Edgbaston Croquet Club
By Laurence Gale MSc
Edgbaston Croquet Club is one of 130 clubs affiliated to the Croquet Association in the UK. The club has been in existence at the Richmond Hill Road site for well over sixty years. With a current playing membership exceeding 60 members who are able to play every day, seven days a week during the playing season (April - September), the club has three lawn playing areas that are rotated for play to ensure wear is kept to a minimum.
The club like most Croquet Clubs is run on a voluntarily basis with most club members providing labour and resources to keep the club functioning. Chris Bennett who has been associated with the club since the 1960s is currently on the management committee and is chiefly responsible for managing and maintaining the lawns.
Some tree works have been planned with crown reduction and crown lifting programmed to allow more light into the site, However before any works can be started Chris has to inform and seek planning permission from Birmingham City Council. As all the trees around the site are covered by a Tree Preservation Orders (PTO's).
The clubs facilities are very modest with a small club room, kitchen and toilets being available on site. The club has very limited machinery, having only the basic maintenance machinery available, namely a mower, marking machine and a very old scarifier and a few hand tools. Which limits the amount of maintenance the club can carry out itself. Budgets are very tight, however Chris recognises the importance of spring and autumn renovations to the lawns. He tends to ensure at least one green each years gets the full renovation treatments (spiking, scarification, fertilising, over seeding and top dressing). Employing a specialist contractor to carry out these works. With what money he has left he will try and ensure that the other lawns get some appropriate maintenance.
With that in mind Chris is keen to ensure that all the greens have appropriate end of season renovation works carried out especially lawn two which has developed some dry patch symptoms. Chris will be starting his autumn maintenance early this year ,closing down lawn two first, then completing work on lawns one and three at the end of the playing season in September. Chris wants to ensure that he is able to establish some new grass growth before the colder weather sets in.
The main priority of this years autumn renovation is to achieve some deep aeration, application of sufficient top dressing materials to restore surface levels and establish new grass growth on the lawns. Chris stated that it is important to keep and maintain surface levels especially around the hoop positions. Hoop positions on croquet lawns are critical, as the majority of play is centred around the hoops. Players especially at international level do not like playing on uneven surfaces.
Matches can last from anything from 45 minutes up to 3 hours duration depending on which game you are playing, for further details on the rules of the game please see information on the Croquet Association web site @ www.croquet.org.uk/
Edgbaston Croquet Club certainly offers a friendly tranquil facility for its members who can get away from the stresses of every day life, turn up at the club and spend a couple of quite hours playing an intriguing game of Croquet.