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John C. “Johnny” Osborn

Johnny Osborn

What does it take? What is the formula for becoming the ‘winningest’ player in contemporary American croquet? Is it innate athletic skill, genetics, enduring dedication, consummate passion and penchant for the game, or a combination of all those qualities? What does it take?

What ever it is John C. Osborn has got it!!

It started early, very early, at the ripe old age of five years old on the venerable long grass nine wicket courts of the Westhampton Mallet Club in Long Island. John’s dad, Jack R. Osborn, the founder of the United States Croquet Association and then local club champion has rented a summer place directly adjacent to the croquet courts. It was there in the early 1960’s that Johnny, who was only inches taller than his mallet, made his entrance into the game and ultimately croquet history. It was there that he also inherited his nickname ‘Boom-Boom’ — a name that characterized his lighting fast Solomon grip back swing that endures to this day.

Jack and John’s mother, Irene, lived in New York City where Johnny grew up and attended the Allen Stevenson School and Collegiate. At school Johnny excelled at soccer while in the summer months his sports endeavors focused on golf and croquet. However it was not until the New York Croquet Club acquired use of the bowling greens in Central Cark that Johnny became exposed to American six wicket croquet as it is played today. It was there that he played in his first tournament. Ultimately John lived and played in New York City through 1990. Following in the footsteps of Teddy Prentis who has served as the first ever croquet teaching professional, Johnny took over the instructional mantle while also working in the restaurant business in the city.

In those days the NYCC held only one club and one invitational tournament a year by in 1977 the USCA was formed and the first USCA National Championship took place in Central Park. That was Johnny’s first Nationals and he is the only player to have played in every American Rules Nationals since that time — four decades of championships. For his efforts Johnny managed to win three National Singles titles (1987, 1991, and 1999) as well as a National Doubles title in 1997. Along with those titles come a record number of second places proving that where a title is concerned, Johnny is always in the hunt.

While attending Vassar with his long time friend Dan Mahoney, Johnny got his first taste of Florida at the National Collegiate Championships in 1981 where he won the first Collegiate Singles Championship. The multitude of golf courses and croquet lawns clearly had gotten his attention and following the awe inspiring expansion of croquet, Johnny moved to Palm Beach in 1991. The past three decades have seen Johnny become not only a world-class player but also a consummate teaching professional. Johnny teaches or has taught at virtually every club in South Florida as well as Long Island and New York and remains the Croquet Professional at the prestigious Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Johnny has also served as a Class I National Instructor for the USCA Instructional School since the 1980’s and co-authored the book Croquet — The Sport with his father Jack.

His teaching credentials are impeccable but far beyond those lay is accomplishments as a player. Over the past four decades, Johnny has been the most prolific player in the history of  the American game, winning regional, invitational and club tournaments that  total literally into the hundreds. As testimony to that, Johnny has been ranked first on the grand prix list a record number of years, over 10, and that only includes years where the results were recorded. He represented the United States as a member of the First U.S. Test team to play Great Britain in 1985. Since the 1980’s Johnny has competed as a member of the United States Team well over a dozen times.

It would be impossible here to list all John C. Osborn’s playing and teaching credentials. Perhaps Jack Osborn’s greatest legacy to the game is his son Johnny; while Johnny is creating a remarkable legacy of his own. His gentle, good  humored  demeanor, his incredible talent, his enduring passion for the  game all belie the fact that his is one of the worthiest candidates for the Hall of Fame.

Johnny we welcome you with great admiration and appreciation to the CFA Hall of Fame.

John C. “Johnny” Osborn was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame in 2005.

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