A preference for croquet

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THERE is fierce competition between croquet golf and association croquet among players at the Winton Croquet Club. Association is the traditional form of the sport, while golf croquet is a more recent variant. Both had their advantages, club secretary Faye Gibson and captain Val Skinner, who between them have been playing croquet for 48 years, said. For people with time constraints, croquet golf was the popular choice, club president Vic Wilson said. A game of association could on average take about 2 1/2 hours, whereas a game of croquet golf could be completed in 35 minutes or under. In association, a player aims to complete 12 hoops and hit the peg at the end, while for croquet golf, it is only seven hoops. ‘‘Three players could play three games of croquet golf in a night,’’ Wilson, who joined the club four years ago, said. Skinner said both games were a combination of skill and tactics… ‘‘a bit like billiards’’. She and Gibson learnt the association game together in 1992. Skinner took up the sport after a friend suggested it. ‘‘He not only suggested it, he booked some lessons for me.’’ Gibson said she was at the Winton New World supermarket one day — located next to the croquet grounds when she noticed people playing, which captured her interest. Twenty-four years later, the pair are as enthusiastic as when they began, and are keen for others to try it. ‘‘It’s a very addictive sport,’’ Gibson said. The club currently has 22 members, spilt almost evenly between those who prefer croquet golf and those who prefer association. It was a very social club, the trio agreed. As well as regular matches and games throughout the season, from September to April, a Christmas dinner and a mid-winter outing were held. ‘‘During the season, anyone can just turn up to the games… We have spare mallets and balls,’’ Skinner said. ‘‘Give it a try. Once someone has learnt, they can get hooked on it and want to spend days playing.’’

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