| The Mallett - Fall 1992
Trust us, the croquet wickets won't harm the lawns. If anything, they will help to aerate the grass."
These sincere and hopeful words were delivered in the spring of 1990 to the Executive of the Glenridge Lawn Bowling Club in St. Catharines, Ontario. Who would have blamed them for rolling their eyes skyward, and thinking, "Uh, huh.?"
God Bless Lou Tomas and his colleagues for being open-minded, and giving the enthusiastic members of the Royal St. Catharines Croquet Club a chance.
Out to the greens they went, for a demonstration of real croquet. The Foxy wickets were pounded into the turf, and then the various shots were executed. Roquets, croquets, pass rolls, thin and thick take-offs, and wicket strokes did not scar the grass, but how about the feared jump shot? A four foot jump shot sailed over another ball, and through a hoop. Incredible! And not even the slightest mark was left on the perfectly manicured turf.
Soon after, an Agreement was negotiated between the lawn bowlers and the croquet players, for a probationary period. If the courts were being damaged, the bowlers had the right to terminate the croquet at any time. A fair fee was paid by each croquet player, and now, three enjoyable seasons later, it is obvious that this has indeed been a WIN/WIN partnership.
Many croquet players and lawn bowlers in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Africa share the same greens. At this time, nine Canadian croquet clubs have become secondary tenants at lawn bowling clubs. From Westmount in Montreal to West Point Grey in Vancouver, perfectly manicured greens are seeing more activity, club treasurers' stress levels have been relieved, and passersby see more action. There has yet to be an unpleasant occurrence, as athletes practicing both sports coordinate their schedules to accommodate each other.
Perhaps the crowning proof statement came this summer. At the magnificent Roselawn Lawn Bowling Club in Hamilton, Ontario, the greenskeeper was asked by a club member if the previous night's croquet had done any damage to the greens. He responded, "Oh, did they play last night?"
Our croquet playing friends in the United States also enjoy shared facilities in several locations. New York City's Central Park, Tulsa, Denver, Greenwich, and San Francisco have led the way, and more partnerships are developing each year. It is well and good to want to play croquet, but unless one has a spare lawn tennis court in the backyard, the obvious stumbling block is the lack of proper grass.
Lawn bowling clubs around North America have greens that are kept in wonderful condition. Billiard table flat, with putting green length bent grass, these greens are often under-utilized. The addition of croquet provides many benefits.
We encourage croquet players to approach their local lawn bowling clubs to initiate discussions. Call Croquet Canada for advice on how to increase the chance of success, as overcoming resistance to change is often difficult. The future of croquet in Canada will be much more dynamic and enjoyable if more partnerships are formed.
- Ross Robinson