Summer-Perfect Lawn Games: What’s Old is New Again
At your next summer gathering, party like it’s 1399 with these five (really) old-school games. Predating Jesus of Nazareth, these backyard sports will have you channeling ancient Olympians in an attempt to “Be Like Mikkos.”
Yard Game of Olympians
In a brief and singular moment of glory, 10 world-class strikers went wicket-for-wicket in a quest for the gold during the Paris-hosted 1900 summer Olympics.
Two, four or six players use a mallet to drive balls through a course of six or nine metal wickets. The first to complete the course and hit a center peg wins.
Today’s croquet rules vary by source. The most common versions include Association Croquet (also known as International Rules), American Rules Croquet, Nine-Wicket Croquet and Golf Croquet.
Bocce is an old-fashioned game of Throwing This at That.
Dating back to ancient Rome, or possibly to when humans evolved thumbs, the object of this game is simple: throw big, heavy balls (bocces) toward a single, small target ball (a pallino or jack). Bocce closest to pallino wins.
Also called lawn bowling, today’s version uses eight bocces and one pallino. The game is played between either two individuals or two teams of up to four people, proving Throwing This at That is as entertaining now as it was thousands of years ago.
Do the Shuttlecock Shuffle
Badminton is a relatively new spin on a 2,000-year-old game called battledore and shuttlecock. That’s a game where folks use paddles to hit an object back and forth as many times as possible without the object hitting the ground.
In badminton, however, hitting the ground is the name of the game. Opposing players use racquets to hit a small, flying object called a shuttlecock (or birdie) over a net so it lands in an opponent’s half of the court.
Perhaps the most fascinating piece of the game is the shuttlecock, which is traditionally a cork ball crowned in a cone of feathers.
And not just any feathers. Specifically, 16 feathers from a goose’s left wing.
I kid you not.
The reasoning is less Monty Python and more aerodynamic. Feathers from a goose’s left wing curve in the same direction. That direction makes a shuttlecock consistently spin clockwise with every hit, every time.
Speaking of hits, shuttlecocks can reach speeds of 200 mph at service before arcing across the court and slowing to a gentle glide for the opponents’ return shot.
More Than A Lucky Chuck
A distant cousin of discus, one could say horseshoes has “quoit” a history. Just as sports-minded Americans once wanted to “Be Like Mike,” ancient Greeks wanted to “Be Like Mikkos.”
In 776 B.C., fun-loving plebeians emulated their Olympian idols using homemade athletic gear.
Instead of an expensive bronze discus (who has the ducats for that?!), crafty Grecians bent horseshoes into rounds and pitched them over a stake. Hoops and stakes? That’s the game of quoit.
Horseshoes and stakes? That’s the game of horseshoes, where two to four players pitch two horseshoes in turn. The goal? Score the most points, and go for ringers—when the shoe catches the stake with a “CLINK” of success.
A New Kid on the Block
By comparison, ladder golf is in its infancy. Invented just 40 years ago, this is a game of many names: ladder toss, redneck golf, hillbilly horseshoes, bolo polo, flingy ball, monkey ball and a dozen more.
Invented in the era of mullets and bitchin’ Camaros, it’s thought this game burst onto the scene in the late 1980s or early 90s.
Players use two golf balls linked via a cord, and throw toward the receptacle: A glorified laundry drying rack. Where the balls catch and hang determines a player’s score.
Keep the good times rollin’! Sign up for emails and get advanced notice on sales, in-store deals, events and more. Plus, catch up on the latest blog posts!