New golf croquet format has debut

Friendly competition . . . Shaking hands after a hard-fought match are (from left) Sue Lamb, of Waireka, Tapiwa Mupfudzapanze, of Winton, Colleen Woods, of West End, and Shirley Abraham, also of West End. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

A new variation of golf croquet debuted in Timaru last weekend as the South Island’s very first two-stroke tournament was held.

The revamp of the classic game was conceived by Ashbury Croquet Club president Maurice Young with the goal to give the more popular version of the sport a new lease of life.

The tournament started early on Saturday morning at the Ashbury Croquet Club with a cuppa and presentation on the new rules for the 26 players in attendance.

Mr Young said the main difference in two-stroke was that if you hit another ball on your first turn you get a free hit.

‘‘It alters the dynamics of the game incredibly. The game is quite exciting — it’s more of a thinking game because there are a lot more options and things you can do compared to golf croquet [GC], which is quite restrictive.’’

The introduction of twostroke was a big part of his croquet rejuvenation project, Mr Young said.

He was very pleased with the turnout and reception the game received.

‘‘I didn’t know what to expect with the turnout. It could have been one person or it could have been 64.

‘‘I had sent the rules around, so some people turned up having played maybe one game and others were just trying to work it out before they came.

‘‘In a lot of respects the players who did come were quite brave.

‘‘It was a completely new game that they hadn’t played before but everyone seemed to love it and everyone was very positive about it.’’

Warming up . . . Croquet players from around the region get ready to take on their first game of two-stroke.

The hope was that eventually two-stroke would be a step in the direction of teaching more people how to play association croquet, he said.

The day was ultimately won by Rachael Wilson from the Geraldine Croquet Club after a countback from Daphne Fitzgerald (Ashbury) and Patricia Gunn (Awamoa Garden), who shared second place.

Mr Young was full of praise for the tournament winner.

‘‘Rachel is a relative newcomer to croquet. She plays with such style that will make her a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.’’

A questionnaire was handed out after the tournament as a way to get the players’ thoughts on the new format.

Mr Young said one comment in particular summarised the general feeling of those who attended.

‘‘One of ladies said in her feedback, ‘Skills for this game will help both AC [association croquet] and GC. Fun times will encourage new members. Maybe each club could identify an extra day to play two-stroke’.’’

After the success of the day and the feedback he received, the plan would be to hold an annual two-stroke tournament, he said.

For anyone wishing to get involved with croquet or seeking more information, Mr Young can be contacted on 027 2267-645 or [email protected]