Back to
The Front Page
News & Features
CROQUET WORLD undertakes
redesign and further development

by Bob Alman

Hal Denton Biography
Official Announcement of the Croquet Foundation of America
By and about James Hawkins, Rhys Thomas, Mike Orgill, Ian Plummer, and Reuben Edwards from Croquet World

Last year we announced our intention to retire Bob Alman--founder and long-time editor of Croquet World Online Magazine--and replace him with someone with equal or superior abilities, backed up by a financial plan to organize the redesign of the site and development to further fulfill it's original mission as the global, independent voice of the sport. This magazine, uniquely, is still written and edited for two audiences: dues-paying players of the sport; and browsers everywhere looking for an absorbing lifetime sport. Now the magazine can also have a deeper, broader geographical reach. James Hawkins of England has been engaged to oversee the redesign and once that is done, to take over the magazine as editor, while Bob Alman will persist in creating American content, mostly. But wait....there's much more!

Alman founded the magazine in the mid-nineties, a few months after putting the American national croquet organization on the web with the USCA website, which he managed for ten years. He could never have afforded a croquet career without the sustaining support of Ellery McClatchy, an early president of the Croquet Foundation of America whose monthly stipends kept Bob in the writing and editing business for almost two decades..

In his 80th year, Alman realized that the best chance of having the magazine continue to explore the history and development of the sport and its players and the events was to give it to the Croquet Foundation of America, which had made it possible in the first place. At the same time, the club that was the focus of his energy for 20 years--the San Francisco Croquet Club--gave him a grant to finance the redesign.

Why would the Croquet Foundation of America want to own Croquet World Online Magazine? That's what the CFA board asked themselves when the idea was first proposed. So because he had worked very well with Hal Denton on an article (HOW TO LIGHT THE COURTS) Alman suggested that Hal take on the project to condition it thoroughly for the board. Hal Denton agreed to so that, after asking all the right questions and getting most of them answered.

Hal Denton is now CFA President
and Chief Operating Officer.

Hal Denton has been named the Chief Operating Office for the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach, Florida--the largest croquet facility in the world.
Denton and Alman have talked frankly about the many aspects concerning to both organizations of turning over the magazine to a foundation. The main one was, "How can a conservative foundation be responsible for a truly independent magazine?" The answer we came to is that having a prestigious and trustworthy Editorial Advisory Board to merely "advise" on significant staffing and monetary issues would help the CFA avoid being enmeshed in publishing matters. That is based on the assumption that the CFA will value the prestige of providing to the entire croquet world a comprehensive and respectable global magazine of the sport.

The Editorial Advisory Board will have nothing to "do" but be responsible for the health of the magazine within the context of the CFA. Issues will inevitably arise, and this editorial board can propose solutions that will be do-able as well as cost- effective. Theoretically this will prevent any temptation of a future CFA board to misuse the magazine to advance its own agenda above everything else, or to cover up misdeeds of any croquet organization, anywhere in the world--including the USA.

Denton's management of the grounds committee for the CFA has helped to make the Center more beautiful than ever, with glorious flowers everywhere and plantings that enhance the playing environment. Photo by Marie Sweetzer.

Denton understands that kind of thinking. If readers don't trust the magazine to be editorially independent of all croquet organizations, it has no value. The assertive members of the EAB, pledged to the independence of the magazine, would revolt. The Editorial Advisory Board should not be timid in speaking up publicly about all matters croquet.

Transferring "ownership" of a digital magazine takes some time, in various stages. The domain not legally go to the Foundation until some time in 2020, at which time the Editorial Advisory Board will report directly to Hal Denton. It's possible that Bob Alman will still be involved in the magazine until his death. In any case, his will deliver the entire magazine contents including the domain name to the Croquet Foundation of America. His entire estate, turned into cash, will go the Foundation for the magazine's continuing support.


The Croquet Foundation of America is pleased to announce the following changes to its Board of Directors: David McCoy was elected to the new position of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer; Hal Denton was elected President and Chief Operating Officer; Mike Gibbons was elected Executive Vice President. Tom Tribby will continue as Corporate Secretary and Vickie Johnston continues as Treasurer. Other Functional Vice Presidents are Howard Sosin: VP -- Coordination; and Ruth Summers: VP -- Strategic Planning. Conner Helms is Board Designee to the Executive Committee. Other Directors are Ron Atkins, Randy Cardo, Stuart Baker, and Sara Low- ex officio (USCA President). Joy Diesel is an Advisory Board Member. McCoy will continue his involvement in management of the Foundation, but with a primary focus on fundraising, planning and policy matters.

