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February Tournament Winners

Available tournament results from February:

02/03 -- Beach Club Invitational/West Palm Beach, FLA -- Mike Gibbons
02/10 -- WCF World Championships/Christchurch, New Zealand -- Chris Clarke
02/17 -- Mar-A-Lago Doubles/Palm Beach, FLA-- Zoe deRopp/Gwynneth Selinger
02/24 -- Chuck Steuber Invitational/Palm Beach, FLA -- Leo McBride

Sources: USCA, Croquet World


WCF Championships Video 2008

I don't know what's going on in most of these highlights, but still very interesting. There are about three shots that I completely don't understand.


First Shot: The Croquet Network Mission

This month I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the evolving mission of croquetnetwork.com. In one sense it can be summed up pretty easily, I couldn't find another full-time croquet blog out there, so I thought I'd jump in. Of course, a primary focus is to cover news that comes up in a timely fashion. Frankly, there are not a lot of sources out there for croquet news (best sites listed in the right column), which I suppose is both good and bad. The good is that it validates the need for a good croquet blog. The bad is that it's difficult to find information.

Below the main stories on this site, you'll find a consolidated news feed that tracks this site, my club site (pbrtour.net) and another community site that I also built -- kccroquet.com. There is also a feed for the NYCC blog in there, but it hasn't seen too many updates over the winter.

So, beyond the internet news bits and tourney results, I've decided to approach this from a monthly magazine perspective. This "First Shot" column will be a monthly feature that will act like a publisher's letter to kick off each series. I've also targeted a product review, a skills article, a tournament calendar and interview as re-ocurring monthly departments. I'll also throw in at least one video per month and a photo of the month. Those are the goals, but keep in mind this is a one-man show.

Speaking of which, I'll get into my personal croquet story more in the future, but just so you have a base knowledge -- I've been playing backyard croquet since 1998 with a private little social club that hosts a tournament series in the Kansas City area. I usually play one tournament per year on the Missouri Croquet Association circuit. This year I plan to get into a six-wicket game even if it has to happen in my backyard. I'm also hosting the first team nine-wicket event that our club has ever had.

In other words, I've got a little experience around the game but in no way am I a six-wicket pro or do I have deep connections with the established croquet associations. I'm learning as I go and I'm really enjoying it. Hopefully, I can provide some good information and entertainment for the croquet lovers out there.

A final note this month -- the ads you see for T-shirts (or other products) on the site are my creation and do help fund my efforts here. I'll say it straight up -- I'm not here to make a buck, but I'd love to sell 20,000 shirts and focus on this site full-time. The mission laid out above is pretty modest, but I'd like to see some success because I really enjoy this sport and I can envision a lot of ways to expand this site and I see a bright future for the game. So if you like the site and the shirt or other products, jump right in -- it's good for the overall mission.

Dylan, Publisher -- Croquet Network


Backyard Drills: Four-Ball Break

Time: approx. 30-40 minutes

This is a new feature that I’d like to put out monthly that will focus on skills for the basic backyard game. The strategy and drills are pretty common so experienced players probably won’t find much use in this series, but new players should find some value.
We’ll start with my favorite and most practical drill. This one is most likely to simulate that one chance that will should come up in the nine-wicket backyard game (one ball) for a big run. Ball color does not matter but for instructional purposes place the red ball between wickets one and two (off center is good). Place the black ball four to six feet past wicket two. Place the yellow ball somewhere in the vicinity of wicket number three. Placement of all three balls is not critical at all and you’ll want to vary it somewhat for each session (Figure 1).

Place your blue ball at the starting line and clear wicket one just as you would in a real game. The object here is to make a sixteen wicket run. You’ll contact red (Figure 2) between the wickets then send it roughly halfway between wickets two and three (Figure 3) with a stop shot (meaning blue ball stays between wickets one and two).

Score wicket two then contact the black ball (Figure 4). You’ll want to do a ¼ roll shot that sends black toward wicket four and the blue ball toward red between wickets two and three (Figure 5).
Contact red then, you’ll likely need a ½ or ¾ roll shot to get red out near wicket four and blue closer to wicket three or the yellow ball (Figure 6).
If the yellow is on the near side, you may want to contact it before clearing wicket three. You can then perform a roll shot that sets up an easy hoop shot on wicket three while placing yellow on the far side. If yellow was already on the far side you could skip that step and score wicket three if the shot is makeable (Figure 7).



Once wicket three is cleared, the pattern essentially repeats. Contact yellow (Figure 8), roll shot sending yellow toward five and blue toward red (Figure 9).
Contact red, roll shot sending red toward five and blue toward black (Figure 10).
Roll shot, black to other side of four, blue to set up hoop shot on wicket three (Figure 11). Score wicket three then repeat (Figure 12).


The four-ball break is the ideal situation that every player is looking for in a game, so practicing the sequence will get you experience with those critical roll shots. In practice, the fun part is trying to run all sixteen, but if you miss a shot replay it until you play it successfully. The idea is to ingrain the shots and strategy into your mindset – making it second nature. There’s always tomorrow to try to pull off that pure sixteen wicket run.



U.S. Tournament Calendar -- March 2008

Feb 27 - Mar 2 -- Audobon Invitational
Audobon Croquet Club, Naples, FL
Contact: jnjbalson@aol.com

Mar 3–8 -- 20th Peyton Ballenger Invitational
Crouquet Club at PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Contact: margostinson47@msn.com

Mar 7–9 -- Boca Grande Invitational
Gasparilla Inn & Boca Bay, Boca Grande, FL
Contact: blainedavis@att.net

Mar 9–11 -- USCA Croquet Week Golf Croquet Championship
National Croquet Center, West Palm Beach
Contact: tournamentusca@aol.com

Mar 12–16 -- USCA National Club Teams Championship
National Croquet Center, West Palm Beach
Contact: tournamentusca@aol.com

Mar 20–22 -- Mar-a-Lago Singles Invitational
Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach , FL
Contact: Twenty6to2@aol.com

Mar 27–30 -- NC Open Championship Qualifier, 1st & 2nd Flt.
Pinehurst Croquet Club, Pinehurst, NC
Contact: frank@avmetro.com

Source: USCA Calendar Page (click for more details)


February Croquet Photo of the Month

(flicker/cc -- user: sheilaellen)

The Dream Field
I don't know where this was taken, but it sure says croquet to me. The photo was titled "Rotura Croquet Lawn."