spectating a game

Bristol Croquet Club Winter Rules

V3 Revised 26 October 2020

V3: Blocking balls should be moved when a ball is played from beside a hoop.
Restriction of hoop running during warm-up and practice.

These rules apply to all use of the lawns, AC and GC, from the end-of-season maintenance closure until the day of the AGM. Please refresh your browser cache to ensure you are looking at the latest version.


During the winter period, the lawn surface is softer and the grass slower-growing so it's easy to cause long-lasting damage. In particular, indentations (called rabbit runs) form where a ball runs through a hoop and these seriously affect playing the game. The (completely correct) tactic in GC of jawsing a ball (playing it into but not through the hoop) means that a ball is played frequently from the exact spot in the middle of the hoop, concentrating wear precisely where we don't want it.

These Winter Rules are in place to preserve the surface whilst allowing us all to enjoy a game. The intention is to interfere as little as possible with the tactical balance of the games and the committee welcomes your views on improving them.


Worm casts are very common at this time of year and treading on one creates a muddy patch that generally kills the grass underneath. That grass won't regrow until spring.

The first user of a lawn each day must swish away any worm casts before play starts.

Wear your protective gloves, and sanitise you hands, when using the shared equipment

Winter Rules

  1. If you see anyone not following the winter rules, please exercise your duty as a club member to remind them.
  2. Make sure you know the COVID-secure rules.
  3. No jump shots, no hammer strokes or anything similar. Croquet strokes, such as roll shots should be played with care, mindful of the weakened surface.
  4. Do not go onto a lawn if the grass looks frosty as this damages the grass. Frost forms at 4°C, or slightly warmer if there is a cold wind.
  5. Do not go onto a lawn if the grass is soggy.
  6. Avoid walking on areas that are muddy or showing signs of wear.
  7. Avoid excessive wear in frequently-used places: Do not strike a ball in a corner, the end of a baulk line, GC penalty spot, or where the grass is already worn.
    • Move a ball from any of these positions at least 6 inches away in any direction but without gaining a tactical advantage.
    • GC Start Position: anywhere on the East boundary, South of level with the peg and 1-yard north of Corner 4.
  8. During warm-up before a game and in practice sessions, avoid running the same hoop several times and only run hoops gently during warm-up (see CA Regulations).
  9. jaws of a hoop The hoop's jaws is 'the space enclosed by the inner surfaces of the uprights and the planes of the playing and non-playing sides' - it's the green bit in this hoop-and-ball plan view. A ball is 'in the jaws' if any part is in the green bit.

    GC Only: To redress the tactical balance having banned jump shots: When any ball is at rest within the jaws, it must be moved immediately to a position one-inch clear of the hoop and directly in front on the side from which it came.
    • Balls within a ball's width of its new position and on the same side of the hoop must also be moved by the same amount and in the same direction.
    • Do not use your foot or hand or inclined mallet - avoid pressing the ball into the lawn by using a horizontal mallet.
    • (tactical hint: if normally you would place a ball on the non-playing side to defend against a jawsed ball, place it instead to the side)
  10. (GC and AC) When the striker intends to run a hoop hard from close to the hoop (within a ball's width), they should quickly consult the opponent and agree if the hoop is very likely to be run - and if so (to avoid wear and damage) the ball is moved to alongside the hoop (within a mallet-head-length) and played in the direction of running the hoop. Any relevant hoop point is deemed scored. Any balls likely to be affected by the stroke (such as a blocking ball) should likewise be moved so no advantage is gained.


Take note of the hoop positions as these can be over a yard from where they normally are. Some boundaries have also been moved, and courts are not full-size. These changes will have a big effect on some shots

Games played under Winter Rules should not be recorded on your handicap card.

The committee is interested in your feedback on the rules modifying play (jump shots, jawsed balls, and starting positions).

For more information, please email Chris Frew, who will be happy to help.