2013 Rules of Golf Croquet

The WCF Golf Croquet Rules – 2013 Edition

 Out of date – archived post

1.       Outline of the Game

(a)          The game is played by striking a ball with a mallet. It 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 (or green and brown) and the other side with red and yellow (or pink and white), each player playing only one colour.   In singles each player plays both balls of the side.

Commentary on Rule 1(a):  The game may also be played socially with two players on one side each playing one ball throughout and one player on the other side playing both balls. Doubles rules apply to both sides.

(b)     The object of the game is for each side to cause either ball of its side to run hoops in a specified order.  A point is scored for the side whose ball first runs the hoop in order in accordance with Rule 7.

(c)      A match is a contest for the best of 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.  Alternative endings which may be used include playing to a 2 point advantage or using a time limit.  If the players leave the court or start another game having agreed which side has won, then the game has ended with the agreed result.  A match ends as soon as one side has won the majority of games to be played in the match.

Commentary on Rule 1(c):  (i) Two game matches may also be played, which end in a 2-0 or 1-1 score.

(ii)     When playing to a 2 point advantage, depending on the game played, if the first player to 4, 7 or 10 points is not 2 points ahead play continues, normally for a maximum of six more hoops or until one player has a 2 point advantage, whichever comes first.

(iii)    If time limits are being used, play may stop on the call of time, or after one more turn for each ball, or after the next hoop is scored, or some other variation, but which method is to be used is to be clearly stated before play commences. The outcome of a stroke played before time is called is valid play. Whichever method of stopping play is used, the management may allow play to continue for one hoop if the scores are tied when play is stopped.

(d)     The hoops are contested as shown in Diagram 1.  In a 7 point game the first 6 hoops are played and the 7th point is scored by contesting hoop 1 again.  In a 13 point game the first 12 hoops are played and the 13th 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 are played again as hoops 13 to 18 respectively.  The 19th point is scored by contesting hoop 3 again.

(e)        The balls are played in the sequence blue, red, black and yellow.  If the alternative colours are being used the sequence is green, pink, brown and white.  After whichever ball was last played, the next ball in the appropriate sequence is known as the striker’s ball, and the owner of that ball is the striker.

Commentary on Rule 1(e):  This rule sets the sequence in which the balls are to be played.  See Rule 11 for what happens when the sequence is broken and how a new sequence is established.

(f)      Either side may score only the hoop that is the current hoop in order.  When that hoop has been scored by any ball, either side may score only the next hoop in order.  No points are scored for hoops that are run out of order except when the players have left the court agreeing the game has ended.  Should it be discovered before the end of the game that one or more hoops have been competed for by both sides and run out of order then play stops, the last correctly scored hoop is identified and play continues after a toss.  The winner of the toss plays first with either ball, while the loser decides which penalty spot D or E on diagram 3 all four balls are to be played from.

(g)     When a hoop is scored and all balls have stopped moving the balls are played from the position they then occupy, except for any ball that has been directed to be played from a penalty spot.

(h)     Two games may be played simultaneously on the same court, normally using alternative coloured balls or striped balls.  If this is done all players are to be aware of the other game and are to try to avoid any conflicts.  The position of balls from the other game may be marked with permission from the participants of that game.  Interference between balls in different games is dealt with by Rule 9.

Commentary on Rule 1(h):  If other colours are to be used, the order of play should be stated before play commences.  Where two games on the same court are approaching the same area of the court precedence may be given to the game that started first or to the game arriving in the area first, although due consideration should be given to the game least likely to delay play.  Ideally, time limits would not normally be used where two games are played simultaneously on the same court.

The Standard Court


2.       The court

(a)     The standard court

(1)     The standard court is a rectangle measuring 28 by 35 yards (25.6 by 32 metres). See Diagram 1.  Its boundary must be clearly marked, the inner edge of the marking being the actual boundary.

(2)     The corners are known as I, II, III, and IV and the boundaries are known as the north, south, east and west boundaries regardless of the actual orientation of the court.

(3)     The peg is set in the centre of the court.  There are six hoops which are set parallel to the 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; the centres of the four outer hoops are 7 yards (6.4 metres) from the adjacent boundaries.

