Lawn Sports: The Games, History, & Local Facilities

20 Jul

Alice plays croquet for the first time with a flamingo mallet and hedgehog ball in the classic movie "Alice in Wonderland"

When I used to think of croquet, I pictured the movie Alice in Wonderland. But now that I’ve been at Madden’s, I realized how great croquet and other lawn sports can be: they’re not just for kings and queens. At Madden’s we’re proud to share that we have our own USCA sanctioned regulation croquet lawns with the finest bent grass. We also have a lawn bowling pitch on the same putting green quality turf. Because lawn sports are close to our hearts, I wanted to write a post about lawn bowling and croquet including the basic premise of the games, history of the games, and where you can play locally.

Lawn Bowling

The Game: First a participant rolls a small ball, called a “jack” or a “kitty,” down the “pitch” (kind of like the lane in traditional bowling). Then participants take turns rolling larger asymmetrically weighted balls toward the smaller ball. Points are earned based on who is the closest to the small ball.

The History: Lawn bowling has several names all depending on where you are at. Many refer to it as “bowling on the green,” “bowls” or “lawn bowls.” Others have called it “bocce.” Bocce, however, can be translated into a different game in the lawn sport family. You may have heard it called bocce ball. I remember playing this game with family when I was younger–just out in the middle of a public park. Pétanque is another sport in the lawn bowling family. It is a similar to lawn bowling, but is usually played on dirt or gravel with a few twists in the rules.

The game of lawn bowling was invented long before you and me. Some suggest it dates back to the ancient Egyptians and variations of lawn bowling have been reported as early as 13th century in Europe. Here are a few good articles that provide a more detailed history of lawn bowling:,  New York Lawn Bowling Club, and St. Petersburg Lawn Bowling Club.

Lawn Bowling at Madden's

Locally: According to LawnbowlsCENTRAL, there are only 3 locations in Minnesota to enjoy lawn bowling!

Central Lakes Park in Edina
Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis
Madden’s on Gull Lake


History: Croquet is a sport that is not just played in Alice in Wonderland! Actually, it is estimated that croquet was brought from Ireland to Britain around 1850. The sport seems to be younger than lawn bowling, but it definitely took off in the last 250 years.

For a more detailed history I suggest visiting one of these pages: Houston Croquet, Oxford Croquet, and Wikipedia.

The Game: The objective of the game is for each player to get his or her ball through each hoop. The hoops are set up in a standard pattern that participants must follow as they complete them game. Each person gets one stroke per turn (with some exceptions). The winner is the first person to complete the sequence of hoops and then hit the center peg.

Locally: Want to enjoy the sport of croquet? By browsing the internet, I only found one official croquet lawn in Minnesota–at Madden’s. If you know of any other locations with croquet lawns please let me know. I will fix my error! I can say I did find many leagues and/or tournaments around the state. People play croquet everywhere! So whether you want to try it out in your backyard or if you want to join us at Madden’s, I say give it a try. They say it has many of the same principles as billiards in that you are judging the angles and distance of your shot.

Croquet at Madden's on USCA sanctioned regulation turf

For the First-timers

Interested in learning more? Visit a few of these websites of renowned lawn sport clubs and organizations:

England’s Lawn Bowling Organization
Scotland’s Lawn Bowling Organization
New York Lawn Bowling Club
Santa Anita Bowling Green Club
United States Croquet Association
The National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, FL

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Lawn Sports, Recreation


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