A Round Of Croquet

I know we talked about croquet about two years ago, but I wanted to highlight it again. It’s a great outdoor activity for all members of the family to play this time of year. What exactly is croquet? For years, it was either considered an English lawn game or in the 1950’s and 1960’s it was an All-American backyard game. Croquet involves balls, mallets, hoops, clips and center pegs. The main game involves four balls teamed in pairs, with both balls going through every hoop for one pair to win. The game’s unique feature is the “croquet” shot: when certain balls hit other balls, extra shots are allowed. The six hoops are arranged three at each end of the court, with a center peg. There are many versions of this game: Association, Garden, American Six-wicket, Nine-wicket and Golf. Each version has a distinctive set of rules and play.

We’ll talk about the Association version. In Association croquet one side takes the black and blue balls, the other side takes red and yellow. At each turn, players can choose to play with either of their balls for that turn. At the start of a turn, the player plays a stroke. If the player either hits the ball through the correct hoop (“runs” the hoop), or hits another ball (a “roquet”), the turn continues.

Following a roquet, the player picks up his or her own ball and puts it down next to the ball that it hit. The next shot is played with the two balls touching: this is the “croquet stroke” from which the game takes its name. By varying the speed and angle at which the mallet hits the striker’s ball, a good player can control the final position of both balls: the horizontal angle determines how much the balls diverge in direction, while the vertical angle and the amount of follow-through determine the relative distance that the two balls travel.

After the croquet stroke, the player plays a “continuation” stroke, during which the player may again attempt to make a roquet or run a hoop. Each of the other three balls may be roqueted once in a turn before a hoop is run, after which they become available to be roqueted again. The winner of the game is the team who completes the set circuit of six hoops (and then back again the other way), with both balls, and then strikes the center peg.

If this explanation confused you, consider going to one of our local croquest locations to learn more – National Croquet Center (West Palm Beach), PGA National Resort & Spa (Palm Beach Gardens) or The Beach Club (Palm Beach). Go play!