One tournament leaps out of the Croquet Association fixture list: a supervised high bisque event organised by The Academy at the Sussex County Croquet Club near Brighton. As you play, coaches headed by Frances Low and organiser, Morgan Case, view your progress with critical and constructive eyes. What could be more useful? Even better, SCCC has nine courts so they offered the luxury of sole occupancy for each game. No hiding place from setting out a four ball break and making it work.
The field was split into four blocks of six: four 14 point games per contestant guaranteed. My first opponent, tall, charming, very accomplished, laid out the first ball of a classic east boundary opening and hit it with his second. As I slunk away many hours later, he was winning the final, the only unbeaten player of the day. Well, you can’t get lucky every time.
My progress was sporadic, a win, a draw, two losses. Bisques squandered to rescue balls stuck in jaws. Ouch! After three games, Morgan took me aside to break the bad news. ‘You may win the occasional game but you’ll never be any good playing like that. You must set up breaks and use them’. I tried on my last game and recorded my worst result. ‘I made five hoops in one turn’, my opponent said exultantly, having used my ball placements to maximum advantage. Now I know I’ll get even worse before I get better.
As a bonus end to an excellent day, Morgan coached legal roll shots. Next time six hoops, one turn. You gotta believe it.
The 3 star Castle Inn Hotel in Steyning would be an excellent base for The Academy (6 miles away) if only they could get the staff. Surly and untrained, the two waiters turned the lights out in the restaurant the moment the kitchen closed at 21.00. I was still eating my main course…..MC
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