All set for golf croquet nationals

Waireka Croquet Club members (from left) Colin Lamb, Audrey Leath and Bill Allnutt.

The lawns at Waireka Croquet Club are running well and all that remains is for the weather gods to play their part when the Golf Croquet Nationals start on Sunday.

The tournament runs through until January 22 and is the most prestigious ever hosted by the Ashburton club.

Fifteen of the 17 players taking part in singles and doubles events hold world rankings.

Three players from the Waireka club, which is part of Croquet South Canterbury, are involved and the standard of play is expected to be very high.

Club volunteers have been working hard to ensure everything is ready and in tip top order for the premium event.

Mowing guru Colin Lamb has been lovingly caring for the six playing lawns and has recently been mowing daily to 6mm to ensure they run at the right speed.

The club has successfully completed three speed tests which now mean the croquet ball will travel the length of a playing lawn in the required time of around 11 seconds.

Bill Allnutt is in charge of marking lines and will set up the hoops each day of play.

Eva Kircher is the tournament referee and Audrey Leath is charged with managing the overall tournament.

Mrs Leath said excitement at the club was building and it couldn’t wait to welcome players and spectators.

Watering of the lawns would now stop because moisture slowed down the run of the ball, she said.

“We’ve requested warm and dry weather for the next week or so, and we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Mrs Leath said Waireka had been confirmed as a venue for the nationals last April after a visit by officials, who had been impressed with the venue.

Covid had restricted entry numbers this year, but those playing were among the best of the best and coming from around the country.

There would be no time limits on games and strictly no mallets allowed in the club house, she said.

Doubles will be played over the first three days, with matches starting from 8.30am, followed by four days of singles play.

Mrs Leath said results would be posted promptly online to the website and there was prize money up for grabs.

A number of social events were also planned over the week.

Golf croquet is considered to be a faster form of the game than association croquet.

-By Mick Jensen