On a warm August afternoon, members of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society (DRHS) have begun to gather on the lush green lawn at the Historic King Caesar House in Duxbury. The guests arrive dressed in their best, freshly pressed, white pants, shirts and dresses, prepared to partake in a traditional croquet tournament. Fancy hats complete the look.
Before the game begins, attendees sip summer cocktails and socialize in the shadow of the majestic Federal-style mansion. Built in 1809 for Ezra Weston II, a preeminent shipbuilder and merchant, the King Caesar House now operates as a museum and features examples of rare French scenic wallpapers, portraits of sea captains and 19th-century furnishings. On this day, however, the activity is taking place outside the halls of the grand estate as attendees face off in hopes of winning the “Weston Cup.”
The lawn of the King Caesar House is speckled with bright white wickets and wooden croquet balls, with each croquet court clearly marked by a numbered sign that is sturdy enough to support four wooden croquet mallets. The mallets wait patiently for players to come choose one and take their best shots.
The croquet tournament is one of a handful of fundraisers the DRHS holds throughout the year. Guests are welcomed to the tournament by the executive director, Erin Mcgough, who introduces the crowd to local croquet expert Bob Kroeger.
Kroeger, who lives in Sandwich, started playing competitive croquet at age 11 and has been professionally involved in the sport since 1984. A member of the United States National Croquet Team from 1988 – 1993, Kroeger was inducted into the Croquet Hall of Fame in 1999. More recently, however, he turned his attention to teaching others about the game of croquet through online instructional videos.
On this day, Kroeger goes over the rules of the game and gives tips on the proper way to hold and swing the mallet for those just starting out. Before long, the tournament gets underway. Teams of four people play in shifts to ensure that everyone is able to stay well hydrated and fed in between rounds. Competition is fierce and participants blend politeness with the perfect amount of trash talking. Many couples come year after year to test their Wicked Wicket skills and support the local historical museum in the process.
10 TIPS FROM CROQUET MASTER BOB KROEGER
1. Use your risk management skills. Analyze the likelihood of success of the play you have in mind and determine how, if it doesn’t work out, it might benefit the opponent.
2. Decide whether it’s smart to concede a wicket to the opponent and head to the next wicket.
3. Think of the team, not just of yourself. There are times when it’s beneficial to protect your partner’s ball rather than trying to score a difficult wicket shot.
4. If conceding a wicket to the opponent, don’t send both your balls to the next wicket in order. Have one stay in the fight at your current wicket.
5. Don’t ever give up. It’s amazing how often a team that is behind can make a great comeback.
6. Have your feet close together and parallel to one another and swing the mallet from your shoulders in a pendulum-like motion with the mallet head between the feet aimed at your target.
7. If you’re a great golfer, forget about what I said in the previous tip.
8. Primarily concern yourself with the opponent ball that plays next. That’s the one you may need to hit far away.
9. Talk to your partner about strategy. It’s better to have more good thinking than less!
10. Remember, this is a game. Have a great time, be competitive, but most importantly play fairly and be a great sport!
For more information and to view instructional videos about proper croquet technique, click here.
6th ANNUAL CROQUET TOURNAMENT
This year’s croquet tournament will take place on August 13.
3 – 7 p.m., King Caesar House. 120 King Caesar Road, Duxbury
Reservations required. All players must be a DRHS Member at
the time of registration. Tickets are available online.