Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Unless you know my friends the Boumas, or are equally into crazy fun sports, you’ve probably never played extreme croquet. It’s a game they made up, but it is based off the very mild and cultured game of croquet (of course). This game is a bit different though.
For the weekend my friend Laura and I drove to Ann Arbor to see our friend Lindsey and her family - her mom, dad, and brothers Dieter and Jalen. On Memorial Day Lindsey, Dieter, Jalen, Laura and I played a rousing (and four-hour long) game of extreme croquet. We started by setting up the wickets in the most difficult places possible. No easy shots here. We had to go through a wire tomato cage, under a drain pipe and through tall grass, over large tree roots, under an overturned bird feeder, up a rail and into a pot, under a wooden plank, across a slanted driveway, and through one wicket, angled off the house, and through a second. It was extreme. Perhaps pictures will tell the story better than words could.
First we attempted to make it through the wire tomato cage. It was harder than it looked because the wires would hide in the grass and just when you thought your ball was on its way through, it would hit one and veer off.
We were playing at my friends the Boumas’ house, and they hadn’t mowed their lawn in a few days. We got a significant amount of rain at the end of last week, so the grass had grown like crazy. Yesterday, Memorial Day, was the designated lawn-mowing day, but Mr. Bouma held off until after our game of extreme croquet so that the grass could be an obstacle in and of itself. It definitely was for our second wicket, which had to be approached from the other side of a drain pipe.
Next we had to go over some tree roots and get the ball to roll back down through the wicket. Take a look at the pictures. Hopefully they’ll clear up any confusion.
After that we had to go under an overturned bird feeder, but I don’t have any pictures of that. I took video, but the file is incompatible with the blogging program. I’m sorry.
The next obstacle was not a wicket, but what we termed a “teleport.” Maybe we’ve been reading too much Harry Potter. Anyway, the teleport took us from the back yard to the front yard, so it just saved us each a few strokes (theoretically). For some of us it might have been faster to just hit the ball all the way to the front yard because the teleport was a little bit tricky. We had to get the ball to go up a ramp and land in a flowerpot. It was harder than it sounds. The ramp was sort of feeble, and if you hit the ball hard enough to make it all the way up it often soared right over the flowerpot.
So then, once we made it past the teleport, we had to go under a plank bridge. I was in the lead for a long time, until we got to the teleport. It proved to be really difficult for me, and I ended up being the only one left in the backyard for awhile. By the time I got to the front yard, though, Jalen and Laura were both still working on the first obstacle, so I wasn’t too far behind.
The next wicket was the hardest one. I think we spent at least an hour and a half on it, and Dieter and Jalen were still the only ones to make it through. In the end Lindsey, Laura, and I skipped it because Dieter and Jalen had finished the course and we’d been playing for almost four hours. The wicket was flush with the driveway, but set up in such a way that we had to hit the ball across the slanted driveway to make it through. It was so hard. If you didn’t make it, you had to go back across the driveway and try again, and it was not unusual for the ball to instead roll down the driveway and into the street.
At one point, after missing the wicket, I aimed to send my ball back across the driveway, but my aim was a bit off and instead my ball rolled down the sidewalk past the neighbor’s house and into the next yard. It took me a good four hits to get back to the Bouma’s driveway. Fortunately no one else had made much progress in that time either. Can you see me all the way down by the speed limit sign and the silver car?
After Jalen and Dieter made it through the driveway obstacle, they finished the rest of the course quickly. All they had to do was send the ball through one wicket and have it bounce off othe brick wall of the house and through the final wicket, which we thought would be really difficult, but turned out to be a lot easier than expected because there was no one else there to hinder them. The hardest part of the game is often the other players who can hit your ball. You can use a turn to send someone else’s ball across the yard if you want, which can be really rough if you’re the person whose ball gets sent. So once they finished the course Lindsey, Laura, and I played speed croquet, just making it through the obstacles as fast as possible with no regard given to whose turn it was (and we skipped the driveway one). In the end we were a bit sun-burned, and pretty tired, but it was a good time.