Dressing in all white and using mallets to strike balls through “wickets” or “hoops” is one of the pastimes that approximately 1700 people on the plateau partake in.
Highlands Country Club Director of Croquet and Recreation, Joyce Baillargeon, said they started the croquet club called the “Strikers” in 2006 with 35 original members. Now the club has 271 members.
“Once we started the club we had 35 members, and it exploded,” said Baillargeon. “It’s a great thing for new members. You’re out there with 40 to 80 people so you get to meet a lot of people quickly, instead of being on a golf course with three other people.”
Croquet is also a method of raising funds. On Tuesday, the Country Club of Sapphire Valley hosted a croquet tournament to raise money for the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Western North Carolina.
The tournament had 48 players and raised over $11,000 dollars, said one of the event organizers, Nancy Albers, who is also on the committee for BBBS.
“I think it’s awesome, this is our fourth year doing this,” said Albers. “We had a great turnout and croquet is making a huge comeback in North Carolina.”
Kevin Moir, director of croquet, tennis and pickleball at Country Club of Sapphire said after adding a croquet lawn in 2013 it became obvious they needed to add a second croquet lawn.
“Every event we host we’re pretty much at capacity,” said Moir.
Croquet players usually wear white outfits, the history of that is somewhat hazy.
Baillargeon said she thinks the idea came from England, Moir summed it up as tradition.
“It may have started at Wimbledon in London,” said Moir. “But it gives it a certain elegance. Tradition is a big part of croquet.
Baillargeon said learning how to play croquet is fairly simple. There are two teams, the goal of which is to use a mallet to hit a ball through a wicket in a certain order.
William Cummings, 13, from Atlanta said he enjoys playing croquet as he spent the afternoon playing at Highlands Country Club.
“I guess it’s just relaxing,” said Cummings. “The hardest part is hitting the ball straight on with the face of the mallet. It takes skill.”
William’s sister, Lily, said it’s a good sport to play with friends.
“It’s fun and it’s competitive,” she said. “I really like the competition.”
By Brian O’Shea