How to Start a Croquet Club
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
by getting all the information you will need to organize your club and facility. Start by contacting the USCA and asking them to send you their USCA member club information packet. Buy at least the first volume of the Croquet Foundation of America's MONOGRAPH SERIES ON CLUB BUILDING, ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT, titled Getting Started, which details everything mentioned here, and more.
2. START TALKING
to friends, family, and working associates about croquet and enrolling them in the idea of the club.
3. GET THE EQUIPMENT TOGETHER.
Croquet equipment comes in a broad range of quality and price levels. You don't have to start with tournament-grade equipment; good-quality basic sets can be found for $200 to $300. Be sure to get an adult-sized set, not a children's set as you might find at a department store. Proper starter sets typically include four balls, four mallets, wicket clips, nine wickets, and two stakes, and can be used for either Nine-Wicket Croquet or Six-Wicket Croquet. Buy the book or books appropriate for the game(s) you've chosen to start out with.
4. BUILD OR FIND THE BEST LAWN AVAILABLE
to you for your initial adventures with equipment, rules, and potential members. The lawn should be as flat and as fast as possible. Arrange for using a bowling lawn or a practice putting green, if possible. If you're clever and make the right contacts, you can engineer a permanent arrangement with an existing under-used facility by fitting into the other lawn sport's schedule and perhaps paying dues to support maintenance. In Canada and the U.S., several dozen croquet clubs use bowling greens; others play on lawn tennis courts; many new croquet groups are starting at public and private golf clubs, which typically find that croquet adds a new activity focus, variety and therefore profit to their operations. (Details on these shared use agreement are in the Croquet Foundation of America 's MONOGRAPH SERIES, Volume One.)
5. JOIN THE USCA AS A MEMBER CLUB
to benefit from their regular communications and publications about all aspects of croquet, including member clubs and tournaments, rule books, the USCA Croquet News -- all included as a part of a USCA annual membership.
6. MAKE CONTACT WITH THE NEAREST CLUB
or the nearest USCA member willing to give you organizing advice and coaching. Your first contact will probably be the vice president of your USCA region, or an officer in a nearby club.
7. LOCATE A 2- TO 5-DAY TOURNAMENT
in the calendar that you can visit with some of your members. Every major club and many smaller ones have at least one of these tournaments a year. Most welcome visitors. They are virtual "croquet conventions." You will make all the connections you need to for developing your club and facility and ensuring coaching and program assistance from experienced players in your area. (The best tournaments would be USCA regionals, which happen in the summer, or established annual opens in such places as Palm Beach, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Tulsa, or Houston.)
8. BUILD A CLUB WEBSITE
to provide information about your club to its members and the rest of the world. It is likely the first place someone will go when seeking more information. There are several free hosting services available, and the USCA has a tutorial entitled How to Build an Easy Croquet Club Website that shows how to build a free site from scratch. Be sure to provide a link to the USCA site and the USCA will link back to your site.
9. PERFECT YOUR CROQUET SHOTS AND STRATEGY
as soon as you're up and running as an organization, and find out if you're born to be a croquet champion. If you're VERY good, you can achieve national championship status within two years. If you don't turn out to be a champion, that's okay, too. Because croquet is a sport that can be enjoyed at all levels of play — and for a lifetime.