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Croquet scores with skill, tactics and fitness

GIVE IT A SWING: The club’s longest-standing member Betty Belz shows her skill with the mallet, which saw her represent Australian.
GIVE IT A SWING: The club’s longest-standing member Betty Belz shows her skill with the mallet, which saw her represent Australian.

SKILL, tactics and exercise are probably not words non-croquet players associate with the sport.

But that's just because we haven't tried it yet, according to West Toowoomba Croquet Club president Joy Wright.

She said there was a movie-based misconception associating croquet with snobbery.

"We don't serve cucumber sandwiches here," Joy laughed.

"It's a sport that's active but not strenuous and it's also very good for your mind.

"It takes a lot of skill and concentration.

"There's only a couple of millimetres either side of the ball to the hoop, and there's a lot of strategising - thinking who's playing after me, and how do I hit their ball out of the way."

Joy said in a full game, which can take over two hours, you can walk a good 2-3km.

Shorter forms are also played, including Golf Croquet for beginners.

And croquet can be adapted for all abilities and disabilities, with the club creating special mallets for one man who had suffered a stroke.

But for Joy, the socialising is as enjoyable as the game itself.

The problem is, the club has fallen to just 15 members (including her two teenage children), despite having three full-sized lawns with tournament-standard lighting.

That's why it is holding Come and Try days on Sundays from 4-6pm, culminating in World Croquet Day on Saturday, May 6, when Toowoomba's three clubs will all run croquet.

Joy said she had tried bowls and golf before becoming "hooked" on croquet three years ago at just such a night.

"When people get out and try croquet, they are really surprised how much is involved and how much they enjoy it," Joy said.

Australia has about 8000 players and that number is growing, with an under-21s tournament now extremely competitive.

"It really is for all ages, and both men and women," Joy said.

As evidence, the club's longest-standing member Betty Belz, now in her mid-70s, has played for over 30 years, and represented Australia.

Her husband Russell started as the club's greenskeeper, but since retiring he's also at the club playing every chance he gets.

To find out more, call 4633 0911, go to www.wtcc.org.au or just pop on your flat shoes and a hat and head to the club at 147a Taylor St on Sunday afternoons throughout April, and give it a swing.

Topics:  active ageing croquet general-seniors-news health outandabout toowoomba


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