Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A rising star of the croquet world has just become the newest member of Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club, writes Elaine Marsh.
Seventeen-year-old Harry Dodge currently stands ninth in the UK and 34th I the world rankings!
The teenager, who lives near Yeovil, has been visiting the club since 2012 when he first discovered the excellence of its facilities, and is excited at the prospect of regular practice on the club’s ten superb lawns.
He said: “I’m looking forward to spending my winter practicing at Budleigh. My first singles match there was on lawn two (still one of my favorites anywhere) and I’d never played at a club as good as this before. The conditions far exceeded my expectations: fast and true with firm hoops and good borders to prevent balls flying off the lawn. The atmosphere is always lovely and the members kind.”
Dodge enjoys both Association and Golf Croquet, but currently concentrates on Golf Croquet, a shorter game which he can better combine with his studies in Countryside Management. His first full season of croquet was only two years ago, but he progressed so quickly that he was able to play in the Under-21 World Championship that year. In 2012 he was awarded the John Spiers Trophy for the most improved Golf Croquet player in the country.
This year has been his most successful season to date as he has won the East Dorset Open, the Hurlingham Open, the National Doubles (with Pierre Beaudry) and the Musks Cup, contested by the top six players in the country. This has resulted in a meteoric rise in his ranking, and he attributes this success to frequent visits to Budleigh for practice on good lawns.
He is often asked why he likes croquet to which he replies: “There are so many things that are great about it’ he says. The best thing must be the ability to use both tactics and accuracy to beat your opponents and this demands knowledge, experience and practice. I thoroughly enjoy achieving difficult shots such as 14-yard roquets and seven yard hoop runs to say nothing of long jump shots to steal a hoop from my opponent. The game is challenging, but fun, especially at major tournaments where I always end up learning something to make me a stronger player. And socially everyone is really pleasant and easy to get along with.”
Dodge hopes that circumstances may allow him to represent his new club in one of the Golf Croquet Leagues organised by the South West Federation of Croquet Clubs next year – and the Budleigh team manager certainly hopes so too!