Idiots Guide to the new 2019 GC Rules

Introduction

I can assure everyone that whilst this is yet another version of the rules for every player to take on board, I feel that the changes have been worthwhile as they make matters much simpler.

The rules have changed to line up with those used by our AC colleagues and has produced a book that is just mainly laws and not a massive mix of laws, CA and WCF rulings, which I am sure confused most players. One thing it has not done is changed the way we actually play the game in any significant manner, except possible the wrong ball law which is now considerably simpler and much easier to
use.

The introduction in the new rules book spends a little time on describing how the actual rules are now organised, but does not say how the changes affect the game and the reasons behind the changes. Hopefully this guide will rectify that deficiency.  The WCF does provide some more information via this page: https://worldcroquet.org/index.php/croquet-information/golf-croquet

1. Deeming a Shot to be Played (Rule 6)

This is something that is standard in AC but was not allowed until now in GC. Very often the requirement for deeming presents itself because your ball is in a good position to hinder your opponent and you don’t want to move at all. In the old rules you were faced with doing a very delicate shot such as a tap on the top or a light brush on the side which could easily be a fault. Now you only have to make the decision
to deem and the ball stays exactly where it is. It’s doubtful that it will make any significant change to the game but it may remove the need for some time-consuming refereeing.

One situation that is not really connected with the above but will, I am sure be seen as similar, is taking a swing at a ball and missing completely. This has not been changed and you still have to move a ball for a shot to be played.

2. Ball Out of Court (Rule 2)

In very simple terms we now follow the AC practice exactly. A ball is out of court as soon as it touches the line. It won’t change the game in any way but makes it far easier to judge when you don’t have to estimate where the centre of the ball is located in relation to the line. Thus balls that have left the court are now placed touching
the inside of the line when they are to be played.

3. Faults Generally (Rule 11)

This is probably the second biggest change in the new rules. We are dispensing with the dreaded Non Striking Fault. The original intention of this rule was to persuade players to keep well out of the way of moving balls and it highly penalised players who
moved a ball in any way when there were not playing a shot. This was considered too heavy a penalty and any touching outside of a player’s turn is now dealt with as interference (Rule 9).

Generally put it back where it was, except for a for a moving ball which can be placed either where it finished or where the players thought it would have finished – the opponent chooses which. Naturally if the touching is done intentionally, it is a very different matter and dealt with as misbehaviour.

The old Striking Fault remains virtually as was but is now simply termed as a Fault. This only entails one significant change in the text and that is a redefinition of the Striking Period which defines when a fault can be committed. It now starts slightly earlier when the striker has taken his or her stance with the clear intention
to make a stroke. It now does not wait until his or her mallet has made contact with the striker’s ball as it did in the old rules.

With this change in definition it does not matter whether it is the right or wrong ball that has been touched, a stroke has started before the swing commences and is considered to have been made when any ball is contacted. If it’s the wrong ball then wrong ball rules come into play. So multi-swingers, any unintentional tap is still
your turn finished. As stated in item 1, a ball has to be moved for a shot to be played.

4. Offside Balls (Rule 8)

The first change is that the penalty point is now changed to a penalty area which is a semi-circle of one yard radius around the old penalty point. This means that you no longer have to take out that small marker on the
old penalty point, the one you always forget to put back.

The second change is only minimal too, but a player no longer loses his or her right to ask an opponent for a move to the penalty area if they play his or her own onside ball. If someone is about to play a ball that is offside they can ask their opponent if it is to be moved to the penalty area. If someone plays an offside ball, their opponent can ask for that shot to be replayed from the penalty area.
I don’t think this is correct. The offside opponent loses the direction entitlement when they play their next stroke, no matter whether onside or offside.

5. Scoring Clips (Rule 4)

In the old rules, the scoring clips for your game and any from a double banked game were defined as outside agencies so if you hit a clip whilst trying to jump a hoop, you could not score a point, so every clip had to be taken off before you tried the jump. Under the new rules all clips are part of the game and may be left in place when
you jump. The effect of any contact between ball and clip is not taken into account. Clips are only part of game when attached to a hoop, but are still treated as outside agencies when not attached to a hoop.

6. Wrong Ball Rule (Rule 10)

I am sure this one has confused more players than any other one in the book, but this time I think the rules have really made a step forward and this is the major change this time.

Back in 2005 or thereabouts, there was a move to penalise everything that was not perfect in the sequence stakes and I am sure some games were decided on ability to keep in sequence rather than mallet skills. The pendulum has now swung fully the other way, with all penalties out of the window and it has been fully accepted that most croquet players find it difficult, if not impossible, to remember what happened two shots ago.

In simple terms we now stop the game if a player or referee believes that the game is out of sequence (OOS) or the player about to play is going to hit an OOS ball. If the last shot is out of sequence with the previous ball, even if it got out of sequence by playing an opponent’s ball, the ball(s) are replaced and the correct ball played. Alternatively, if a player has been stopped playing a shot that would start an OOS, the player just goes on to play the correct ball.

Thus, there is never any need to go back any more than one shot, prior to the last shot, and everything that has happened previously is accepted. Even if some one with a photographic memory can remember all that went wrong previously, its all forgotten and accepted as you thought it was at the time.

There was one occasion with the old rules where the simple replace and replay gave a very unfair situation. If an OOS has been running for several shots, you can reach what has been termed as the gifted hoop situation. This arose when should the simple replace and replay be used, the correct ball to be played it sitting right in front of a hoop and would give a certain hoop to the next player to play. It had possibly arisen because of the OOS play and the player concerned was planning to move the scoring ball with his next turn but cannot do so as play has been stopped.

Under these circumstances, the second player to play after the stoppage could replace the replace and replay procedure with a ball swap procedure. This procedure allows the last shot to stand as it was, including any points scored and the only action taken is to swap the position of the next ball to be played and its partner ball.

In the new rules the choice of replace and replay or ball swap applies whenever you play your partner ball or your partner plays your ball. The choice between these options is given to the non-offending sideon the basis thatthe side that played the last shot before stoppage was the last to play OOS. In reality both sides may have played many shots in error and nobody will know who started the OOS.

There is one rather impossible situation met in wrong ball play and that is where a player plays a ball belonging to his or her opponent, but the opponent then plays their own shot. Not very likely, but still possible, and it leaves a situation where it was impossible for the last player to have played in sequence. Providing the game has been stopped after the opponent plays, it’s a case of picking up all balls and moving to a penalty area, technically known as penalty area continuation (See rule 18).
As both sides have made errors, you toss up for who goes first and the loser of the toss chooses which penalty area to use.

7. Handicap Rule (Rule 19)

The only change in the Handicap Rule has been in the way additional shots are calculated in handicap doubles play from the individual players singles handicaps. In both the old and new systems, additional shots are allocated to specific players and not pairs as happens in AC.

In the old system one took the lowest handicap amongst all players and compared his handicap with the lowest handicap on the opposing side, halved the difference and rounded up to give the additional shot allowance to the weaker player. The remaining two players were also compared and the allowance calculated in the same manner.

In the new system, the way we pair players for allowance calculation is changed. Now the player with the lowest handicap is paired with highest handicap on the opposing side and the remaining two players also compared.

As will be seen from the examples tabled below, the two systems can produce significantly different allowances, especially if the two pairs have a high and a low handicap playing together. In practice the new system is far more generous to the weaker players with the number of additional shots it allocates. However, the difference between the additional shots allocated to each side by either system
remains equal or just one different.

To date I have not seen any good technical reason for making the change.  Alternatively, I have not seen any good technical reason for not making the change and I would suggest that the fact that it is the system that has been used for some time by both Australia and New Zealand is the driving force behind this change. We should remember that these new rules are WCF and not CA rules.

I personally find it rather hard to predict what the outcome will be from giving the weaker players more additional shots to play with as it will depend largely on how the weaker player arrived at their present handicap. Is it high because their mallet ability is low or is it high because they have not learnt how to use additional shots efficiently?

Type

Player 1

HC

Player 2

HC

System

Allowance

Handicap Overlap

A

4

B

6

OLD

C+1,D+1

C

5

D

8

NEW

B+1,D+2

No Handicap Overlap

A

2

B

3

OLD

C+2,D+2

C

5

D

7

NEW

C+1,D+3

Both large with small Handicap

A

-4

B

6

OLD

C+1,D+1

C

-3

D

8

NEW

B+5,D+6

One top player

A

-4

B

6

OLD

C+5,D+2

C

5

D

9

NEW

B+1,D+6 or B-0,D+7

There is a slight complication here; only one side can round up if both players have additional shots and this leads to a choice by the players concerned in the last example.

It had been suggested that the SECF continue with the old rules, but the AGM agreed to use the new version for all games.

8. Playing Hoops in the Wrong Order (Rule 7)

It is not unknown for players to go off course and score the hoops in the wrong order, especially in the occasional 19-point game. On the assumption that the mistake is noticed before the game is finished, the old rules required that the hoops scored in the wrong order do not count and play goes back to what should have been the next correct hoop in order. It was always a problem as to how you got back to that position from where you found yourself when the mistake was discovered.

The new rules make this easy and fair: the game is restarted, with the next hoop being the first wrong one and all balls being placed in the penalty start area. As both sides have made errors, you toss up for who goes first and the loser of the toss chooses which penalty area to use.

Bill Arliss