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The Creation of a Championship Croquet Court
For those who remember playing croquet in the family backyard, aiming balls around rocks, sticks and crawling things — the game of croquet among serious players is a very different game. One thing that has elevated croquet to a game requiring well honed skills and strategy, is the creation of a court with a near ideal surface. Overtime, much thought has gone into how to create this ideal surface, and standards have developed related to construction and maintenance that are well beyond the backyard days. The Rossmoor Court is one of a number of courts referred to as a "Championship Court." From a player's perspective, a Championship Court is one in which a ball moves with precision movement, and a smoothness that seems to keep it hugging the ground as if magnetized. It is a court that is smooth, level, flat and on which a ball can move unerringlyand fast. But there are many things — not always that obvious that go into creating such a playing environment.

 
     
 
Some Facts about the Court
The Rossmoor Court is a full regulation size court of 84' by 105' located on the Greensward (the full lawn) of 100' x 120'. In addition there is a separate practice court, measuring 24' x 56', located adjacent to it.
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
 

Construction of the Court
Originally designed and built in 1991, the most recent renovation was in 1996. Attention to details and all modern engineering techniques to improve and maintain the court at Championship Level has been a major priority of the Rossmoor Croquet Club.

For example, the construction of our court began with its excavation to a depth of 5 to 6 feet. The base was first lined with a stone/gravel layer to allow good drainage into the heavy clay undersurface common in this area of New Jersey. The remainder of the cavity was filled with an 85% sand/15% loam mixture repeatedly compressed to make a firm, compact, and well settled foundation.

Topsoil, to the depth of 4-5 inches, was added last to grow the grass cover. Using laser technology, a virtually flat surface — with tolerances of only 1/4 inch over a run of 100 feet — was created. Use of laser has brought flat court construction to a precision that is beyond anything the game's early creators could ever have imagined.

 

 

 

The Practice Green is attached to the end of the full course
making it an "L" shape and measures 42' x 52'.
     
 

Grass used on the Court

The type of grass used for the surface is "Creeping Bent Grass," a grass species often used on golf course greens as well. It is an ideal choice for our northeastern states location, and makes a particularly smooth surface over which a ball can move in a straight line without deviation. Characteristics of Creeping Bent Grass which make it especially useful are:

  • it grows quickly, allowing it to recover easily after heavy use
  • it tolerates sun and water well and is not damaged by extremes
  • it grows closer to the surface than most other grasses
  • it has fine-textured blades which intertwine to form a soft, tightly-knit turf
  • it can be kept mowed at a ½ inch height without injuring its growth, or disrupting its density and fine texture.
 
 
 
 

Court Maintenance
Maintaining the court is a specialty in itself. Any surface exposed to the rigors of use and weather changes (from the heat of summer to the freezing temperatures of winter) — needs a rigorous maintenance schedule well beyond the obvious task of being mowed. Some of the operations Rossmoor uses to maintain the field quality are:

  • To distribute the wear on the surface, the full 84' x 105' lined-off regulation court is moved once a month to a slightly different position on the master green whose 100' x 120' size makes such changes possible. (See diagram to the right)
  • If wet before using, the court is cleared with a roller called a "Sopper," the same equipment used on Baseball Diamonds to remove water.
  • Compaction of the surface is done at least 3 times a year using heavy rollers.
  • Mowing, reseeding, fertilizing — as well as weed, fungus, moss, insect and worm control — are crucial components of top greens management.
  • Top Dressing and surface aeration is done every Fall. (This fills in the subtle undulations of the surface that always happen over time and which compaction alone cannot fully correct.)
 
     
  A professional greens management company, the same used by the Rossmoor Golf Course, oversees all aspects of course maintenance.

 
An example of Surface Aeration of the bent grass of the course.
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