Press Release--The Chicago Croquet Club

A NEW GAME IN TOWN--THIS JUNE 15, 2002.

Chicago has a new game in town. In February, the Park District gave its official go-ahead launching the start of the Chicago Croquet Club. Built in the 1920's, the clubhouse and lawns in Jackson Park have given Chicago one of nation's premier public venues for croquet.

Chicago has already caught the attention of the United States Croquet Association (USCA), in West Palm Beach, Florida. Intent on jumpstarting the sport in the nation's third largest city, the USCA croquet school is sending its chief instructor, Bob Kroeger, to Chicago to help host the Chicago Croquet Club Opening Day on Saturday, June 15 (rain date June 16). This is an all-day event of instruction and croquet playing, running from 9am-5pm.

The clubhouse and lawns are nestled in resort-like surroundings along the beach at 57th Street, just behind the Museum of Science and Industry. Enclosed by Lake Michigan, the beaux-arts architecture of the Museum of Science and Industry, and shaded beneath the trees of Jackson Park, it is hard to believe you are only five minutes from the Loop.

This is not the game you remember from your backyard. The lawns look like golf course putting greens, except flat and rectangular. Players send balls around the court and through wicket openings that are barely wider than the balls, using 36-inch 3-lb. mallets that look like elegantly crafted wooden sledgehammers.

Croquet is a post-Civil War import from the British Isles. The sport had a roaring start in America, but suffered a setback in the 1890's when Boston clergymen worked to have the game banned from Boston Common because of the drinking, gambling and licentious behavior that has sometimes been associated with the game.

Today, the sport is well into its comeback. The United States Croquet Association has nearly 300 member clubs, sanctioning hundreds of local, regional, national and international tournaments each year.


While everybody fondly remembers sending their opponent's balls into the shrubbery from the backyard days, the six-wicket game has a great deal more strategy at work. Players typically think three or four moves ahead like chess. The croquet shot (you may remember it as "the send") involves hitting two balls at once to precise locations, much the same as in pool.

But don't let any of this intimidate you! Beginners can learn everything they need to know in minutes to play a variation on the six-wicket game known as "Golf Croquet." While the finer strategies and shots at work in the regular six-wicket game will develop over time, you can learn the basic rules in a single game. The Chicago Croquet Club will provide all the equipment players need to get started. And for those interested in a weeknight game after work, the lawns are lighted for evening play.

"We are very excited about croquet in Chicago," says the USCA's Bob Kroeger, "with its current facilities and expansion potential, Chicago could easily become a major player on the national tournament circuit in a very short time."

Anyone interested in a game of croquet may play free of charge by contacting the Chicago Croquet Club. And for those who fall in love with the game and the surroundings, Full and Associate memberships are available for the season.


Contacts: Reporters should contact Doug Johnson at 312-692-1980, or E-mail at jdouglasjohnson@ameritech.net


Special Events:

Opening Day Itinerary, Saturday, June 15 (rain date, June 16)

9am-11am: Bob Kroeger teaches the 7 basic shots.

11am-12pm: Demonstration game of USCA Croquet

12-2pm: Lunch & open play

2pm-5pm: Play USCA rules croquet with Bob Kroeger instructing

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WEDNESDAY NIGHT GOLF CROQUET-2ND WEEKEND OF THE MONTH

The Chicago Croquet Club will organize 'Golf Croquet Nights' the second Wednesday each month through the end of the season (June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11). The focus will be on introducing new players to the easy-to-learn variation known as golf croquet. Golf croquet will run from 6:00pm - 9:00pm. Golf croquet nights are free-of-charge and open to all. The lawns are lighted for evening play.

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CORPORATE & NON-PROFIT EVENT PLANNING

The Chicago Croquet Club will organize croquet outings for your corporate event, church group, or non-profit organization. Please contact the Chicago Croquet Club at 312-692-1980 for more information.

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MEMBERSHIP

The Chicago Croquet Club has Associate and Full Memberships available. Please contact Jason Benson at 312-208-1692, or jason.benson@attbi.com for more information.

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DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN CHICAGO:

Drive south on Lakeshore Drive toward the Museum of Science and Industry. You will come to a light at 57th Street on Lakeshore Drive. Sitting at this light you will see the front of the Museum of Science and Industry. Staying on Lakeshore Dr., go straight through this light about 1/4-mile to the next light, just south of the museum. On the right you will see a black metal fence that surrounds the lawns and the clubhouse.

Turn right at that light into the parking lots. Next, turn LEFT at the T. After turning left, keep bearing left, staying at the east end of the parking lots. You will see a "Do Not Enter" sign, but if the lot isn't busy just ignore that sign and stay on the east end of the parking lot. On the southeast corner of this parking lot you will see a gated entrance to the yacht club, and to the left of the yacht club entrance you will see a narrow driveway. (It doesn't look like you can drive on that driveway, but you can.) Take that driveway to the clubhouse and you may park beside the clubhouse.

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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:

Take a #10 (express) or a #6 bus (after 5:30pm) to the Museum of Science and Industry. Walk around to the east side of the museum, through the parking lot to the south end of the museum. Once you are at the south end of the museum, look to the southeast and you should see a black gate that surrounds the lawns. Just walk toward that gate.



 

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