Cracking croquet at Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 10:58 31 August 2012

Keith Ross hits the winning shot

Keith Ross hits the winning shot

Copyright: Colin Walls 2009

The Croquet Association B Level Tournament is for players with handicaps in the range two to eight, in other words, just below the top level of national standard players, writes Colin Walls.

Handicaps are not used in the games themselves, which are played under Level Advanced rules. The Sidmouth tournament this year featured players from as far afield as Penrith and the Pyrenees, but also five players from Sidmouth itself.

In her valedictory remarks Elaine Woodward (the Sidmouth chairman) remarked that only a few years ago Sidmouth could only scrape up one entrant at this level, so to find five was a tribute to the high standards at the club now.

Play was conducted at first in two blocks, chosen to have a similar spread of handicaps in both. In block A David Marsh, supported by his family, won six games out of seven, as did Keith Ross. Ross has been better than scratch at times in the past, but a break from the game has seen his handicap drop to 2.5. He still plays with an ancient wooden mallet with a cane handle, whereas most of the opposition have carbon fibre. Modern technology was no help in this case. Because Ross had beaten Marsh in their game, he went on to the final.

In block B Robert Moss started strongly, being the only player to win all of his first three games, but top Sidmouth player Richard Wood eventually caught up to six games all, and, having beaten Robert in their game, went on to the final.

The final was close-fought. At one point Wood looked to have an opportunity to produce a winning break, but went off the lawn on a fine take-off. This was particularly galling as local knowledge should have told him that the movement of the whole lawn a foot to the west last winter had produced a significant slope at that point (well, significant at the level of precision play involved here). Eventually Ross held his nerve and his lead to win the game.

and the tournament, clapped by the many spectators. The Regency Salver was duly handed to Keith on the first leg of its journey to the Pyrenees. Keith expressed his appreciation for the work put in by groundsmen, hoop setters and the manager Nancy Temple.

Sidmouth Croquet Club held its annual Golf Croquet Singles Tournaments, on a warm sunny holiday Monday, writes Colin Walls.

Fourteen of the higher handicap players competed for the Cunningham Salver Singles with handicaps ranging from 8 to 11, the latter applying to players who began playing croquet during the last two years.

Semi-finalists were Sue Dent against Margaret Colman and Anne Gedge against David Butler. Both games were well contested resulting in wins for Dent and Colman. The final between Dent (in her first competitive season) and Gedge was closely fought which either player could have won, but when time was up. Gedge won by one hoop, a worthy winner as, during the day, she had won all her games.

On Tuesday, low handicap players (handicaps 4-7) competed for the Hatherley Cup. Twelve players, divided into two blocks, played five games. Most games were close and exciting as many of the games were between players who often play golf croquet and players with fairly low handicaps in association croquet, who do not play it very often but enjoy this annual tournament.

These players are expert at knocking balls out of the way of hoops, much to the frustration of the golf croquet players, who mostly have higher Association handicaps. The final was played between Colin Walls and John Coombes who each won all five games in their block. This was an interesting game to watch with the crafty shots of Coombes who plays a lot of golf croquet and the skill of Walls (good at Association croquet) in thwarting Coombe’s attempts to run some of the hoops. The final result was a win for Walls by three hoops.

All players are now looking forward to the annual Doubles Tournaments in a couple of weeks’ time.


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