Introduction: Crazy Croquet!

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Croquet is my favorite backyard sport. It's like playing golf, but I don't have to wear those stupid pants. And it always makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. Off with her head!

***UPDATE 5/3/10:  Hey, if you make your own Crazy Croquet course and post some pictures in the comments section, I'll give you a patch!***

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Crazy Croquet requires these elements:
A backyard
Your friends
1 or 2 croquet sets (2 sets means extra wickets, balls, posts, mallets, up to 12 players)
Random scraps of things (pipes, bricks, boards, plywood, cinder blocks, large rocks)

Not necessary, but highly recommended:
Barbecued hot dogs/hamburgers

Step 2: Build!

This is half the fun! Get creative, you'll need ramps, maybe an old dryer hose, blocks of wood to shunt the balls down a new path, whatever you can think of, do it! If it doesn't work out during play, simply rearrange the course and try again.

Beer can be very useful at this point.

You don't need to follow the standard figure eight setup of croquet, add all sorts of loops, twists and turns. Make the course double back on itself, or put a wicket underneath a ramp that the balls went over earlier.

Step 3: Play!

The rules are whatever you want them to be. We usually stick to the basics, so for those of you who haven't experienced the joys of this sissy French sport, here are the basic rules:

-You start just in front of the finishing stake
-Hit your ball through the wickets in a predetermined course
-Each time you go through a wicket you get another shot
-Go through to the other end of the course, where you must strike the turning stake with your ball
-Turn around and go back to the finishing stake, through a different set of wickets
-The first person to hit the finishing stake with their ball after passing through all of the wickets in the correct order, wins
-If your ball strikes another player's ball you may either take an extra shot, or place your ball next to theirs, brace your own ball with your foot, and "send" their ball as far away as possible by hitting your own ball with your mallet

That's all. The rules are so easy, you'll even be able to remember them after drinking beer and setting up a Crazy Croquet course all day.

Some extra rules we sometimes throw in:
-Special stakes/rocks/toys that, when struck, give you an extra shot
-Special stakes/rocks/toys that, when struck, end your turn and make you lose the next one
-"Poison," which is one player who's goal is not to reach the final post, but rather to seek you out and send your ball away if you get to close to the goal

Step 4: Example Course Part One: the Plateau

Since every Crazy Croquet course will be different, I can't tell you exactly how it will be, but here is an example of one of my favorite setups:

Obstacle one:

The Plateau

This is a very basic obstacle, simply a sheet of 1/4" plywood on top of some bricks, with ramps leading up to it from each side. There is also a broken cinder block in the middle that we used as an extra wicket. We ended up making a wall around it with more bricks, since the plywood was warped and the yard was uneven and the balls kept falling off. This obstacle was the first out of the gate, and therefore also the last. It was MUCH easier going over the first time.

Step 5: Example Course Part 2: Double Ramp

After coming out of the Plateau, hang a sharp left, and head for the Double Ramp.

This obstacle is situated on a small rise in the ground, so that you go up over the first ramp and through a wicket at the top, then turn around and head back down through the lower ramp. This obstacle looks easy, but me and several others kept getting stuck at the bottom, or misjudging our shots and missing the wicket at the top. Once you've made it through this obstacle, you'll be pointed straight for my favorite one.

Step 6: Example Course Part 3: Super Ramp

Oh, I liked this one. It's pretty simple to navigate, but I spent a long time building it. I made a couple of ramps from some sheet metal (one of the side panels of an old dryer), painted them up, and used some clothes hangers to make extra wickets, which I fastened at the top of each of the ramps.

We set them up, one after another for an extra tall ramp. At the top, if you've smacked your ball hard enough and made it through both of the wickets, you get spit through another cinder block and into a dryer hose and rolled down to the base of the next obstacle.

We also put another wicket underneath the taller ramp so that you have to pass underneath this obstacle on your way to the finishing stake.

Step 7: Example Course Part 4: Turning Stake Turnaround

Here's the mid-point of the course. The dryer hose spits you out right at the base of a lower ramp that leads up to a series of three wickets. The object was to go through the one on the left, back out the middle one, and then through the one on the right, hit the turning post, and go out the last wicket in series. It's pretty straightforward, but you really had to watch out of the sinkhole/compost pit just on the other side of the post.

Step 8: Example Course Part 5: Stone Hemicircle

This was a pile of paving stones we found and made into a half circle. It was a pretty easy part of the game, usually doable in one turn as you get an extra shot from each of the three wickets in the obstacle. If you were really good (or more likely, really lucky), you could bounce your ball against the rocks just so that it would go through all three wickets and out the other side in one hit, leaving you with an extra three shots!

After passing this obstacle, it's a quick jaunt through the wicket und the Super Ramp, around a couple of randomly placed bricks in the yard, back up over the Plateau, and to the finishing stake for the win!

Step 9: El FIn

That's the game, I hope you enjoyed it! If you like this instructable enough to try it yourself, please send me pictures of your Crazy Croquet courses, I'd like to see what you come up with!  Remember, anyone who posts pictures of their own crazy croquet course gets a DIY patch!

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