Hot! The Art of the Bocce

Bocce ball has been a part of that fine sports tradition of throwing balls at smaller objects for thousands of years. While the Egyptians had a form of the game back in 5000 B.C., it was the Italians who transformed it into what know today.

I’ve watched Italians and French play their versions of the game when I travel, and have always wanted to try. But even though it’s a neighborhood sport with courts in the medians of streets and city parks, the gentlemen playing are as serious as U.S. kids on a basketball court. You don’t jump into the pick up if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So when a few bars opened with courts, it was my chance to try. Even though Bocce is like bowling on the ground, I’m surprising decent at it. One day, I looked at the long dead strip of space along my back yard wall and thought, I just might have enough room for a bocce court.

I started measuring and drawing sketches. As soon as the weather cooled, Josh and I started digging. While I know how big the space needs to be and it’s been back-breaking work to clear the land, the challenge has been finding out how to fill it. I have three options:

Clay – It’s the traditional material. Just like a tennis court, I can cover the court with this harder surface and top it off with some sand for ball speed.

Oyster Shell – It’s like playing on the beach. The special mix packs down like the tide just went out and begs you to take your shoes off. The ball speed and direction is cherry.

But with both these options, the ball gets dirty and your hands are dusty after a game. Sure it’s the way most play it, but the pubs have a third option that I like:

Astroturf – Like a putting green, the fake grass gives a natural look, has low maintenance and stays clean. But what do you put underneath to avoid divots and lumps? No one is saying.

I fill the court this weekend, but what I choose is still up in the air….

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  1. I wonder if they put the astroturf on top of the clay/sand option?