Those who play croquet say it’s 15% skill and 85% psychology, an aggressive game played by nice people with smiles on their faces.
The friendly folks at Nowra Croquet Club are celebrating a century of play this year and are today launching a book recognizing and celebrating 100 years since the club was founded.
Nowra Croquet Club secretary Karen James initiated production of the book.
It proudly highlights a unique feature of the club – being largely women-only for the majority of its history.
But it is no longer a women’s club.
“Our first male, as the book shows, only became a member in 1982, so it’s been a long time [only for] ladies, and of course they played in long skirts.”
“The ladies played sideways with their mallet because it was unseemly for a woman to push a mallet between her legs.”
Patience, perseverance and a playful spirit are required for this hard-hitting game.
“It’s called ‘the sport of thinking’ and it’s particularly important for us older people,” said 82-year-old David Knott.
The Nowra Croquet Club and its members play a big part in the life of Mr Knott, who joined the club five years ago and plays frequently.
“You’re looking to outsmart your opponent. You’re looking for the position of their balls relative to the position of your own balls. You have to gauge what shot you’re going to make to score that hoop.
“The art is to move the opponents’ balls as far as possible.”
“You have to think and you train all the time. That’s the most important thing – you keep moving.”
Pam Harrison started playing croquet at the age of 89.
She is now 91 and not only does she love it, but according to club members, she is also very good at it.
“You can still play croquet with a walker, just leave it there for a while while you grab your mallet and hit the ball, then go back to your walker,” Ms Harrison said.
“I love it. Anyone who has a walker and thinks they should come, come, because you’ll be made very welcome.”
A wicked game
Doug Cornish, the club’s vice-captain and grounds coordinator, agrees the game uses something akin to tactics of war.
On the lawn, you have four options.
“It’s about deciding if you can run a hoop, or if you have to clear an opponent or block an opponent, or promote your partner’s ball,” he said.
However, Mr Cornish said a key ingredient to a good game was patience.
“Don’t rush. Look at what your options are, and then if you want to get really technical, look at what the execution percentage of a particular shot is,” he said.
The importance of sports
Karen James believes that at their club, which has over 60 members, the players understand the importance of sport.
“[It is important] to continue and stay not only physically active but also socially active, so you also interact.
“This game is perfect for anyone who can no longer run the marathon or swing a golf club or even bend over to bowl.”
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