How to Play

2019 Equipment Retail Survey

01/05/19

Paul Bennett

Over the holidays I was talking with my neighbor about croquet and found out that she had trouble finding any croquet sets in our nearby box stores, Walmart or Big 5 Sporting Goods. They did not have any on the shelves or in their stock room and this triggered my quest to do a little research.

Common Garden Croquet Sets

When I think about traditional backyard croquet, I remember the wickets being made out of bent wire, short 24” handled mallets with rubber on the end and 6 to 8 light weight multi-colored balls. These sets could be found at your local hardware stores or sporting goods sections of big box stores, and often times these might only be available from spring through the summer months. They are great for barbeques and a fun game to occupy the whole family.

My neighbor commented that perhaps the games of “corn-hole” and “badminton” have taken croquet’s place on the shelf of the big box stores. I went on-line to their websites to find out if these items are still available – and yes, they are!

At Big 5, I found a couple of sets available from East Point Sports between $30 and $60. Walmart had a much larger selection of equipment from 9 different manufacturers: Expert Emerald, Baden, Hey! Play!, Franklin, Go Sports, Halex, Verus, Hathaway, and Deluxe. Prices ranged from $23 to $102.

Step up to Better Equipment

Most of the “garden croquet sets” are not suitable for advancing the sport of the game much beyond a passing interest to most adults. The standard of the equipment is far below that found at the Championship level and well below the medium standard available through suppliers dedicated to providing quality croquet equipment to the players. As a comparison, three standards are shown in the article on Contrasting Equipment.

A number of suppliers provide a range of equipment from complete sets to individual components like mallets, balls, wickets, flags and the like. These suppliers are located around the world where individuals play the game: Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, United States, Egypt and South Africa.

Besides this article, here are a few useful resources:

Oakley Woods , located in Canada, offers boxed sets of croquet equipment from 11 manufacturers: Bar Harbor, Club Croquet, Eastport, Eurosport, Extreme, Garden, Kensington, Lawn Bowls, Scottsdale, Sport and Tournament. Many of the sets have customized pull-down options to select the type of hoops, balls and handles on the mallets. In addition to the boxed sets, Oakley provides individual items.

Croquet Your Way offers 18 different croquet boxed sets and also replacement balls, wickets and pegs.

Mallets – Key to your Success

A number of individual suppliers manufacture custom made mallets. This is likely to be your most important choice in the purchase.

The available boxed croquet sets come with between 4 and 8 mallets and their quality and options generally set the price of the set. The length of the mallet shaft is an important parameter that is likely to be based upon your height and grip style. Most players that play with a shaft that is too short tend to bend over more than they need and may experience back pain after long days of croquet.

The length of the mallet head varies from 7” to 12” with 9” being the most common for beginners and 11” to 12” being used by the top players. The weight of the head is generally between 2 and 3 pounds.

The materials used in the mallets vary from exotic woods, metal, plastic, composite resin to graphite – not in any particular order of playing characteristic.

Come to any USCA tournament and you will learn what other players use, see and feel the difference between them. Some are true works of engineering and some are truly beautiful works of art.

Here is a brief list of available custom mallet makers:

  • Norwich Croquet Co offers boxed sets with 2 or 4 mallets and either 6 or 9 wickets. They make custom mallets with seven different styles: Bogart, Gatsby, Airgo, Black Pearl, Airrow, Zephyr and Airheart. Read Ford Fays article My quest for the Perfect Mallet Prices vary from $240 to $420.
  • Terminator mallets makes 3 different styles of mallet heads: carbonXtreme, Blackbirds and Horus and 2 different styles of handles (the Quicklock is useful for airline travelers wanting to break down their mallet into pieces). Prices for head vary between 100 and 380 NZ dollars and handles from 140 to 190. Add 100 NZD for parcel post. In addition to mallets, Michael McClure, sells the Quadway Hoops, a set of stainless steel hoops that weigh 17 kgs for 6 hoops. These hoops are most challenging and appropriate only at the Championship level of croquet. Their price is 900 NZD.
  • Pidcock/Trimmer mallets are fast becoming the world standard. They are so popular that if you want one, you will now have to wait until May to receive it! Professor Pidcock was one of the first to make mallets using carbon fiber and they have been a hit all around the world for well over a decade. Dave Trimmer has picked up from where Pidcock has left off and continues to move the needle forward.
  • John Hobbs”:https://www.croquetonline.com/blogs/news/john-hobbs-croquet-mallets custom wood mallets, shown here, may no longer be available. (His croquet link on the CA website no longer works.)
  • Wooden Mallets makes boxed sets priced between 346 and 702 NZD and mallets between 210 and 350 NZD
  • Morford Mallets makes custom wooden mallets using exotic woods. His styles are beautiful works of art that perform. Ben Rothman has been winning competitions with his Morford “Hunter” mallet since 2009. Prices vary from $385 to $575.
  • Fenwick Elliott has been In Search of the Perfect Mallet since 2005. His Series 4 mallet is priced at $550 and he is developing a new series 5 mallet.

Several others are listed on the Oxford site under mallets.

In Summary

In summary, my conclusion is that whilst croquet sets may not be readily available on the shelf of your neighborhood box store, there is a plentitude of croquet resources available to you on-line. So many choices in fact, that I would recommend you visit your local USCA club to find out more about how the equipment you buy may impact the FUN YOU WILL HAVE.

Contrasting equipment standards between 9-wicket and 6-wicket croquet

12/29/18

Paul Bennett

This article contrasts the equipment standards found between a typical backyard croquet set, a championship 9-wicket set and a championship 6-wicket set. Weight and dimensions of the equipment is shown along with photos to give the buyer an idea as to what to look for in their purchase.

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Winter Croquet Project - Fixing up your equipment

02/15/17

Michael Rumbin

Winter is a good time to work on your croquet set.

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Cutthroat Croquet

05/17/16

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How to play Cutthroat croquet

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9 Wicket Croquet Glossary of Terms

03/14/16

Michael Rumbin

Glossary of common terms

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Out of Bounds

03/03/16

Michael Rumbin

Adding boundary lines defines the court and tightens up play.

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My Quest for the Perfect Mallet

02/01/16

Ford Fay

Your first mallet most likely came from a six ball set with plastic caps.

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Updated Advice & Information on Choosing a Mallet

10/20/14

Michael Rumbin

Choosing your next mallet.

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Lessons for a life time ~ How To Play Better Backyard Croquet

02/05/13

Michael Rumbin

Bob Kroeger, the world’s best 9 wicket instructor and his longtime partner Ted Prentis have created a two disk set that will increase your understanding of the game and improve your play.

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