The magazine's Editorial Advisory Board

All the members are extraordinarily competent people experienced in writing, editing, and managing publishing projects, with personal histories overlapping Alman's many times. Mike Orgill and Bob Alman virtually invented themselves as croquet players before they ever heard of the USCA; Rhys Thomas became a fan of the San Francisco Open and often came up early to help the legendary Wayne Rodoni lay out his perfect courts. Ian Plummer was hosted by Bob and the SFCC on a California tour of his Oxford group in the late nineties and has since provided valuable services to the magazine out of his expertise in creating and managing croquet's superb and now voluminous technical site, Oxford Croquet.

The Editorial Advisory Board are looking for a fourth member, from either Australia or New Zealand. Given the extensive publishing material of the first three members, the fourth does not need to have that kind of experience, but does need to have an assertive and independent spirit.

Biographies that spiral in concert

Mike Orgill was born in Brooklyn and educated in New York, After three decades in the East, he settled in San Francisco. He worked for Erhard Seminars Training and other San Francisco companies before undertaking a two-decade career with the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco.

Mike and Bob Alman co-invented their separate croquet careers. Bob met Mike at a party held at Bob's apartment by request of his roommate, Bonnie Simpson, who worked for the same company as Mike. Mike told Bob during the party "and they have an opening for another writer." Thus started a long and most consequential era in Bob's life. They became friends and co-invented a nine-wicket club of friends who played on weekends, before they ever heard of the USCA or knew that croquet was an organized sport.

Mike Orgill (center) wears a medal he must have just won, with Bob Alman on his left and Karen Collingwood on his right, sharing the honors. Soon after the SFCC built its two lawns, Mike moved his family north and became president of the Sonoma-Cutrer Croquet Club.

It was Mike who insisted they join the fledgling San Francisco Croquet Club in the early 80's, and Mike who said the club should have an annual tournament, which started the SF Open in 1985, the same year Mike joined the at Sonoma-Cutrer club in Sonoma County when he moved to Sonoma County where he and his wife Helen still live. He is the president of the Sonoma-Cutrer club, and currently a member of the WCF management committee.

Rhys Thomas has served on many WCF committees and has represented the USCA on international teams.
Rhys Thomas has been a player, manager, administrator and referee in the realm of championship croquet for more than 30 years, including many USCA and WCF committee posts. Professionally, he writes for a living and is the author of five books and hundreds of hours of documentary films. Rhys lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Michelle, and three cats. He has written many excellent articles for, but doesn't have time, he said, to write the two historical subjects the editor has pestered him about writing years, on "Ink Grade Days" and "Hollywood croquet."

Bob knows Rhys as one of the kindest and most compassionate figures in croquet. He debated with himself for years about publishing his memoir of Mik Mehas, whom he knew intimately, beginning with their early croquet history at the Beverly Hills Croquet Club. We finally decided that it was a useful, insightful piece of journalism, so it was published in 2018.

Dr. Ian Plummer is the owner, editor, and absolute master of croquet's technical site, Oxford Croquet.
Dr. Ian Plummer says of himself that he has "been involved with the Oxford University Association Club for the past thirty five years. He is also the creator of, one of the leading resources for association croquet. As a qualified championship referee and coach he has been involved in refereeing top level events and coaching many students who have become national and international players."

When asked to join the EAB, Ian made it clear that he was a strong and outspoken advocate of Association Croquet. Bob said that was okay, because opinionated and outspoken people are essential to have that board work. Alman refers articles too technical for Croquet World to Oxford Croquet and often links to articles on the site, including this article by Ian on "Refereeing Lawncraft."

Reuben Edwards, the long-time webmaster of Croquet World, first witnessed the sport being played in Golden Gate Park in mid nineties. He came and watched for several days. When he finally picked up a mallet, he already understood the game, and quickly became a competent player after he joined the club. Along with Karen Collingwood and others, he helped Bob Alman manage corporate and private events for the club--the source of most of it's wealth.

Reuben Edwards (center) won something or other several decades ago on the Stern Grove lawns of the San Francisco Croquet Club, and Jenny Williams, on his left, also wears a medal. Jenny studied for a while at Stanford and played croquet at the SFCC long before she married Chris Clarke and became the top-ranked female player in the world.

Edwards intends to rebuild the croquet club in Stern Grove, while residing in Oakland, across the bay, and managing the now-thriving Oakland Croquet Club as its president. Having been involved in almost everything that can happen to a website over the last 20 years as webmaster, he will be a valuable resource for the advisory board, but will not "vote" except in the case of a tie in the four-person board.

As a body, the Editorial Advisory Board will resolve to ensure the magazine's continued absolute editorial independence as the global voice of the sport.

