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What is Croquet?

By D Frank
Updated May 23, 2024
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Croquet is an outdoor lawn game where each player uses a mallet to knock his ball through the wickets (small wire hoops) to score points. Croquet courts can be set up in any manner the players desire, though the traditional croquet court is set as two double diamonds within a rectangular field with measurements of 50 feet (15.25 meters) by 100 feet (30.5 meters).

The object of the game of croquet is to be the first player to knock the ball through all the wickets and end by striking the final stake, a thin, striped pole usually placed just beyond the last wicket. Though first played by the peasantry in France in the thirteenth century, croquet became somewhat of a game of the upper class in England and Ireland in the 1800's. Now it is a game played worldwide by many people. Croquet fans tune in to watch croquet tournaments on the TV and follow the sport in the sports pages of many newspapers worldwide.

The ideal croquet court will be on short-cropped grass to ensure the ball receives a true roll. However, you can be assured that the game is played by many on whatever surface is available, from rough grass to sand. Most players keep track of who gets to the final stake first to determine the winner; however, in timed matches, no one may get to the final stake before time has run out. In such matches, the winner is determined by keeping track of the number of wickets each player knocked a ball through -- with one point being rewarded for each wicket.

The standard mallet is roughly two and a half feet long (0.75 meters) and the ball, the size of a softball, is heavy enough to prevent it from going airborne as in golf. Offshoots from croquet have sprung up in recent years. Toequet is a game using the same rules as croquet, but the player kicks a soccer-styled ball through much larger wickets on the path towards the final stake. Malletball also bears the same croquet rules, though it is played with oversized mallets, larger wickets, and bigger balls.

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