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Measuring a Court with Minimal Walking

by Louis Nel

The method described here for measuring the positions of corner flags, hoops and peg on a court involves less walking than any other method known to me. I recently designed this method for use at Croquet Ottawa.

In North America the positions of the corner flags are often known at the outset e.g. from permanent marks in the surrounding ditch of a court shared with Lawn Bowlers. In that case the procedure can be simplified, as indicated below. For completeness, we start with the situation of a lawn without any previous markings, on which a full sized croquet court (84 by 105 feet) is to be measured. The configuration below depicts the corner flags as A, E, F, G the hoops as H, I, J, K, L, M the peg as P while B, C, D are temporary auxiliary marks. Corner pegs and balls are convenient objects for use as temporary marks.

Lawn layout


P to I = P to L = 21'
P to another hoop = 37' 10.3"
P to corner = 67' 2.75"

Begin by putting in the corner 1 and corner 4 flags 84 feet apart and mark three points on the line between them so that:

        distance  AE = 84' = length of south boundary
        distance  AB = distance DE = 7'
        distance  AC = distance CE = 42'

Lawn Layout 1

Click on images for larger version

1). Locate the peg position P by measuring 67' 2.75" from A as well as from E (most conveniently done with two tape measures).

From this point on all measurements are made from the peg position P, using only one tape. So it is convenient to attach the end of the tape to position P in such manner that it can freely swivel around that point.

2). Get the position for corner 3 flag F by measuring 67' 2.75" from P so that A, P and F are on a straight line and get similarly the position G for corner 2 by measuring 67' 2.75" from P so that G, P and E are on a straight line.

Lawn layout 2

3). Get the position H for hoop 2 by measuring 37' 10.3" from P so that H, P and D are on a straight line.

4). Get the position I for hoop 6 by measuring 21" from P so that I, P and C are on a straight line.

Lawn layout 2

5). Get the position J for hoop 3 by measuring 37' 10.3" from P so that J, P and B are on a straight line.

6). Get the position K for hoop 4 by measuring 37' 10.3" from P so that K, P and H are on a straight line.

Lawn layout 4

7). Get the position L for hoop 5 by measuring 21 from P so that L, P and I are on a straight line.

8). Get the position M for hoop 1 by measuring 37' 10.3" from P so that M, P and J are on a straight line.

(Note that the hoop positions are obtained by working just once around the peg in clockwise manner -- a minimum of walking)

When the Corner Points are Known

Those of us that share the lawn with Lawn Bowlers usually have to string the boundary every time we go out to play. In that case one can minimise the work by putting eight permanent hooks in the surrounding ditch at the appropriate places for the boundary string to hook around. The string at the northern end of the court looks somewhat like this:


     /|                                                      |\
    / |                                                      | \
      |                                                      |
      |                                                      |

The string crosses itself precisely at the corner flag positions.

In this situation, after the boundary string and the corner flags are in place, the court measurement starts with the location of the points B, C, D on the south boundary and could proceed from there as described above. However, a further simplification is possible. The peg position and the directions given by points B and D can be obtained by placing permanent markers (landmarks) outside the court (or by using existing landmarks) that gives the peg position P as the point where two landmark-determined lines intersect. So in this situation the tape measure is used only for Stage 2.

When the court boundary has a permanent position, one needs to vary the hoop positions slightly in order to prevent ruts from forming. This can be done systematically e.g. by putting in every hoop 6 inches west of its regular position on some days, 6 inches east on other days etc. The Laws allow variations of this kind.

Where one has to measure the court frequently, it is convenient to put paint marks at the relevant spots on the tape i.e. at the distances 67' 2.75", 37' 10.3", 21'.

Smaller Courts

When your court is not full size, but at least has a width/length ratio of the correct value, namely 4/5 (= 84/105) then you could still use the above method provided that all length measurements are multiplied by the appropriate reduction factor. For example, if your court measures 80 by 100 feet, your reduction factor would be 20/21 (= 80/84 = 100/105). So for this smaller court the distance from P to any corner is obtained by multiplying the full size distance 67' 2.75" by 20/21.


The text of this article first appeared on the ACNA website on 29th May 2001.

Author: Louis Nel
All rights reserved © 2013-2017

Updated 28.i.16
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