An early decision for newcomers to make is whether to learn not just golf croquet, but also how to play the more formal game, Association Croquet. Whatever the decision, there are basic considerations that are common to both forms, and for which it will be helpful to seek the guidance of an experienced coach.
Basic skills to master, are how to grip the mallet, and how to address and strike the ball. After this it is necessary to learn how to consistently run hoops, and how to adjust the swing and its strength to the distance the ball needs to travel, and to the condition of the lawn. A high standard of accuracy is essential. It is vital to learn to keep one’s head down, and one’s body still during the stroke. Then too, there are specialised strokes such as stop shots and jump shots to include in one’s armamentarium.
What are the essential differences between the two games to bear in mind when choosing which to play?
Association Croquet is usually played with a two and a half hour time limit; a game of golf croquet can usually be completed in about 40 minutes.
Both forms of the game can be played as either singles or doubles, or if needed as a threesome.
In Association Croquet just one player at a time is allowed to occupy the court, until their turn ends. The most skilled players are able to extend their turn by so positioning all balls as needed to be able to continue to run hoops in sequence. In golf croquet, players are allowed just one stroke per turn, and balls are played in a set order of play. As soon as one player runs a hoop, all players move on to the next one. As a result, the game is played in groups that move together from one hoop to the next, allowing plenty of time for chit chat. Sledging however is not in the spirit of the game.
Golf croquet is a skilful game involving careful ball positioning, roquet shots, (striking an opponent’s ball to perhaps hit them out of position), and hoop running.
Croquet shots in which the striker ball being played is struck whilst in contact with another ball(s) add an additional level of complexity and interest to Association Croquet.
Association croquet can take months to master, and indeed years to learn all the intricacies and strategies that can be used. Golf croquet on the other hand can be played after as little as an hour or two of guidance.
It is not surprising that in today’s world with so much pressure on our time, golf croquet has become the more popular form of the sport. Indeed many clubs might have had to close but for the shorter form of the game, with more opportunity for social interaction.
The basic equipment for croquet comprises:
- a set of six metal hoops with the uprights 12 inches above ground level and a width between uprights of between three and three-quarters of an inch and 4 inches in width. The width is capable of slight adjustment and can be set to be tighter for competitive play.
- Sets of four balls, the primary colours being as shown, blue, black, red and yellow.
- Mallets have been mostly fashioned from timber, but many are now constructed from other materials such as metal in the mallet shown.
It may seem an easy task to strike a ball through a hoop, but it is one made difficult by setting the clearance between hoop and ball at only one-eighth of an inch, or one-sixteenth of an inch for championship play. From the Oxford Croquet website: http://www.oxfordcroquet.com/tech/hoopspec/index.asp
ACCEPTANCE STANDARDS from
HOOP WIDTH. The clearance is defined as the difference between the distance between the inside edges of the uprights at half-ball height and the maximum diameter of the largest ball to be used on the court. Unless otherwise advertised in the Fixtures Calendar, or as stated below, hoops must be set such that the clearance is as near as possible equal to, but not less than, 1/16″ for Championship and other events played under conditions of Advanced Play, and 1/8″ for other, including mixed, events, with an upward tolerance of 50%. The Manager may, in accordance with M2.C.10, alter the advertised clearance by up to 50% in steps of 1/32″ in either direction, provided that this and the reason for it is publicised before play starts that day.
HOOP RIGIDITY. Hoops must be set firmly and securely such that no perceptible movement occurs when the crown is pushed/pulled with considerable force.