Many facilities around the world--most notably, the Victoria Croquet Center in a Melbourne suburb--light all their courts. The original design for lighting only three courts at the National Croquet Center, based largely on considerations of economy, called for 18-foot wooden poles. Denton decided to start from what was ultimately needed and work backwards.
We should note here that a private court owner would have few of the costly and time-consuming considerations that channeled the NCC project's development. In your own back yard, your main goal would be to supply enough light to play by. With a modest level of electrical expertise, home courts lighted ad hoc and elevated no more than eight feet above the court can serve perfectly well--especially for Golf Croquet.
But the goal at the NCC in 2017 was night lighting that would work for both players and spectators and, especially, for the county commissions. It can be more complicated than it sounds. Under artificial light, for example, some of the colors may almost merge--not only for the four "first colors" but also for the second and third sets of colors internationals like to use use for double-banking.
The long-term economy of LED lighting had already been well-established. It was clear that wooden poles wouldn't work well for the long term, so the choice narrowed to a variety of other materials. Ultimately Denton chose fiberglass poles low enough to allow the maintenance staff to replace burnouts with a long ladder.
The poles Denton ultimately selected were initially designed for parking lots; these poles are not generally considered for tennis or other spectator sports because those sports are active and three-dimensional; croquet takes place in only two dimensions. Croquet court lighting must be elevated just enough to prevent glare that would interfere with players' and spectators' viewing of the play; but the "action" requirements of other sports simply are not there, in the two dimensions of croquet. You never have to see clearly anything higher than seven feet above the playing surface.
At large facilities, night lighting may prove most useful when major events run late--which happened at the National Croquet Center at the world championships when American David Maloof and Brit Stephen Mulliner tied the finals match at 2-2 near sundown of the last day. The two sixty-somethings, who had been playing all day, were asked whether they'd rather play the fifth under lights or the next morning. The two consulted briefly and decided to give the spectators the show they came for: the final game would be under lights, on Court #2.
Such a need--in an important event--had already happened several years ago at the Victoria Croquet Centre, which lights all 12 of its courts. Fortunately, the final rounds of a major event will have likely wound down to just a few players, so only the champions need to be inconvenienced by the requirements of the event manager and the lust of the crowd for spectacle.
Denton's checklist for the NCC lighting project
True to his experience in contracting complex work for restoring pre-Revolutionary manor houses in New England, Denton make a comprehensive checklist for the NCC's court lighting project, as follows, which we've augmented to some extent for clarity in this article:
For most home courts the only serious "environmental" consideration to apply might well be the potential impact of night play on neighbors. This consideration might actually argue for lowering the poles substantially--which would be tolerable for private play although far less than ideal for spectators.
Such a court--lighted by several eight-foot-high fixtures--has been reported to work well for top-level play at a private court in Wellington on the residential property of a member of the National Croquet Club.
For truly casual play, Golf Croquet can be enjoyably--and romantically--enjoyed with no more than battery-powered wicket lights. This was done early in the history of the National Croquet Center, when Bob Alman organized a series of events limited to younger corporate people after hours, adjacent to the members lounge. A little moonlight was useful for half-court Golf Croquet off the South Veranda, but not essential. Without string boundaries, the only possible injury would come from stepping on a ball, so partners were advised to stay close to their balls at all times.
The permanent lighting at the NCC allows the caterer to offer prices to many private parties that would be prohibitive with rented lights. If you enjoy croquet and like to give parties at home, you may want to combine the two on your croquet court, under any kind of lights that work.
Harold Denton joined the board of the Croquet Foundation of America in 2013 because, he said, "there was a lot of work to be done at the National Croquet Center and not enough hands to do it." Among the projects he chose were "beautification" and the court lighting initiative already sparked by longtime board member Victoria Albrecht. Denton perfected the existing plan by balancing practical and efficient alternatives with code requirements. Denton's marriage 52 years ago has so far produced two sons and three grandchildren. His very sporty life has included skippering races on both sides of the Atlantic in his Blue water sailboat. On the advice of his cardiologist, he reduced his activity level, and his wife's life-long equestrian interest led them both to a winter abode in Wellington, where he met CFA board president David McCoy and took up croquet, quickly achieving a respectable rank through frequent competing. Denton is an ideal board member, taking his assignments seriously, doing them completely, and even funding some of them. In his spare time, he rescues pre-Revolutionary manor houses, several in New Jersey and two in Maryland, where he now lives with his wife in the summer. Supervising those projects has produced the ideal resume for the board member responsible for all the facilities at the NCC, including some beautification projects he has personally funded.
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