Since this article
was last revised, there has been discussion between
the laws committees of golf croquet and association
croquet. The discussion is limited to topics in Laws
2 and 3 of association croquet.
It is too early to
say what decisions, if any, will be reached or
when they are likely to take effect.
This paper discusses whether the laws of the various types
of croquet should be made more alike. There are several reasons:
1. It would be helpful for people who play or referee
more than one type of croquet.
2. It is likely to lead to better and simpler laws.
If two codes have a different version of the same law, then it would
help if both used the better version.
3. Most people who begin association croquet have
already played golf croquet, and will find the new game less confusing.
Other new players to golf croquet are established association players
and can be confused by pointless differences in the rules.
A similar idea is already used in American billiards where a
number of different games use 42 common rules plus additional different
rules for each type of game.
You can view this at http://departments.weber.edu/wildcatlanes/billiards/rules/general_rules.htm
In the following discussion, I use these abbreviations:
AC association croquet
GC golf croquet
AmC American six wicket croquet
I do not have much to say about American croquet. I can read
the rules on the internet, but I know too little of its tactics
to be of much use.
There are quite a few cases where a GC rule has been copied from
AC, but the wording has been improved or shortened. It is time for
association laws to get the same benefit. (I expect that the association
laws will need the most changes, but I believe each code will benefit
if we can work together.)
Two recent cases of poor coordination were unfortunate:
1 In 2007, the laws of AC and GC were both revised,
but neither committee consulted the other.
2 In 2010, regulations for AC referees were drawn
up while official rulings concerning GC referees were being made.
Again, neither committee consulted the other.
We would expect GC to have shorter rules, because it has
a simpler structure. There are no roquets, croquet strokes or peg
outs. But in addition, some topics that affect both games do not
appear in the GC rules.
This should concern the people who write AC laws. If the GC rule
makers have studied an AC law that does not concern a roquet or
croquet and have decided not to use it, they may be right.
Perhaps it is not really needed.
There are also quite a few cases where AmC has no law corresponding
to an AC law, or where it uses "should" instead of "must".
(It is hard to produce a full list, because the laws of these two
codes are in a different order.)
Note that AC has laws while GC and AmC have rules. There has
been a proposal for AC to switch to rules.
I realise that cooperation between various rule making committees
may not come easily, but the experience of billiards shows it can
be done. It may take a long time to organise, and this might be
a reason for starting soon.
Numbering of hoops: GC uses 1 to 12. This is simpler and easier
than the AC system. "Penultimate" is an awful mouthful
for beginners. "Rover" is misleading because a rover ball
is not for the rover hoop.
Even so, many senior AC players will not want to change. Perhaps
the two systems could be optional for some years.
Misplaced equipment: AC has elaborate laws including 2(b)(5),
3(b)(3) and 3(c)(3). They mainly tell of misplacements that must
not be corrected. They can also put a heavy burden on the referee.
GC regulations 5(a) and (b) give the referee power to check and
correct equipment at any time.
When is a ball off the court? In GC and AmC, when the middle
of the ball is over the boundary. In AC when any part of the ball
is over the boundary.The GC test is obviously more accurate when the boundary is marked
by a string. If the boundary is painted, the choice is harder, but
perhaps it doesn't matter because a painted border is so ill defined.
The stroke: This is a complicated subject.
When does a stroke take place?
To put it another way, what test can you apply to say whether a
stroke has occurred?
Law 5(a) of AC was rewritten in 2008 to
meet numerous objections to the previous law. You would not believe
how much time and effort went into the re-writing. Some of us think
the result was a success in that criticisms are now much fewer,
but the logic beneath the wording is shaky.
Law 5(a) says in
effect that a stroke is played if the striker swings the mallet
with intent to play a stroke. The circular nature of the definition
is concealed, but we couldn't get rid of it.
GC Rule 6(a) says
"A stroke is played when the striker strikes the striker's
ball with a mallet." Also if the mallet touches the ball
while the striker is preparing to play a stroke then that counts
as a stroke except when it counts as an error.
In AC, a stroke
is played if the striker tries to hit the ball but misses.
GC, a miss does not count as a stroke.
I think it is agreed that
on the whole the GC rule is simpler and easier to apply. The trouble
comes when the striker's ball is just through the hoop. If the striker
wants to hit through the hoop and wants to hit the ball hard, he
needs to take a back swing and there is a risk that the mallet will
hit the hoop, not the ball. The GC rule allows him to try again,
several times if he needs to. I do not think AC players will accept
I think the difference in opinion is due to differences in
tactics. In GC, such a stroke will only be played to send the ball
towards the next hoop in order, and a top player will seldom fail
to do so. In AC, the situation in the attached diagram is more common.
