USCA Committee

9W and Long Grass Croquet Committee - broadens its scope


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.

Year End 9-wicket Committee Report


Paul Bennett

Nine Wicket Committee Annual Report for 2019

by Paul Bennett

To: Sara Low
United States Croquet Association
700 Florida Mango Rd
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406

Dear Sara,
Thank you for asking for a report from me regarding our committee activities, purpose and whether we need additional responsibilities. I am looking through a folder of annual reports from 2011 through 2016. I am unaware of any reports prior to or after this time, but this of course does not mean that these reports were not delivered either in person, email or by other means – simply a record does not exist.


I “got elected as committee chair” after I took over the responsibility of editing and overseeing the 9-wicket web site for the USCA. Jeff Soo made these pages separate and distinct from the USCA main website. This allows us complete freedom to introduce our own set of articles, rules and tactics sections. We can post pictures, articles and announcements. I received several good ideas from Mike Rumbin and Dylan Goodman. I have included a couple of historical articles about croquet from the middle 19th century.

One of these articles mentions the development of “scientific croquet” where folks began showing up at cocktail parties with “custom made mallets”. The game had evolved into two orthogonal paths: one being based upon its social aspects of enjoying and meeting folks with an excuse to interact in a game of croquet, and another seriously based upon the sport of croquet, its tactics, rules and “scientific” refinements.


As committee chair, I listen and observe, and sometimes stir up on my own, some ideas as to why and what our committee exists to do. One of the largest croquet events in America is the St John – Naval Academy Challenge. It is filled with ceremony, pomp and tradition. Their team captains are referred to as the Imperial Wickets. This tradition has been held for over 38 years. Their rules as they state on their website are handed down from the Imperial Wicket to the Wicket in Holding on an informal basis.

Another organization holds corporate events for a group in the Northeast, drawing well over 100 participants. The format was developed with Teddy Prentis to end up with a winner after only a few rounds of play. Many corporate events are held for team building development; others are aimed at raising money for a worthy charity.

Last year we held one regional in Virginia on the border of the SE and Mid-Atlantic regions. This regional held a clinic to introduce players to the sport of 9-wicket croquet using advanced options, similar to the 6-wicket USCA version of the game – rotation, deadness and out-game.

The players in this year’s National came from a mixture of existing players and those that started in the regionals earlier in the year. The turnout this year was twice as good as last year. The lesson learned here is to offer more regional events to introduce players to our sport of croquet and to schedule tournaments well enough in advance to allow players to plan their schedule.


In 1987-8 USCA rulebook, the laws of American Six Wicket, American Nine Wicket and Golf Croquet were all combined into the same bound book (50 pages total). Shortly, or the year after, these were separated into individual rule books. Once the WCF formed, it took ownership of Golf Croquet and Association Laws, leaving 6-wicket American and 9-wicket to the USCA’s exclusive domain.

Under Mike Rumbin’s leadership, the latest set of 9-wicket rules were adopted in 2016. This set of rules encompass a diverse set of options that describe a variety of playing rules from basic to very advanced expertise.

There has been some criticism of the rules as they stand, but most on the committee believe that they work well and allow tournament directors appropriate options that depend upon the court surface and expected player abilities. A few years ago, some ideas as to how to reword and clarify some rules were beginning to take hold under committee emails, but nothing happened at that time.

A motion to visit a set of rule options that would be mandated by the committee during the play at the Nationals (and possibly regionals) was not seconded and the motion failed to gain any support.

The rules are probably the most viewed section on the website. For good reason, this is the area that attracts the most visitors to the USCA 9-wicket site. A refresh of the rules might generate some additional traffic.

Name Change

An idea was proposed by Bob Kroeger to change the name of the committee, and thus we present this to the Management committee to decide between “USCA Nine Wicket and Long Grass Croquet Committee” or “9-Wicket/Long Grass Croquet”

I’ve held corporate events at the Wigwam on their grand lawn. We setup four 6-wicket long-grass courts and it would be great to acknowledge that the USCA supports this way to introduce the sport of croquet. We setup using the best equipment, mallet and balls. And we always tell them how the English play on well-manicured putting-green like surfaces. I suspect that this is done by other groups on an occasional basis as well. Why not promote this activity to sports and recreation directors across the country?

Two country clubs are looking to develop 9-wicket croquet on their established lawns as a gateway from Golf Croquet to learning and developing the basics skills required in our beloved 6-wicket croquet.

Long grass in the name allows us to introduce folks to the sport of Golf croquet and/or 6-wicket croquet. 9-wicket in the name allows us to remain attached to the long history of the American game while bridging the gap between Golf croquet players and the more challenging skills required in the 6-wicket game.

Near Future

In 2020, we look forward to having four regional tournaments and the Nationals in Louisiana near or on the LSU campus. I would like to see if 9-wicket can re-awaken in our players another way to think about croquet and how to develop it for fun and enjoyment.

Personally I do not believe that serious “scientific” players should partake in this version of the game, unless their goal is to help develop and groom a new set of players that they intend to introduce to our other USCA games, played on good courts, by exacting rules and in tournament conditions.

Otherwise, I look at the 9-wicket and long-grass croquet as a way to connect with the “social” players, the fun-loving group looking away from their iPhone and toward connecting with a charming partner as a team against another couple. The older groups may enjoy some networking time and a reason to raise some money for their cause. Either way, don’t take it too seriously and don’t swing the mallet in anger.

The USCA can help us maintain professionalism, a network for communication and connection to all of our member clubs and individuals.


Thanks to our committee members for keeping us on track throughout the year!

  • Steve Fluder
  • Bob Kroeger
  • George Cochran
  • Ford Fay
  • Don Oakley
  • Sara Low

And thanks for the support from the USCA staff: Ursula, Johnny Mitchell, Jeff Soo and Dylan Goodman.

2019 Year end report


Paul Bennett

Year end report


USCA Committee 2019 - members


Paul Bennett

The Nine Wicket committee is formed from the following USCA members:

  • Paul Bennett (602) 956-8966 (W) (chairman)
  • George Cochran (MW)
  • Ford Fay (NE)
  • Stephen Fluder (M)
  • Robert Kroeger (N)
  • Don Oakley (N)

The Mission of this USCA committee is to oversee the development and guidance of the game of 9-wicket croquet as it pertains to its members and clubs of the USCA. We respect the historical perspective of the game, the simplicity of its rules, and the fact that it is more assessible to folks with a standard lawn. It can be a game of serious endeavor requiring precise shot making skills and advanced tactics.

Whereas the USCA 6-wicket game has separate committees to oversee the various areas of its administration, i.e. rules, equipment standards, referee development and administration, teaching and coaching, tournament administration, and team selections, the USCA 9-wicket committee takes on the responsibility of deciding what is appropriate and correct for this game.

We strive to promote the game that has been played for over 100 years as it continues to advance to use better equipment and more precisely defined rules. We wish to connect players that have known the backyard game to players that enjoy all the games the USCA supports: Egyptian Golf Croquet, Association 6-wicket and American 6-wicket. We believe that the USCA is an association of its individual members and clubs and we hope we can connect all of us together in a friendly game of croquet.

As we develop we hope to provide educational assistance, historical perspective, rule clarifications, tournament help, event planning, equipment suppliers and member services.

This website is designed to help you find the information you need to get started playing the game of 9-wicket croquet.
Through your help we want to gather your ideas, how to contact you, and how best to serve your needs.
Please help us by participating and by sharing your observations.