If you're overly competitive and looking for an outlet, you
might be tempted to try croquet. The 19th-century game is based upon
outwitting, outsourcing and outsmarting your opponents. While croquet was once
most likely to be associated with prim and proper grandmothers, it's fast
becoming popular with players of all ages.
More and more people are getting outdoors as part of the
fitness boom, many are recognizing that croquet is an enjoyable game of
sophistication and strategy."
Croquet is an incredibly social sport. It's a game that men
and women can play together. Strength isn't a deciding factor; it is strategy
that is important.
And the sport is accessible. No arenas are needed - parks and yards make
suitable courts - and equipment is available in a wide price range.
Unlike golf, there is a limited playing space, which makes the social aspects of croquet so
enjoyable. It brings family and friends of all ages together.
Most croquet is now played at home with informal rules.
Each player usually plays one ball counter-clockwise around a nine-wicket, two-stake course, the
layout of which vaguely resembles a double diamond.
While rules vary from house to house, common to all games is the
"croqueting" of the ball of an opponent that has been hit by one's own ball.
After one player's ball hits another - a "roquet" shot – the aggressor's ball is moved adjacent
to the opponent's and with a foot holding the former ball in place, a mallet smash sends the latter in the least
The player whose ball is first to return to and hit the starting stake is the winner.
A game called paille maille was played in fourteenth-century
France with mallets, balls and hoops, but croquet as we know it was played in
Ireland in the 1830s, then made popular by English aristocrats in the
The game swept Britain and became the focus of many
fashionable and lavish social events.
Contributing to its appeal was the fact that croquet was the
first sport that Victorian women could "properly" participate in with men.
The All England Croquet Club (which would become the all
England Croquet and Tennis Club) was established at Wimbledon in 1865. Britain
had its first champion, Walter Jones-Whitmore, two years later.
During its first ascendancy, such artistic luminaries as Edouard Monet
captured the game on canvas. U.S. artist Winslow Homer created a series of five oils, along with drawings and
engravings that depicted croquet during the 1860s.
Lewis Carroll undoubtedly produced the oddest account of a match in Alice in Wonderland, first
published in 1865. Flamingos, hedgehogs and contorted soldiers took the place of mallets, balls and wickets
In the 1870s the game reached the height of its popularity.
However, by the turn of the century, not only had tennis captured the attention of many sports
enthusiasts, croquet had fallen from grace. This togetherness of the sexes may have been too much for chaste
Types of croquet
Golf Croquet is the shorter game that everyone knows and loves. It
includes the exquisite pleasure of hitting your opponent's ball into the shrubbery. Each hoop is won or lost as
if it were a golf hole.
Association Croquet, on the other hand,
is a technical sport requiring tactical ability and the building of breaks - a sort of snooker on the grass -
that is largely incomprehensible to the new spectator.
Unfortunately, many Association players are against the popularization of golf croquet, which is
visually more exciting.