Because croquet relies on accuracy and tactics, rather than speed and strength, the game can be played and enjoyed by people of any age and on equal terms by men and women. A handicapping system also enables players of differing abilities to compete against each other with a broadly equal chance of winning.
The game is played in two main forms, association croquet and golf croquet. At the club, coaching is provided for players at all levels in both forms of the game. Mallets and other equipment are provided by the club. All you need to get started is a pair of flat-soled shoes to avoid damaging the lawns.
An outline of the game including how to play it and rules is available at the Croquet Association web site. Click association croquet or golf croquet for further information on the form of the game that interests you.
The Croquet Association web site also contains an account of the historical origins of croquet and Oxford Croquet has an interesting section on croquet history . There are reports of the game being played in Ireland in the 1840s. It was demonstrated at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and quickly became popular as a social and recreational activity on lawns at country houses, vicarages and colleges. It was the first open air sport to be played by ladies as well as men. At that time country houses often played their own version of the game and there have been many local and personal variants of the game. In 1860, at Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, Walter Jones Whitmore codified croquet into its two versions, association and golf. The first standardised laws of croquet were published in 1864 by John Jaques and included with sales of croquet sets made by his firm.
As general standards of skill, tactics, equipment and lawns have developed over the years, the laws have been revised from time to time and now embrace standards for handicapping, level play, advanced and super advanced forms of the game. Click on the relevant form of the game to view the basic laws of association croquet and basic rules of golf croquet . Many families have their own croquet sets and the Croquet Association has also published advice on playing croquet in the garden and the official rules of garden croquet .