Golf Croquet – The “Commitment-Free” Way

The Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club has about 4500 members, which should make it easy to recruit many new croquet players. However, these members are active in at least one, and usually more than one, sport and find it difficult to make time for another activity.

When we introduced golf croquet as a response to declining croquet membership, our target market was Cricket Club curlers. Our curlers play in several house leagues, with the same teams all season, and it is a rare week without a game in each league. Winter vacations require planning and the good fortune to find spares.  We did not think that they would take up croquet for the summer in a similarly regimented format

To entice new croquet players, we introduced golf croquet in a commitment-free format with the slogan:

Come when you can, Leave when you must”.

The program format is as follows:

  • The courts are set up for golf croquet on Monday and Thursday evenings.
  • Players can arrive at any time.
  • Matches started after 5:30 pm are recorded, (most of our members work).
  • Matches can be doubles, singles or two-on-one.
  • Matches are set up by players as they arrive.
  • Matches can be best-of-seven wickets or best-of-thirteen wickets at the players’ choice.
  • As different matches finish, teams and opponents are shuffled.
  • A player can play only one match, or as many as they wish, until they are the last player standing.
  • As players retire from play, they usually gather on the patio for refreshments and socializing (unless they are rushing off to tennis or lawn bowling).

This format entices new members. The next question is how to retain them. The second program parameter is recognition and reward, as follows:

  • All matches started after 5:30 pm are recorded for win/loss.
  • The match winner(s) is awarded 3 points.
  • The match loser(s) is awarded 1 point. (Participation counts.)
  • Points are awarded to a player for their best three matches in an evening.
  • There is no penalty for not showing up on any day.
  • Players’ points are calculated each day, and a current ranking list is posted regularly.
  • In mid-July the first series is closed, and a second series begun.
  • The top three finishers in a series are penalized and awarded only 2 points for a win in the next series.
  • Each player is assessed $4 per series for prizes.
  • Prizes are awarded to the top three finishers of each series at the closing Brunch & AGM.

It did not take long to discover that a wide disparity in player skill can distort the results. To follow the Cricket Club mission statement of “maximum enjoyment for the maximum number of members” required special handling. Tune in to the next issue to see how we addressed this.

Georg Dej