Run a hoop and test your skill on the Croquet lawns

To The POINT
with PETER WARREN

SURROUNDED ON three sides by trees and shrubs and situated in a tranquil corner of Figtree Park, the Hunters Hill Croquet Club is the perfect setting for a relaxing or competitive game of Association or Golf Croquet.

The 23 members have a spacious and well-equipped clubhouse, used for Club social functions as well as being available for hire to organisations or private individuals.

Formerly a ladies bowls club, the Croquet Club was formed in 1983 and since that time has been an enjoyable venue for the many members who have used the lawns.

The sport of croquet, first played in France by Royalty and the upper classes, is widely played in Europe.

Originally known as Paille Maille, the game was introduced to London and played on flat, open ground near St. James Palace – an area now known as, you’ve guessed it, Pall Mall!

The sport is now very popular in NSW with an amazing 69 clubs active throughout the State.

Indeed, the State is home to several top players, both within Australia and internationally.

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CROQUET IS popularly played in two distinctively different ways – Association Croquet and Golf Croquet.

Both versions, however, use a lawn laid out with six hoops and a central peg:

Association Croquet is played by two teams, each comprising one or two players. The object of the game is to get both team balls around a course of twelve hoops (twice round) in a set sequence and finish by hitting both balls against the centre peg (called ‘pegging-out’). On each turn, a player has two options:

1/ to hit a team ball through its next hoop (known as ‘running the hoop’). If this is achieved, the player gets another turn;

2/ hit a team ball so that it hits any of the other three balls.

If another ball is hit, the striking ball is placed next to it and the ball is played again (this is called the ‘croquet shot’).

The experienced player can send both balls to different parts of the lawn. After the croquet shot the player has a ‘continuation shot’ when another ball can be struck or a hoop can be run.

During each turn, the player is allowed to hit, and then croquet each of the other three balls.

By good play, it is possible to manoeuvre the striking ball in front of the next hoop.

If that hoop is run the player is able to hit, and then croquet, each of the other three balls in that turn with the intention of running another hoop. Really good players can make breaks (as in snooker), sometimes running all twelve hoops in a single turn.

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IN A sense, Association Croquet can be compared with chess, where the moves and positions are planned and set up in advance.

As learning the game is considered, by some, a little complex, many prefer the simpler and quicker game of Golf Croquet.

Golf Croquet is a much simpler and quicker version, but can be just as tense and exciting.

The object is to run hoops in the same order as Association Croquet.

There are no extra strokes for running a hoop or striking another ball, although balls of the opposing team can be knocked out of the way or used to gain a better position.

When one of the players runs a hoop, that hoop is abandoned by the other players and all players aim for the next hoop.

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UNLESS IT is very hot, the Association Croquet enthusiasts normally meet at 11am on Tuesdays and 10am on Wednesdays.

Other games are arranged between individuals on an ad hoc basis.

Golf Croquet players tend to meet at 1-30pm on Thursdays but, again, individual members can arrange their games on an ad hoc basis.

This summer has seen the start of Twi-Light Evenings with some members meeting late afternoon to enjoy a game or two along with their wine and nibbles!

Anyone interested in playing at Hunters Hill Croquet Club or becoming a member should contact the secretary Eric Fielding-Smith at [email protected] or by phone 7901 3500.

As part of Hunters Hill Council’s Seniors Week, the Croquet Club is holding an Open Day on Saturday April 9.

Do come along to try your hand with a croquet mallet and enjoy our sausage sizzle.

PETER WARREN is President of Hunters Hill Croquet Club