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Croquet by drone

Croquet by drone
photos by Sherif Abdelwahab and others as credited

Layout by Reuben Edwards

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Drone videos from all over


Someday, somewhere this side of the rainbow, drones will deliver pizza and packages, but for now, in 2018, they are mostly toys and curiosities and necessities for selling real estate, because they all have docks for cameras--including your I PHONE--for taking videos or still pics. Since 2010, drones have proliferated to such an extent that federal and local laws are now defining what kind of liberties these little spies can take. In most cases--in the United States and other countries--the cameras are allowed to fly as high as 200 feet. Our stills and videos display not only the croquet lawns, but usually also their relationship to other features of the landscape. Many of the photos deserve a large canvass, so we have provided big-screen access. All you have to do is to CLICK on the small image, and it will take you to a "walk-through" gallery of more than 30 images of facilities in the four biggest croquet-playing countries.


Click here to access the Walk-Through Gallery that includes all the photographs and descriptions of facilities in this article.

A TYPICAL QUADCOPTER DRONE with camera and can fly legally in most countries up to 200 feet or more without special permits. UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) with cameras are controlled from the ground with a monitoring system that allows the operator to see what the camera sees and to control its movements. In the United States, federal legislation seeks to allow local and state authorities to set their own limits within broad guidelines that protect manned air traffic and military installations. Many local jurisdictions have also established regulations to protect privacy rights of individuals and businesses.

Droning America

CEDAR CREEK CROQUET CLUB is a private member-owned organization with a full size court on the western plateau of North Carolina in Cashiers.

HIGHLAND FALLS COUNTRY CLUB, on the North Carolina plateau, hosted in 2017 the Highlands Shootout. The high-level confrontation between Jeff Soo and Sherif Abdelwahab was a Golf Croquet exhibition match to show the 400 spectators what the game could be like when played at a high level.

The main court of the DALLAS CROQUET ASSOCIATION is Bob Chilton's court in Heath, Texas, on the shore of Lake Ray Hubbard. It's size is about 80 percent of a full court, with high-maintenance bent grass.

THE MEADOW CLUB of Southampton, New York, is primarily a tennis venue, with two croquet courts (in the upper left corner of the court area) in nearly as good condition as the grass tennis courts. In the formative years of the USCA, big tournaments were done there because of the availability of many courts in one place. During the Meadow Club's own invitational, most the tennis courts are available for use.

MISSION HILLS COUNTRY CLUB near Palm Springs does by design, in the West, what the Meadow Club did by happenstance--convincing the club management that having many courts for grass tennis and croquet would enable them to host major events in both sports. The first photo is "the big picture" including some tennis courts.

The lawns dedicated for croquet at MISSION HILLS are the site of many finals play-downs.

MISSION HILLS may convert tennis courts for croquet for their major events, with enough courts to host national championships.

The primary croquet courts at MISSION HILLS are surrounded by other country club amenities and abutted by club members' houses. Photos courtesy of Justin Fields.

The NATIONAL CROQUET CENTER in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the largest croquet facility in the world and by 2020 will have 15 regulation courts, when the Palm Courts--on the dry retention area near the top of the screen--are restored to playing condition.

The NCC drone photos were taken late in the day, so the photographer, Shawn Meredith, would not have to get signed permission from many players on the courts.

Looking westward into the sun from this height, you can see on the upper right horizon the bulky white county sherif's facility where prisoners have a privileged view of the links at the Trump International Golf Club a long block west of the National Croquet Center. In the upper left hand corner is the Primitive Baptist Church that someday could be purchased to make room for more parking and courts.

On Thursday nights year-round at the Center there is Twilight Croquet, when members and guests often gather on the veranda at the end of play for drinks, conversation, and bar food.

This view of the Scissortail Invitational in OKLAHOMA CITY combines a drone shot with a wide lens to take in the entire court.

The SARASOTA COUNTY CROQUET CLUB is, by far, the largest and most successful club on public turf in America, thanks to Hall of Famers Jackie and Fred Jones. These drone shots of the seven courts are supplied courtesy of Russ Cucia and Hans Peterson.

From the north, the seven courts fit in the county park with very little room to spare, for parking and courtside amenities.

A closer view shows that a bigger clubhouse could be fit into the triangular area on the left.

Parking space for the Sarasota County Croquet Club is shared with the other facilities in the park, off the main road.

New Zealand courts from above

All the New Zealand pictures here were taken by Sherif Abdelwahab at the 2018 Association Croquet World Championship and all the descriptions are edited from comments by Chris Clarke.

The five lawns of the WAIKANAE CLUB are set in a pretty and peaceful suburban location. The four lawns at the bottom of the picture are not all on the same level, with the two furthest right being raised above the two on the left.

