The Baker Format is used in many levels of bowling competition, notably collegiate and high-school bowling. Some amateur leagues will incorporate a Baker competition on occasion, some as often as weekly. The PBA Tour also uses the Baker system in team competitions like the PBA Team Shootout and doubles events like the 2012 Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship.
What is The Baker Format?
In a Baker Format game, you and your teammates will bowl toward one score. That is, rather than a typical league format in which you and your teammates each bowl 10 frames and your team score is the sum of each individual score, your entire team will combine to bowl 10 frames in a Baker match.
With five-person teams, the first bowler will bowl frames 1 and 6. The second bowler will bowl frames 2 and 7 and so on, with your fifth bowler bowling frames 5 and 10.
On a two-person team, you’ll simply alternate with your partner. If you bowl all the odd-numbered frames, he or she will bowl all the even-numbered frames.
You could conceivably bowl a Baker game with any number of people up to 10, but it’s generally not done except in doubles competition as well as with five-person teams.
Pros and Cons
Many high-school and collegiate bowlers don’t like the format, as it leaves so little bowling to each person (only two frames each with five-person teams). However, many other bowlers prefer the format because it forces everyone to focus and come together as a team, which they say leads to everyone becoming better bowlers.
If you’ve never bowled a Baker format game, it’s definitely worth a try. There’s a different feel to trusting your teammates to do well in their frames while also knowing everyone is relying on you to do the same in your frames.
Creating the Ideal Lineup
Particularly in five-person Baker competition, it's extremely important to put together a strategic lineup. You want your best bowler bowling last as the anchor, as it will be his or her job to bowl the all-important tenth frame. In order to maximize that final push, you'll need a fourth bowler who will bowl the ninth frame with a high likelihood of striking or, worst case, sparing. Because each bowler only gets to bowl two frames, the strategy of how to form a five-person bowling team is amplified in Baker competition.