Years ago, in the era before the Williams sisters, Andre Agassi shocked the tennis world by wearing Day-Glo colors to matches. This was simply not done. Not even John "Middle Finger" McEnroe was audacious enough to wear anything but white with a few tasteful stripes occasionally. This was a gentleman's game. Of course, that was then. And anyone who didn't like it could just take their white shorts and go play croquet.
But alas! For all those monocle-wearing, cigarette-holder-using, upper-crust folks, the time may soon come when even the croquet fields are a panoply of rainbow hues. Is nothing sacred? The National Croquet Center opened in May in West Palm Beach, featuring four acres of croquet lawn on a ten-acre site that also houses the U.S. Croquet Association, the Croquet Foundation of America, the National Croquet Club, and the National Croquet Museum and Gallery. Small wonder that it also claims the title of largest croquet facility in the world.
And whether they truly wish to turn the public at large into avid croquet fans or whether the upkeep cost on this place requires copious numbers of new members, the National Croquet Center opens its arms to the public this month. In an effort to make a sometimes-complicated game easier to understand, the center offers "golf croquet," which basically amounts to croquet using golf rules. Free sessions in this new sport (and we use the term sport in the same sense that billiards and ice dancing are sports) are offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The National Croquet Center
700 Florida Mango Rd., West Palm Beach
Free classes on croquet are held Monday-Wednesday, July 29-31, from 10 a.m. to noon, with future classes held August 13-15 and September 4-6 and 24-26. Call 561-478-2300.
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For those who try out golf croquet, wind up enjoying this pastime of the moneyed few, and would like to learn more about the actual game of croquet, the center offers three-session courses. The first of these new classes is this Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants learn the basic strokes and tactics of croquet, free of charge, in the hopes that they will be hooked and continue to come to the center to slap balls around with mallets for years to come.