Every summer Tuesday evening, four friends dressed in crisp, white outfits and gathered at a manicured lawn in West Palm Beach to attempt jump shots, Irish peels—or at least a shot through a wicket.
This team of smartly attired gents consists of Scott Velozo, Stephen Mooney, Ross Meltzer and Victor Figueredo—amateur croquet enthusiasts who play at the National Croquet Center. This was Velozo and Mooney’s third year participating in the center’s annual summer league; they needed an opposing pair and invited Meltzer and Figueredo to join.
“The perception of croquet is that it’s a backyard game your grandmother bought with S&H Green Stamps,” Velozo says. “But there is a strategy and a skill to the game.”
The sport is played in teams of two. Each athlete has a personal mallet and ball, and teams receive a point when a player is the first to hit his or her ball through a wicket (a hoop, usually made of iron, staked into the ground). The team that scores the most points after completing the course wins.
Velozo loves the tradition of the game, which originated in England. (Plus: “What other sport can you play while enjoying a cocktail?” he adds.) The National Croquet Center offers free lessons every Saturday at 10 a.m., but to understand the unspoken rules of this dignified sport, Velozo offered three croquet etiquette tips:
- The traditional “uniform” of the sport is all-white attire—“perhaps because white is the one color everyone looks good in,” he says. “I just like to add a pop of color with a ribbon belt.”
- Shoes must have a flat sole as not to damage the greens. “White bucks are the perfect shoe for the traditional look,” Velozo says.
- “Have fun, and never take it too seriously. As in all team sports, good sportsmanship is a must,” he says. “Often, you must knock your opponent’s ball out of play, but it’s all in good fun.”
Figueredo, Velozo, Mooney, Meltzer