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Croquet in Cloquet is … ruthless

Tiffany Montgomery prepares to hit the ball while Travis Hansen and Hazel Erickson (both in pajamas) of the Christmas Morning team watch in a fierce game of croquet during the sixth annual Cloquet Croquet Invitational Tuesday at the Cloquet Country Club. Sponsored by the FDLTCC Foundation, the event is a fundraiser for student scholarships. Lucas Tomhave/ltomhave@pinejournal.com1 / 6
Kelly Zink takes aim. Photo contributed by Tom Urbanski/FDLTCC2 / 6
Gary Tyman shoots. Photo contributed by Tom Urbanski/FDLTCC3 / 6
Linda Towne shows off her croquet technique. Photo contributed by Tom Urbanski/FDLTCC4 / 6
Terry Anderson makes a bright spot. Photo contributed by Tom Urbanski/FDLTCC5 / 6
Barry Bergquist shoots. Photo contributed by Tom Urbanski/FDLTCC6 / 6

Christmas visited the Cloquet Country Club early on Tuesday, July 21. Elves dressed in red and green walked around like it was just another day. Kids in pajamas excitedly held their presents. It was all part of the sixth annual Cloquet Croquet Invitational.

For the past six years the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Foundation has sponsored this event, and every year there is a theme. This year the theme was “Christmas in July.” Participants of the event were actually dressed as elves, kids in pajamas, and one man had christmas lights strung around his body that turned on.

The theme this year was fitting, considering the Cloquet Croquet Invitational is much like the “giving spirit” associated with the winter holiday. This Croquet tournament is a fundraiser for student scholarships. In last year’s event, more than $9,000 was raised. So participants can feel good about whacking their opponent's ball out of bounds.

This year 80 people were registered to play on 20 teams of four. They played in several rounds of pool play-style bracket competition.

In croquet there are four crucial equipment pieces: a wicket (the upside-down field-goal-looking things), a stake, a ball, and a mallet for hitting. The game is played by starting at one stake, going through all the wickets, hitting the other stake, and going all the way back. Points are gained along the journey by going through wickets, hitting other balls, and hitting the two stakes. The team with the most points at the end of the 25-minute game wins. Also in the event of a team hitting all their balls full cycle back to start, they win.

All the rules can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it seems everyone helps everyone play the game fairly. With that said, croquet is an elegant, yet somewhat ruthless game. A “best friend” off the grass can easily be the nemesis knocking your ball out of bounds on the grass.

“We’re just here to have fun,” said Cloquet’s Steve Backus.

That really embodies the whole event. Fun people playing a fun game for a good cause.

Check out the video section for more.

Joey Gotchnik and Lucas Tomhave are summer interns for the Pine Journal. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for them, they may be reached at, or 218-879-1950.