Part 5 – Golf Tactics and Options – Chris McWhirter

Anyone for tennis?

I like to refer to a game of GC like a game of tennis. Throughout a game I score check in tennis terms. Each hoop becomes a player’s serve. If you are first to the hoop then that is your serve, and you should win it 80%-90% of the time. If you are second to the hoop it is your opponent’s serve and you need to fight to break it and steal that point off them.

Similarly matched players will often go “hoop for hoop” until a mistake is made. Once you have got the break of serve, barring any mistakes, you should be able to take that break through to the end of the game for a win.

In a “perfect” game the winner of the toss should win. They are first to the hoop so they have an immediate break. If the game goes hoop for hoop from there, then they should have first shot at Hoop 13 and win the game.

I find that this analogy is great for my psyche throughout the game. It helps me concentrate and consolidate hoops (my serve) and then play carefree on my opponent’s hoops (their serve) so that losing that hoop does not bother me. They had the advantage, I am not expected to win that hoop so why not try something different or adventurous. If anything, it bothers your opponents to know every second hoop they are under complete attack!

Consolidate/Score your own Serve/Hoop – Attack/Steal your opponent’s Serve/Hoop.

This idea gives you the license to be ultra-aggressive on your opponent’s serve… try things, unsettle them… it doesn’t matter as you are not expected to win that point. If your tactics don’t work for that hoop don’t worry about it. Play safe, consolidate and win your next serve quickly, then attack your opponents’ next serve again and again. The idea is to get a break of serve as soon as possible and carry that break through to the end of the set/game.

Once you have the lead in the match you can play safe and allow your opponent to try all the hard shots.

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AC and GC Representation Records

I have updated the AC and GC Representative records to include all players that have been chosen in National Teams and have played in World Championship Events.

Once again, if you have any photos you would like included in these pages, please let me know.

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Around the Courts 10th January

This weekend saw Bunbury Central host of the State AC Men’s Open Singles. The weather was great and the courts were awesome.

I would like to thank Peter Teede for all the work he did in managing the tournament (his first ever), the ladies in the kitchen for their catering prowess and to Kim Reynolds for all the work he does in maintaining the courts. Also a big shout out to the club members for giving up their courts for the two days.

10 Players lined up for the coveted trophy and in a final that highlighted the skills of both players, Jeff Newcombe defeated Carl Robinson 25-13. Jeff’s accuracy and hoop running was sublime. This was also a special performance from Carl who has only just recently returned to the sport after a very long break. No doubt this is the the first of many finals he will contest this season.

Full results can be found on Croquetscores.

The photographer (me) needs a new phone! Apols for the lack of quality.

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Part 4 – Golf Croquet Tactics and Options – Chris McWhirter

Aggressive/Attacking and Defensive Play

Many players think that the term aggressive play means hitting the ball hard. It certainly helps and looks impressive but is not always the case.

In GC terms to be aggressive/attacking is simply to attack/score the hoop as quickly as possible. This can obviously be achieved though shooting at the hoop straight away. It can also be achieved by positioning your first ball in a shooting position and clearing/blocking/wiring your opponent with the second ball (PHH).

In GC terms to be aggressive/attacking is simply to attack/score the hoop as quickly as possible. This can obviously be achieved though shooting at the hoop straight away. It can also be achieved by positioning your first ball in a shooting position and clearing/blocking/wiring your opponent with the second ball (PHH).

Defensive play is choosing to block or clear when a scoring opportunity exists. Using a highly likely scoring/hoop ball to block/clear is only acceptable if your second ball is also in a scoring/hoop position. That is both of your balls have managed to achieve an attack/scoring/hoop position.

If you choose to use a scoring ball to clear and your second ball is not in a scoring position, you are playing defensively and the games will tend to go longer. If players hold their nerve, then generally the longer a game goes the more likely a better player will win. Often choosing not to score because you are afraid of missing and losing that hoop will in fact, more often than not, make you lose the hoop to a better player.

 It is better to shoot to score than never to have shot at all!

In terms of changing styles throughout a tournament or a game it is better to play aggressively against higher ranked/skilled players. You can afford to play more defensively against lower ranked/skilled players as it is likely they will make more mistakes and allow you some easy hoops. It is still preferable to play aggressive and finish them off as soon as possible though.

The old adage of “safety first” has no place in a mismatched game. If you are the lower ranked player, you have to practice and play an aggressive/attacking style to have a chance of winning consistently.

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Advantage GC 2022 Update

An update to playing Advantage GC has recently been posted on the World Croquet Federation.

Croquetwest trialled it last year in the State GC Handicap Singles event and after conducting our own review, Match Committee determined that we should trial it again in 2022.

You can find all the updated information here, including a copy of the full review undertaken.

In Summary:

2022 update – amendments identified
The trial showed that most people felt this game provided a closer experience to level play GC than using extra strokes. The data showed that this variant provided closer matches than the use of extra strokes. Previous analysis has shown that extra strokes generally favours the stronger player, however, data collected over some 836 games of Advantage GC, showed that in some cases there was a slight advantage for the weaker player. To correct this, the Starting Scores Table has been amended.”

First to 7 Hoops

Advantage GC Table 1 – Starting Scores First to 7 Hoops

Advantage GC Table 2 – Starting Scores First to 10 hoops

How to play Advantage GC 2022 – Revision

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New Handicap Calculator

I found a link to this today on the World Croquet Federation website.

https://chc.eu.pythonanywhere.com/

Created by Brian Wainman this online tool will work out how many bisques you should have in AC handicap, how many extra strokes in GC handicap and the winner and loser points impact when playing AC advanced games

Simply enter the type of croquet being played, the game type, your handicap and your opponents. Press Calculate and all is revealed. A very handy tool.