The striker wants to hit obliquely, and the risk of hitting the
hoop and not the ball is much greater.
I think the difference in opinion is due to differences
in tactics. In GC, such a stroke will only be played
to send the ball towards the next hoop in order, and
a top player will seldom fail to do so. In AC, the situation
in the attached diagram is more common. The striker
wants to hit obliquely, and the risk of hitting the
hoop and not the ball is much greater.
I suggest a compromise: "A stroke is played when the end
face of the player's mallet comes in contact with a ball in play
or a hoop."
Even this may be considered too harsh if the
mallet touches the ball accidentally or while casting.
I do not advise adding non-striking faults to AC laws, because
they are not needed. (Perhaps that says something about GC rules
too.) So if a player hits a ball when he doesn't mean to, the existing
law will apply, and that will sometimes be Law 25. He will never
have to miss his next turn, and his current turn will end less often
than in GC. It would still end if he accidentally touched the ball
with the end face of the mallet before he intended to hit the ball,
and some AC players may not like this.
Should the striker's intention be taken into
account? The people who have drafted AC and GC rules have
tried not to. Neither group has succeeded, but the GC rule
makers have come closer.
But does it matter?
A referee can
ask the player what he intended, and nearly all players will give
an honest answer, but law makers worry about the few who do not.
But our law courts are willing to judge a person's intention
by his behaviour.
Also a striker who played incorrectly because
he was thinking of something else might be unable to say what exactly
Deeming a stroke: This is permitted in AC but not
GC. It is hard to see why it is needed in AC, because the striker
can gently tap the ball with his mallet, and this avoids any question
about which ball is deemed to be played. (Special provision has
to be made for a doubles game which starts before one player arrives,
but this case may need special rules anyway.)
When does a stroke start? In GC, this is when the mallet contacts the ball, because until then it is
not certain whether there will be a stroke. In AC, the rule is more
complicated. In AmC, it depends on whether casting occurs.
A compromise may be possible, but some matters are difficult. For
example what happens if the mallet hits a ball in the back swing
or during casting?
When does a stroke end? The rules of each game are
too complicated. We are told that a stroke ends when all affected
balls have come to rest or have left the court, but we need to know when the next stroke may be played, and the AC law does not do that. Another test says "when the striker quits his stance
under control", but this applies only if you want to know when
a fault can occur, and in AC there are exceptions to this rule.
The AmC rule is "at the conclusion of the follow through".
This is too confusing. In each code, it would be better to say
that a stroke ends when all affected balls have come to rest or
have left the court and the striker has quit his stance under control.
All reference to a striking period can then be deleted.
is also a case for dropping the exemption in AC law 28(d)(2).
Ball in hand: The definition in Law 6(c) of AC is so long and
detailed that no referee is likely to remember it. There are fifteen
other places in the laws where the term is used with no obvious
In effect, a ball in hand is a ball that may be legally moved
by hand, whether it is so moved or not. The term is not used in
GC, but several cases of such a ball occur in GC, for example a
ball moved to a penalty spot.
The GC rules get by quite well without this term, and I suggest
that AC laws should follow their example.
The start and the toss: AC Law 8(a) is so elaborate that many
clubs have a simpler local rule. Surely the law could say that the
winner of the toss must play blue (or green). If a match consists
of several games, it is better for the players to keep the same
balls, but the right to choose who plays first can alternate. (There
are other possible simplifications, and this is just a suggestion.
Note that in GC the winner of the toss will want to play first,
while in AC he will sometimes want to play second.)
I am told
that the choice of colours used to be important when some balls
in a set were defective, but this should not occur now in a serious
Hoop point: The rules for when a ball scores a hoop point
are almost the same in AC and GC, except where a roquet or croquet
is mentioned, but the wording in GC is shorter and clearer. I suggest
that AC should adopt most of the GC rules (but not all).
Hoop and roquet: In AC, Law 17 is notorious for confusing players
and referees. AmC does not permit a hoop and a roquet in the same
stroke. If the striker's ball runs a hoop and contacts a ball that
is on the non-playing side of the hoop, only the hoop is scored.
This might be considered for AC.
Forestalling: Law 23 of AC gives detailed rules about exactly
when a player must forestall and when he must not. (GC prefers the
term "stop play", but this is not quite correct. An adversary
can try to stop play, but the laws have to consider a striker who
plays on.) Several GC rules tell when a player should or should
not forestall, but he is not told when he must or must not.
