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.
I am indebted to the Croquet SA website for this introductory information about how to play golf croquet, and the basic rules of the game. I have included it in this blog for the benefit of those readers who may be puzzled about how it is played in South Australia.
There are few more satisfying moments in croquet than being able to hit your opponent’s ball off the court just when he or she is set-up plumb in front, about to run the hoop. Deeply frustrating however for your opponent when their good play is thus negated.
At times croquet can take on the characteristics of near war-time confrontation. But it is just a game, and players find plenty to smile about both on and off the court.
I’d be smiling too if I had a girl on each side!
Some of the lady charmers in the club.
The weaker sex
A dictum for accuracy in play is keep your head down, and watch the ball. Don’t look at where you think it will go. Here Coach John Selby shows how you should do it, and other players studiously follow the advice.
In the clubhouse, on the far wall where the club memorabilia is displayed, is an Honour Roll recording the names of those who have served the club in official capacities. Unfortunately this fails to give credit to all the other members who cheerfully devote many unpaid hours to support the club’s activities.
For good croquet immaculately prepared lawns are essential. The club is indebted to all those who tend the lawns and the gardens and carry out the maintenance of the club facilities.
Many fail to play sport later in life because they feel that they do not have the sporting prowess to excel. Even although she has only been playing croquet for a couple of years, by her own self-assessment Marjorie Turner considers she is average, and unlikely to become a top player. But this does not deter her from playing. She values the exercise, and the friendship she has found. She says members have always made her feel welcome, and she has met some very nice people.
Colleen Walters, nine years a member, six as Club Treasurer. She appreciates the regular exercise, and the social life. With husband Maurice, they are another of the club’s couples.
Having played croquet for the past 11 years Mavis Klenke has become one of the club’s most accomplished players, winning several gala day competitions. She loves sport, and golf croquet has become an important part of her life, a pleasure she can now share with her husband Eric since he retired. He has become equally enthusiastic about the game.
I am grateful for the photographic skills of young Mount Barker resident Lyndall Zobel of unpretended photography in this series of posts.
Where we live and play!
From the lower reaches of Australia’s longest river, the meandering Murray, near where it flows into the vast Lake Alexandrina at the Murray mouth, one can see prominent on the Adelaide Hills horizon, the diminutive Mount Barker peak, named after its white discoverer Captain Collet Barker who lost his life exploring the region in 1831. Only 360 metres in elevation it still dominates the landscape west of the highest peak, Mount Lofty, as the terrain gently slopes towards the Murray plains. It marks the site of one of South Australia’s oldest settlements, the Mount Barker Township, surveyed in 1839, with farmers starting to settle the undulating countryside in 1844. Now with a population of about 15,000 it is the urban hub of the Hills, close to the tourist meccas of Hahndorf, and Strathalbyn, and merging with the adjacent growth centres of Littlehampton and Nairne.
The Mount Barker Croquet Club is on the fringe of the shopping district, next to the Bowling Club, and across the road from Stephenson Park. It is in a pleasant, relaxing setting with stately elder trees on either side of an adjacent pathway, and majestic gnarled massive red gums thriving in the creek bed to the south. Photinia shrubs provide a screen from passers-by walking the scenic trail to the Laratinga Wetlands.
Should you have opportunity to visit this idyllic part Australia’s Southern State, why not think of paying a visit to our croquet club and meet us in person. Even if you have never played croquet before, you can still come and test your skill with mallet and ball in running the hoops, on a Thursday or Saturday morning for “golf croquet”. Fortunately it is possible to play croquet the year around in Australia, except for the days when there is pelting rain, or searing heat.
Introducing the Mount Barker Croquet Club
Here is the club photograph for 2015, the year we celebrate 100 years of croquet played on our three Mann Street lawns. It is just those that play Golf Croquet. Absent are the few Association Croquet players.
Did you ever see a more handsome sporting club than this vigorous group of 25?
