Outsiders may see the game of croquet as an old-fashioned sport, something from a black-and-white movie on TMC, according to Otto Wahlrab, the South Carolina liason for the United States Croquet Association. But for serious players, picking up a three-pound mallet and whacking a ball through a metal wicket is as competitive as it gets.

Wahlrab and about 60 other croquet players will compete in the Coastal Croquet Clubs’ (CCC) Sixth Annual Fall Invitational Tournament October 13-19 at club venues on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton. CCC chairman Stan Abrahamson said he expects an even bigger turnout this year, partly due to the new courts at Sun City and Palmetto Bluff.

Croquet club members from Sun City Hilton Head, Dataw Island, Port Royal Plantation, the Cypress of Hilton Head in Hilton Head Plantation, and Wexford Plantation are expected to play, along with a smattering of out-of-town members from the United States Croquet Association.

“Croquet is a game that you play at different flights or levels. We have a first through third flight and a championship flight for the best players,” said Abrahamson. He calls croquet “chess on grass,” because once players are proficient, croquet becomes more of a game of strategy.

Most croquet players have played backyard croquet with nine-wicket rules. The standard game involves each player trying to beat all the others through the course to the final stake. Scores are irrelevant, because the game is considered a race. In some cases, the game is over as soon as the first player strikes the final stake. Typically, players continue playing until only one player’s ball remains. “The mind-body control is probably very important,” Wahlrab said. “A little of billiards comes into the game. As far as shot making, a little chess comes into it in terms of strategy, offensive and defensive. The mind gets just as tired as the body, which is fun, especially if you win.” The Coastal Croquet Clubs’ Sixth Annual Fall Invitational Tournament is scheduled October 13-19.

For more information, call Otto Wahlrab, the South Carolina liaison for the United States Croquet Association, at (843) 836-2710 or Stan Abrahamson, chairman of the Coastal Croquet Clubs, at (843) 705-5261. Additional information is also available at


Oct. 13: Practice at all venues and opening night reception
Oct. 14-15: Doubles matches at all venues
Oct. 16-17: Singles matches at all venues
Oct. 17: Evening tournament dinner
Oct. 18-19: Semifinals and finals, Sunday brunch and awards