Croquet in Port Alfred

When you think of croquet, if you’ve enjoyed C.S. Lewis’ classic perhaps you imagine The Queen of Hearts playing with flamingo-mallets in Wonderland! However, when we think of this past time we recall a particular group of croquet-lovers who enjoy weekly matches at Port Alfred’s wonderful Bowling and Croquet Club. This lovely club is home to some talented croquet players and holds regular competitions. They also love to welcome individuals who are simply fond of playing the occasional game. If you fancy trying your hand at croquet when you’re in Port Alfred, then the Croquet Club is the place to go. We can also assure you the club uses official croquet equipment … no flamingos will be harmed!

Croquet certainly has a long and interesting history and it has gone through a number of changes to become the game we know and love today. Originating in France, croquet was known as paille-maille, meaning ball-mallet. In the 17th Century the rules of paille-maille were slightly changed and the new game was called croquet, after the crooked stick used to hit the balls through the wickets. From France, croquet migrated to Ireland where it was called “crooky” and it then made the short leap over to England where it replaced the previously enjoyed pall-mall (paille-mall). Croquet became popular throughout the British Empire and the game spread to South Africa. In the 1870s croquet had already reached South Africa and contemporary writers refer to croquet being played “under the oaks in Wynberg, Cape Town” and “in the park at Pietermaritzburg”. Information regarding the further development of the sport is unclear, but we know that it first spread within the two British colonies of the Cape and Natal. The popularity of the sport spread further around the country and led to clubs springing up all over South Africa. (

Our very own Croquet Club started in 1985 and then moved to the Port Alfred Bowling Club in 1991, which has been known as the Port Alfred Bowling and Croquet Club ever since. The Croquet Club originally only played Association Croquet, but Golf Croquet was introduced in 1996 after two members, Allan and Jill Wilson, played the game in Scotland. The club has two lawns, on which Golf Croquet is played 3 times a week and Association once a week. If you’d like to know more about the different versions, then click here for more info:

One of the highlights each year is the club’s annual tournament, the “Highlander”, sponsored by a local pub. The competition is in its thirteenth year and proves to be very popular, so if you are interested in taking part be sure to submit your application soon. The tournament will take place this year from 16th April to the 24th April. Be sure to sign up, if you’ll be staying at Green Fountain Farm resort during that time. Here’s a link for the application form:

For more information on the Port Alfred Croquet Club and the sport of croquet in South Africa be sure to check out the following website: