Strategic play the key to croquet
IT was quiet on the courts at Bendigo Croquet Club last Saturday morning, but players were determined to make a winning shot at training.
Filing in from about 9am, members arrived for the sport’s golf variety which sees four players per court make their way through 13 hoops.
Each game lasts about one hour, and club president Peter Martyn said one’s greatest asset – and the key to success on the grass – was their mind.
“I’ve got to get in your head or anticipate what you’re doing,” he said. “Usually once you start to line up on the ball, I’ve got an idea of what you’re going to do.”
A player of 10 years, Martyn said there was a misconception the sport was only suited to older players. He believes, rather, the strategic test it presents could be enjoyed by all.
“I like the challenge of the thinking. Some people describe it as chess on grass. There’s a fair bit in regard to that thinking and planning,” he said.
Brendan Aikman picked up the sport some three years ago after trying it out at a work Christmas function.
The 28-year-old said he fell in love with it for the same reasons Martyn did.
“I’m competitive. I like to win, basically,” Aikman said.
“I’ve always really liked the less-popular sports, I never really got into footy, soccer or anything like that.”
Attempting to out-hit Aikman was his colleague Phil DeAraugo who, since that holiday work party, has developed his skills to a state-worthy level.
In May, DeAraugo took out first place in division 3 of the Victorian Croquet Association’s Golf Croquet Regional Championships.
He won five straight games in the qualifying round and went on to secure a further 10 out of 11 in the competition.
“It is quite addictive a game, so I do practice a bit,” he said. “It’s a social game but you can also come and play on your own and just practice.
“We’ve got really good access to the facilities and, like lots of things these days, you can go down a YouTube wormhole and there’s lots of tutorial videos.”
Martyn said the COVID-19 pandemic had an enormous impact on the club, with some members cautious to return to play.
As part of the Goldfields Croquet Association, and one of four Bendigo-based clubs, Martyn said he was keen to get back to competitions on the court.
“I’m looking forward to people coming back,” he said. “What I think we’re missing is the interaction between other clubs where people just come over, have a chat and come play.”
The club meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and Martyn said anyone was welcome to give the sport a go, with four free sessions available to newcomers.
“Come along, give it a try, we’ll coach you and guide you,” he said.