Jim Godwin (bowler)

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Jim Godwin
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Born(1946-01-05)January 5, 1946
DiedMarch 3, 2001(2001-03-03) (aged 55)
CitizenshipUnited States of America

James William Godman (January 5, 1946 – May 3, 2001) was an American professional bowler who won ten titles on the Professional Bowlers Tour, and was the first bowler to win the prestigious Firestone Tournament of Champions twice, winning in 1969 and 1973. He won the 1971 ABC Masters tournament and was also the first bowler in United States Bowling Congress Open Championships history to record three 700 series in one tournament. Godman was an early adopter of the Cranker style of bowling, using a cupped wrist to create more ball revolutions and greater power compared to his contemporaries.

PBA career

Godman joined the PBA Tour in 1965, finishing in the top 5 once that season, finishing third at the Southern California Open in Oxnard, California behind Dave Soutar and Johnny Guenther[1], good enough to earn PBA Rookie of the Year honors[2]. The following year, Godman won his first PBA title at the PBA Western Open in San Jose, California, advancing through the stepladder finals from the third position, defeating Bill Allen 255-207, Earl Johnson 197-151, before beating Les Schissler 208-191 for the $5,000 first prize.[3] He would reach the finals once more in 1966, losing to Barry Asher at the Crescent City Open in New Orleans in September.[4]

Godman won once in each of 1967 and 1968[5], and entered the 1969 Tournament of Champions field as a comparative underdog to tour money leader Billy Hardwick, defending champion Dave Davis (bowler), and 1967 winner Jim Stefanich. Godman, who finished sixth in the 1968 Firestone[6], was third behind Johnny Guenther and Dick Weber after the second eight-game block. The next day, however, he won 13 consecutive match play games, going 20-4-0 overall in the match play round, to move past Stefanich and claim the No. 1 seed for the stepladder finals.[7] In the championship match, Godman would face off with Stefanich for the $25,000 prize. Godman started the match with seven straight strikes, building a dominant lead he would not relinquish on his way to a 266-228 victory. The prize money he earned in Akron, Ohio that day was more than he had earned in his entire four-year career combined up until then. Godman closed out 1969 with a win in November over Ray Bluth in the PBA Mercury Open in St. Louis[8] to finish the season second to Billy Hardwick on the money list.[9]

The next year was a difficult one for Godman professionally as he only reached the top 5 once, finishing third in Kansas City, Kansas at the Ebonite Open. Godman rallied in 1971, winning the ABC Masters and finishing in the top 5 six times, beating Terry Booth for the PBA Tucson Open in July. The next year was again a struggle. Though he did win in Grand Rapids, Michigan in August, he only made two top-5 appearances.

Godman qualified second for the 1973 Firestone, behind tournament leader Barry Asher. In the semifinal match against Dick Weber, Godman held strong for a 227-192 victory as Weber struggled on the right lane of the televised pair. Godman was clean in the championshp match, striking in the fourth, fifth, and sixth frames while Asher opened in his fifth frame. A double in the ninth and tenth frames clinched the title for Godman. The final score was 224-200 and Godman became the first bowler to win the Firestone Tournament of Champions twice. Godman closed out 1973 with a win over Roy Buckley in the Brunswick World Open in Glendale Heights, Illinois.

Godman would never again be able to duplicate his 1973 season. He struggled on the PBA Tour through of the remainder of the decade, reaching a championship game just three times over the next six seasons, two of which came in the 1976 season. Outside the tour, Godman bowled well in the ABC Open Championships, winning both a singles and doubles title in 1974.

His final tour victory came in 1980 at the PBA Quad Cities Open in Davenport, Iowa where he defeated Pete Couture 201-167 after having climbed the stepladder finals from the fifth position.


Godman died on May 3, 2001 in Melbourne, Florida.[10]


Godman was voted into the PBA Hall of Fame and ABC Halls of Fame in 1987.[11]

Awards and recognition

  • PBA Rookie of the Year (1965)
  • Two-time First Team All-American (1968-69, 1972-73)
  • First bowler to win two Firestone Tournament of Champions titles (1969, 1973)
  • Two ABC/USBC Open Championships (1974)
  • 10 PBA Tour championships
  • Inducted into PBA Hall of Fame, 1987
  • Inducted into ABC (now USBC) Hall of Fame, 1987


  1. "Clipped From The Hanford Sentinel". The Hanford Sentinel. 1965-10-11. p. 6. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  2. "Rookie of the Year". www.pba.com. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  3. "Clipped From The Fresno Bee". The Fresno Bee. 1966-01-09. p. 56. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  4. "mcubed.net : Bowling : PBA : Akron, OH tournament history : Winners". mcubed.net. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  5. "mcubed.net : Bowling : PBA : Jim Godman". mcubed.net. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  6. "Clipped From The Akron Beacon Journal". The Akron Beacon Journal. 1968-04-06. p. 13. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  7. "Clipped From The Akron Beacon Journal". The Akron Beacon Journal. 1969-04-06. p. 39. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  8. "mcubed.net : Bowling : PBA : Jim Godman". mcubed.net. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  9. "Clipped From The Akron Beacon Journal". The Akron Beacon Journal. 1969-11-19. p. 81. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  10. "Clipped From Indian River Press Journal". Indian River Press Journal. 2001-05-23. p. 24. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  11. Godman, Jim. "Hall of Famers - USBC". USBC Hall of Fame. Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 20 February 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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