It’s commonly referred to as a combination of chess and billiards played on a
meticulously manicured green grass court. If you’ve spent any time around The
Gasparilla Inn & Club, you may have spotted a group of people in white attire on
Wednesdays and Sundays, hitting colorful balls through wickets at the grassy area just
before the golf course. They are the members of the Boca Grande Croquet Club (or
mallet club), which was originally created in the 1930s by Barron Collier. Bayard Sharp,
owner of The Inn from 1964 to 2002, renovated the courts in the 1980s.
Boca Grande resident Blaine Davis has been the leader of the Boca Grande Croquet
Club for more than 22 years. He understands just about everything there is to
know about the game, which is extremely complex and has a pretty thick rulebook -
66 pages to be exact. “Bayard Sharp was a very good player,” Blaine said. “He made
the club much more formal.”
Through the years, players would come from Useppa Island (another island
where croquet is extremely popular) and stay at The Gasparilla Inn for the weekend.
The game is also becoming more popular with more guests who stay at The
“More and more people we’re seeing show interest in learning about the
game,” Blaine said. “We usually host a tournament every year.”
Opposite page top: Nancy White,
Lucinda Sullivan, Pamela Miles,
Jane Geniesse and Pia Lindstrom.
Opposite page bottom: Ladies practice
before starting a game.
Story by Sue Erwin
Photos by Caroline Clabaugh, Sue Ervin and submitted