(b)     Variations to the standard court

(1)     The length and width of the court are each subject to a tolerance of +/- 6 inches (152 mm).  Where more than one boundary marking is visible and it is not obvious which one should be used, the most recent defines the true boundary or, if that cannot be determined, the innermost defines the true boundary.  The actual boundary at any point is the straight line which best fits the inner edge of the boundary marking in the vicinity of that point.

(2)     Each hoop and the peg may be displaced up to 18 inches (457 mm) from its standard position provided that the lines joining the centres of hoops 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6 remain visually parallel to the east and west boundaries, and that the peg lies on the lines joining the centres of hoops 1 and 3, 2 and 4, and 5 and 6.

(3)     If it is discovered that a game is being played with a hoop or the peg missing or seriously misplaced, the item should be correctly placed, and play should continue from that point with all previous legal play condoned.

(4)     If the available area is too small for a standard court, a smaller court may be laid out by retaining the court proportions of five length units by four length units but using a length unit shorter than the standard 7 yards (6.4 metres).  The appropriate governing body may approve other proportions and dimensions.

3.       Equipment

(a)     The Peg

(1)     The peg is a rigid cylinder with a height above the ground of 18 inches (457 mm) and a uniform diameter of 1½ inches (38 mm).  The tolerance for the height is +/-1 inch (25 mm).  The tolerance for the diameter is +/- ¼ inch (6 mm).  The peg must be vertical, firmly fixed, and white to a height of at least 6 inches (152 mm) above the ground.  It may have blue, red, black and yellow, and/or green, pink and brown, bands descending in that order from the top.

(2)     Any time a peg is observed to not be upright it shall be made to be upright under the supervision of a referee or both sides, except when a ball is in contact with the peg, or would be brought in contact by the act of straightening in which cases the peg is not to be straightened until the ball has been played away.

(b)     Hoops

(1)     Each hoop is made of solid metal and consists of two uprights connected by a crown.  The crown must be straight and at right angles to the uprights.  A hoop must be 12 inches (305 mm) in height above the ground measured to the top of the crown and must be vertical and firmly fixed.  The tolerance for the height is + ½ inch / – 1 inch (+ 13 mm / – 25 mm).  The uprights and the crown must have a uniform diameter above the ground of between 5/8 inch (16 mm) and 3/4 inch (19 mm), with a tolerance of 1/16 inch (1.5 mm), although minor deviations at the top and bottom are permitted.  Alternatively, the crown of the hoop may be of square cross-section with sides of between 5/8 inch (16 mm) and 3/4 inch (19 mm), with a tolerance of 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) and with rounded edges.  The inner surfaces of the uprights must be approximately parallel and not less than 3 ¾ inches (95 mm) or more than 4 inches (102 mm) apart.  However in tournament and match play, the organising body responsible for the competition may specify the distance between the uprights.  Alternatively, it may specify the gap between a ball and the inner surface of one upright when the ball is half way through the hoop and is touching the other upright.  Each hoop on a court must have the same width within a tolerance of 1/32 inch (0.8 mm).

(2)     The hoops may be left unpainted or coloured white and, in addition, the crown of the first hoop may be coloured blue and that of the 5th hoop and/or the final hoop may be coloured red.

(3)     Any hoop that is observed to be loose or misaligned shall be made correct under the supervision of a referee or both sides, except when a ball is in contact with the hoop, or would be brought in contact by the act of straightening; in which cases the hoop is not to be straightened until the ball has been played away.

(c)      The balls

(1)     There are four balls, coloured blue, black, red and yellow respectively.  Alternative colours, namely green, brown, pink and white, and other sets of colours or distinguishing marks are permitted.  A ball must be 3 5/8 inches (92 mm) in diameter with a tolerance of +/- 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) and must weigh 16 ounces (453 g) with a tolerance of +/- ¼ ounce (7 g).  However in tournament and match play, the organising body responsible for the competition may specify additional requirements.

(2)     The owner of a ball may, with permission from a referee or an opponent, lift the ball between strokes in order to wipe it, avoid interference or exchange it when it is faulty or damaged.  Before removal, the position of the ball must be marked accurately.

Commentary on Rule 3(c)(2):  See also Rules 9(g) and 11(a).

(d)     Mallets

(1)     A mallet consists of a head with a shaft firmly connected to its mid-point and at right angles to it for at least the bottom 12 inches (305 mm), so that they function as one unit during play.

(2)     A grip of any material may be attached to the shaft, but neither it nor the shaft shall be moulded with an impression of any part of the player’s hands.

