Croquet Returns to Buffalo

After COVID Canceled the Delaware Park Tournament Last Year, Top Players To Compete Again This August

Like much of America that took a yearlong hiatus for the coronavirus pandemic, Buffalo’s prominent croquet tournament that draws top players from around the country will return this summer.

The Buffalo Croquet Club 5th Annual 6-Wicket Invitational will take place the first week of August in Delaware Park. While the tournament is only open to invited competitive players who pay $250 entry fees, the public is invited to watch the rather unusual sport that conjures up antique images of high society.

Players are still required to wear all white attire, and while the atmosphere can be rather hushed at times, Tournament Director Ryan Thompson says that the players really enjoy impressing and sometimes confounding the spectators.

“Specifically American-rules croquet can be an oddly intriguing sport to witness, often compared to chess on a lawn,” Thompson said. “But yes, it tends to be a mostly quiet environment to allow players to think and shoot, with quite a few screams and swear words uttered after some shots.”

The sport, popularized through 19th century paintings and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” appears to be on the upswing here in the Queen City, and unlike any other sport, it pits men and women, old and young, even those with physical disabilities, against each other on equal terms.

“In some ways, it’s the ultimate sport of equity,” Thompson said. “I saw a great match a few years ago between a 10-year-old boy and a 90-year-old woman. It tends to be a sport of great etiquette, but is also quite merciless. No one takes it easy on anyone. And your opponent is always holding back a smile when you make a mistake.”

There are three levels (or flights) of competitive play for this year’s tournament, with both singles and doubles games. The tournament begins 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5, under the lights adjacent to the Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy lodge on Parkside Avenue. Playoffs, and the finals take place on that Sunday morning and afternoon.

Many players arrive in Buffalo several days before the event to take in some of the local sights and tourist attractions. This year there will be travelers from Massachusetts, Florida and Kansas City – but due to border restrictions, the usual top players from Toronto and Canada cannot attend.

Some of this year’s favorites to win the bronze buffalo trophy include Hall of Famer Rich Curtis, Englishman Chris Patmore, and the two-time reigning champion Tim Rapuano.

What: Buffalo Croquet Club 5th Annual 6-Wicket Invitational

WhenThursday, Aug. 5 (6 p.m. – 8 p.m.) Under the lights!

Friday, Aug. 6 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Saturday, Aug. 7 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Sunday, Aug. 8 (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

Where: Delaware Park croquet courts, adjacent to Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, 84 Parkside Ave., near Scajaquada Expressway, Route 198. 

Cost: Free for public to spectate

Contact: Ryan Thompson, (716) 697-4111, thompson77@gmail.com

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