Three of those greats, two of which are PBA Hall of Famers, will be competing at this week's PBA50 South Shore Open at Olympia Lanes for the first time. The most notable of the three is the legendary Pete Weber, who has 37 national titles and has already won the PBA Senior Masters in his inaugural season.
Fellow hall of famer and PBA broadcaster Randy Pedersen boasts 13 national titles and also won a PBA50 title in his 2013 debut in Dayton, Ohio. In addition, 10-time national champion Bryan Goebel bowled four PBA50 events last year and is back competing this season.
"Being on the PBA50 Tour has been awesome," Pedersen said. "Dayton was kind of blur, yet great. When I went out to bowl the Senior Masters and Senior U.S. Open: that was an eye opener. The lanes were hard, and it exposed my weaknesses. It made me work on the things I needed to work on. But there-in lies the biggest problem for me is the motivation to work on those things. Practice is not my favorite thing."
Pedersen also admits that he faces the challenge of bowling in his 50s. Yet, he is grateful of the feeling of, once again, "belonging" on the lanes where he spent almost 25 years on the National Tour.
"Bowling now beats up my body," Pedersen said. "I'm using a 16-pound ball, which probably isn't the best idea. For years it was hard transitioning from a full-time player to television. It was a tough thing feeling that you're not one of the guys anymore and that you don't belong anymore."Now that I'm bowling again, I feel like one of those guys again. Receiving recognition from my peers was always the most important thing to me. These guys are really good out here, and I have to work really hard to beat these guys. Bowling now also brings validity to the shows I broadcast."
Weber, who continues to be force on the National and PBA50 tour, has been excited about bowling the PBA50 tour - despite receiving not-so-favorable feedback about his intentions.
"My brother (PBA50 Tour director, John Weber) told me a lot of the guys didn't want me to come out," said Weber after winning the Tournament of Champions in the spring. "My attitude is that I'm here to bowl; we're all here to bowl. And you want to beat the best. If that's not the way they see it, that's more money for me."
Goebel, who has a Tournament of Champions title to his credit, admits that he wasn't sure if wanted to get back into competition - even after reaching the TV finals of the Tournament of Champions well into his 40s for three straight years between 2008 and 2010.
"I bowled two stops in Florida and two in Las Vegas last year," Goebel said. "It was fun, but I was disappointed with the money. So this year I decided to bowl more. It's fun to bowl again - though it feels like 1990 again for me. It is making me work harder than I'd like to work just to break even.
"I feel pretty fortunate to have won 10 titles because I think there are guys who might be better bowlers who didn't win 10 titles."
Where hall of famers such as Dave Davis, Dave Soutar, Teata Semiz and the late Dick Weber wowed the crowd for many years on the past Senior Tour, it will be PBA50 bowlers like Weber, Pedersen, Goebel and all-time national champion Walter Ray Williams Jr. that will carry forward the banner of the PBA 50 tour, which has always walked a healthy balance of competition and fun.
"It's completely different out here than on the regular tour," Pedersen said. "It's a lot more laid back, and the guys are nicer. It's not a do-or-die situation for these guys."
"Because of that, it's a completely different atmosphere. The camaraderie with the guys is great: Not any new stories but a boat load of old stories. I missed that and it's great to have that back."