Centenary Tournament

By - 06th September 2023

The celebrations of Reigate Priory Croquet Club’s Centenary continue!

As we only have a single lawn (not quite full size at that) it is difficult for us to hold home league matches and impossible to hold a conventional tournament. Nevertheless, we wanted to invite as many other players as possible to our lawn in our centenary year, so our committee came up with the idea of a hybrid tournament with both short croquet and golf croquet played on half lawns by the same teams of two.

Despite this being unprecedented (as far as we know) and there are as yet no published rules for a doubles form of short croquet, we pressed on undaunted to plan the event. We started by devising an order of play involving eight teams playing four matches each, two in each code, with fairly relaxed timetable giving, we hoped, plenty of time for refreshments and socialising between rounds.

A scoring system giving equal weight to each code had to be thought up, but that proved easily solved. We opted for the handicap form of golf so that the winning team scored exactly seven hoops scoring 2 points each, thereby matching the number of hoop points scored by the winning team in short croquet.

In short croquet each player has bisques but low handicap players are required to make compulsory peels. In the absence of guidance on how to adapt this to doubles play we came up with the idea of allocating a negative handicap to peelers (so -1 for a one peel player and so on) and then working out the average for the team (rounded to the half bisque above).

In the event, no team finished up with a negative handicap, which made things easier. We calculated the bisque allocation and extra turns due in advance to avoid arguments on the day (a successful ploy!). Then we set about inviting nearby clubs to take part.

Our committee drew up a first list of seven, and members who visited other clubs asked whether their hosts might be interested, so that in the end we invited eleven from whom we managed to attract the seven that we needed without having to put in more than one team ourselves.

We decided not to charge an entry fee – it was intended to be a party after all – but we would offer our guests lunch and the usual refreshments for a small charge – almost all accepted. Entrants would also get one of our much admired and coveted centenary mugs!

The day dawned bright and sunny, which was just as well as we don’t have adequate indoor space for 16 people to have lunch in wet weather! Several club members were there early to set up the lawns, seating, tables and decorations for the day and our guests started arriving early too.

All the visitors arrived so our reserve team was stood down and play commenced on time. We had allowed 90 minutes for each game which was more than enough for all the GC games, but several of the SC games went to the wire.

Only two had to be timed out, one of which was in the last round when timing wasn’t really an issue – possibly the players had had enough anyway! Two rounds were completed by lunch time, at which point there were just two unbeaten teams, the home team and our neighbours, Caterham.

Lunch was an enjoyable social interlude taken at a long table alongside the lawn – our catering team did us proud, especially with the specially centenary decorated dishes! The remaining two rounds followed with an interval for tea and cake (also centenary decorated) which delayed the final round somewhat.

The home team failed to finish their third match, thereby dropping some potentially valuable points, but Caterham came to grief in their final match leaving Reigate the winners by just two points. Overall, the results were very close with six of the eight teams finishing within 8 points of the winners.

Thanks to our friends from the following clubs for joining!