From Left to Right:
Back Row: William Kidd, John Freeman, Denise Fry, Mavis Klenke, Heather Daniels, Meredith Walters, Robert Armstrong, Kevin Jaensch, Peggy Louch, Joy Steer, Trevor Kramm, Ken Robson, John Selby (Vice President).
Middle Row: Eric Klenke (Committee member), Peter Fry (Grounds person), Lorraine Kramm (Committee member), Valda Jaensch (President), Neal Gibson (Secretary), Patricia Schultz (Committee member), Wendy Thiele (Treasurer).
Front Row: David Foster, Gloria Foster, Sandra Armstrong, Marjorie Turner, Lorna Gibson.
Our current Club President is one of our lady members, Valda Jaensch from nearby Callington, who first tried croquet on the 4th June 2005. She so enjoyed it that she remembers the date precisely, and has played social croquet at Mount Barker ever since, together with participating in gala day competitions.
Valda’s husband Kevin has shared his wife’s enjoyment of croquet from the same memorable occasion in 2005. Retired and in his late 70’s, croquet has been a perfect sporting interest for him, and an activity which he can share with Valda.
For information about our club, Secretary Neal Gibson is the man you should contact. Phone contact: 08 8398 6742 Neal Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org
When John Selby retired in March 2002 he chose golf croquet for his sporting activity. He is one of our outstanding players and has served the club well as coach and photographer. He is the Immediate Past President of the Club, and current Vice President.
Croquet is a game that can be played to an advanced age, even into the nineties. Skills by then may be declining, but with age comes the “smarts”even to the point of a little more cunning when it comes to strategy. Heading our honour list would have to be now retired Bert and Bette Walkom.
Bette took up golf croquet in 1963 after the trauma of an accident in the family. Bert followed on but preferred the more involved Association Croquet. He proved to be an excellent player achieving a handicap of only 3, and winning a tournament at Millicent in the South East of the State.
Bert & Bette Walkom, Honorary Members
Trevor Kramm is the only member to regularly play both forms of croquet, Golf and Association Croquet. There is merit in doing this. The games foster overlapping but slightly different strengths. The playing of one may help improve your skills for the other code. For example Trevor brings a confident running of the hoops from golf croquet to his Association game. Although in his mid-eighties, Trevor’s skill from 13 years of croquet is little diminished, and he still very much enjoys not only the games, but the social contacts, and opportunities to meet new people.
Wife Lorraine plays croquet too. The Kramms are another of several couples to enjoy playing croquet together at this club.
It was all the fun of the fair at the 2015 Adelaide Fringe Festival’s most popular event, the Royal Croquet Club for a second year. True It featured croquet, but the crowds came for the many premier late night entertainments rather than to play family sport. If like me you did not know what it was all about, just click on the link to the Facebook website above.
The event was so popular that considerable damage was done to the turf in the northern end of Victoria Square prompting the Adelaide Council to question the wisdom of committing to the event at the next Festival in 2016.
• ANTHONY TEMPLETON CITY EDITOR
• The Advertiser
• June 23, 2015 11:01PM
NEGOTIATIONS between the Royal Croquet Club and Adelaide City Council will begin to ensure the popular Fringe venue returns next year but its hours of operation will be reduced and lockout brought forward.
Other restrictions on the Royal Croquet Club (RCC) include reducing its trading hours to 1am on weekends, banning loud music past 12am, introducing a midnight lockout, mandating public access to part of Victoria Square during the day and making aesthetic improvements to the fencing.
The new restrictions on the Club’s operations were passed by the Economic and Community Development Committee on Tuesday, after the event had attracted criticism about its impact on bricks-and-mortar venues and damaging the Square.
Councillor Alex Antic, who proposed the changes, said they were designed to get the balance right between supporting the event and addressing community concerns.
“I think this is a pretty sensible compromise position that addresses a number of the issues and concerns in the community (about the Royal Croquet Club),” Mr Antic said.