Sea Foam: Croquet for a cause

Area groups take a swing at tournament benefiting AMIkids Beaufort

May 16, 2011 

  • - Variations of competitive croquet are played all over the world.

    - The American version of the game has six hoops â€" called wickets â€" and one center peg.

    - To play, participants hit colored plastic or wooden balls with a mallet through the wickets.

    - Beaufort County’s first croquet court was built in 1983 in Port Royal Plantation.

Croquet will take center stage at Brays Island this Saturday for the 20th annual AMIkids Beaufort Invitational Croquet Tournament and Picnic.

We thank board chairman Mike Ingram for sharing the background on the fundraiser.

And we thank Dulcie Knoll of Sun City Hilton Head for sharing an overview of competitive croquet in Beaufort County.

About 200 players and spectators will come to Brays Island dressed to the nines, enjoying music of the 1930s and '40s and fancy picnics on their finest service.

Teams of eight will compete in a format called golf croquet. Antique cars will add to the atmosphere, and there will be a silent auction. Last year's event raised $66,000 for the residential facility in Lobeco formerly called Beaufort Marine Institute. It redirects boys ages 13 to 17 who have been referred by the juvenile justice system or have failed in traditional school settings. AMIkids Beaufort is part of a national program that provides a second chance for young men who would otherwise be sent to jail for their non-violent offenses.

Mike Ingram, who is director of golf at the Brays Island residential development near Sheldon, said 78 percent of those who graduate from the six- to eight-month program here change their lives and stay out of trouble.

He told of a young man court-ordered to come to AMIkids last year.

"He turned his life around so much he's been accepted to The Citadel," Ingram said. "Now that's making a difference. That's why you do what we do."

Details: 843-846-2128

CROQUET THE SPORT

By Dulcie Knoll

In 1983 Port Royal Plantation built the first croquet court in Beaufort County.

My husband, Don, and I were living in Port Royal at the time. We decided it might be an interesting sport and gave it a try.

The Port Royal Croquet Club was organized on May 3, 1984, and we were charter members. In fact we helped get it organized, and Don was its first president. We had croquet professionals come to give clinics that first year, and then Don and I took over doing the clinics along with some excellent players from the Atlanta area.

The sport of croquet is nothing like the game we all played as kids in our backyard.

First of all, it has six wickets, not nine, and one center peg. The balls are bigger and heavier and the wickets are shaped differently with the thickness of a nickel for clearance of the ball. It has the strategy of chess and the shot-making techniques of billiards. In fact, a good strategist can outplay a good shotmaker.

In 1997, we moved to Sun City Hilton Head after we were assured there would be a croquet court on its premises. In 1998 we started giving clinics to people interested in learning the game, and in 1998 our group was organized into the Sun City Croquet Club. We started the club with eight members, and it has grown to more than 100 members -- the largest croquet club in Beaufort County.

We got interested in playing in tournaments all over the area from Florida to North Carolina and even played in the nationals one year in Palm Beach, Fla.

Since then, clubs in Beaufort County have organized into the Coastal Carolina Croquet Clubs and hold many tournaments among the group of clubs.

Making up the Coastal Carolina Croquet Clubs are the Sun City Croquet Club, the Wexford Croquet Club, the Port Royal Croquet Club, the Croquet Club of Dataw Island and the Palmetto Bluff Croquet Club.

The program director is Stan Abrahamson from the Sun City club, who also was at one time a member of the Port Royal Croquet Club.

The Coastal Carolina Clubs held its championship tournament April 7 to 9, with the finals played at Palmetto Bluff.

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