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Croquet club offers Northeast course with Texas flair

Dec. 6, 2012 at 6:06 a.m.
Updated Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:08 a.m.

From left: Lon Smith, James West and Mario Mata talk as Steve Jones hits his ball at another during a game of croquet at the Bridge Street Croquet Club. The club is also equipped with lights from the land's past life as a parking lot so groups can play at night.

The morning light cast long shadows on the dew-covered grass as four men joked and smiled while sending brightly colored orbs sailing across the state of Texas.

"You sent me all the way to the panhandle," one joked.

"I'm somewhere out in the Gulf of Mexico," another jested later.

The orbs were croquet balls; the geography a painted map of Texas on what used to be a weeded over "eyesore" but is now a croquet pitch inspired by a Northeastern golf course - with a little Texas flair.

Construction began on the Bridge Street Croquet Club in the summer of 2010 after Steve Jones, 43, decided to do something about the empty lot across the street from his house, which was once spill-over parking for a car dealership.

"Everyone has played it as a kid," Jones said of croquet but not everyone has played on such a nice surface.

After being inspired by an excursion to play croquet at a golf course in Maine with his cousin, Jones had loads of dirt trucked in and researched the perfect kind of grass to make an area to play with his friends.

"One of the more fun things is people driving by and saying, 'What is this?'" Jones said of the project.

In February, Jones decided to open the club to the public, and groups can call to make reservations for a game.

"It was a chance to do something unique in town," he said of the club.

The object of croquet is to be the first to hit a ball through a series of hoops in the ground called wickets.

The club, on the corner of Bridge and Nueces streets, can accommodate two to 12 players in a combination of solo, pair or team play.

Jones, who admits that he can't play golf, says that croquet is a game for people of all ages.

"It doesn't matter how strong you are or your skills. Anyone can jump in and immediately start having fun," he said.

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