The game of bowling in the United States is an indoor development of the more ancient outdoor game that survives as lawn bowling. The outdoor game is prehistoric in origin and probably goes back to primitive man and round stones that were rolled at some target. It is believed that a game something like nine-pins was popular among the Dutch, Swiss, and Germans as long ago as A.D. 1200. The game was played outdoors with an alley consisting of a single plank 12 to 18 inches wide, along which a ball was rolled toward three rows of three pins each placed at the far end of the alley.
It is supposed that the Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York City), brought their bowling games with them. About a century ago the game of nine-pins was flourishing in the United States but was so corrupted by gambling on matches that it was barred by law in New York and Connecticut. Since the law barred “nine-pins,” a tenth pin was added, thus legally making it a new game.
Various organizations were formed to make rules for bowling and supervise competition in the United States, but none was successful until the American Bowling Congress (ABC), organized Sept. 9, 1895, became the ruling body. In 2000, three former Microsoft executives bought the ailing Professional Bowlers Association for $5 million. On Jan. 1, 2005, the ABC joined the Women's International Bowling Congress, Young American Bowling Alliance, and USA Bowling to become the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).