Hooligan attempting to disrupt my winning shot [Photo: Kevin] 8/22/16For the latest in our Cobb’s Hill series (at end), as a man of great wealth, leisure and aristocratic tastes, I, Sir Gadabout Geoffrey, was delighted to learn that a croquet game has been played at Cobb’s Hill near Lake Riley for now 42 years. Anticipating an afternoon with ladies and gentlemen in white, a perfectly manicured lawn and my butler serving tea at each wicket. Just like back at Newport’s Hall of Fame Croquet Club when I lettered in croquet at Brown. Mum and I even polished our game in the country manor with help from our Ace valet.
But the scene I encountered at the 5:54 p.m. match on Monday was appalling.
One incontinent fellow — Steve — slipped away to the “Pee Bush.” Another large bloke took glee in swatting a ball onto Culver Road as if he were Babe Ruth playing baseball. The match commenced with the ceremonial dropping of the balls to determine order of play. From the front view, Steve’s droppings resembled his suspicious behavior in the Pee Bush.
Actually, the game wasn’t so primitive after all. On Monday I met 4 merry Musketeers who play a homespun and spirited version of croquet. The number of regulars and semi-regulars is about a dozen.
For about an hour and a half, the bad boys moved through the course, jockeying for position, shifting alliances and making some nifty long and short shots. As Steve said, the game is roughly a 50-50 mixture of athletic skills and tactical savvy.
Over the years, the game has attracted some fine athletes. Greg Brand, a Class A member of the PGA and pro at Alder Creek near Old Forge has kicked everyone’s a** on several occasions.
Rochester golfer Dave Boeff who played at Florida State and once won the NYS amateur title has matched wits and knocks at the KKC of Cobb’s Hill.
Actually, before the match, I had discovered this strange history of the game written by Jerry Savoy, senior Kick Ass Kro-Kay player. A history that alludes at the end to yours truly, Sir Gadabout Geoffrey.
“Unlike your typical backyard, family encounter, we of the Kick Ass Kro-Kay Club, follow an offbeat celebration of the game. First, let us introduce ourselves.
We are a rag tag band of misfits entering grandiosely into our forty second consecutive year of play! By most standards and any stretch of imagination, we are perhaps an enigma. Banded together by aggressive competition, friendship, and a will to win, we play weekly At Cobb’s Hill Park.
Here, we have witnessed amazing shots, professional golfers, and other various oddities. We suffer loss of two dear friends of the court and recently the mind altering event causing one of our oldest players to be gunned
down without motive. We grieve for them yet carry on rejoicing in the game and their contributions.
History found six good friends all seemingly lost as to what format allowed us to socialize, compete and have fun. We considered Frisbee golf and all other commonly acceptable avenues of expression, but to no avail. I do not re-collect the exact moment that croquet mentioned. As kids, we all played in the back yard as a fun and friendly atmosphere. Many of us at the time lived equally far apart from Cobb’s Hill Park, and the park offered many suitable locations for play.
At that time [the 1970s], all in our early twenties, too much testosterone must have raised it’s ugly head. We talked about bringing the game into the 20th century, suiting our needs and allowing equal opportunity for fun.
The group reminds me of a pirate-like, prevailing democracy. Interesting aspects to our game include custom made clubs and sending opponents’ balls as far as humanly possible. As a reward, any player sending a ball into Culver Road is granted extra benefits. Although casual, we consider the game seriously. We have rolling spray markers putting down court lines. We also find ourselves accompanied by a gaggle of pink, plastic flamingos grazing randomly around the court providing both a visual treat as well as physical obstacle. We find this common thread pertains to our ordinary daily lives as well.
We marvel at the change in seasons surrounding our court. One side flanked by beautiful lilacs casting their calm and soothing scent wafting upon a sweet spring wind. The pine and white chestnut trees towards the left paint the backdrop with their own beauty. Timid squirrels eye us suspiciously but do not cease their constant gnawing one of the fallen chestnuts from tree hovering right on one of the boundary lines.
We remember how this group of people were so young and now in our senior years smile as we still stand on this same ground. Our game is not gender specific. A few women have played too.
Here is an interesting antidote for you. Some maybe twenty years ago, we came upon another group of people playing croquet on Cobb’s Hill’s Lake Riley, then frozen during winter. We went to see them and surprised like us, had
an official trophy that is passed around yearly to winner. Of course, we had no other options but to challenge them to their own game on their own court. Winner takes all. Trophy for Trophy. Well, we win, but other team refuses to give up their trophy! Never the less we celebrated a moral victory.
Weather permitting, we play on Monday’s at 5:54P.M. at Cobb’s Hill Park just below the tennis courts and Culver Road. We encourage interested people to witness the madness and mayhem, the plots and counter plots.
Of course what better suited to the “Kick Ass” mentality than to turn around make a pact, then stab the guy in the back. et tu Brutus? Spies inform us of a certain aristocrat, Sir Gadabout Geoffrey and his evil intentions. . .”
Not mentioned in the history was the visit earlier this summer of one of the original founders Gary “Duke” Decker. Having left Rochester in 1981, Gary came from Massachusetts to see his legacy — the KKC of Cobb’s Hill — still going strong. Just as he did 35 years ago, Gary won the match despite playing his signature style: holding two beer bottles at all times.
Before the match, Steve replayed a voice message Gary had left urging Steve to kick Jerry’s a** as the press would be there. But it was Sir Gadabout Geoffrey who would kick some serf a**.
Still having the touch from my days as Brown croquet letterman playing at the Newport Hall of Fame Club in Rhode Island, I roundly sent Jerry, Evan and Kevin’s ball onto Culver Road. Steve had gone AWOL into the Pee Bush with his tail between his legs.But just as I was nearing victory, a ruffian tried to knock me off my game. No matter. Sir Gadabout Geoffrey has a steel butt and made the shot anyway. But, notwithstanding, the hooligan and I shook hands after my stirring triumph. We are all gentlemen at the Kick Ass Kro-Kay Club of Cobb’s Hill.
THE COBB’S HILL SERIES BELOW