Croquet balls have two directions of perpendicular milling resulting in a diamond pattern texture on the surface. The four points on the surface where this milling reduces to small circles are sometimes called poles. The properties of balls are defined in Law 3c of the Laws of Association Croquet - "A ball must be 3 5/8" [92mm] in diameter and must weigh 16 ounces [454g]". For tournament play however there is a bounce specification, a ball size and weight tolerance and for manufacturers an approval scheme leading to Croquet Association (CA) approval.
Croquet balls come in four sets of colours. This allows more than one game to be played simultaneously on a court. It would be most unusual to have more than two games on a court though.
* Primary Colours (or 1st colours) - blue, red, black and yellow. Blue and black always play against red and yellow.
* Striped Primaries are available mainly for the American market. Current manufacturers paint a stripe on, older manufacturers molded the stripe in.
* Secondary Colours (or 2nd colours) - white, pink, brown and green. White and pink play against brown and green.
* Tertiary Colours - different manufacturers have produced sets. There appear to be some by Dawson coloured lilac, turquoiuse, orange and purple, whereas Barlow produced porridge, peach, slate and aubergine (pictured).
For proper club and tournament play the specifications of a croquet ball are tightly constrained; there are limits on the weight, diameter and bounce (see links above). For garden play the balls are generally lighter weight and may lack the distinctive milling. Beware of vendors claiming that their balls are 'championship size and weight'. If they do not have the correct bounce characteristic they will not play like approved balls.
There are currently three main manufacturers of plastic moulded tournament approved croquet
balls. Prices are given per set.
[Jaques (UK) - this company used to be the main world manufacturer of croquet balls, but a fire at their factory followed by commercial problems means that they no longer produce tournament standard croquet balls.
Barlow (SA) - used to produce a good plastic ball but they closed their factory in February 2008.]
Articles on croquet balls from Croquet World Online
For a lineage of croquet balls see here
For technical articles on ball properties see the Technical section.
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