Can You Play Croquet on Artificial Turf, Dirt, or Sand?


Croquet is always a fun outdoor activity that you can easily set up almost anywhere, but what about if your only available surfaces are artificial turf, dirt, or sand? Sure, you see most people playing croquet in their grassy yards, but not everyone can do that. So can you play croquet on artificial turf, dirt, or sand?

Playing croquet on a surface such as artificial turf, dirt, or sand might change:

  • The movement of the balls over the playing surface
  • The types of wickets needed
  • The time it takes to complete a game
  • How challenging the game is

Changing the surface of a croquet course will change the game, but it will still be fun.

As you consider purchasing a croquet set, you will want to know the details about playing on surfaces such as artificial turf, dirt, or sand. Read on to learn how playing croquet on artificial turf, dirt, and sand impacts the overall game and setup.

Playing Croquet on Artificial Turf, Dirt, or Sand

Anyone, at any level, can play croquet; from relaxing, backyard picnic games to high-intensity tournaments to extreme croquet, there is a place for everyone. And that means you can play anywhere.

Although the American Croquet Association says on its website Croquetamerica.com, “the game is much more satisfying when played with higher-quality equipment and on the flattest and smoothest lawn with the shortest grass that you can find,” some people will enjoy the challenge of unorthodox playing surfaces.

Playing Croquet on Artificial Turf

Playing croquet on artificial turf may be the most challenging place to play. Merely bumping the ball with your mallet could result in the ball rolling the length of the course and even out of bounds if there are no physical barriers.

The level plane of the course will necessitate delicate putts rather than the solid thwacks that are the usual hits in croquet.

Some people may find this challenging; others may find it frustrating.

Playing Croquet on Sand

Playing croquet on sand will also have challenges. If the game is played near the edge of the water, where the sand is hard-packed, you might be able to poke traditional wickets into the ground, and the sand will be firm enough to hold them up.

There may be tracks and obstacles such as seaweed or driftwood. There will probably be some furrows made by waves and wind. Watch out for waves; you might lose your croquet balls in the water.

The website for the Useppa Island Club in Florida tells about a croquet tournament played there on the beach in the sand.

Playing Croquet on Dirt

Picture a croquet course set up on dirt such as a neighboring vacant lot or a rural area such as this photo of people playing croquet in the old west.

Attempting to play croquet on a dirt surface will present a unique set of challenges as a dirt surface often has:

  • Furrows
  • Ruts
  • Small pebbles
  • Grass or roots
  • Trees
  • Boulders

A dirt lot will not be the grassy lawn that croquet is usually played on. It will be more challenging.

The Ball Will Move Differently Depending on the Surface You Are Playing

The movement of croquet balls across a grassy lawn such as where croquet is usually played is very different than the movement of balls across other surfaces such as sand, dirt, or turf:

GrassArtificial TurfDirtSand
Ball Moves SlowlyBall Moves Very QuicklyBall Moves Very SlowlyBall Moves Very Slowly or Quickly Depending on How Hard the Sand is Packed
Ball Stops EasilyBall Does Not Stop EasilyBall Stops EasilyBall Stops Easily or Not Depending on How Hard the Sand is Packed
Few ObstaclesNo ObstaclesNumerous Obstacles Such as Rocks, Dirt Clods, Furrows or Ruts in DirtNumerous or Few Obstacles Depending on How Hard the Sand is Packed

How you hit the ball and the game rules will remain the same, but your approach may differ. Check out How To Play Croquet and How To Hit A Croquet Ball for more info.

How Playing Croquet on Artificial Turf, Dirt, and Sand Affects the Game

Of course, there are a few different things to consider if you do choose to play croquet on artificial turf, dirt, or sand. Up next, we’ll outline a few of these factors.

The Types of Wickets Needed for Playing Croquet will be Different

Wickets are the pieces of equipment in a croquet game that the ball goes under in the course. Usually, wickets look like the letter “H,” and the legs of the “H” are pressed into the soft earth of a grassy lawn. They can also be simple hoops or U-shaped brackets that get pressed into the ground.

Since the ground under artificial turf, dirt, and sand will be different than the dirt under the lawn, different equipment must be used.

Examples of Different Types of Wickets

One option would be to use bridge-type wickets that are stable enough to support themselves without being poked into the ground.

Another idea is to have a weighted foam base at the bottom of the legs of each wicket for added stability, such as in This Example from Amazon. This example might not be ideal since the ball has to go through or under the wicket, and the large base will make the area where the ball needs to move smaller and, therefore, more difficult to accomplish.

If you are handy, you can even make a set of wickets with PVC pipe and fittings using short pieces of PVC to make extenders that run parallel to the ground on the down pieces of the legs. If you search the internet for homemade croquet wickets, you will find several ideas about doing this.

Different Playing Surfaces Means Different Amounts of Time to Complete the Game

There is such a variety of ways to play croquet, from backyard smacking the ball to National Championships. Croquet is a sport that is played by a starting at a beginning spot, going through a course, and then ending. Unlike the sports of football or rodeo, there are no time clocks or stopwatches. It is more like golf, where you complete the course.

There are numerous factors that will affect how much time a croquet game takes:

  • Intentions of the players
  • Skills of the players
  • Course length
  • Type of playing surface
  • Weather
  • Number of players
  • Number of wickets

Different Types of Playing Surfaces Mean Different Levels of Difficulty

One of the variables that affect how difficult the game of croquet can be is the type of playing surface. In this YouTube video, the sport of extreme croquet is portrayed, including hitting the ball out of the mud and recovering a ball from the water.

https://youtu.be/RR0Xi9CMHZo

Imagine a course completely level with mown grass, straight up and down wickets, and where you can see the entire course. Contrast that with a course on dirt with all of the related obstacles.

Think of a croquet course designed to take into account the barriers inherent in the sand of a seascape or the lack of barriers, even the lack of friction, inherent in a course on artificial turf. Just walking around one of these courses could be considered strenuous, let alone hitting a ball through metal hoops in a competition.

Conclusion

Croquet is an enjoyable game that can be played by people who are at different skill and intensity levels. With a few equipment adjustments, croquet can be played on many surfaces, including artificial turf, dirt, and sand.

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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