Nowra Croquet Club celebrates 100 years of playing ‘the sport of thought’, a nasty game for nice people

Croquet players say it is 15 per cent skill and 85 per cent psychology, an aggressive game played by nice people with smiles on their faces.

The good folks at Nowra Croquet Club celebrate a century of the game this year and today launch a book recognizing and celebrating 100 years since the club’s inception.

Nowra Croquet Club secretary Karen James instigated the production of the book.

He proudly highlights a unique characteristic of the club: being largely female-only for most of its history.

Karen James holds up a photograph of women from the last century. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

But it’s not a ladies’ club anymore.

“Our first man, as shown in the book, didn’t become a member until 1982, so that’s a long time. [only for] ladies and, of course, they played with long skirts”.

“The ladies played aside with their mallet because it was unseemly for a woman to push a mallet between her legs.”

Patience, persistence, and a playful spirit are required for this hard-hitting game.

“It’s called ‘the sport of thinking’ and that’s particularly important to us older people,” said 82-year-old player David Knott.

The Nowra Croquet Club and its members play an important role in the life of Mr. Knott, who joined the club five years ago and plays frequently.

“You are looking to outsmart your opponent. You are looking for the position of their balls versus the position of your own balls. You have to assess what shot you are going to make to benefit from scoring that hoop.

“The art is to move the opponents’ balls as far as possible.”

“You have to think and exercise all the time. That’s what’s important: keep moving.”

People playing croquet
Members of the Nowra Croquet Club play in any weather. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Pam Harrison started playing croquet when she was 89 years old.

She is now 91 years old and not only does she love it, according to club members she is also quite hot.

“You can still play croquet with a walker, you just have to leave it there for a moment while you take your mallet and hit the ball, then you go back to your walker,” Harrison said.

“I love it. Anyone who has a walker and thinks they should come, just come, because you’re very welcome.”

Margaret, Pam and Brian on the court
At 91 years old, Pam Harrison manages to play croquet almost every day and highly recommends it. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

a nasty game

Doug Cornish, the club’s vice-captain and grounds coordinator, agrees that the game employs something akin to war tactics.

Tree men.
Brian Rosen, Doug Cornish and David Knott at Nowra Croquet Club(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

On the lawn you have four options.

“It’s about deciding if you can run a hoop, or if you need to clear an opponent or block an opponent, or promote your teammate’s ball,” he said.

However, Cornish said that a key ingredient to a good game is patience.

“Don’t rush. Look at what your options are, and then if you want to be really technical, look at what the percentage of making a particular shot is,” he said.

The importance of sport

A group of people hanging out in the clubhouse.
Club members enjoy time together on and off the pitch. (ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)

Karen James believes that at her club, which has more than 60 members, the players understand the importance of sport.

“[It is important] to go on and stay not just physically active but socially active, so you’re also interacting.

“This game is perfect for those people who can no longer run the marathon or swing a golf club or even bend over to bowl.”

Aware , updated

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