(3)     The head must be rigid.  It must have essentially identical playing characteristics regardless of which end is used to strike the ball.  The parts of the ends which are flat are known as the end faces, which must be parallel and identical, though fine grooves and minor deviations are permitted.  Both the end faces and their edges must be of a shape and material unlikely to damage the balls.

(4)     No mirrors, pointers or other devices intended to assist the aiming or playing of a stroke may be attached to any part of the mallet.  However, the shaft need not be straight and the head may bear sighting lines.

(5)     A disabled player may use a mallet with an appropriately modified shaft or artificial aids providing that no advantage is gained thereby compared to a player without that disability using a conventional mallet.

(6)     A mallet may not be exchanged for another during a game, unless it suffers accidental damage which significantly affects its use or it becomes unavailable.  A damaged mallet may only be used if the striker gains no advantage thereby.  The playing characteristics of a mallet may never be changed during a game, except to restore its initial state following a change to it.  If the head is detachable from the shaft, neither may be exchanged except as provided in this rule.

4.    Accessories

The following accessories may 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 are to be mounted on posts about 12 inches (305 mm) high, either up to 12 inches (305 mm) outside the court, or touching the boundary but not intruding into the court.

(b)     A check fence high enough to arrest the progress of balls may be placed around the boundary and about 1 1/2 yards (1.4 metres) outside it.

(c)      White pegs, sufficiently prominent to be seen across the court, may be placed on or up to 12 inches (305 mm) outside the boundary to mark the ends of the halfway lines.

Commentary on Rule 4(c):  A painted or other mark should be made on the ground where the pegs are placed to enable them to be accurately replaced after temporary removal.

(d)     Two sets of clips may be provided to record the scoring of hoops.  One set is to be blue or black and the other red or yellow (or other colours if alternative balls are used).  The appropriate colour clip may be attached to a hoop by the side scoring that hoop.

(e)      Where alternative colours are used regularly, a post displaying their colour sequence may be located just off the court.

5.    The Start

(a)     The side which wins the toss plays first with the blue ball or the equivalent alternative colour.

(b)     All balls are initially played from a position on the court within a yard (914 mm) of corner IV.

Commentary on Rule 5(b):  Local rules may allow for a variation in the starting area to reduce wear on corner IV.  However such a variation should not be normal in tournament play.  One such variation is to start on the East boundary within 3 yards of corner IV.

(c)      When a match consists of more than one game, the players retain the same balls and the loser starts the next game with either ball of the side.

(d)     Where a competition calls for more than one round of matches the winning of the toss may alternate between rounds.

(e)      A game starts when a player strikes or attempts to strike a ball with the intention of starting the game.

Commentary on Rule 5(e) If the first player to play has an air-swing, the game has started for timing purposes and if a non-striking fault occurs in the air-swing to allow it to apply.

(f)      Balls are outside agencies until they are played into the game in accordance with this rule.  If it is noticed that a wrong ball has been played before all four balls have been played into the game, Rule 11 does not apply and the game reverts to its state after the last turn played correctly in sequence.

(g)     If the striker commits a non-striking fault before the ball is played in one of the first four turns of the game the ball remains an outside agency until it is played from the starting area in a later turn.

(h)     If the striker commits a striking fault in one of the first four turns of the game, the ball has been played into the game irrespective of whether the opponent chooses to leave it where it stopped or to have it replaced in the position it occupied before the fault was committed.

6.       The Turn

(a)     Each turn consists of a single stroke and its consequences, ending when all balls moved in the turn have stopped moving or have left the court.  A stroke is played when the striker strikes the striker’s ball with a mallet.  The accidental touching of a ball with the mallet by the striker while preparing to play a stroke counts as a stroke (or a fault).  If a player while attempting to play a stroke makes contact with another ball before hitting the striker’s ball, the first contact is a non-striking fault, not the playing of a wrong ball.

Commentary on Rule 6(a):  (i) A turn starts when the striker strikes the striker’s ball and ends when the balls have come to rest or left the court.  The next turn starts when the next striker strikes that striker’s ball.  Between the two turns there is a brief period while the new striker takes up position or while the players make decisions about balls off the court, off-side or that had been involved in a fault.  This period is not part of either turn.

