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Cheltenham Croquet Club geared up for big day on Sunday 13th May

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Sunday, 6th May 2018, 09:00

Mark Suter Mark Suter

If you can walk, you can play.

That’s one of the key messages that Cheltenham Croquet Club chairman Adam Moliver wants to get across ahead of National Croquet Day this month.

“It’s a game that can be played by people of all abilities,” said Adam, who is a doctor. “It doesn’t get you fit in the sense that it gets the heart pounding, but in a game you can walk two or three miles.

“It’s a game of tactics and strategy as well as the physical side.”

There’s certainly more to it than many may think because unless you are a croquet aficionado, you may be unaware that there are actually two types of croquet.

“One is called Association Croquet and the other is Golf Croquet,” explained Adam. “Association Croquet is like snooker where one player tries to build a break and when it breaks down the other player has a go, just like in snooker.

“This format of the game also brings in special two-ball shots to encourage scoring multiple hoops in a turn.”

And what about Golf Croquet?

“Players take it in turns to play shots, just like in table tennis,” added Adam. “They interactively contest each hoop, often with spectacular hoop shots and distant ball clearances.”

Both formats are played at Cheltenham Croquet Club, which can be found in Old Bath Road.

Cheltenham are one of the biggest and oldest clubs in the country and, as you might expect, they have a proud history.

The first records of croquet being played in the town go all the way back to the 1860s. The current club was formed in 1909 and they have owned their present site since 1920.

They certainly are a big club because they have close on 200 members, but as with pretty much all sporting clubs they’d like a few more.

That is where the National Croquet Day on Sunday 13th May comes in where people are invited to go along to the club and have a go at the sport.

The taster day runs from 10am to 3pm and people interested are asked to book a slot with the club via email – croquetcheltenham@gmail.com. If you cannot make that day still get in touch and we will try to arrange something.

“Croquet has an image of being a bit posh but that’s not the case,” said Adam. “It’s played by all sorts of people; we’ve had championships won by scientists and others by painters and decorators.”

Adam has been playing croquet for the past 14 years and has been chairman of the club for six.

The croquet club were just around the corner from where he lived when he first moved to the area. “There was an Open Day, I went along and I enjoyed it,” he said.

These days he plays off a handicap of two-and-a-half.

“It’s good but it’s not great,” he said. “The best players play off -2 or -3.”

And some of those better players are members at Cheltenham Croquet Club.

“Sarah Hayes is very high up in the rankings and so is Mark Suter. Mark has recently been appointed the new manager of the National Croquet Association.

“That is a full-time job and their HQ is in Cheltenham.”

It means Suter can look across at the 11 full size greens and practice area that are Cheltenham Croquet Club while he is at work and those high-quality greens get plenty of top-level use.

The club hosted the world championships in 2005 and four years later it was the European Team Championship that was taking place in the heart of Cheltenham.

And the big tournaments keep on coming because the year the top players in this country, plus some from overseas, will be heading for Cheltenham on 7th July for the Open Championships, which run until the 15th.

“It’s like Wimbledon in tennis,” added Adam.

But unlike in tennis, it doesn’t take years and years to reach the top in croquet.

“Croquet is a game for all ages,” added Adam. “It has been known for complete beginners to represent their country within three years of picking up the game.”

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Cheltenham Croquet Club are one of the biggest and oldest croquet clubs in the country

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