You selected: GC 7 Point on a Full Lawn playing Level Play Singles – Match. Your handicap is -3 and your opponent’s is 1 . Your index change: Win (+2) Lose (-18)

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GC Handicaps Update – 30th December 2021

Peter Hamilton has continued to work tirelessly throughout the year and has completed the final update for 2021. We thank him for his efforts. All GC handicaps can be found here.

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Part 3 – Golf Tactics and Options – Chris McWhirter

Have a Plan

Every Shot has a Purpose – make every shot count. Every shot has to be part of an overall plan and purpose. Every shot has an ideal position… aim for it and execute. Don’t just “hit somewhere over there” and hope or the best. You need to know what your plan is to win that hoop. If you don’t have a plan you will inevitably just place your ball in front. If you are second to the hoop this is often suicide as your opponent can clear you too easily.

Golf is so reactionary that every shot you take will determine the opponent’s next move. You need to play accurate shots to force opponents to take the shots you want them to make… not vice versa. Your plan might be to entice your opponent into a testing clearance shot that may force an error. It may be to draw your opponent away from the hoop or into an awkward jump position. If you don’t have a plan for each hoop you will often fail against a tactical and thinking GC player.

POSITION, HIT & HOOP – Walk like an Egyptian

Many of the world’s best GC players are Egyptian. The Egyptian style is very different to what you have probably been taught so far. Their “hard hitting” technique is a result of many things – different grip (often Irish), stance (pigeon toed) and swing (bent back/ high backswing). This may give them an advantage at the extreme elite level but I would recommend you continue with what you have been taught so far.

Grip, Stance and Swing aside, the Egyptian theory of GC is definitely valid. The theory is best summed up as – POSITION, HIT and HOOP (PHH) or as I prefer to name it – POSITION PROTECT (PP).

PHH or PP is used constantly throughout the game. Use this phrase as a motto. Repeat it in your head continually through the game it will give you the minimum level of play for most hoops. There are some very advanced tactics you can employ as you learn about them but 9 times out of 10 PP will get you through.

The beauty of PP is best seen as the second ball to arrive at a hoop. Basically you Position ball 2 so that it can run the next hoop. If your opponent hasn’t blocked the fourth ball being able to Hit the first ball, you then Hit (clear) the ball that was first to the hoop (ball 4 onto ball 1). Pray your opponent misses a long return roquet with ball 1 and then make the Hoop with ball 2 the Positioned ball. You have – Positioned a ball, Hit away an opponent and then made the Hoop.

This can be used for all hoops but looks prettiest going from hoop 4 to hoop 5. For example in ball terms – U positions in front of H5. R also positions in front of 5 making sure it doesn’t block Y’s shot on U. If K also positions or tries to block/clear but is unsuccessful then Y Hits/clears U to the boundary. If U misses the long shot on R then R runs the Hoop.

Top level players will often position the first ball and clear with the second wherever on the court the second may be – i.e. they are quite happy to clear with a full court shot. If your opponent was first to the hoop but in a poor position to score you might want to consider the higher percentage play of PPHH. This is sending your first ball to a closer clearance position rather than a scoring position. You are positioning a clearing (Hit) ball first instead of positioning a Hoop ball. So the sequence will be Position to clear, Position to score, Hit and Hoop (PPHH). The critical thing with your position to clear shot is that it does not go too close to the hoop or your opponent’s balls; you don’t want it to become a target. Your position to score ball can’t be too close to the opponent either as it will get cleared too easily.

The idea of PPHH is that you are not rewarding your opponent for a bad shot. You are trying to put maximum pressure on them by squeezing in closer to make your eventual clearances shorter. You are forcing them into longer shots that if played badly will result in a turnover in power. If your opponent is in a bad position, make it even worse for them by wiring your ball from it; make it harder by staying outside of their stop shot zone and stay on the opposite side so they cannot in-off. Too many players blindly reward opponents bad shots by being too hoop focused, they religiously hit to the same spot regardless of the game situation.

The main thing to learn from PHH or PPHH is to give the balls a role. One ball is the scoring ball and the other is a clearing (Protection) ball. This is a very important concept in GC. As soon as you realize the balls have a role to play your games will get faster.

 Role of the Balls – Shooters (Hoop)/Blockers (Position)/Clearers (Hit)

There are 2 simple roles for the balls to take:

 1. Attackersimply the ball in the best position to make a Hoop

2. Defender the ball that defends against your opponents attack. This can be achieved by blocking an opponents shot on the Attacker and/or hoop, or the ball that bashes (clears/stuns/stops) the opponent as far away (or wired) from the Hoop ball.

Understanding the role of the balls allows for quick aggressive hoop making. Too often games drag on as opponents keep hitting each other away from the hoop with no overall plan. Players focus too much on clearing the ball in front of the hoop. They often incorrectly use their attack ball in a defensive role. When you can, position a ball to score and then hit away your opponent with your other ball; or stymie if your skills allow it. Break the cycle of constantly clearing each other away and you will speed up your games.

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Tournament Information

January is a busy month for our AC players.

State Mens Singles – Bunbury Central – 8th & 9th

State Ladies Singles – Bunbury Central – 15th & 16th

State Open Doubles – Nedlands – 22nd & 23rd

Australia Day Singles – Nedlands 26th

Information about these events can be found under EVENTS – AC State Events 2021-21

You can find links to;

  • Playing Conditions
  • Draws
  • Previous winners
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Feedback

I always enjoy a little bit of feedback and so was pleased when I received a message today.

Normally on a Monday morning one of my first jobs is to set the hoops. Today was no exception and seeing there was a competition coming up, I thought I may as well set up one court with the set of quadways that we have.

It just so happened that Max popped in to have a practice hit and I let him know that he should find them a little tighter today. His feedback is below.

A bit too tight, Gary!
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