If you haven’t heard of croquet before, allow me to be the first to introduce you to your new favorite game!
Croquet can be played by anyone and requires little more skill than a keen eye and the ability to propel a ball forward with a degree of accuracy.
It is much like golf in that it can be played on both formal and informal occasions by almost anyone.
If you’re in the market for an awesome way to spruce up your backyard or a great portable game to bring to your next picnic, croquet is the perfect activity for you!
Croquet boasts a long history and brings up images of classy garden parties and meticulously maintained lawns, but these days this backyard game is popular with families around the world.
Since the 1970s, croquet has risen in popularity as a lawn game that can be played well into someone’s senior years. Whatever way you play or how seriously you take the game, it’s important to choose the best croquet set for you, and understand that all croquet sets were not created equally.
It’s a wonderful way to spend some time outdoors, hang out with friends, build relationships with your kids and spouse, and even get in a light workout!
We’ll be reviewing and choosing the best croquet set to give your yard a little bit more action, and perhaps even become the envy of your neighborhood!
The game of croquet can be played with a varied number of players. The most common forms are four-player games and six players games.
As such, the sets come in a “six ball” set or a “four-ball” set. For those that are even considering having six players together, it would be wise to go ahead and purchase a six-ball set.
You can always purchase a four-ball set and then buy more later, but you won’t get the same value. Still yet, you can always rotate out players in some sort of “next” format to keep the games fresh if need-be!
Formal or Informal
The differences can be astounding between the formal and informal versions of croquet. In the formal version, for example, players are only allowed to use their mallet, which is the stick that is used to hit the ball.
In informal croquet, players are allowed to trade out mallets with one another as it isn’t all that important. In informal games, it is up to the players to agree to the rules.
Any rule is basically negotiable, and in some circles, the rules can be changed at will during the game. This is often done when there is a dispute over an occurrence on the lawn.
The players can take a vote, and usually, they’ll make sure it is bent to peg back the player that is winning. In formal croquet, this practice is not allowed. A certain set of rules and decorum are expected.
This is certainly not the case with informal play as it can become quite rowdy at times.
Croquet Set Overview/Guide
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious question to be asked is what comes in a croquet set? A croquet set, first of all, comes with mallets. The number of mallets can vary depending upon the specific set’s purposes.
The mallet is the stick that you use to hit the ball with. The mallet has a rounded head and it is attached to the bottom of a longish stick. Only the shortest of players will be able to hit the ball with the mallet without having to bend over to some degree.
With taller players, you’ll have to stoop over quite a bit. The mallet does not come attached, so you will have to screw it in in most instances. But that doesn’t mean you can just throw it around because it’s not one piece like a baseball bat, for example.
In a set, remember you’re getting the uniform stuff. So if you are tall, you’re going to be using the same mallet everyone does. This means that you might want to take a close look at the set’s specifications before ordering.
It may not be a problem for many people, but personal preference is key.
Weight is also a personal preference that you can look at when buying a set, but it’s really just a small part of the process unless you are buying just a solitary mallet for use.
Mallets can be made out of ash, hickory, or tawa (all wooden-based products) or aluminum, carbon fiber, or fiberglass.
The wooden materials are all a little heavier, and they are suggested for beginning players and younger or old players that don’t have quite as much power. The latter choices are for players with some experience and strength to hit the ball with ease.
The second component to the croquet set are the balls themselves. The balls come in a variety of colors, and they include any combination of blue, red, black, yellow, green, or orange.
These correspond to your color and they should also correspond to your mallet if you are playing more formally. This is an easy reminder for those that are young or older or even those that might be a little distracted when playing.
It is just a custom that is there to help you out. The ball you start with is the ball you will end with. In some variations, you’ll be using more than one ball at a time, but more than likely you’ll only be using one.
The ball can vary in weight, and really just depends on the sort of game you want to play. If it is a serious match, then you’ll have to play with a regulation ball that weighs 16 ounces.
However, if you want to have an informal game where the ball will move easier for you, then you can adjust to your needs! This is a great idea for kids and older folks who just don’t have the same strength that normal adults may have.
