Lawn Speed Definition
Formal/Traditional Method to Measure Lawn Speed
For croquet the speed of a lawn is defined as the time in seconds taken for a croquet ball to travel the full length of a standard court (35 yards/32 metres) when it just comes to rest on the far boundary.
A fast lawn has a longer time of transit (because a relatively gentle shot will be adequate for the full traverse).
This method requires no equipment other than a mallet, ball and stop watch. It is best conducted by two people - one to strike the ball, and the other to time the transit. It is recommended that the person with the stop watch stands at the opposite end to the striker and starts the stop watch when they see (rather than hear) the ball being struck; they will be well-placed to stop the watch as the ball comes to rest.
Since it is not easy to hit a ball so that it travels exactly 35 yards, the recommended procedure is to time the duration of several shots of approximately 35 yards and to interpolate or extrapolate to the time for the exact distance. Measurements should be made in opposite directions and then averaged.
A typical lawn would be around 10 seconds, with higher speeds recommended for tournament play. Elite events typically aim for 12 seconds or more. Slow lawns are detrimental to play because they require more physical strength and can increase the risk of injury to players.
Alternative Ramp Method
In this method a croquet ball rolls down a ramp from a set height above the ground. With a typical ramp (described below) the ball will travel between 10 and 20 feet.
The distance travelled will be greater on a fast lawn than on a slow one.
This can be easily conducted by one person and requires less skill than the traditional method. However, it measures a smaller proportion of the lawn and so is only an approximation. If multiple measures are taken it is important that the path of the ball is changed each time, otherwise the ball with travel further on successive runs down the same track. A representative area should be used for testing.
It is recommended that a four-foot ramp is used, and raised to 12 inches above the ground. The easiest way to make this is with a slightly longer plank of wood on which a four-foot line is marked. Place this line on top of a regulation hoop, place a croquet ball on the mark and release it. Measure the distance from the end of the ramp to where the ball stops. Measurements should be made in opposite directions and then averaged.
All ramps vary in their material, thickness of wood, the shape at the bottom of the ramp etc. It is therefore important that any ramp is calibrated against the formal method described above. It is recommended that calibration is repeated occasionally to accommodate any wear to the ramp.
Calibration could result in a simple lookup table, although a number of clubs have then converted this to a formula: lawn speed = constant * sqrt(distance). The constant will vary between ramps for the reasons noted above and whether one prefers to measure distance in feet or metres. Lawn speed should always be expressed in seconds.
Significant technical information about measuring lawn speeds can be found on Oxford Croquet.
For further information contact the Equipment Committee Chairman.