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.
GOLF CROQUET RULES:
1. There are four balls, blue, red, black and yellow, which must be played in that order (the colours are painted on the centre peg to act as a reminder).
2. The hoops and peg cannot be moved to facilitate play.
3. The person whose turn it is to play is called the striker. A turn consists of just one strike. In Singles one player uses the blue and black balls, the other red and yellow. In Doubles each player strikes his own ball — with blue partnering black and red partnering yellow.
4. Toss a coin to start the game. The winner of the toss starts by striking the blue ball, the next person the red ball, and so on.
5. Each person starts in the court within one yard of the corner shown overleaf. In succeeding turns you strike your ball from where it lies. The first hoop to be run is hoop 1, in the direction indicated on the diagram.
6. Once someone has run hoop 1 everyone then plays to run hoop 2, and so on. The game proceeds in the sequence shown and the first player to run seven hoops wins.
7. A hoop is run when no part of the ball protrudes beyond the side of the hoop from which it started (see the diagram above). A ball may take more than one turn to run a hoop.
8. If a ball other than the striker’s ball is hit through the hoop (peeled) by the striker’s ball then the hoop counts for that peeled ball, even if the striker’s ball also goes through that hoop.
9. Each turn consists of striking the correct ball with the face of the mallet head and with no other part of the mallet. Accidentally touching your ball counts as a strike. When it is your turn you have to take it — you are not allowed to ‘pass’.
10. When striking your ball be careful not to touch another ball with your mallet as this constitutes a ‘fault’. It is also a fault to hit your own ball more than once — a ‘double tap’ — or to ‘crush’ your ball into a hoop or the peg. Great care has to be taken to avoid these faults when your ball is close to an upright of a hoop and at an angle to the opening. It is a fault to force the ball through regardless!
11. If a fault is committed the turn ends, no points are scored, and your opponent can decide to take his turn from where the balls are or to have them returned to where they were.
12. Even if it’s not your turn you must not touch any ball, or let it touch you, or you will lose your next turn. So don’t trip over a ball, and watch out for moving balls. They can move very fast! If you do touch a ball your opponent can choose to leave it where it comes to rest or to put it back where it was before.
13. It is important not to play the wrong ball or play out of turn. If this does happen then your opponent can choose whether or
not to replace the balls or leave them where they are, and choose which ball to restart with. For example: if yellow was played (wrongly) after blue, your opponent can choose to continue with either the black or the blue ball. (In Singles if a player plays there partner ball by mistake the ball is put back where it was and the correct partner ball is played, no penalty. In Doubles if the ball belongs to the striker’s partner, no points are scored for any ball, the ball and any other ball
moved are replaced and the correct ball is played, no penalty). A hoop run by the wrong ball does not count as a hoop point.
14. When all balls have stopped any ball which has left the court is replaced on the boundary at the place where it went off.
15. After a turn in which a hoop point is scored any ball that is over halfway to the next hoop to be played can be declared ‘offside’, unless it got there:
a. as a result of the stroke just played: by it running the hoop or it being peeled through, or by it peeling another ball through that hoop; or
b. a stroke, wrong ball play or fault played or committed by an opponent, however this exemption does not apply to a ball whose owner misses a turn
in that position because of a non-striking fault; for example by the red ball being struck so that it knocks the opponent’s blue or black ball beyond halfway to the next hoop; or
c. contact with an opponent’s ball, however this exemption does not result from a ball played away from an opponent’s ball with which it was in contact, unless it moves that ball in the stroke; or
d. being directed to a penalty spot.
16. If your ball is offside, and is so claimed by your opponent, and you are asked to do so, you must move the ball to one of two penalty positions – your opponent chooses which. The penalty points are the half way points on each of the longer boundaries. Your opponent may prefer you to take your turn from where your ball lies.
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.