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Extracts from the Laws of Croquet

 

A number of questions can and sometimes have been raised at the legality of various configurations that differ from the traditional.

 

Is the use of more than one material in the head objectionable per se?

 

No.  Law 3(e)(3) allows any suitable materials (plural).

Is the use of metal weights objectionable?

Law 3(e)(3)  provides that

…The head must be rigid and may be made of any suitable materials, provided that they give no significant playing advantage over a head made entirely of wood…

There is no doubt that peripherally weighted head does indeed offer a significant playing advantage over a head that is not peripherally weighted.  But it is perfectly possible to construct a head made entirely of wood that is peripherally weighted. On the basis that a conventional mallet head looks like this, several examples can be conceived.  These may achieve any required overall weight by a number of means,  including altering the width of the head and altering the depth of the head.  Examples of shapes of all wooden mallets which achieve peripheral weighting include the following:

A head made of balsa wood in the centre and a dense wood at the extremities

A head with holes in it

A U shaped mallet

A V shaped mallet

A V shaped mallet with holes

Or an I section (a dumbbell shape would also be possible, but query whether it would be strong enough if made entirely of wood)

But a wood turner could produce some sort of double cone shape

Or all sorts of other variations on these themes…

 

 

The Tudor AxePersonally, I rather like what I call the Tudor axe shape, which I tried out as a prototype, and which has a cheerfully exotic sort of look to it.  The low profile of the head near the shaft allows the right hand to come right down the shaft for playing rolls, and the protrusions above the face are angled sufficiently not to interfere with a full or even a pass roll.  I have used such a mallet on a few occasions, without obviously silly disadvantage.  I have many mallets in my collection of prototypes, and this is the one my older son has tended to pull out as a matter of choice when he plays (but perhaps this is because he is 6’ 3”, and likes the very long shaft I put on it).   Personally, I find the real disadvantage of the Tudor axe shape is not a playing issue at all, but one of comfort: it is remarkably easy to hit one’s ankles with it as one is walking around, and that is somewhat painful.

So, at the least the interpretation of the law seems to be uncertain on the point.  So one turns to Law 55(a), which provides that “in any case where the interpretation of a law appears to be uncertain, players and referees should refer to the Official Rulings on the Laws of Croquet”.   

The key ruling concerning mallets is at ruling 3.4.1

3.4.1 The basic requirements are that a mallet must have essentially identical playing characteristics irrespective of which end of the head is used, must not offer a significant playing advantage over a traditional all-wood mallet and must not carry artificial aids (see Law 3(e)(1) to (4)). This rules out mallets with different materials or weightings in the construction of each end of the head…

 

It is clearly implicit in this prohibition of different materials or weightings at each end that the same materials or weightings at each end is acceptable.  So what Fenwick Elliott Mallets, and indeed many other mallet makers do, by way of peripheral weighting is fine.

 

Is there anything suspect about a composite shaft?

 

No, Law 3(e)(2) is clear that the shaft can be made of any suitable material.  Composites are not only suitable, but perfect.