2019 Equipment Retail Survey

by Paul Bennett · 5 January 2019

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:

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.

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