If Tiger and Timberlake Walked Into a Bar, It Would Have Duckpin Bowling

The dynamic duo teamed up to open T-Squared Social in NYC

October 27, 2023 6:52 am
The duckpin bowling lanes at T-Sqaured Social.
T-Sqaured Social is open for business in Midtown Manhattan.
T-Squared Social

The Dude and Donny from The Big Lebowski weren’t able to roll on Saturdays because their teammate, Walter Sobchak, recognized Shomer Shabbos and wouldn’t bowl on the Jewish day of rest. But at Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods’s T-Squared Social sports bar, the Dude and Donny would be happy to know that duckpin bowling lanes are open for business seven days a week.

Somewhat of a cross between regular bowling and candlepin bowling, duckpin bowling calls for squat pins that resemble out-of-shape waterfowl, grapefruit-sized balls that weigh less than four pounds and have no finger holes, and shorter lanes that don’t require special shoes. Created sometime around the turn of the 20th century, duckpin bowling became popular along the eastern seaboard, particularly in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland. Once a rival of ten-pin bowling, duckpin began to fade about 60 years ago when the company that created the game’s only automatic pin setting machine shut down and refused to sell the patent to a competitor. It was only available in about 40 locations when The New York Times did a deep dive on the oft-overlooked game in 2016. Duckpin may be going the way of the dodo, but it lives on at T-Squared.

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According to T-Squared Social food and beverage director Rael Petit, the idea for the project came about after Timberlake and Woods finished a round of golf in Albany, New York. Formerly home to Emigrant Savings Bank, T-Squared Social’s physical dimensions are one of the reasons duckpin was a natural fit.

“We decided on duckpin bowling for a few reasons,” Petit tells InsideHook. “For one, Duckpin has shorter lanes, which lends itself well to the layout of the space. Second, these lanes are easier for our staff to operate because they feature automatic pin-setting machines. Finally, we went with duckpin bowling lanes so our guests don’t have to change their shoes to bowl. Many of our guests have never heard of duckpin bowling before, but they’ve been quick to catch on that it requires less effort than a regular bowling alley and you can easily do it with a cocktail in one hand.”

T-Sqaured Social lanes offer food and drink.
You can easily roll a duckpin ball with a drink in hand.
Liz Clayman

In addition to four duckpin lanes, T-Squared — which has a membership program — has a full menu of elevated bar food with a number of raw bar offerings, plenty of craft beers, a fun selection of one-off cocktails and 38 high-definition TVs, one of which is rumored to be the largest in New York City.

“Go big or go home,” Petit says. “We knew if we wanted to create a premium entertainment destination, we had to offer premium sports viewing. Our boxed seating is only available to our members, but we built a gigantic wall of flat screens — including our 200-inch screen — so that our guests can watch games from every corner of the space. There’s not a bad seat in the house.”

The main viewing room at T-Squared Social.
A 200-inch TV screen really ties the room together.
T-Squared Social

For those who aren’t in the mood to bowl and don’t have a game to watch, T-Squared also has three Dartsee dart lanes and four state-of-the-art Full Swing Simulators that are primarily used for golf but offer other simulated sports including baseball and football.

“While we do cater to many golfers, not everyone is brave enough to try out the Full Swing Simulators,” Petit says. “So far, we’ve seen our guests gravitate towards soccer and zombie dodgeball. One minute you can be teeing off at Pebble Beach, and the next minute you’re shooting a penalty kick for the Premier League or taking aim at the living dead.”  

T-Squared Social is located at 7 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

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