What is Croquet?

There are several variations of croquet, but the main ones which have official internationally approved rules are Association Croquet and Golf Croquet. Both of these are played at the club and use exactly the same equipment (six cast iron hoops, one peg, four balls and mallets), and for both of which we provide free and expert coaching.

In both games Black and Blue balls play against Red and Yellow and follow the same order of playing the hoops. The first diagram to the right shows the order and numbering of hoops for Golf Croquet.

Golf Croquet is easy to learn, in less than 10 minutes, with one shot per turn, and is a very popular sociable game played at a fast pace.

Simply, the first ball through a hoop scores the hoop for that side and then all players move on to the next hoop from the position where the balls are. The winner is the first side to score seven hoops.

Tactics include

  • getting your ball into position to run a hoop next turn
  • promoting the position of your partner ball to do so or
  • much more often hitting your opponent’s balls away to prevent them scoring the hoop (or even hitting your balls away!)

See this page for a more comprehensive description.

Preparing for a difficult shot

Association Croquet is more complicated with longer turns and is akin to Snooker (you get an additional shot if you go through a hoop and two extra shots if you hit another ball). To win a game both of your two balls must go through all the hoops twice and then hit the peg in the middle, as in the diagram to the right. Association Croquet hoop order

Playing Association Croquet requires you to learn many different types of shots; as you become more proficient so you are able to build longer turns and use both attacking and defensive strategies.

See this page for a good description.

For both games there’s a handicapping system, involving extra shots, to allow weaker players to play even games against better players, so you don’t have to be worried about being much weaker than your opponent!

Both Association and Golf require great skill to compete at the top level and are played to European and World International level. We’ve even had some of a Golf Croquet World Championship at our club in 2019, so you can be assured that our equipment is up to scratch! Also one of our players is the six times Association Croquet World Champion, so when he coaches he really knows what he’s saying!

Unlike most outdoor sports, both men and women are able to play croquet both socially and competitively on equal terms. At Tunbridge Wells we have a membership covering all ages and in more or less the same proportions of men and women.

It is also a game that can be played to a high standard by those who are not as active as they once were! Some quite severely disabled people enjoy playing croquet. However, please note that although our main entrance has ten not so easy steps wheel-chair access is available via a side-entrance across the lawns, so don’t be afraid to come along and join in.

Some Press Coverage, including local press, can be seen here.

Historically, there are reports of the game being played in Ireland in the 1840s. It was demonstrated at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and quickly became popular as a social and recreational activity on lawns at country houses, vicarages and colleges. It was the first open air sport to be played by ladies as well as men. At that time country houses often played their own version of the game and there have been many local and personal variants of the game. In 1860, at Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, Walter Jones Whitmore codified croquet into its two versions, association and golf. The first standardised laws of croquet were published in 1864 by John Jaques and included with sales of croquet sets made by his firm in Edenbridge, which is still there and still makes sets.

For more detail see the Croquet England web site on the historical origins of croquet and the Oxford Croquet website also has an interesting section on croquet history.

Some stranger locations for croquet!

We don’t play in weather like these, although the weather’s somewhat better in the US picture (that’s the Americans for you).

Staff wintering at the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley station play a round of outdoor croquet in 40-mph winds and freezing temperatures to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Photo: Sam Burrell, British Antarctic Survey.

Pegging out in the Summer (at the South Pole). Photo courtesy of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration