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Golf Croquet Rules for
WCF World Championships

by Tony Hall
Posted January 11, 1999


The rules below have been drawn up by the WCF Working Party and will be used at World Golf Croquet Championships held after 1st January 1999. The new Rules incorporate experience gained at the World Championship held at Leamington Spa in 1998.

A few major changes should be noted:

(1) It is now be permissible to score hoops by jumping the striker`s ball over blocking balls;
(2) Playing your partner`s or adversary`s ball will not be forestalled by the referee and will remain a fault;
(3) Playing out of sequence will be forgiven;
(4) The number of halfway points will be reduced to two.
(5) A handicap rule has been added.

The WCF Golf Croquet Working Party`s aim was to produce precise, unambiguous, consistent and understandable rules that reduce the possibility for dispute or cheating. The English, Egyptian, United States and Australian rules of Golf Croquet were all considered during the development. Comments are welcome and should be directed to Tony Hall at:


1. The Standard Court

(a) The court is a rectangle, measuring 35 by 28 yards (32 by 25.6 metres). Its boundaries shall be marked clearly, the inside edge of the definitive border being the actual boundary. Diagram 1 shows the setting. The four corners are known as corners I, II, III, and IV and the boundaries as South, West, North and East, regardless of the actual orientation of the court. The peg is set in the centre of the court. The hoops are set parallel to North and South boundaries, the centres of the two inner hoops are 7 yards (6.4 metres) to the north and south of the peg and the centres of the four outer hoops are 7 yards (6.4 metres) from the adjacent boundaries.

(b) If there is insufficient room for a full size court a smaller one may be laid out. Dimensions should be kept proportional to the standard court as far as possible.

Court Layout
2. Equipment

(a) The hoops shall be of round metal of uniform diameter of 5/8 inch (16 mm) above the ground. They shall be 12 inches (300 mm) in height above the ground measured to the top of the crown, vertical and firmly fixed. The crown can be round or square in section and must be straight and at right angles to the uprights, whose inner surfaces must be parallel and not less than 3 11/16 inches (93.5 mm) or more than 4 inches (100 mm) apart. All hoops on any court should be the same dimensions to a tolerance of 1/32 inch (0.8 mm). The hoops shall be white, with the crown of the first hoop blue and that of the last hoop red.

(b) The peg has a uniform diameter of 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) and a height of 18 inches (450 mm) above ground. It must be vertical and firmly fixed in the ground. It shall be white to a height of 6 inches (150 mm) above the ground with blue, red, black and yellow bands descending in that order from the top.

(c) There are four balls coloured blue, red, black and yellow, but alternative colours are permitted. Balls shall be 3 5/8 inches (92 mm) plus or minus 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) diameter, with a milled surface and of even weight of 16 ounces (454 grams), plus or minus 1/4 ounce (7 grams). Balls are to be approved by the country of play or, in the case of WCF events, by the WCF. Faulty or damaged balls may be changed at any time during a game. Where several courts are in use, the balls should be used in matched sets.

(d) The head of a mallet shall be of any material provided the player shall gain no advantage over wood. The end-faces shall be parallel and shall have identical playing characteristics. Bevelled edges are not part of the end-faces.

3. Accessories

The following accessories should be supplied for guidance, convenience and decoration. Any accessory impeding a player may be removed temporarily.

(a) Corner flags coloured blue, red, black and yellow may be placed in corners I, II, III and IV respectively. They should be mounted on posts about 12 inches (300 mm) high, touching the boundary but not intruding into the court.

(b) A check fence just high enough to arrest the progress of balls may be placed around the boundary and about 1 1/2 yards (1.3 metres) outside it.

(c) White halfway pegs, 3/4 inch (20 mm) in diameter and 3 inches (80 mm) in height may be placed on the boundary to mark the ends of the halfway lines.

4. The Game

(a) The game is played as either doubles with four players or singles with two players. In doubles one side of two players plays with blue and black balls and the other side with red and yellow, each player playing one colour. In singles each player plays both balls of their side.

(b) The game is played by striking a ball with a mallet. The striker must never strike an adversary's or partner's ball.

(c) The balls are played in the sequence blue, red, black, yellow. Thus if yellow is played in one stroke, blue will be played in the following stroke.

(d) All balls are always contesting the same hoop and a point is scored by the side whose ball first runs the hoop. When that hoop has been scored by any ball, all balls are then contesting the next hoop.

(e) A match is a contest for the best of either 1, 3 or 5 games of 7, 13 or 19 points. Each game ends as soon as one side (the winner) has scored a majority of the points to be played.

(f) The hoops are contested as shown in Diagram 1. In a 7 point game the first 7 hoops are played. In a 13 point game the first 12 hoops are played and the final point is scored by contesting hoop 3 again. In a 19 point game the first 12 hoops are played, then hoops 3, 4, 1, 2, 11 and 12. The final point is scored by contesting hoop 3 again.

(g) Two games may be played simultaneously on the same court. (But this should not occur at championship level). If this is done all players should be aware of the other game and try to avoid any conflicts. Balls from the other game may be marked with permission from the participants of that game. Interference between balls in different games is covered by Rule 10.

5. The Start

(a) The side which wins the toss plays blue and black and blue plays first.

(b) All balls are initially played from within a yard (0.9 metres) of corner IV in the correct sequence and this order is maintained in subsequent turns.

(c) When a match consists of more than one game, the players retain the same balls, and the loser starts the next game with the loser's next ball in colour sequence.

6. The Turn

(a) Each turn consists of one stroke only.

(b) During the stroke the striker's ball may score a hoop point and cause other balls to move and score the hoop point.

(c) When the balls have stopped each ball off the court is placed so that its centre is on the inside edge of the boundary where it went off. A ball is off the court if half the ball is over the boundary.

(d) If such a ball cannot be so placed because of the presence of another ball it should be placed after that ball has been played. If it obstructs the playing of another ball it is temporarily removed.

(e) A ball may be jumped over a hoop or another ball subject to Rule 13(a)(15) (court damage).

7. Hoop Point

(a) A ball scores a point by passing through the correct hoop in the order and direction shown in Diagram 1.

(b) The running of a hoop is illustrated in Diagram 2. The ball starts to run the hoop as soon as the front of the ball breaks the plane of the non-playing side of the hoop. It completes the running if it stops clear of the plane of the playing side.

the hoop

(c) A ball may run a hoop in two or more turns.

(d) If the striker's ball causes another ball to run the hoop being contested, that other ball scores the point, even if the striker`s ball also runs the hoop. It is said to be peeled through the hoop. If two balls are peeled in one stroke, the one closest to the hoop before the shot scores the hoop

(e) If a ball runs two hoops in order in one stroke both points are scored.

8. The Court

(a) Loose impediments may be removed. Examples include worm casts, twigs, leaves, nuts, refuse and similar material.

(b) The striker may ask the referee to give relief from a hole that affects play. The referee should repair the hole. If this is impractical the referee may move the ball so as to give the striker no advantage.

(c) If a ball moves before the next player has played in sequence, it is to remain where it finally stops, and any hoop point scored is counted. Otherwise the ball is to be replaced.

(d) If any fixed obstacle or change of level outside the court impedes the playing of the next stroke, the striker's ball may be moved so that there is no advantage to the striker.

9. Advice

(a) Players may advise their partners and assist in the playing of a stroke by indicating the direction in which the mallet is to be swung. However when the stroke is actually played, the partner must stand well clear of the striker or any spot which might assist the striker in gauging the strength or direction of the stroke.

(b) If asked, a player must tell an opponent the score, which hoop is next in order, whose turn it is and whether a ball has been replaced on court after crossing the boundary or on a halfway point.

10. Interference

(a) A ball that is moved by a non-striking fault (Rule 12) or an outside agency unconnected with the game (such as animals, spectators, players or equipment from another game, a ball off the court and other stray objects, but not weather) is replaced.

(i) If a player plays a ball out of sequence it is replaced and the striker plays the correct ball without penalty. Any other balls moved are replaced and no points scored following that error are counted.

(ii) If several balls are played out of sequence the balls are placed back in their original positions before the first ball was played in error. However if the error is not noticed before the incorrectly played ball has been played again, no action is taken on that or any previously incorrectly played ball.

(iii) The referee`s ruling is final, but help in reconstructing the correct situation may be sought from the players.

(c) If a non-striking fault or an outside agency unconnected with the game interferes with a moving ball during a stroke and materially affects the outcome thereof, the stroke is replayed. If the outcome is not materially affected, the referee should put it where it would otherwise have stopped.

(d) After interference a ball cannot cause another ball to move or score a point.

11. Playing For The Next Hoop

(a) The striker may play towards the hoop beyond the one being contested, but no more than half way. A ball beyond the halfway line is returned to a halfway point after the hoop in order is scored and all balls have stopped. It may be returned there at any time before it is next played. It is placed on either of the two halfway points D and E on Diagram 3, at the choice of the ball`s owner. (See Diagram 3 and the table below). If it obstructs the playing of another ball it is temporarily removed.

(b) Exceptions to this rule are:

(1) If the ball reached its position as a result of
(i) striking an adversary ball, or
(ii) being put in its position by an adversary`s stroke, or
(iii) (iii) scoring the previous hoop, either by being struck through the hoop, by being peeled through the hoop or by peeling another ball, or
(iv) being struck by its partner ball which scores a point in the same stroke.

(2) If the ball is further from the next hoop than the nearer halfway point.

(3) If the adversary decides that the ball shall remain where it is.
AF and CH are midway between the centrelines
of hoops 1 and 2, 5 and 6, and 3 and 4.

White halfway pegs may be placed at points on the boundary, particularly A, C, D, E, F and H.

Playing Halfway line 2 DE 3 BG 4 DE 5 CH 6 DE 7 AF 8 DE 9 BG 10 DE 11 CH 12 DE 13 DE

12. Non-Striking Faults

(a) It is a fault at any time if a player touches any ball, whether at rest or in motion, with any part of the body, clothes or mallet (other than a player's ball with the mallet when playing it in sequence or when replacing a ball off the court, marking or cleaning a ball, or returning a ball to a halfway point.). However playing out of sequence is excused, see Rule 10(b).

(b) If a player commits a fault of this type the next player in the side which made the fault loses their next turn to play.

(c) Play continues as provided in Rule 10.

13. Striking Faults

(a) It is a fault if, in striking, the player:

(1) touches the head of the mallet with a hand;

(2) causes or attempts to cause the mallet to strike the ball by kicking or hitting the mallet;

(3) rests the shaft of the mallet or a hand or arm on the ground;

(4) rests the shaft of the mallet or a hand or arm directly connected with the stroke against any part of the legs or feet;

(5) strikes the striker's ball with any part of the mallet other than an end-face (See the definition of a mallet, Rule 2(d)); an accidental mis-hit is not a fault under this sub-rule unless the stroke is hampered (A stroke is hampered if it requires special care because of the proximity of a hoop or the peg or another ball);

(6) intentionally causes the striker`s ball to hit a ball on a halfway point or that was replaced after going off the court;

(7) plays before any ball moved in the previous stroke stops or before all balls are replaced on the court unless directed by the referee;

(8) pushes or pulls the striker's ball by maintaining contact between mallet and ball for an appreciable period of time or causes the mallet to accelerate while still in contact with the ball. A push is played away from the body. A pull is played towards the body;

(9) "double taps" the striker`s ball by hitting it twice in the same stroke or maintaining contact between the mallet and the ball after the ball has hit another ball;

(10) causes a hoop or the peg to move a ball at rest by hitting a hoop or the peg with the mallet or any part of the body or clothes;

(11) strikes the striker's ball so as to cause it to touch a hoop or the peg when still in contact with the mallet;

(12) strikes the striker's ball, when it lies in contact with a hoop or the peg, otherwise than in a direction away therefrom;

(13) touches a ball other than the striker's ball with the mallet or allows the striker's ball to retouch the mallet (But see Rule 10(b));

(14) touches any ball with any part of the body or clothes;

(15) deliberately plays a stroke that is likely to cause and does cause substantial damage to the court by the mallet; substantial damage is damage capable of affecting a subsequent shot played over the damaged area, normally involving the breaking of the surface of the court;

(16) plays a partner's ball or opponent's ball.

(b) Action After a Striking Fault

(1) Any ball moved during that stroke is replaced, no point is scored for any ball and the turn ends.

(2) Except for Rule 13(a)(16), if the fault is not noticed until after the next player has played no action is taken. Play continues as if the fault had not occurred.

(3) If a fault under Rule (13)(a)(16) is not noticed until after several partner`s or opponent`s balls have been played the balls are placed back in their original positions before the first ball was played in error, no points scored following that error are counted, and the opponent plays. However if the error is not noticed before the incorrectly played ball has been played again, no action is taken on that or any previously incorrectly played ball. The referee's ruling is final, but help in reconstituting the correct situation may be sought from the players.

14. Behaviour

If a player behaves in any of the following ways the referee should warn them not to do so again. If the behaviour is repeated the referee may raise a yellow card and the next player in the offending side loses their turn. If the behaviour is repeated a second time the referee may raise a red card and the offending side loses the match. In this case the score is recorded as the winning total (usually 7) to the winner and the score already recorded by the loser when the red card is raised.

(a) Fails to observe the required standard of dress.
(b) Leaves the court without good reason. Any absence with good reason should be for not more than five minutes.
(c) Acts on tactical advice from anyone other than their partner.
(d) Smokes or consumes alcohol during the match.
(e) Disturbs other players during the match.
(f) Interrupts the striker by standing or moving in front of the striker or otherwise.
(g) Bargains with, argues with or is aggressive with an opponent.
(h) Fails to play with reasonable dispatch. Players should not waste time and should play within 60 seconds of the balls stopping or being replaced after the last stroke.
(i) Uses a mark or marker to assist the striker in gauging the strength or direction of a stroke.
(j) Except in the absence of a referee, attempts to perform a test to determine whether a point has been scored.
(k) Except in the absence of a referee, touches or moves a ball.
(l) Continues to damage the court by committing faults under Rule 13(a)(15). The second fault of this type will be considered to be the first instance of unacceptable behaviour.
(m) Fails to accept a decision of the referee on a matter of fact or show lack of respect for the referee.
(n) Acts in such a manner that may bring the game into disrepute.

15. Referees

(a) The duties of the referee are to:

(1) resolve disputes between players by interpreting the rules and by making rulings on matters of fact. If a situation is not covered in the rules the dispute shall be decided in the best judgment of the referee. If this occurs the facts are to be reported to the appropriate national association for reference to the World Croquet Federation.

(2) observe and judge any stroke in which the fairness or effect may be in doubt, including any in which a fault may be committed.

(3) forestall any player about to play out of sequence.

(4) determine whether any ball has scored a point or is in a position to do so. If a point has been scored, indicate this to players, spectators and scorer by raising one arm above the head.

(5) after each hoop is scored ensure that any appropriate balls subject to Rule 11 are returned to a halfway point.

(6) lift and clean any ball on request from the striker or on the referee`s initiative, or decide that it should not be moved because its precise position is important.

(7) move any balls (if a small hole cannot be repaired or if a swing is obstructed) or decide they may not be moved.

(8) remove or have removed any spectator giving advice or disturbing the match.

(9) enforce the rules of behaviour listed above.

(10) remember that a fault is something that players are trying to avoid, whereas bad behaviour is something that is at their discretion, which they only do because they decide to, and should therefore be penalised without hesitation after the first warning.

(11) use discretion to decide whether a player more than 15 minutes late should forfeit the match.

(12) check the court`s preparation and condition, provision and condition of equipment and the accuracy of court settings and equipment. Ensure that they are maintained as required, including that the hoops are the right dimensions and tightly fixed in the ground and that any holes and scars in the court surface are repaired.

(13) determine whether or not the court and its equipment are sufficiently close to the specified dimensions as to be fit for play.

(14) if necessary, decide that a match should be suspended or abandoned. Normally this should only be done immediately after a point is scored. For a suspended match the referee should mark the positions of the balls and record the score, which ball is next to play and any other information relevant to the game.

(15) when asked, explain rules briefly, tell players whether an error has been made, the score, which hoop is next in order, whose turn it is and whether a ball has been replaced on court after crossing the boundary or on a halfway point. A player may not be given advice on tactics or technique.

(16) direct any ball boys/girls and scorers appointed to the game.

(17) complete a scorecard or undertake other actions required by the Tournament Manager to ensure accurate recording of the results.

(b) A player may appeal a referee`s interpretation of the rules but may not appeal a referee`s ruling on a matter of fact. Appeals are to be made to the Tournament Referee.

(c) In the absence of a referee the players are joint referees. Players may gain no advantage by neglecting their duties as joint referees. Players should warn the other side before playing hard shots. Both sides are responsible for keeping the score, the striker announcing it after each point is scored. If there is a difference of opinion on a matter of fact, the opinion of the player with the best view is preferred. If two views are equal, the striker`s opinion prevails.

16. Handicaps

(a) Handicap games may be played to allow players of different abilities to compete so that they will have more equal chances of success. Normal rules apply except as indicated in this rule. Each player is allotted a handicap according to ability, the best players zero and the weaker players a handicap in each game up to one less than half the number of hoops to be played. In singles the weaker player is allowed a number of extra turns equal to the difference in their handicaps.

(b) No point may be scored for the striker`s side with an extra turn.

(c) An extra turn may only be taken by a striker at the end of that striker`s turn, with the same ball. Strikers may play an extra turn at any stage in the game and, if receiving more than one, in succession. At the conclusion of a turn strikers must give a clear indication of their intention and forestall opponents from playing. Strikers entitled to play extra turns who indicate that they intend to do so may change their mind at any time before playing the stroke, providing they indicate that intention. Strikers indicating they do not intend to play an extra turn may not change their minds. Strikers losing their turn by making a fault or receiving a yellow card may then, if desired, use an extra turn or turns.

(d) In handicap doubles extra turns are given to a player not a side. The number given by the lower-handicapped player in one side to the lower-handicapped player in the other side is the difference between their handicaps, and similarly with the higher-handicapped players in each side.

