Harpo Marx, the harp-playing member of the Marx brothers, referred to himself and his
friends in his book “Harpo Speaks!” as croquemaniacs. They were crazy about croquet. There were times when he and his friends would create a type of shot that defied every croquet rule and idea in the book. It was in honor of Harpo Marx that we named what we play “Harpo’s Croquet”, and if there is a lot of cleared ground around your campsite, it is perfect for an afternoon of hilarity.
Croquet sets today come with four mallets and balls, and you can start with four players if you like, although we quickly expanded to more and had to get two different sets so the balls and mallets looked different enough for eight players. You divide up the hoops among the number of players playing and each one of you takes a turn placing a hoop.
Keep in mind that you are not playing a normal game of croquet. The hoop can be at the top of a hill, around a tree, along a logging road–just make certain that if you hit the ball towards it, it won’t go careening off into a place from which you cannot retrieve it. The placement should be unusual but not impossible to make.
Once all the hoops are placed, decide who goes first, second, etc. Place your ball on a pre-arranged spot ten feet from the first croquet stick and try and hit it. If you do, take a second shot toward the first hoop. Play proceeds in order.
If you tap another’s ball and it comes to rest along side it, you can send that other person’s ball away by resting your foot lightly over the two and tapping your ball with your mallet so the concussion sends your opponent’s ball off.
Wandering around the course with a drink in your hand is a rule in our games. You can put your drink down or get someone to hold it while you make a shot. First one to get their ball through all the hoops and tap the home stick wins.
We have played this game camping with riotously successful results. You never know who is going to win and it makes for a great afternoon.