Sometimes the Wickets Aren't Sticky

by Art McCafferty
It will probably be a while before you see croquet on the xtreme games. But like some of the xtreme games, croquet has a finite market, people play it with fevor andthose who play it play in a sport that is not known by a lot of people The game, born in England a hundred and fifty years ago, has only been played about 50 years in this country. The oldest continuous club is Green Gables Croquet Club in 1957.
Sure there are a quarter million set s of croquet sold every year, bu t the backyard game so familiar to many of us, becomes a bit more of a challenge when the wickets are shrunk and the balls enlarged.

Currently, 10,000 people play the game nationally, While not grueling physically , croquet is quite the opposite mentally. At least, that was the general consensus of many of the players that turned out for the 7th annual Lakeview Hill Spring Tournament this past June. About 20 players competed in the three day tournament for trophies and state wide bragging rights amoung their peers. The tournament is one of about 50 that are scheduled thoughout the United States during the year. Lakeview also offers a summer tournament as well in August. This years attendees included a group from a croquet club in Toronto.
Mallet, Balls, Wickets
Your basic tools for a croquet tournament: mallets, balls, wickets, trophies and plenty of green grass.
Photo Gallery

Results

The croquet field is the only level piece of ground on the 150 acres that comprise Lakeview Hills. Built in the late 80's this 14 room bed and breakfast is a photographers dream in both beauty and elegance. It is the Chateau Chantal of Eastern Michigan.

Shirley Chapoton, the owner of Lakeview Hills, and her Director of Croquet Jim Coudneys, are both certified instructors of the game. They became certified by going through the US Croquet Association school in Palm Beach. Their instructor was, "Mr. Croquet" Jack Osborn, who started the association in 1977. There are only a few officially certified courses in Michigan, Lakeview Hills being the first. It is now known as the "Mother" of all courses, having spun off, Detroit's River Place Croquet, Harpor Springs Croquet Court and Comstock Park Croquet. Next up is a new course being designed for the Bay Harbor complex. Shirley and Jim, will be consultants to the project.

Much like golf, there is a handicapping system in croquet. Jim plays to a seven handicap, which would generally put him in the first flight of a tournament, whereas, Shirley plays to a 12, which would equate out to a second or third fllght placement. A player with a nine handicap playing a player with a six handicap would get four "bisque"s. A bisque, a free shot, can be used as an extra shot anytime during the game.



Other Tips on the Game:

Unlike backyard croquet, with its nine hoops (or wickets) and two pegs (or stakes), tournament croquet as played under the rules of the United States Croquet Association uses six wickets and one stake. The standard court is 84 by 102 feet, although smaller courts can be set up with the same proportions. The hoops are narrower and the balls larger than in a backyard croquet set. In fact, clearances in tournament play are only an eighth of an inch.

The Course

Players go through the six wickets in a clockwised direction, starting at the blue corner. Then they double back for the final six, beginning with the wicket in the red corner. They finish play by pegging out a the stake in the center of the court.

The Object

The goal is to outscore your opponents. Players get one point for each wicket to their ball goes through and a point for hitting the stake. The winner is the side scoring the most points. Since there are two balls played by each side the highest winning score is 26 points.

The Sides

In doubles competition, one side plays blue/black and the other red/yellow. In singles, one person plays both blue and black and his or her opponent both red and yellow. Turns alternate, following the order of colors on the stake, blue playing first, then red,etc.

The Play

You get an extra stroke for going through a wicket, and two extras for hitting another ball called a "croquet". The first of these strokes, the "croquet" stroke, is taken by bringing your ball up to the struck ball and hitting both to where you want them. You cannot, however, hold your ball down with a foot as in the backyard game. Once you hit another ball you are said to be "dead" on that ball, meaning you cannot hit it again, until you've gone through a wicket

Croquet Glossary

The Take Off-
The croqueted ball will move or shake while the striker's ball travels to a distant target.
The Drive -
An even-paced square hit will send the croqueted ball two thirds farther than the striker's ball.
Stop Shot-
Stoppng sharply after impact, the striker's ball will travel only one-eighth to one-tenth the distance of the croqueted ball.
The Half Roll-
With a smooth downward swing, the striker's ball will travel one-half the distance of the croqueted ball.
The Full Roll-
Both the strikers and the croqueted ball roll to an equally distant point.
The Pass Roll-
A sharply hit strikers's ball will jump, overtake and pass the croqueted ball.

Lakeview Hills Resort is a place that on a clear day you can see almost forever. It is a magic place and one of a kind in Michigan.

Lakeview Hills Resort
PO Box 365
Lewiston,MI 49756
517-786-2000

Published by Great Lakes Sports Publications, Inc.