(ii)     While the striker is preparing to play a stroke, touching the striker’s ball with the face of the mallet is a stroke, touching the striker’s ball with another part of the mallet is a striking fault, while touching another ball is a non-striking fault.

(b)     A player may not deem a stroke to have been played.

(c)      An attempt to strike a ball which fails to touch it (an “air-swing”) is not a stroke or a fault and, unless a non-striking fault is committed, the player is still the striker.

(d)     As a result of a stroke the striker’s ball may run a hoop in order and score a point, or points if two hoops are run in order, or may cause other balls to move and score a point or points.

(e)      When two sides play simultaneously or nearly simultaneously, so that two balls are in motion at the same time, the striker is deemed to have played first irrespective of the actual order in which the two strokes were played and the other side commits a non-striking fault.  If the commission of the fault affects the outcome of the striker’s play, the striker may choose to have all balls affected by the fault replaced in the positions they occupied before the strokes were played and to replay the turn.  If the striker’s ball runs a hoop in order or causes another ball so to do after being affected by the fault, the striker may choose to waive the fault and score the point and, in that case, the other side does not lose its next turn.

(f)      When both players of a side play simultaneously or nearly simultaneously so that two balls are in motion at the same time the striker’s play stands and the partner has committed a non-striking fault.  No replay is permitted.

(g)     A ball leaves the court and becomes an outside agency if more than half of it crosses the boundary. It remains an outside agency until it is next played. Unless it is directed to be moved as an offside ball it is played from the point where it crossed the boundary. A player may request that a ball off the court be placed on the boundary, or that the position be marked, before any turn.  The referee or in the absence of a referee the ball’s owner is to determine the spot where the ball is placed.

Commentary on Rule 6(g):  The exact position of a ball placed on the boundary will be important if a player is seeking to block its line of play or wishes to know if it will become  off-side if the hoop is made.  In such cases the player is entitled to ask for the placement before playing.  A ball that has been placed on the boundary and is moved before it is played, is returned and played from the place where it left the court, except when it becomes offside and is directed to be moved.

(h)     If a ball cannot be placed on the boundary because of the presence of another ball on the court, it is to be placed after the other ball has been played.  However, if the ball to be placed will be played before the other ball, it is placed on the boundary in contact with the other ball as near as possible to where it would otherwise be placed.

Commentary on Rule 6(h):  The unusual situation described here covers the case of a ball rushing another ball off the court and either remaining just on the court itself or leaving the court at the same spot.  If the rushing ball is still on the court and interferes with the placement, the ball off the court is placed in contact with it and played from that contact position.  If both balls leave the court in the same spot, the second one to play is placed after the first ball has been played.

(i)      If a ball placed on the boundary obstructs the playing of another ball, it is temporarily removed.

Commentary on Rule 6(i):  A ball that has left the court is an outside agency until it is played.  As an outside agency it is to be moved if it may interfere with the playing of a stroke.

(j)      If a ball moves after its position has been agreed, it is to be returned to the agreed position.  The position of the ball is agreed if the next player has played or if the position of the ball has been ruled on by a referee or the players.

7.       Scoring a Point

(a)     A ball scores a point by passing through the correct hoop in the order and direction shown in Diagram 1.  This is known as running a hoop.  If a ball first enters its hoop in order in the direction opposite to that shown in Diagram 1, it cannot score the point for itself in the same turn.  If it has so entered, it cannot score the point in a subsequent turn unless it stops in a position in which it has not started to run the hoop.

Running a Hoop

(b)     Running a hoop is illustrated in Diagram 2.  The ball starts to run a 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.

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

Commentary on Rule 7(c):  If a ball enters a hoop in order from the playing side but stops in the hoop, and in a later turn a fault is committed that allows the ball to be replaced in the hoop, then the ball can complete the running of the hoop from that position.

(d)     If a stroke causes more than one ball to run the hoop, the ball nearest the hoop before the stroke scores the point.

(e)      Both sides are responsible for keeping the score, the striker (or referee) announcing it after each point is scored.

Commentary on Rule 7(e):  The usual format for naming the score is to first call the score of the side which has just scored and then the other side’s score.

(f)      If a ball jams in a hoop in contact with both uprights, the hoop is to be adjusted, or, if the ball is too large, it is to be replaced.  The player who played the turn in which the ball became jammed then chooses to replace any balls moved and replay the turn or to have the balls left as they finished with the ball in the hoop.