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Croquet Comeback

Local crusaders encourage even the skeptics to give it a whack

Nancy Beubendorf attempts to hit a ball through the wicket that has only 1/16th of an inch clearance on either side.

Nancy Beubendorf attempts to hit a ball through the wicket that has only 1/16th of an inch clearance on either side.

A growing number of Vero Beach residents are donning snappy white togs and joining fellow enthusiasts in the elegant and competitive sport of croquet. 

One of the first things they will tell you about this sport is what it is not. That is, it is not the still-popular outdoor activity that most of us played as children. 

Remember the game with its lightweight equipment and wire hoops set up in your backyard? And the best part? Placing your ball behind your opponent’s and whacking it as hard as you could to send the opponent’s ball as far away as possible — preferably into the neighbor’s yard.

No, the sport of croquet — and it is a sport — requires more finesse and plenty of strategic thinking. As Bo Prillaman, who hosts croquet clinics on the two new lawns at Vero Beach Country Club, put it, “It’s like a combination of chess and billiards played outdoors on a perfectly flat putting green.”

Croquet lawns are laser-leveled and manicured to the same standards as a golf putting green. In fact, the official name for a croquet lawn or court is a “greensward.”