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Elliott Stern

There will be no “Mutterings About Bowling” column today.

I am sorry to say that it is the end of an era here at the Lompoc Record.

Karl Corser has retired after 16 years of total dedication to Lompoc Valley bowlers, first during their days at Lompoc’s Ocean Lanes and, for the past few years, over at Vandenberg’s Surf Lanes.

I know it’s a bit sudden, but Karl has been battling health problems for some time now.

He’s retired – and unretired – several times but it appears this time, after all those years of excellence, Karl is  actually putting his bowling ball back in its bag for the final time.

Before I get to the goodbyes, Karl’s son Bob has supplied me with a number of things you should know.

I know we all think of Karl as a big kid, but he’ll be 84 in a few days, on Sept. 29.

He was born in Concord, New Hampshire.

His father, Karl Sr., worked for the Concord Press, the local newspaper which printed daily papers and the Readers Digest. 

Karl Jr. was a high school basketball star. While traveling to other high schools for games, he met a lovely young woman named Jan. They were married after high school and Karl joined the Air Force. He spent 20 years in the Air Force and then spent 20 years in Civil Service at Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

Jan, now retired, was a church organist and piano teacher for many years. 

The Corsers have four children, two girls (Ann and Judy) and two boys (Bob and David). All four children live in California, but Bob is the only one who lives locally, a man many of you know from his bowling prowess at both the Ocean and Surf Lanes.

Karl was a bowling nut once he joined the Air Force and was one of the top bowlers at Edwards AFB California and Lindsey AS Germany in the sixties and Osan AB South Korea and Vandenberg AFB in the seventies. He did traveling leagues and represented bases in other tournaments.

His average was a pin busting 195-plus, which was very high  for the time frame. After retirement, he bowled three times a week, bringing his average up to the 210 range.

He bowled locally and traveled once a week to L.A. to bowl in a league with son David and he continued bowling until his health prevented it.

When he started writing the “Muttering About Bowling” column, he said he needed to "keep up" with his granddaughter – Bob’s daughter, Aimee. She, was an intern at the Lompoc Record and had several of her articles published.

She gave him advice on writing for the newspaper.

Aimee graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Journalism and is now an Emmy-nominated television producer in Los Angeles.

So there you have it, some of the facts from Karl’s life.

But they don’t tell the whole story.

Karl began writing “Mutterings” about the time I joined the Central Coast Newspapers 16 years ago.

First we were Pulitzer papers and later became an arm of Lee Enterprises so we’re now known as Lee Central Coast Newspapers – the Lompoc Record, Santa Maria Times, Santa Ynez Valley News and Nipomo Adobe.

I met Karl early on.

He told me of his love of bowling and how he loved publicizing the accomplishments of Valley bowlers every week.

He also told me that he grew up in New Hampshire.

I also grew up in New England – born in Boston and raised in the Massachusetts coastal town of Hull.

I told Karl that I also loved bowling.

As a kid, every Saturday morning I bowled in a league at the Webster Shore Lanes.

Sadly, much like the Ocean Lanes, the Webster Lanes are long gone.

But it was a different kind of bowling – candlepin bowling.

We also had duckpin bowling lanes in a nearby town.

You had to go about 20 miles to the city of Quincy before you’d find lanes like you have at the Surf.

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We called it “Big Ball” bowling or “Ten Pin” bowling to differentiate it from our local lanes. Bowling with balls with holes in them. Candlepin and duck pin bowlers roll balls that max out at 3 to 4 pounds with no holes.

It was much the same in New Hampshire.

So here’s a quick lesson – in both Candlepin and Duck Pin, you roll three balls per frame.

In Candlepin, the pins you knock over on the first ball stayed right there. It’s known as “dead wood” and you can use it to make your next shot.

In Duck Pin, as in Ten Pin, the dead wood is swept away.

In both, you can get strikes where what you roll on your next two balls is added to the frame’s score (just like Ten Pin), you can get spares where what you roll on the next ball is added (just like Ten Pin) and you can get tens if you’ve knocked down all the pins after the third ball with no bonus from the next frame.

To my surprise, Karl knew what I was talking about and, with that, a 16-year friendship was born.

Over the years, we’ve all come to know The Deadly One, The Patriarch and all the Valley’s stars who consistently roll fantastic, awesome, amazing, dandy, delightful, magnificent, thrilling, super shooters’ beauties.

We’ll all miss that.

I know we’ll all miss the passion he brings to his work.

We’ll miss his dedication and humor but most of all we’ll miss the man.

As good of a bowling writer that he’s been, he’s been an even better ambassador of the sport and he’s been the best friend Valley Bowling has ever had.

Karl liked to sign off each week’s column with “Until next week, love and friendship always!

Back at you, Karl.

Be well, my friend.

It’s been an awesome 16 years.

Karl Corser can still be reached at 733-1171 or by email to I am sure he'd love to hear from you. Sports Editor Elliott Stern can be reached at