At one time, the most extreme thing you could do at a croquet game was to show up without your dress whites. Tell that to the T-shirt-and-jeans-clad guys carrying mallets and wickets into an office park drainage ditch.
Not that the Connecticut eXtreme Croquet Society's version of the game much resembles the traditional lawn sport. Since 1984, players seeking "the enjoyment of nature and the near-death experience" have been tramping through cornfields, woods and marshes — as well as said ditch, which they've nicknamed "The Pit". Once, they even played atop Meriden's Mount Lamentation. "Of course," says founding member Bob Warseck, "the hard part was getting the wickets into the rock."
Players use deadly-looking custom mallets — literally bulletproof — to send balls sailing through wickets made of zinc lightning rods. Games are year-round, but fierce Connecticut winters are gentle compared to the way players taunt one another, "it's not sitting around sipping weak lemonade," Warseck says. "We make it as rough as possible."
For more info, visit www.extremecroquet.org. — Liz Acas
Originally published in Connecticut Magazine - June 2004
Article Copyright © Liz Acas
Illustration Copyright © Michael Witte