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“Croquet is not for sissies.”

WHEN I THINK OF croquet, I imagine elderly men ambling around a level green field, swinging rainbow-colored mallets and engaging in polite conversation with competitors. Extreme croquet is like that, but for people who take life less seriously.

While croquet-like games are thought to have been played in France about 600 years ago, the first example of extreme croquet didn’t appear until the 1920s. Newspaper editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Herbert Swope played a jazzed-up version of the game at his Long Island estate, with no boundaries and few rules.

According to mystery writer Rex Stout, who had a ball thrown at his head during a game in 1937, croquet with Swope could get rough.

“Croquet is not for sissies,” Stout said.

Photo by wharman

Today, extreme croquet usually takes place in one of three environments: woodland areas, stream beds, and railroad tracks. All fields must be irregular and at least 50 yards long, though they are often much longer.

The aim of the sport seems to be to play in the silliest fashion possible. Some players go by nicknames like Dr. Punish and Steakboy. The most amusing part of the game, is the house rules. Here are a few of the best ones:

Hit the Beer – Hitting another player’s drink will give you two extra turns. Hitting your own drink will result in “a berating from the other players for wasting precious resources i.e., beer or brain cells.”

Dogs and Children are Permitted on the Course –
Regardless of distractions or interferences, the ball must be hit from wherever it lies, even if moved from its original position. The rules note that “the training of dogs/small children for this purpose is legal but frowned upon.”
 No Show Tunes – Singing show tunes or songs in the style of show tunes on the course will result in physical violence.

Be Quick – Anyone moving about the course with exaggerated slowness “will be tackled enroute and beaten with mallets.”
Balls Must Be At Least 52% Through the Wicket –
Otherwise, you forfeit your turn. If a ball passes all the way through and then backwards through the wicket again it can be considered a made wicket, but the event “must be witnessed by a fair and impartial judge in a bunny suit, who will certify that their findings are without bias or malice.”

In summary, it doesn’t really matter if you can bench press 200 pounds or run a five-minute mile. If you have a sense of humor and a case of beer, you could be the next extreme croquet superstar.

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About The Author

Candice Walsh

Candice Walsh is a Professional Experience Collector and full-time writer, blogger, and inventor of job titles that don't make much sense. She's based out of St. John's, Newfoundland. Follow her website for more shenanigans.

  • Sabina

    I loved played croquet when i was a kid! The colorful balls, the little metal hoops, the satisfying whack of the mallet against the ball. At least that’s what it was all about when I was 10. It’s great fun.

  • Dave Bois

    Baaah ha ha ha ha !! I am dying a thousand deaths here — I caught wind of your article by way of my good friend Jon, founder of the San Francisco Extreme Croquet Club ( find us at ). Am delighted and a bit astonished to find myself mentioned by the name under which I join the battle: for I, you see, am Steakboy.

    The Connecticut Extreme Croquet Society appears to be the US pioneers of the game, with a club that dates to the 1980s. We at SFEDD have had the good pleasure of crossing mallets with Seattle-area-based Lakewood Croquet Club, who unfurl the banner “meatheads plus mallets equals mayhem,” iirc.

    ‘Fun’ doesn’t even do justice to our outings. It’s bananas.

    Dave / Oakland, CA

  • Dave Bois

    d’oh — fists of ham. apologies. please allow SFEDD to stand for: “sorry for error — dufus deluxe.” meant: SFECC. cheers, Dave (dba steakboy).

    • Candice

      Dave! Oh goodness I’m excited you revealed your identity. You all sound like a bunch of people I’d love to play some extreme croquet with. Would also love to know where your secret identity came from, although I’d wager it has something to do with a deep love for steak…?

    • JoAnna

      @Dave ~ If Candice offers to take you up on a game of croquet, you can’t say no.

      • Candice Walsh

        Hahaha, she’s right, you know!

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  • Dave Bois

    >> Would also love to know where your secret identity came from

    If dogs could only talk, attribution would best be given to Sadie, the pointer mix owned by the aforementioned Jon and his wife and fellow club founder Marina. See, I love dogs, but for some reason Sadie at the outset just would not give me the time of day. It broke my heart, but I soon had a new best bud by way of having dropped wee niblets of meat (slyly, I thought, and quite incorrectly) on the ground for her during a cookout.

    Surprised by their recently-adopted somewhat reticent pooch all of a sudden following me everywhere, I was flat cold busted by Jon, and through a laughing fit, was dubbed ‘steakboy’ then and there.

    >> You all sound like a bunch of people I’d love to play some extreme croquet with

    All comers are always welcome. We play with not-so-much-regularity, but we’re trying to put word out of upcoming play dates, always on the same chunk of favored Golden Gate Park turf, through our SFECC Facebook page.

    very best,

  • Candice

    Ah, very cool story! Much different than I had imagined. Thanks so much for stopping by, Steakboy!

  • mallets mcghee

    I’ld venture to say that the North Side Croquet Club in Denver is just a hard as all of your clubs put together…we do a weekly web episode highlighting each week’s events…check it out and if you’re even in Denver – bring it!

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