The nuts and bolts of ownership in publishing

As the owner of this magazine, the Croquet Foundation of America is now its publisher. Denton's elevation in the CFA, with his management/oversight of the CWOM project, makes him therefore its "executive editor." All of which accords with a joint intention that nobody "owns" the magazine, and that the editor and the Editorial Advisory Board can be "responsible" for it without creating a situation in which the "executive editor" needs to intervene editorially, because the editorial board would have recommended the correct action/remedy.

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 takes all his board 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.

The National Croquet Center's court capacity will shortly increase to 15 full-size regulation courts, when the Palm Courts (the dry retention area) are restored and perfected.

Denton's unique value to the CFA board is knowing when not to get involved and when, on the other hand, to be deeply involved in fixing something or producing a needed result. He has a special relationship with the ground crew, which he demonstrated recently when the 20-years-old irrigation went down. He talks with the head of the ground crew regularly, and between them, they figure out the what/where/when and how-soon issues that as a practical matter lead to the best economy as well as the best result. (Bringing the Palm Courts up to spec, for example, works better over a two-year period of gradual improvement than a "rip-it-all-out-and-start-over approach which is very costly and not necessary.)

The Center produces major world events, and its capacity for spectators has yet to be approached.

In managing the installation of the National Croquet Center's court lighting, Denton starting with the end result and worked backwards. What he eventually found was that parking lot lights would do the job for croquet courts--which have very different requirements from the football or tennis lighting, for example, that he could have bought from a catalog and installed at much greater expense.

Who is James Hawkins?

Hawkins says of himself, "I came to competitive croquet as a teenager in 1985, losing my first ever game against future World Champion Chris Clarke. Three decades later, I spend less time playing and more time coaching. I am the author of 'Complete Croquet: A Guide To Skills, Tactics and Strategy'. I live is Liverpool, UK, and am the founder of Liverpool Croquet Club."

Hawkins is well known in England as a coach of Association Croquet and intends to expand the magazine's coverage of coaching techniques.

But there is much more to say about James, and the most relevant is his two separate terms of editorship of the English Croquet Association's Croquet Gazette, and his experience in designing croquet websites. The many articles he has written for Croquet World, gratis, show his competence as a writer. With both writing and management experience with croquet websites, at the age of 50, he could have a long run as editor of Croquet World Online.

James Hawkins (right) wins a trophy at the Southport Croquet Club.


Hal Denton is the retired President and CEO of General Land Abstract Company, once the largest title insurance company In New Jersey. He spent 15 years in the executive recruiting industry with Russell Reynolds Associates before owning his own firm. He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1969 and graduated from the University of Michigan. He lives with his wife, Wendy, on a historic horse farm near Annapolis, MD. with its own croquet court, with a second home is in Wellington, Florida. They have two sons and three grandchildren. Denton is the Chair of the Development Committee on the board of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. He's an active member of the U.S. Trust Client Advisory Council. During his several years as a Director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center., he helped develop the Business Partners Program and served on the six-member committee that oversaw a successful $180 million Capital Campaign. His interests include historic-property restoration; horses and hounds; offshore sailing.......and croquet.

By and about James Hawkins, Rhys Thomas, Mike Orgill, Ian Plummer, and Reuben Edwards from Croquet World

"R.I.P., Mik Mehas," by Rhys Thomas

"Brian Lloyd-Pratt and The Croquet Gazette" by James Hawkins

"The death of croquet, by James Hawkins

Mike Orgill reviews Plummer's OXFORD CROQUET site

Mike Orgill reviews Keith Wylie's book, for average and improving players

"Checking the facts for Vanity Fair," by Hawkins & Alman

"Branding the sport in print advertising," by James Hawkins

Ian Plummer and Stuart Lawrence produce web-friendly Wylie edition on Oxford Croquet

Ian Plummer's article on on "Refereeing Lawncraft" Oxford Croquet

"How Lord Tollemache changed the game," Mike Orgill

Rhys Thomas' "Where were you on 9/11?"

"Croquet on Celluloid--it's not a pretty picture," by James Hawkins

"Croquet in the Movies Update" by James Hawkins

"Croquet on TV", by James Hawkins

"The Amazing CB Smith," by Rhys Thomas

"Croquet Takes Root in Central Liverpool," James Hawkins

James Hawkins on his croquet book from Crowood Press

"Croquet in American Print ads" by James Hawkins

"Wine, Wickets, and Wheels" in Ohio, by Mike Orgill and Bob Alman

The election of 1876, by Mike Orgill and David Drazin

The McDonnell Tapes, by Mike Orgill

"Web Babies Changing the Demographics," about Reuben Edwards

Mike Orgill's original Wylie review, from the eighties

Look for an all-new CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE to be online near the middle of the year 2019, with most of the present articles converted to the new design.

Back to Top   Copyright © 1996-2024 Croquet World Online Magazine. All rights reserved.