|In the genes: Scott Norton paid his way through law school by bowling in amateur tournaments. Norton learned to bowl with his mother, United Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Virginia Norton. (Courtesy of Lisa J. Tolda/Lisajphotos@gmail.)|
SAN FRANCISCO — Scott Norton stands alone on the Professional Bowlers Tour for a couple of reasons: He is the only practicing attorney, and he has never seen “The Big Lebowski.”
Asked how he could have missed perhaps the most famous bowling-themed movie of all-time, Norton laughed, “I know, I’m a bad bowler because I’ve never seen ‘Lebowski.’”
Norton, who turns 28 this month, is anything but a bad bowler.
The son of United Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Virginia Norton, Scott rolled his first strike at the age of four.
“When I started bowling, my mom wouldn’t let me use bumpers,” Norton said. “She taught me how to bowl properly.”
At the age of 18, Norton won seven consecutive junior tournaments. In that breakout year, he won 12 tournaments to increase his total number of junior amateur victories to 21.
Norton won the gold medal at the Junior World Amateur Championships held in the Dominican Republic. Still only 18, as captain of Adult Team USA, Norton won the Adult National Amateur Championship, the youngest to ever do so.
As a freshman at Cal State University Fullerton, Norton was honored as collegiate bowler of the year in 2000-2001. He transferred to the University of Utah for his last three years of undergraduate school. The history major continued to bowl.
“I paid my way through college playing amateur tournaments,” Norton said. “That’s how bowling is different. You can still make money as an amateur.”
Not even the rigors of San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law deterred the bowling star. With his PBA card in hand, Norton would study during the week and bowl in regional events on weekends. He won two titles within his first six months of being a PBA member.
The 2009 season was an eventful one for Norton, whose bowling average has hovered in the 235-250 range for the past 13 years. After graduating from Hastings, Norton passed the California Bar Exam on his first try.
“I was rather happy about that,” Norton said. “I don’t know how I would’ve taken it again.”
He signed on with the Bay View Law Group in early December. In the same month, Norton won the Sands Regency PBA Regional Players Invitational in Reno. In addition to the $7,500 winner’s prize, he also earned an exemption, an automatic spot, on the 2010-2011 PBA Tour.
As one of the top 50 male bowlers in the world, Scott is no longer referred to as “Virginia Norton’s son,” although his proud mom remains her son’s coach.
“She gets a few gray hairs from watching me rather than bowling herself. It’s much tougher to watch than to bowl because you have no control,” Norton said.
The young attorney will be reviewing debt settlement files on the road as he competes in 20 tour stops. Finding the time to finally watch “Lebowski” may be a challenge. It will surprise no one, though, as Norton exclaimed: “I like challenges.”
The Norton File
Who: Scott Norton, professional bowler and attorney at law
What: Left San Francisco’s Noe Valley for the PBA Tour
Law school: A 2009 graduate of Hastings College of Law and editor-in-chief of Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal
300 scores: Norton guesses about 40 perfect games