(e) Handicaps are initially set for each player and then changed automatically based on the player`s success in singles games:

(1) To set a handicap the player is to start from the fourth corner and count the number of hits to run hoops one to six inclusive. Players complete this exercise three times to the best of their ability and the total number of hits is taken to obtain a grading score. This score is used to assess their handicap and index from Table A below. This will not be an accurate handicap as it measures only some of the skills and tactics needed. Players should play with this handicap and the automatic system should eventually obtain a correct value.

Table A

Handicaps and Indices

Grading Score       Handicap          Index
               19 / 13 / 7 pt. game
Less than 46    0    0    0            150
46-50           2    1    1            125
51-55           3    2    1            100
56-60           5    3    2             75
61-65           6    4    2             50
66-70           8    5    3             25
71-74           9    6    3              0

Greater than 74   Not Graded

(2) The player`s index is increased or decreased for each competitive game won or lost (except that no player may have an index lower than zero). The handicap changes when the player`s index reaches the value corresponding with a different handicap. Both handicap and level games count towards changes in the player`s index. Players are required to keep a record of their index.

(3) In handicap games, the winner's index increases by five and the loser's index decreases by five.

(4) In level games, the index movement is decided by (a) the handicap difference between the two players, and (b) whether the higher or lower indexed player won. For the purposes of this calculation, the 13 point handicap difference is used, independent of the game played. The index movement varies from 1 to 9, see below.

Table B

Index Movements (Level Play)

Handicap Difference        Index Movement

                       Higher          Lower
                     index wins        index wins
up to 1                 5                 5
2                       4                 6
3                       3                 7
4                       2                 8
5 and above             1                 9


1. Officials - Every tournament must have a Tournament Manager and a Tournament Referee who are together responsible, as explained below, for the interpretation and enforcement of the Rules and Regulations and the administration of the tournament. One person may do both jobs.

2. Referees, Ball Boys/Girls and Scorers

(a) The Tournament Referee (TR) appoints referees to matches and supervises referees` performance. A Deputy Tournament Referee is to be appointed by the TR to carry out the duties in the absence of the TR. A player may appeal to the TR about the rules but not on a matter of fact.

(b) A referee should be appointed to every match. The duties of a referee are specified in Rule 15.

(c) Where possible, one or two ball boys or girls will be appointed to each match. They are to comply with the referee`s directions.

(d) A scorer or scorers may be appointed to a match.

3. Tournament Manager - The duties of the Tournament Manager are to manage the tournament in all respects to ensure it is enjoyable for spectators, players, officials and all others involved. Among other things the manager should:

(a) Advertise and publcise widely the existence of the tournament and conditions and method of entering in order to ensure there is a good field and many spectators.
(b) Receive entries, arrange the draw, time and order of play, allot courts to games and publish all details in a programme and otherwise.
(c) Arrange for all necessary courts, facilities, equipment and officials to be available.
(d) Ensure appropriate accommodation and catering arrangements are made.
(e) Make any alterations to the programme, draw and other arrangements as are necessary.
(f) Grant or refuse leave of absence to competitors and officials.
(g) Endeavour to ensure fair and equal competition.
(h) Supervise the standard of dress and off-court behaviour of players and officials.
(i) If necessary, disqualify a player.
(j) Ensure adequate publicity is given to the progress and results of the tournament.
(k) Ensure prizes are available and presented at an appropriate ceremony.
(l) act as a tournament handicapper by giving a provisional handicap to any competitor who has no handicap, by altering handicaps (in the interests of the tournament) before or during play and by giving new handicaps in place of provisional handicaps after play (competitors must be informed before they leave). Players are required to advise the manager their correct handicaps on arrival and a player who plays at a handicap higher than entitled must be disqualified.

4. Time Limits - The Tournament Manager may impose time limits as necessary. A time limit of less than an hour for a 13-point game should not normally be imposed. At the expiry of the time the game will continue until the next point is scored. If a result is required the manager may authorise the continuation of the game for one more point.

5. Appeals Committee

(a) An Appeals Committee will be set up by the organising body before the tournament commences, comprising two representatives of the organising body and the Tournament Referee. If any player has a grievance that cannot be settled by the Tournament Manager, the matter shall be settled by the Appeals Committee, whose decision shall be final.

(b) The Tournament Manager shall consult this Committee in respect of any change proposed to the advertised format of the tournament, but having consulted the Committee, the Manager shall always retain the right to implement any changes he or she deems necessary to complete the tournament on time.

(c) The Committee shall make itself available at all times to the Manager to give advice on the conduct of the tournament should such advice be requested.

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