Really Big Balls!

Really Big Balls…bowling balls to be precise.mondo croquet

That’s what it takes to play Mondo Croquet. And a sledge hammer. And some rebar rounded to form wickets. Stir in about two dozen free spirited Portlanders. And, voilá! It’s an afternoon of quirky and highly competitive fun in the park.

There was no way I was going to miss this! Hubs, as usual, was a more than willing sidekick.

Mad Hatter meets British Upper Crust meets single guy who couldn't get beyond "white"

Mad Hatter meets British Upper Crust

The delightful sounds of Mozart floating on the light breeze lured us toward the Northwest Park Blocks in downtown Portland to see for ourselves what was billed as the 17th Annual Mondo Croquet World Championship.  Elegant “lawn whites” were on display, along with a few more interesting takes on appropriate lawn games attire. This tournament came complete with a Mad Hatter Picnic and the dress code appeared to be guided more by a whimsical zest for the absurdities of life than anything else. We were seriously under-dressed. Both Alice and the Mad Hatter were in attendance, along with a couple of interesting takes on the White Rabbit. Hat’s off to the woman who attempted to sling a sledge hammer into a bowling bowl while wearing stiletto high heels. You, madam, have big balls of your own.

Lack of sill was overcome by her amazing ability to navigate the damp grass in stilettos

Her lack of skill was overcome by her amazing ability to navigate the damp grass in stilettos

Run by the World Mondo Croquet Association, based right here in good old Portland, Oregon, matches are played year round by this dedicated group of oddballs (or if you are from Portland – just plain folks).

Style Points!

Style Points!

The rules of the game are pretty simple (and although it was somewhat under-cover due to the public nature of this event) drinking appeared to be not only encouraged, but necessary. Just like regulation croquet, the players navigate a course of wickets, taking turns smashing their bowling balls through each of the hoops. When a player manages to get through all of the hoops and reach the final tag (adorned with an Uncle Sam Bear, a rubber chicken or a pink flamingo as there were three separate courses), well folks, that when things detour just a little from the croquet game we played as kids.

Hit the bear and become a zombie. Then it's every man/woman/zombie for themselves

Hit the bear and become a zombie. Then it’s every man/woman/zombie for themselves

If a player is skilled (or lucky) enough to successfully club their ball all the way through and hit the final tag stick/flag at the end… they (wait for it)… become a zombie and play some more. As a zombie, you can’t touch rebar or go through hoops, (metal kills zombies, who knew) but any ball yours touches automatically dies and is out of the game. The game gets pretty cutthroat at the end because the last ball on the field wins!

Because the game is played with sledge hammers, there is a chance that someone’s ball will break. If a ball splits into multiple pieces, the player must finish with the largest piece. According to the rules, your ball can only be replaced if you buy everyone beer.

It was wacky, weird and wonderful all at the same time. And, now I want to hold a mondo croquet tournament of my own. Who wants to play?

If you live in the Portland area and are looking for a little outside adventure, here are five events that might be worth checking out ~

1.  The Tualatin Crawfish Festival – Tualatin

2.  Portland Urban Air Market at Zidell Yards – Portland south waterfront

3.  Pickathon – Happy Valley

4.  Artburst Northwest – riverside on the campus of Marylhurst University

5.  Bone & Brew Festival – Rogue Ale Brewery in the Pearl District

Have a spectacular weekend!


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2 thoughts on “Really Big Balls!

  1. Oh my goodness! Too funny! That would have been so much fun to watch … and yes, I want to to big ball crochet now too;0)

    • Well, big ball crochet is good but big ball croquet is the game for me. Unless, of course, your want to make cute little hats for your croquet balls??
      Sorry, couldn’t resist! Thanks for the comment. It was fun watching and writing about it as well.

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