A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 18, 2012
“Strike for show and spare for dough” (bowling adage)

"Strike for show and spare for dough” is a popular bowling adage, cited in print from at least 1987 and 1996. The saying means that most people don’t always bowl all strikes and have perfect games, so the spare is for the dough (money).

A similar saying in golf (from the 1920s and 1930s) is “Drive for show and putt for dough.” A similar saying in both handball (from 1999) and racquetball (from 2000) is “Kill for show and pass for dough” and in billiards (from 2000) it’s “Draw for show and follow for dough.”


12 December 1987, Morning Call (Allentown, PA), “Junior Bowling: Feiertag and Kauker set the pace” by Jim Krupka, pg. A63:
With bowling, you probably spare for dough and strike for show, so every bowler is looking for the longest running show possible - a big string of strikes.

Google Groups: alt.sport.bowling
INST4544
Feb 9 1996
(...)
Strike for show, spare for dough.  I ended up missing 14 spares in the 12 games, and missed cashing by 40+ pins.  What a puss!

Mike Austin
Houston, TX

Google Groups: alt.sport.bowling
Shark4
Aug 5 1996
(...)
Strike for show, spare for Dough!!

Mike Austin
Webster, TX

Google Books
Answer Guy
By Brendan O’Conno,; Neil Fine and Gary Belsky
New York, NY: Hyperion
2002
Pg. 115:
Incidentally, the expression “Drive for show, putt for dough” really comes from bowling. Except it’s “Strike for show, spare for dough.” Golf stole it.

Google Books
Focused for Bowling
By Dean R. Hinitz
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
2003
Pg. XIX:
“Strike for show, spare for dough” is the mantra of the competitive bowler. Perfect games are wonderful to experience. However, just about anyone who has missed the cut in a tournament or been barely beaten in match play can blame a blown spare. Effective mental and physical game strategy for shooting spares adds a great deal of confidence to any bowler.

BowlingIndex.com
by bamaster ยป Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:17 pm
(...)
Strike for show spare for dough

It’s the most true statement you’ll ever know. Strike all you want, but sparing will get you the scores.

Google News Archive
1 September 2006, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Dilbert” comic strip by Scott Adams, pg. C6, col. 1:
Panel 1: “WE CAN KICK A FIELD GOAL IN THE NINTH INNING IF WE USE A FULL-COURT PRESS.”
Panel 2: “REMEMBER THAT YOU DRIVE FOR SHOW BUT YOU PICK UP THE SPARE FOR DOUGH.”
Panel 3: “HAVE YOU BEEN HELPING ALICE WITH HER SPORTS METAPHORS?”
“PERHAPS.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Friday, May 18, 2012 • Permalink