9W and Long Grass Croquet Committee - broadens its scope

by Paul Bennett · 23 August 2020

Photo by Paul Bennett

The 9-wicket croquet committee is changing its name and scope to promote a variety of games that can be played on long-grass as well as continuing to support the traditional 9-wicket croquet game.

Tradition of 9-wickets

The traditional 9-wicket croquet game was brought over to America by our immigrants in the early to mid 1800s, if not before then, but definitely before the “English game”, now commonly known under the rules of 6-wicket Association. It has most commonly been known as the backyard or “garden” version of the game, with equipment sets available from a wide variety of suppliers.

A push to make croquet a more “serious game” was probably brought over by our immigrants as well, but it requires a bit more digging to find its evidence since many of those old clubs have long since past. In the mid 1800s, there were croquet clubs playing and competing against one another in National competitions throughout New England, as far west as Chicago, and as far south at Washington, DC. They played the 9-wicket game on a clay surface that was fast and true.

The more serious players are found using custom made mallets (heavier weight, sturdy construction), substantially better wickets and balls, and overall more “scientific” approach to the game, its rules and its players. Many of these clubs were ‘kept secret’ from young children and women to provide a refuge for the adult men. As such, the sport quietly withered into obscurity.

Nine wicket croquet does not need to be played on long grass. It will work perfectly well on a nicely cut well-manicured lawn. The “break-play” is easier than what is required on a 6-wicket setting; and the 9-wicket configuration should be encouraged with players beginning to learn croquet and how to make all round breaks. This provides an excellent way to transition players from Golf Croquet to Traditional Croquet.

Long Grass to the Rescue

For the players that are looking for but can not yet find perfectly manicured lawns on which to play croquet, long grass (any grass that is not cut shorter than 1/4”) can be found in your local parks and recreational areas. Your backyard can be used as well, but normally it is not big enough to setup a full-size court, and thus you may want to modify the setup further by reducing the number of wickets down to say 4 as shown in the diagram at the beginning of this article.

The perfect lawn is not a necessity to learn or become “hooked” on croquet. Ideally, one can pack up the equipment, visit a local park or take a day and travel to a beautiful site with a meadow filled with long grass. Here you and a small group of friends may enjoy several games of croquet. Maybe even take a trip with Alice to Wonderland.

Setup a court with the space you have available. For golf croquet, you might only need 4 wickets. Try a couple of games of Egyptian Golf Croquet – this will allow you to get familiar with the speed of the lawn, running hoops and generally keeping all players involved in the game. If the sport becomes a bit lop-sided (one experienced player against 2 or more beginners), then have them all team up against you 3 against 1! If you can win that game of golf croquet, then you might be ready for a hall of fame award.

If you want to try your hand at a game of croquet, where you earn two additional strokes after roqueting (or hitting a ball), then setup an easier court, perhaps a diamond made of 6 wickets arranged as shown in figure 1. The court is run in counter-clockwise direction, through hoops 1 and 2, then through 3, 4 and 5 all in a northerly direction; then hit the turning stake, and proceed through hoops 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the southerly direction, back home to the finishing stake.
This configuration of wickets (also referred to as hoops so as not to confuse them with that other English game known as cricket) requires only 6 wickets of which you might have left from your original set of 9, or what you might salvage from an old professional set of wickets (made of cast iron and indeed much sturdier).

The advantage of this configuration when playing on long grass, is that the player should find it easier to “make a break” to run several wickets in the same turn.

I support the idea of setting this court up even on perfectly manicured lawns because the beginning player that is desiring to learn the game of croquet may more easily learn how to make stop shots, split shots, and roll shots which are done by placing the striker ball (while ball in hand) next to the croqueted ball (the one you just hit) and driving both balls into their desired directions.

Thus melding long grass, golf croquet and traditional 9-wicket croquet together into a set of playing options are sure to keep your guests occupied for the afternoon. Of course, if you have lots of room and want to setup up the traditional 9-wicket course, please review the 9-wicket rules as provided on the USCA website.

Please, Comment:

Textile help