I suggest that AC Law 23 should be reconsidered. Would it do
any harm if the adversary was allowed to choose whether to forestall?
(I should add that I am not convinced by Prichard's account of
why the adversary came to be forbidden to warn a striker who was
about to play a wrong ball. However I realise that this can be a sensitive matter.)
Law 23(d) does not seem to deal well with conflicting cases:
If the adversary forestalls after the striker has started his
swing, he may cause the striker to mishit. On the other hand, it
could be in the striker's interest to be forestalled if he is about
to hit a misplaced ball. Were things any better when the referee
had to decide by using Law 55(a)?
When a mallet causes damage to a court: In GC this is always
a fault or a non-striking fault. In AC, it is a fault only during
the striking period and then only in specified cases. I cannot find
this topic mentioned in AmC rules. I prefer the GC rule as being
Playing when forestalled: AC Law 32 sometimes gives an unfair
result. Suppose the striker takes croquet from a wrong ball, is
then forestalled but plays on and sticks in a hoop. Law 32 says
that his turn has not ended and he may replay the hoop stroke.
GC has no equivalent to Law 32 of AC. Instead normal rules apply.
So if an error or other irregularity is found to have occurred,
either before or after forestalling, the proper remedy is applied.
Handicap play: The GC rules are simpler than the AC laws, because
GC does not distinguish between bisques and half bisques. (There
are other differences that meet the different needs of AC and GC.)
Rectifying an error: In AC, when an error has occurred,
the balls usually have to be replaced where they were before the
stroke in error. An exception is made in faults, where the opponent
may choose to leave the balls where lay after the stroke in error.
GC allows that choice after all types of error.
Advice from spectators: GC has nothing corresponding to AC Laws
50 and 51. This may be partly a cultural matter, in that GC is partly
influenced by Egyptian customs.
The basic problem is that a player may play a long break in AC
with a wrong ball, and it can make a big difference to the result
if someone warns him. This is the cause of many awkward rules in
AC, and I am not sure about the best remedy.
The AmC rule is "It must be a matter of conscience how a
player acts after receiving unsolicited information or advice".
Incidents not dealt with in the laws: It is not possible for
the laws to deal with every possible event. An obvious example is
that no law can cover every type of cheating.
AC has Law 55, but some of us feel that Law 55(a) is unhelpful.
AmC seems to have no specific rule, but has a number of rules tha
GC has Regulation 5(f), which has the merit of brevity. However
some people argue that referees should not be given too much discretion
in case some of them make wild decisions.
Running a wrong hoop: In AC, an inactive referee must keep silent
unless appealed to.
In GC, such a referee must intervene if both players try to run
another wrong hoop. (Rule 15(4)(iii) may have been overlooked by
people who apply the new AC regulations to GC.)
In AmC, the referee intervenes if the striker tries to play a
continuation stroke after running a wrong hoop.
In GC and AmC there are special reasons for intervening that
do not apply in AC. Even so, this shows that intervention by an
inactive referee causes is not always a bad idea.
Interference by an outside agency: The relevant
AC laws and GC rules look quite different but have the same effect
in practice. There has been so much trouble in AC with this issue
that I would be reluctant to make any change in the current wording
of eithe game.
Some other differences:
GC rule 1(a) allows a game between one player and
two. AC has no counterpart.
GC permits striped balls. They are not mentioned
GC may seem to omit the fault that AC lists as Law
28(a)(4). In fact it is covered elsewhere in the fault list. (The
GC rule makers must have read the AC laws with great care.)
If a bisque will be taken after a fault, GC rules
require the balls to be replaced where they were before the fault.
In AC, the adversary has discretion.
The rules for dealing with bad behaviour are different.
Of especial concern, in GC, even serious misbehaviour can only
be dealt with by a warning, the first time it occurs. In AC
In GC, the opponent has the option of leaving
the balls where they lie after many types of misplay. AC permits
this only after a fault.
If a player is misled by
the opponent into adopting an unwise line of play, he has a remedy
in AC (Law 31) but not in GC.
GC rules are written in gender neutral style. AC
laws are not.
In GC, commentaries are sometimes used
where AC would use a more detailed law. (The AC commentaries are
not part of the laws and serve a different purpose.)
To sum up: In past years, several people have
told me that AC should copy some "simpler" items
from the GC rules. After closer study, it is hard to find any case
where I would advise a GC rule to be adopted unchanged. However there
are many cases where the croquet community would benefit if the
two laws committees could work together. But this could take a long
This paper gives my personal thoughts. It does not give the official
position of the A.C.A. or the I.L.C.
I thank all the people who
have given me advice, some of which is included in this revised