There aren’t really any concerns in regards to the makeup of the ball as they are almost always made out of plastic or some other high-quality product nowadays.
There are no longer any wooden balls to worry about, which means that the ball will be much more durable.
The next component of a croquet set are the stakes. The stakes are an integral part of croquet because it is this item that you will be aiming to hit when you are playing your game.
The stakes typically have the colors of each of the balls on them, and they are meant to be hit with your ball. If you hit each stake, after having zigzagged through the wickets, then you will have won the game.
It is important, then, that you purchase stakes that are sturdy enough to take a bit of a beating. In most games, you’ll see two or more player hit the stake at one end before the first player can hit both.
If only one player hits the stake and it falls, then that could essentially ruin the whole experience!
The final component to your croquet set is the wicket. The wicket is the most numerous of the items included in a set because they have to be set up all over the lawn.
The wickets must be navigated through, in the correct direction, in order for you to be allowed to go for the stakes and ultimately win. It is important that the wickets be sturdy, like the stakes, because they will likely be hit at some point.
Sometimes, the ball will hit the wicket, and if hit with any force at all, they can be moved. So, you’ll want something to remain in place and make sure that no one loses out on a chance to play.
All sorts of material can be used to make wickets including wired hoops, steel, plastic, and wood. Wired hoops are by far the least expensive, but they also the worst at standing up over time. Steel, plastic, and wood are each very good at lasting over time.
Any of those would be a great choice, but wired hoops aren’t necessarily bad either!
Best Croquet Set Reviews
Coming in at a hefty price is the Scottsdale croquet set. This set includes six hardwood mallets, six balls, nine steel wickets, and two hardwood stakes as well as a canvas bag made from cotton to carry it all in.
The balls in this set weigh 8.9 ounces, which is quite a bit in the low range, especially considering that the mallets are quite a bit heavy.
This is a set that is geared toward adults, although it is durable enough that it could hold up for children if they were capable of making the ball move.
- Mallets are ultra-sturdy
- Carrying case
- Great for adults as the mallets are quite tall
- Not a good set for kids as the mallets are heavy
- The balls are very light, which can be annoying to some
This set is made by the Amish, and it’s a great sturdy set that is centered around hardwood. Like the Scottsdale, it is quite expensive, but it will last so it may well prove to be worth your money.
It includes six balls made from plastic and six mallets that are made from solid maple. It also includes two stakes and nine wickets as well as a very neat looking maple “caddy” to hold it all in.
- Great for games on rough and tough terrain
- Very sturdy
- Good for kids
- High price
- Could be a little heavy for some
Coming in at a much lower price than the previous two is the offering from Trademark. Trademark also allows up to six players to play with its six 26 inch wooden mallets, six balls, two wood stakes, and wire wickets.
It also includes a bag, which admittedly looks a little flimsy to me. The bag and the wickets definitely point to this being at a lower price point, but the set is geared toward collectors who want to have a set with either Budweiser, Coca-Cola, or Bud Light on it.
- Very inexpensive price
- Great for Coke collectors, or collectors in general
- Better for shorter players
- Not great for very tall players
- A little flimsy if not used 100% correctly at all times
Coming in at a low but approaching moderate price is this Baden set. It has a differentiating factor in that it has soft grip handles, which can make a difference to a lot of people in terms of comfort.
It has a nylon carrying bag that allows you to carry the six wooden mallets, the six balls, the two stakes, and nine wickets that are included as well as a rulebook as well.
- Price is good
- Has soft-grip handles for comfort
- Bag and rulebook included
- Mallet head tends to come off
- Wickets are a bit narrow
Coming in at middle/upper price range is the Franklin Pro set. This set includes six 26-inch colored mallets with wood handles. They come with metal locking joints which help the stability and durability of the mallet.
The 6 included balls are 3.31 inches in diameter and of course, they’re colored red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and black.
The 24-inch wood stakes are color-coordinated with each ball and there are 9 all-weather treated wickets.
A carry bag rounds out the list of features!
- Great looking paint job
- Metal reinforced handles
- Good value for price
- Brass fitting comes loose on occasion
- Mallets can get chipped easily, even if no further damage occurs.
The final entry on our list is a great choice to make your wallet happy! It’s a pared-down budget set which is actually PERFECT for many people who don’t make croquet a high-priority activity! It features 6 hardwood mallets, 6 balls, 9 wickets and 2 stakes.
The stakes are also hardwood and they’re 21 inches long. The balls are made of polymer so they’re fairly durable for normal play. It’s quite a bit less pricey than our other offerings on the list, and because of that, we consider it a good value.
However, like anything else, you can expect some compromises with something that costs a fraction of what a competitor is charging.
Yes, it is a good option for the very casual player, but it lacks details like metal reinforcements on the handles, precision engineering and manufacturing on the balls, lack of proper threading on some handles, a really cheap bag, etc.
- Great for kids but it’s not a “kiddie” set
- Really low price
- Low weight, so shipping shouldn’t be an issue
- The size of the ball makes it frustrating at times
- The bag is cheap and won’t hold all items if mallets are assembled
- Thin mallet handles can be hard to control with precision and accuracy
Additional Information to Know About Croquet
The way a player dresses, the way she or he acts, and the way you do about playing are all important. Honesty is also very important, much like in golf. But with the strategy being involved, croquet has become very popular in informal settings as well.
It’s estimated that over 200,000 croquet sets are sold each year in the United States, there’s even a federation and league for croquet. This is due to the fact that virtually anyone, athletically gifted or not can play.
So, even if you aren’t a great athlete, you can get out on the lawn and play a great game with family, friends, or foes.
This buying guide will help you determine what influences the way the game is easy and it will help you make a decision as to what you need.
For some people, you don’t need something that is ultra high-quality, but for others, they do need something that will hold up for a while.
There are trade-offs to be made, and this guide will help you make a purchasing decision even if you’ve never had any experience with the game! We’ll then take a look at the top croquet sets currently available this year!
One of the first things that a person will find when researching the game of croquet is that is can be played on a myriad of surfaces.
Each surface is different, and it can greatly affect the game and how it is played.
For instance, there is a game called “golf croquet” that is played on a green that is just like golf. In this game, the grass is very short, so the ball can move much further and be hit much more accurately.
For most, the game is played in the backyard. Depending on the condition of your yard, it could be high or low grass. This has a significant impact on how the game is ultimately played.
A very accurate player will have much less control over their ball when they are playing on higher, less well-kept grass.
Believe it or not, but croquet can also be played on artificial surfaces. This is becoming more and more of a trend in places that have varied weather, and even in places with cold weather where it is hard to maintain grass.
Much like Bocce ball, it can be a great way for seniors to pass time, for example. So artificial turf has become more common for this game. As a result of the artificial turf, the lawn is much more uniform and the ball can be struck harder and more accurately.
Along the same lines as artificial turf is the fact that the game can be played indoors now as well.
This is an astonishing trend, but it’s probably not one that many reading this will ever have a chance to play as most of us don’t have the money to have a full artificial lawn installed inside. But for those serious players out there, this is a possibility.
Clay is another surface that croquet can be played on. Much like the golf version and artificial turf, clay is much more uniform and would allow the ball to be hit further.
It wouldn’t allow the ball to go quite as far as on grass, assuming all things were equal, but it would allow it to travel better than it would on a lawn that has not been mowed, for example.
There are other surfaces that can be played on, we’re sure, but these are the main ones for the majority of people’s purposes. You could play it virtually on anything, but the results would likely be very much a mixed bag.
1. Who invented croquet?
In 12th century France and Britain, an early, unorganized form of croquet was played using sticks and balls, and during the 1600s, the game went by the name “paille-maille” (Latin for “ball and mallet”).
It wasn’t until November 1856, in London, England, that the modern game known today as Croquet was documented with a set of rules.
A toy dealer by the name of Isaac Spratt wrote the first pamphlets describing the game and its rules.
2. What are the basic rules of croquet?
Croquet is an outdoor lawn game played with an even number of players, usually two, four, or six.
