Nine Wicket "Backyard Croquet" – Getting with the Game at the National Croquet Center

by John Warlick · 13 October 2012

Harpo Marx fairway at the NCC Photo by John Warlick

The National Croquet Center (NCC), located on ten acres in West Palm Beach, has taken a major part in the resurgence of Nine Wicket Croquet within the United States Croquet Association (USCA) during 2012. Nine Wicket Croquet is a major sport in America and has been played for more than a hundred years. An estimated four million plus Americans play this version of the game in their back yards and parks throughout the United States. In fact – “Backyard Croquet” is the better known name for the Nine Wicket Croquet game.

Seven Courts (50’ by 100’) have been re-established this year in the large “Backyard” area of the NCC. This section was designed as a retention area for major run-off during heavy Florida downpours and is located in the eastern part of the NCC behind the 12 magnificently manicured six wicket courts. Many members fondly refer to it as the Harpo Marx Fairway (the Marx brothers were enthusiastic 9 wicket players – along with many of the Hollywood stars back in the early 1900’s).

National Croquet Club players accustomed to playing the six wicket and golf croquet versions of the game have been taking up “9 wicket” and finding the fun and excitement that is inherent in the game. Uncaring aspects of any nine wicket court always give an excuse for less than stellar play. Singles play is actually very good exercise in the longer grass associated with the normal court layout.

The balls are the same size as standard six wicket balls – but weigh 11 ounces instead of the usual 16 ounces. They are perky and sit up well on thicker grass. The wickets are set a bit wider (around 4 inches) to allow for the typical backyard conditions.

Florida Regional 9 wicket Tournament October 2012 Back row (L to R) = Harry Ketchum, Bill Mead, Dale Locke, Gail Rubin, David Spivey (behind Gail), William (Bill) Trower, Ray Laberti, John Warlick. Front row (L to R) Noriko Shugar, Jeanne Branthover, Carol Difazio, Johnny Osborn, George Cochran, David Bent. Photo by Alexandria Barnett

The inaugural Florida Regional Nine Wicket Championship tournament was held in October 2012 at the NCC with great competition in both Championship and First Flights. The 2012 First Flight National Nine Wicket Championship was completed in early November with perfect weather and lively play. Nine Wicket tournaments are usually very relaxed and terrific fun with interesting players from all across the Country.

The National Croquet Club will host two major Nine Wicket tournaments on their courts in 2013. Players can expect the Florida Regional in November and the National Championship Tournament (two flights) in December. Exact dates will be announced soon. The NCC looks forward to welcoming players to exciting and fun filled competitions in 2013.

John Warlick – President of the National Croquet Club

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