Croquet: Family holiday, sport proves ideal combination

Bob Donald, who splits his time between the United Kingdom and Dunedin, lines up his next shot at...
Bob Donald, who splits his time between the United Kingdom and Dunedin, lines up his next shot at the Forbury Park Croquet Club yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Bob Donald mixes an extended holiday with sporting prowess every two years - and the combination seems to be paying off.

Donald (73) is from Budleigh Salterton, a town of about 7000 people in Devon in southwest England.

The retired general practitioner visits his daughter, Kirsten Donald, her husband, Tony Moore, and their children Alex, Danny and Cormac, every year for the first three months of the year.

When the New Zealand Masters Games roadshow lands in Dunedin every second year, he gets his croquet mallet ready.

Donald took up the game 14 years ago after he retired, largely because of the popularity of the sport in his home town.

Croquet thrives in Budleigh Salterton, the town boasting 300 members and 100 active players.

Donald lives not far from the club, so it was a natural progression to head along and give the sport a go, despite limited experience.

"I had [played] briefly,'' he said.

"I had played a bit of golf croquet then I got in to this game [association croquet]. It's a bit more complicated and a bit more to it.''

Donald is still a dab hand at golf croquet though, winning silver in the division one singles and doubles earlier in the week.

An internet search also reveals he won the All England Golf Croquet Handicap Competition in 2006.

However, he was deep in to a game of association croquet yesterday when the Otago Daily Times caught up with him.

The association croquet version keeps Donald thinking.

"It's the mental challenge as well as the physical exercise - in association croquet, you're working your strategy out the whole time. Comparisons can be made between association croquet and strategy sports like chess and snooker.

"It's a bit like that. You've got to know when to attack and when to defend.''

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