On their turn, each player must strike their ball(s) with a mallet, each trying to move their ball through the same hoop. The first person to hit their ball through it wins the hoop.
Once a hoop is won, the game continues in the same sequence, until all six hoops have been played in each direction.
The winner of the game is the player who has won the most hoops. The balls are colored blue, black, red, and yellow; blue and black balls play against red and yellow.
3. In which country is croquet most popular?
Not surprisingly, croquet is most popular in England, its traditional birthplace.
Many other countries, like the United States, Australia, Canada, and France have seen a growing interest in croquet as it is an ideal game for those in the senior age group.
4. How do you hit a croquet ball?
A croquet ball must be struck with either end face of a mallet and no other part.
A player must not touch the ball with their foot and they cannot move a hoop in order to strike the ball.
A player must use a mallet and swing it pendulum style, either between the legs or golf style.
5. What skills do you need for croquet?
Croquet requires a keen eye for accuracy. Unlike many games which require strength or speed, a successful croquet player will use skill and pre-planning to win over their opponent.
6. Is croquet an Olympic sport?
While croquet is played competitively in many countries, it is not an Olympic sport.
It was featured as an official sport once in the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, France. Interestingly, it was the first Olympic event in which women participated.
All the competitors were from France, making France the official winner of all the medals.
7. What equipment do you need to play croquet?
The minimum equipment needed to play croquet consists of two mallets (most sets come with four or six), six hoops, one center peg, and four balls (black, blue, red, and yellow). Also needed, a lawn of freshly mown grass.
8. Where do you play croquet?
Croquet is played with hoops embedded into a court of natural or synthetic turf.
9. How much is the average croquet set?
Prices range from $20 for a children’s toy set, up to $900 for a quality, professional set, with an average price range of around $100 to $300 for a good quality system.
10. How large of an area do I need to play croquet?
Most casual croquet players don’t really worry too much about the actual dimensions of a croquet pitch because it has very little effect on the enjoyment of a casual game.
Any back yard (or front yard) will do the trick.
However, if you’re curious about official pitch sizes, then you’ll want to know that an official full-sized pitch is 92 feet (28 yards) wide by 115 feet (35 yards) long.
A smaller (but normal) sized court for garden croquet is 57 feet (17.5 meters) long by 46 feet (14 meters) wide.
Keep in mind that the longer the grass (and/or the rougher the surface), the smaller the pitch or court should be, since the ball rolls much slower and will not roll as far as short grass or artificial turf.
It’s always a good idea to keep the dimensions generally or loosely the same as you increase or decrease the size of the pitch for your purposes.
11. How long does an official croquet match typically last?
A normal game of competitive croquet runs approximately 1 – 2 hours.
Conclusion & Recommendations
Croquet is a game that has various uses and purposes. Whether you are trying to become a professional player, or you want to get out in the backyard with family and friends and drink a cold beer, you can still enjoy a game! I
t’s a great way to spend time in the summer, even if you don’t particularly enjoy athletics. It’s a great way to exercise, despite the fact you’ll be standing around quite often. But hey, standing in the heat is a lot of work sometimes!
At the end of the day, it is difficult to find a good croquet set. There are things that each of the above sets did well, and there are things that they did poorly. Exactly what you need is all up to you.
It’s a matter of whether you want to pay a premium price for premium materials or whether you just want something for one-time use.
There are things that can be done to extend the life of your set, such as making sure you clean them and only use them with proper form at all times that.
In addition to this, you can make sure that they are put away from the weather so that the conditions outside will not cause them to ruin.
A good number of people let this happen, and that’s why it is important that you know right away if something is a “kid’s set” or not!
Croquet is great because it teaches you to keep a calm demeanor and to make strategic decisions at each and every step of the game. If you make one small mistake, you could end up losing the game to a more skilled player.
Or maybe you are the more skilled player. You still can be beaten, no matter the odds. Most of all, it’s fun for everyone and doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Just about anyone can play, and so should you!
Pick you up a croquet set and learn how to have fun with this game!