Buckhead seniors find croquet strategic and social

Buckhead seniors find croquet strategic and social.Lenbrook senior living community in Buckhead announced a $100 million expansion project in 2018.While planning amenities for the new space, residents requested a croquet court. .You take your walker out, hit the ball with your mallet and use your walker to get to the next spot. It’s relatively universal, Felecia Sveda, vice president of operations at Lenbrook.Lenbrook brought in professionals to teach lessons, who in turn formed a group of resident ambassadors who have passion for introducing the game to new players

Break out the white linen pants and big summer hats. Croquet appears to be spreading in some metro Atlanta senior living communities like a well-manicured lawn.

It’s probably no surprise the game played with mallets and wickets is finding older fans. Croquet is easier on the body than golf, played at a slower pace than pickleball, and requires strategic thinking as much as a game of bridge does. The game of mallets and wickets requires delicacy and skill, not speed or strength. People who use adaptive technologies, like a walker or cane, are welcomed on the croquet court.

“The United States Croquet Association has seen a lot of traction helping seniors see that they still have the capability to get out on the lawn. You take your walker out, hit the ball with your mallet and use your walker to get to the next spot. It’s relatively universal,” said Felecia Sveda, vice president of operations at Lenbrook senior living community in Buckhead.

Lenbrook announced a $100 million expansion project in 2018. While planning amenities for the new space, residents requested a croquet court. Lamar Oglesby, Mary Virginia Davis and David Dimling encouraged Lenbrook to consider croquet as a sport people could move to when they were no longer golfing.

Croquet appears to be spreading in some metro Atlanta senior living communities like a well-manicured lawn.

Credit: Lenbrook

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Credit: Lenbrook

Oglesby is a member of Highlands Country Club in Highlands, N.C., a club with one of the most active croquet programs in the United States. Thirteen clubs in Western North Carolina offer croquet. Oglesby said he switched to croquet because playing golf began hurting his shoulder.

He took some Lenbrook folks to several clubs in Highlands to show them what croquet was all about.

“Many of us had never played before,” Sveda said. “We saw the program, talked to the director and really started to think about creating this amenity space that would be part of our Kingsboro expansion (in Atlanta).”

Sveda looked to Oglesby and his fellow croquet players to guide her.

Oglesby laughed, “I’m not an expert player. I’m average up in Highlands. Here in Atlanta, they think I’m an expert because nobody’s ever played.”

The full-size court opened for play in October 2021, so two groups can play at a time. The lawn is artificial turf surrounded by raised gardens. Another Buckhead senior residence, Peachtree Hills Place, also provides its own croquet lawn and club, according to its webpage.

Lenbrook brought in professionals to teach lessons, who in turn formed a group of resident ambassadors who have passion for introducing the game to new players.

Bob Hunter, who calls himself a rookie, is one such resident ambassador. He teaches group lessons to players with a basic understanding of the game who want a refresher.

“The teamwork is fun. You’re outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. It gets you up and out of your apartment and going for the day,” said Hunter, who also plays tennis and volunteers with Backpack Buddies, which provides meals for schoolchildren.

Lenbrook estimates that around 100 of the 500-plus residents have tried the sport, and a smaller number play on a regular basis. The game is popular enough that the court is used regularly. It can be reserved a few days in advance.

Still, some residents were skeptical at first. A man told Sveda he opposed spending money on building the program, but soon realized an unexpected benefit.

Sveda explained, “Men can be in the minority in senior living environments, but croquet is providing an opportunity to form a bond. They may not be going to the golf course anymore, but now they’re going to the croquet lawn. They see Lamar, in his 90s, who is an excellent croquet player. They’re in amazement of how this guy can be such a stellar athlete as his age.”

Lamar Oglesby was one of the Lenbrook residents who encouraged the community to consider croquet as a sport people could move to when they were no longer golfing.

Credit: Lenbrook

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Credit: Lenbrook

Women at Lenbrook tend to socialize more freely, so Sveda said she’s pleasantly surprised to see the number of guys coming to the court.

It just goes to show that anything is possible, she said.

Now that warmer Atlanta weather is here, residents can be found in pressed white outfits practicing, taking lessons, playing a casual round with friends. The residence also offers social events, like Wine and Wickets.

In the future, Lenbrook hopes to offer intergenerational play, more social events and themed croquet parties, Sveda said. There’s even talk of a friendly competition among area senior communities.

Oglesby and Hunter can be found lending a hand or a bit of advice on the court. Both men said they enjoy meeting new people through the sport.

“I try to mix up partners because I’m trying to get everybody to have a good time,” said Oglesby. “I play with all of them. Most of the time I try to get the player that has the least knowledge, so I can explain the strategy.”

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Credit: Reporter Newspapers

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