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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
Croquet Balls

Croquet balls have two directions of perpendicular milling resulting in a diamond pattern texture on the surface. The four points on the surface where this milling reduces to small circles are sometimes called poles. The properties of balls are defined in Law 3c of the Laws of Association Croquet - "A ball must be 3 5/8" [92mm] in diameter and must weigh 16 ounces [454g]". For tournament play however there is a bounce specification, a ball size and weight tolerance and for manufacturers an approval scheme leading to Croquet Association (CA) approval.

Ball sets
Primary Colours (top row), Striped Primary, Secondary Colours and Tertiary Colours. Click for larger image.
White 'Barlow' ball
White 'Barlow' ball. One pole is visible marked with a 'C'

Croquet balls come in four sets of colours. This allows more than one game to be played simultaneously on a court. It would be most unusual to have more than two games on a court though.

* Primary Colours (or 1st colours) - blue, red, black and yellow. Blue and black always play against red and yellow.

* Striped Primaries are available mainly for the American market. Current manufacturers paint a stripe on, older manufacturers molded the stripe in.

* Secondary Colours (or 2nd colours) - white, pink, brown and green. White and pink play against brown and green.

* Tertiary Colours - different manufacturers have produced sets. There appear to be some by Dawson coloured lilac, turquoiuse, orange and purple, whereas Barlow produced porridge, peach, slate and aubergine (pictured).

For proper club and tournament play the specifications of a croquet ball are tightly constrained; there are limits on the weight, diameter and bounce (see links above). For garden play the balls are generally lighter weight and may lack the distinctive milling. Beware of vendors claiming that their balls are 'championship size and weight'. If they do not have the correct bounce characteristic they will not play like approved balls.

There are currently three main manufacturers of plastic moulded tournament approved croquet balls. Prices are given per set.

* Dawson (Australia) - available in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Their Dawson 2000 International balls are now the balls of choice in the UK for club and tournament play.

In the UK Dawson balls can be bought from the Croquet Association Shop ~£380 (2017), USA Oakley Woods ~$550 (2017). The Australian Croquet Company, (auscroquetco@picknowl.com.au) PO Box 19, Littlehampton, SA 5250, Australia makes and supplies all Dawson products. Their agents in NSW are John Eddes, (02)95674568 - evenings only, Therese & Trevor White, Forster (065) 548073 and Nerida Taylor, (048)475014.

* Sunshiny (Taiwan) - this is a newish manufacturer whose CB-16 series balls have tournament approval from the CA.

The Sunshiny are available from the CA Shop in 1st and 2nd colour solids ~£250 (2017) and from Oakley who also stocks 1st colour (painted) stripes for around $260 (2017). The manufacturer's contact is Richard Wu (Taiwan) sunshinyco@hotmail.com but I suspect that only bulk orders would be of interest. See connected articles from the Croquet World Online site below.

* Willhoite (USA). These are made in small quantities in Kentucky, USA. Their plastic "Xtreme ball" has Croquet Association approval as a Championship ball and has a good reputation. Cost on Amazon ~$450 or ~£406 (2017). Also via Master Traditional Games £337 (2017).

[Jaques (UK) - this company used to be the main world manufacturer of croquet balls, but a fire at their factory followed by commercial problems means that they no longer produce tournament standard croquet balls.

Barlow (SA) - used to produce a good plastic ball but they closed their factory in February 2008.]

Articles on croquet balls from Croquet World Online

For a lineage of croquet balls see here

For technical articles on ball properties see the Technical section.

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Updated 16.vii.17
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