On the first and third Tuesday evenings of each month throughout the rolling season (May to October) members of the public are invited to play croquet on the lawns from 6 p.m. to dusk at no charge. The necessary equipment is provided by the Club, together with instruction in golf croquet, the simplest form of the game. Players are required to wear flat soled shoes which will not damage the lawns.
Croquet playing members of WPLBC play all 3 of the main forms of the 6 wicket game.
Each form of the game uses the same court and hoop layout. The court is 28 by 35 yards (and so can be accommodated on a lawn bowling green which is 40 by 40 yards). It is marked out by a boundary string with flags at the 4 corners. The 4 sides of the court are conventionally named North, East, South and West in clockwise order. The North and South sides are the shorter sides (28 yards in length) and the East and West sides the longer sides (35 yards). There are 6 hoops (also called wickets). 4 are placed near the corners of the court. A corner wicket is 7 yards from the adjacent sides of the court (e.g. the wicket near the NE corner is 7 yards from the N boundary and 7 yards from the E boundary. There is a peg at the center of the court. The 2 hoops which are not corner hoops are placed 7 yards N and 7 yards S of the peg. The hoops are firmly set into the ground, so that a hoop will not move perceptibly even when a ball strikes it at speed. The visible part of a hoop consists of two uprights, a foot high, linked by a top bar. The distance between the uprights is just a little greater than the 3 ½ inch diameter of a croquet ball, making accuracy essential. The hoops are set so that the each hoop faces NS i.e. top bar runs EW. The weight of a croquet ball is about a pound. A typical croquet mallet weighs about 3 pounds.
The 3 main forms of the game are:
- Golf croquet.
This is a fast moving game which is a series of contests to be the first to score a given hoop.
- American rules croquet.
This game is similar in spirit to “backyard croquet” as played in the United States. However, the backyard game uses a 9 wicket layout with 2 pegs.
- International rules croquet (also called Association croquet).
This is the game played outside the United States.
In golf croquet a player’s turn is always a single shot. Play rotates in a fixed order between the 4 players in the game. This has the advantage that all 4 players are at all times fully engaged in the game.
In a game played under American or International rules, a player may make a shot which gives a bonus of one or more additional shots. A skillful player may in this way secure a very long turn, known as a “break”. While the break is being run, the other players in the game can do nothing but watch and hope for an error which will end the break.
WPLBC is a member of the United States Croquet Association (USCA). From time to time it has tournaments. Usually a tournament has an entry fee. This pays for the refreshments served and other tournament expenses. A tournament may be:
- A club tournament, open to any member of the Club.
- An open tournament, open to any croquet player.
- A USCA sanctioned tournament, open to any croquet player who is a member of the USCA. (The club’s USCA membership does not give every croquet-playing member of WPLBC automatic membership in the USCA.)
When playing in a tournament, a croquet player is expected to follow the tradition of the game and to wear white clothing. This dress code is strictly enforced at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. In the Northwest (British Columbia, Washington and Oregon) observance is more lax!