Extreme croquet

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Extreme Croquet is a variation on croquet mainly distinguished by its lack of any requirement pertaining to out-of-bounds or field specifications. A close relative of the croquet played in most backyards and gardens, but expanded by more adventurous enthusiasts and played throughout the world in conditions unfamiliar to official tournament players.

Play during a game of Extreme Croquet

Game setup[edit]

A typical extreme croquet game starts with location scouting, searching for terrain that might present interesting and novel challenges such as trees, roots, hills, sand, mud, or moving or still water. The wickets are normally set up according to the "British" figure-eight standard well known to Americans, but often deviate somewhat to take best advantage of the location. Play proceeds following the usual croquet rules, with alterations generally designed to handle circumstances not found in the garden game. An unquantifiable resilience and spirit characterizes the play of the game, replacing the calm and sophistication commonly associated with tournament play.

A certain amount of experimentation and development has occurred with the equipment used to play. Traditional croquet sets typically do not stand up well to the rigors of "extreme croquet", and various methods have been used to strengthen the mallets, balls, and even the wickets. This has led to the origin of mallets with beveled faces to add "loft" to the ball, and two-story wickets.

Some say the variation had its origins in 1920s America, while others claim the extreme version is simply retroactive, appealing to croquet's supposed origin as a 15th-century French shepherd pastime. Today, many clubs or societies keep track of one another by their websites. Notable among these is the Connecticut Extreme Croquet Society, for its storied history as well as its lucrative domain name http://www.extremecroquet.org. Due to these singularities, the Connecticut group is often singled out for media attention as various outlets hear of this purportedly new phenomenon.


Due to its inherently anarchistic nature, extreme Croquet will forever be without a governing body (though legitimizing the sport on a national level has its benefits), meaning different societies play by necessarily disparate rules. Many organizations opt to list these on their websites, offering other groups a look at their own unique interpretation. Variations include the following:

  • When one ball strikes another, the striker may choose to continue play as the strikee's ball.
  • A player receives an extra stroke for passing through a second story of a wicket.
  • A player may strike the ball with any part of the mallet, including a billiards-reminiscent style.
  • The first player through the second wicket determines the direction of play.
  • As each player reaches the starting post after clearing all wickets, he is "poison" and must declare his status to all players.
  • A non-poison player can eliminate a poison player by sending the latter through a wicket.
  • Passing through a wicket out of order is punished by sending the ball back to the previous post.
  • Small children and dogs are legal obstacles, and if they interfere with the ball's placement, the player must still "play it where it lies."

The Richmond Extreme Croquet Group has these rules:

  • Revert Rule: If a ball traverses its prior wicket in the opposite direction, this now becomes its current wicket; exceptions: (1) a rover cannot be reverted; (2) until the ball remakes that wicket, it cannot be reverted again
  • Nosering Rule: Once per game, at the end of one's turn, one may move one's ball exactly one mallet head, except not into or thru one's current wicket in either direction; in a team game, one may use a teammate's unused nosering move
  • Alzheimer's Rule: Before or after hitting the ball, if that player or anyone else realizes that the player forgot his current wicket, the hit is retaken (if in fact it has been taken), except when croqueting another ball; all players have the obligation to point this out
  • Acts of Dog: If a player's ball is relocated by an unleashed dog, it shall be played from the location the dog releases the ball. If the ball is released out of bounds, then the ball shall be played from the point (after adjusting for a mallet width from the boundary) it was removed from the field.
  • Dynamic Starting Order: After lagging to the stake for starting order, the players exercise the option to go or not go in order of closeness; after each player goes, the remaining players rechoose who goes next in the same order.

Extreme croquet locations[edit]

The worlds oldest extreme croquet club was founded 1975 in Sweden.[1]

The first documented extreme croquet matches in USA took place in Friendswood, TX, around 1995. A group of college kids looking for a bit more excitement than the traditional game could offer began to test the boundaries of the sport. Crushed balls, split mallets, scratches, bumps, bruises, tick infestations and irreparable divots became the norm, and a new sport was born. [2]

The campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX has been an active Extreme Croquet area since their charter club was formed in 2002. In 2007, a former member used a club croquet mallet to murder a horse after a night of heavy drinking. [3]

Boston University is the home of BU International Extreme Croquet Society. The organization was founded in 2008. On April 5, 2010 BU Today featured a film [4] on the club.

Dumbarton Oaks, a research center in Washington, D.C. with a specialty in Garden and Landscape Studies, has become a site for pick-up games of extreme croquet.

The New Paltz Extreme Croquet Society was founded in the Spring of 2007 at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

The Richmond Extreme Croquet Group has been meeting on the campus of the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia for over ten years.

In the Benelux region, the sport was first promoted by the Dane Soren Hansen and the Briton Adam Franke in the Ardennes area, where recreational activities like camping and rock climbing are prevalent. Events have been set up in the Hague and the sport is quickly attracting people of various nationalities.

Hell, Michigan is the home of the National Extreme Croquet Association. Originally founded in Lincoln Park Michigan by three enthusiasts in 2001. The three major tournaments or Holy Trinity are held in spring, fall and winter.

The Northwest Arkansas Nonprofessional-professional Extreme Croquet Association, or NANECA utilizes both urban and natural settings for its free flowing extreme croquet.[5]

The Falmouth Extreme Croquet League was founded in August 2010 by a group of enthusiasts in the region.

The Garbage Croquet League (GCL) has been active since 2008 primarily in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. This league has become particularly renowned for its emphatic use of the "flip shot."

Coon Lake Mallet Company located in Howell Michigan has been producing handcrafted extreme mallets since 2006. These mallets can withstand the rigors of the most extreme of players. They have been thrown in anger up too 200 feet without breaking!

Mckendree University Theater Department holds an annual game in the spring for men only for many years now.

Other variations of extreme croquet[edit]

Pacific Northwestern Croquet


External links[edit]