There’s no better family or neighborhood bonding experience than a friendly, competitive bout of some classic backyard games – bocce, croquet or horseshoes. That is, unless you turn it up a notch with the destined-to-be-classic baseboloball, rootball or megasoccer. We’ve compiled some of the wackiest, weirdest and, oh yes, most fun DIY games being played by the choice few today. As they say in spikeball, “Bring the hurt!”
Sometimes you need a good ice breaker at your wedding reception or at least something to keep your guests occupied while you are off taking your formal, post-ceremony photos. Lawn games are an awesome choice! I found this great list of suggestions of lawn games on the “lovely” blog:
1. Bocce – a lawn game of Italian origin that is similar to lawn bowling
2. Croquet – Game involving mallets and balls that are pushed through wickets
3. Horseshoes – no explanation needed
Bocce derives its name from bottia, the Latin word for "ball."
The first known documentation of bocce occurs in graphic representations by the ancient Egyptians, as early as 5200 B.C. From Egypt, the game spread to Greece and then to the Romans, who introduced it throughout the empire. Although these early games look quite different from today’s bocce, the object of coming as close as possible to a fixed target remains consistent.
Each individual or team gets four balls. The smallest ball, called the pallina, is thrown toward the opposite side of the playing surface, and players take turns throwing their balls toward the pallina. Once all eight balls have been thrown, the winning team gets a point for each ball that is closer to the pallina than the other team’s nearest ball. A regulation bocce court is 76 feet long and 10 feet wide, but most people just play for fun in their yard or at a park. (Courts can be found at Towne Lake in McKinney.)
Croquet is a great lawn game that can be played with as few as two and up to six people. Players use mallets to hit a wooden or plastic ball through a series of wickets and advance through the course. By hitting another player’s ball or passing through a hoop, you get an extra hit as well. There are numerous variations of the game, with slightly different rules, scoring systems and course layouts.
Official rules were created for horseshoes in the early 1900s.
In this game, players take turns tossing horseshoes around a stake or pole in the ground. Generally associated with more rural players — it is also known as barnyard golf – its relative ease makes it suitable for all ages. The rules are simple for a casual game of horseshoes. When a thrown shoe circles the stake, it is referred to as a ringer, worth one point. The game ends when a player or team reaches 21 points. A different set of scoring rules applies for “sanctioned tournaments” and those affiliated with the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America.
Horseshoes has its roots in ancient Greece. It is said that it started when Grecian soldiers tried to imitate a popular game played by their officers. It remained a favorite for soldiers around the world, and the first world tournament was held in 1899 in Kansas. Several years later, official rules were created for the sport, prescribing the height of the stake, weight of the shoes and distance the shoes should be tossed.
Other Lawn Games
Badminton is similar to tennis, using lighter-weight rackets.
BADMINTON: Badminton is one of the most popular backyard games, a kind of lightweight tennis, played with rackets and “birdies,” officially called shuttlecocks. But badminton can get serious, too. It was a full-medal sport in several recent Olympics.
The goal of badminton is to hit a shuttlecock with a racket so that it passes over the net and lands in the opponent’s court. If successful, the player wins a rally.
KUBB: A combination of bowling and horseshoes. The object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them.
LAWN DARTS: Similar to both horseshoes and darts. The 12-inch-long darts are tossed underhand toward a horizontal ground target, typically a plastic ring. Landing anywhere within the ring scores a point.
LADDER GOLF: Each player has three golf ball bolas (two golf balls attached by a nylon rope). The object is to wrap your bolas around the three steps of the ladder.
PÉTANQUE: One of Europe’s most popular outdoor games, related to horseshoes and bocce. The aim is to toss or roll a number of hollow steel balls, known as boules, as close as possible to a small wooden target ball called a cochonnet.
SHOLF: A hybrid of table shuffleboard and golf, the object is to putt your golf balls further into the scoring zone than your opponent. Point values increase as you get closer to the edge of the playing green.
You can find just the right equipment to turn your backyard into a mini-playground at many local McKinney stores. Thanks to Play It Again Sports for sharing their fun collection with McKinney Magazine.
Sources: Badminton World Federation, National Horseshoe Pitchers Association and United States Croquet Association
About the author: Katie Soyka is a McKinney-based photographer and writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her photography website at katiesoykaphotography.com.