The single court behind the clubhouse was the best playing lawn at the 2018 World Championships, faster than the others and with good grass quality. (This is probably the most elevated drone still in the collection.)

PARAPARAUMU was the venue of the 2002 World final between Robert Fulford and Toby Garrison which had to be moved up the coast from Wellington due to flooding. The lawns tend to be on the slow side, although as you can see from the black patches on the picture, the club had dried them up a bit for the 2018 Worlds. The two lawns on the right are several feet higher than the two on the left.

PLIMMERTON is a traditional four-lawn club in an industrial area next to a busy main road. The photo clearly shows a lack of grass on the majority of the lawns. What is doesn't show is that there is a substantial drop from right to left. One player at the 2018 Worlds played a banana/worm cannon from the top left hand corner only for the striker's ball to roll back between their legs off the lawn!

Australia by Drone

NEWCASTLE NATIONAL PARK CROQUET CLUB sits on land bequeathed to the City many years ago by an agricultural/mining company for community and sporting use. Close to the center of Newcastle, the club has about 85 members and makes space for four forms of croquet: Association, Golf, Ricochet and Gateball. These photos were taken in the middle of 2018, when the greens were being worked on, with a Golf game in progress on a cold winters day with very few in attendance, according to club secretary Alan Gray,

Here's an overhead shot of NEWCASTLE courts 1 and 2. The courts are also for Gateball (two gateball courts per croquet court) The Clubhouse is at top center of the picture.

The NEWCASTLE Club house is at top left and the equipment shed at center left.

Looking over the NEWCASTLE courts, you can see the local athletics track on the far left, and the houses in the background tip you off to a residential location.

Here you get a glimpse of NEWCASTLE Court 3 at lower left and the athletics track at top left. The large green roof at left is the athletics grandstand. The white roofed building at lower right is a former tennis clubhouse, with the old tennis courts on the right.

ALDINGA BAY CROQUET CLUB

The two courts of this small club in seaside town in South Australia share the clubhouse with lawn bowlers. The drone photos were part of a funding drive to help finance lighting for night play of Association Croquet, Golf Croquet, and Ricochet.

HEADLAND-BUDERIM is a four-lawn croquet club on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Drone pictures taken early in 2018 helped make a case to their landlord, the Sunshine Coast Council, for financial support.

The drone was used partly to inspect the solar panels on the roof of the clubhouse of the HEADLAND-BUDERIM Croquet Club, which opened on this site in 1990.

Looking down on an English club

SURBITON is one of England's premier clubs, situated in the outer suburbs west of London.

The seven courts lie in a larger public park where other sports--lawn bowls, tennis, cricket--are available to the public.

DRONE VIDEOS

Drone videos are just as fascinating as the aerial still shots. We are not sharing nearly as many as we received, but find these four noteworthy for particular reasons.

FYLDE is just east of the coastal resort of Blackpool in northwest England. Their three courts are reclaimed from disused tennis courts that the club shares with South Shore Tennis Club. Like many UK venues, their offcourt facilities are modest--two wooden sheds tucked away behind the tennis players' grander clubhouse. James Hawkins, CROQUET WORLD's co-editor, knows the club well. "I think I remember playing this tournament, though I must have finished my game early as I'm not to be seen anywhere. Individual players are difficult to recognise from the aerial camerawork, though there's potential for more close-up imagery with a lower camera angle." The video was produced in 2017 by non-croquet player Steve Cheatley as the Annual Northwest Federation of Croquet Clubs Millennium Advanced Tournament was being played.

Shot in 2015 by Peter Coles on his drone's GoPro, this brief video shows the promise of droning for instructional purposes in croquet strategy. The DUBBO CITY CROQUET CLUB in New South Wales has two courts, as do the majority of croquet clubs in New South Wales. New South Wales and the ACT have 68 clubs, 3164 members, and 144 full-sized lawns--about the same number of members as the entire USCA has in 2018.

The tennis and croquet pro at the CULLUSAJA CLUB in the North Carolina mountains, Terry Fugate, supplied us with this three-minute video of the country club, with views of their full-size lawn at just past the one- and two-minute marks.

Tim Hanks assembled his drone in 2015 and learned to fly it from the croquet lawn behind the clubhouse at the OAKLAND CROQUET CLUB. This video is ten minutes long with lots of wobbling and shaking as the operator trains himself, but finally attains great height to reveal the relationship between the lawns and the park and greater San Francisco Bay area beyond.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the call for drone photos on the Nottingham Board, and a special thanks to Chris Clarke for comments on the New Zealand photos by Sherif Abdelwahab and to Rob Murray of the Australia Croquet Association for requesting photos from the state associations.


 
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