of the special game because of how old it truly is and how many different forms there have been across the world, but Sir Flinders Petrie definitely modernized the game and can be credited with the creation of the game that we know today.


The 20th century saw the biggest rise of popularity that it ever has. After the legalization of alcohol prohibition, in the 1930s beer companies wanted to promote their brand by sponsoring professional and semi-professional teams to promote their brand. The increase of technology, the pin-spotter, also increased the popularity of the game since it made it faster than it ever had before. Television also increased the ratings of bowling in the 1950s as it led to broadcasts of bowling matches. The creation of the Profession Bowling Association (PBA) also increased the popularity of the sport by giving fans a place to focus their interest in the sport.