Last summer, more than four dozen teams turned out each week to swing mallets, make friends and enjoy a cold drink at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach.
Kris Boodram, 64, and a self-described sports nut, played with his 17-year-old grandson, Aldrin. “I’m from Trinidad and I played soccer and cricket, but I’m always interested in learning a new game. My grandson shares my love of sport.”
Boodram admits he’s usually very competitive, but these weekly match-ups were about having a good time. “We won the sportsmanship award,” Boodram says proudly.
Dick Brackett, a skilled player and a volunteer at the croquet center, says the league has breathed new life into the center. “We have a new garden club and they’ve replanted some areas and have a list of projects they want to do,” he said. “These new members are movers and shakers, bringing backgammon and bridge and social activities to the center.”
Registration for the league is $50 per team of four. Memberships are not required. First-year members, however, pay about half of the annual fee of about $1,200.
Matches are held from 6 to 8 p.m. with leagues on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with a Toast & Tally from 8 to 9 p.m. in the clubhouse lounge. If you work up an appetite, the Croquet Grille and Lounge will offer light dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.
A free practice session and lesson takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. The deadline to register teams is Saturday.
Unconvinced? Here are five reasons to play:
- It’s intergenerational. You’ll see folks of all ages on the croquet court, from 8 to 80. “It doesn’t require any brute strength,” Boodram says. Instead, “a bit of finesse.”
- It’s challenging. Golf croquet is simple to learn, but takes years to truly master.
- It’s social. There’s plenty of time to make new friends. “Everybody knew the grandfather and grandson team,” Boodram said. “We still stay in touch with some of the people we met.”
- The club. The setting, four acres surrounded by ficus hedges at Summit Boulevard and Florida Mango Road, boasts a 19,000-square-foot Key West-style clubhouse with a wide veranda overlooking 19 courts. It’s one of the largest croquet facilities in the world.
- It’s good exercise. OK, so you’re not running a marathon, but didn’t you vow to get outside more? Summer evenings on the court are usually blessed by a sea breeze, and the clothing is comfortable. The only thing required: Flat-soled shoes.
IF YOU GO:
The PBC Summer Golf Croquet League
When: Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, July 16 through Aug. 14.
Where: The Charles P. Steuber National Croquet Center, 700 Florida Mango Road, West Palm Beach.
Registration: $50 per team of up to four players.
Info: Marie Sweetser at 561-478-2300, Ext 3.