Hall of Fame
Tom McDonnell played croquet in the company of the Hollywood elite on his home court in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. Actors, including David Niven, Louie Jordan, Gig Young, George Saunders and Diana Hyland would always be at the house to play.
Tom was introduced to the game while working in the television industry in the late 1950s by movie producer Sam Goldwyn.
He ultimately was inducted into the U.S. Croquet Hall of Fame and was responsible for the development of tournament croquet on the West Coast, starting croquet clubs in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and at Sonoma-Cutrer winery in Santa Rosa.
It was at the family's home court in the hills west of St. Helena that he introduced the game of croquet to Meadowood Founding Partner H. William (Bill) Harlan.
At that time, in 1986, Harlan and his partners had owned Meadowood for approximately seven years and with some gentle persuasion decided to include croquet as an activity at the retreat.
To ensure the courts would satisfy world-ranking croquet players, Harlan engaged McDonnell to collaborate on the development of the competition lawns. They opened in 1986 and that same year, Meadowood co-hosted the U.S. Croquet Championships, the first time they had been held outside of the state of New York.
Tom had also been responsible for the laying of world-class courts at Sonoma-Cutrer. Those courts were awarded the 1986 USCA championships jointly with Meadowood.
As a direct result of the tireless work put in by Tom, Australian players Damon Bidencope and Neil Spooner attended those championships and in the following year became the resident professionals at Meadowood and Sonoma-Cutrer respectively.
Without the wonderful dedication of Tom Mc Donnell, the sport of croquet in the USA would not have reached the level it currently maintains.