These are the following factors that should be considered in choosing a croquet set:
- Mallet Size and Quality
- Ball Weight and Quality
- Number of Players
- Storage Options
In addition to these technical aspects, you will often have to consider the price point and your lifestyle. As mentioned throughout the product reviews, an expensive set may not make sense for you if you do not play croquet often or only plan to do so casually.
If you want to make croquet a consistent activity in your life, investing in a quality set will last much longer than an inexpensive set that may need to be replaced over and over. This investment will often pay off financially. It will prevent the waste of multiple sets, as well as the time spent finding a new one that will work better.
Durability of a Croquet Set
One of the most important aspects of choosing your croquet set is durability. Because you are striking the mallet against the ball, it is easy to wear down the equipment with continued use.
The combination of the two will be crucial in preventing the most common damage: cracks to the mallet. There are various materials that can be used for the mallets and balls, which will have a great impact on how well the equipment will hold up after frequent play
The durability of the set is based on the materials chosen and the construction of the mallets:
Most high-quality consumer sets are made with some form of hardwood to keep the mallet intact when it strikes the ball. For even greater stability, sometimes more than one wood is used. This is commonly seen when ash or hickory is used for the shaft and rosewood for the mallet (Source: Oxford Croquet).
Standard toy sets and inexpensive models will use inexpensive materials in order to provide their product at low price points to the consumer. This often results in composite wood being used in the mallets, which are less durable than natural hardwood. Composite wood is the combination of multiple wood materials that are often combinations of sawdust and wood byproducts (Source: SF Gate).
While not widely sold for leisurely consumers, many professional croquet sets are made with a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber (Source: Big Game Hunters). This is chosen for both durability and performance without changes in the surface material.
Less common, but some sets (especially toy sets), may be made with plastic components.
Many of these mallet heads also include some form of bearing or cover to the ends that are used for protection. Metal and rubber are the most common materials used, with metal being common for wood mallets. This not only helps protect the mallet but adds extra weight that can be used to put more strength behind your swings.
Mallet Size and Quality of a Croquet Set
The length of the mallet will matter for player preference and how they feel the most comfortable. Most standard croquet mallets will be found with 32” to 36” handles, which is a good length for most adult play. A general rule is to choose a longer mallet and adjust your hand positioning rather than use one that is too short (Source: Croquet Online). You can always shorten the mallet if needed.
Better quality mallets are also heavier, being closer to 3 pounds. This allows for greater force behind the ball to make shots that require more strength. The weight of the shaft and head will allow for this increase. Mallet’s heads are also more accurate when they are larger. They drive the weight up and are easier to use for both new and experienced players.
In addition to the sizing, the materials used for these mallets are essential. As mentioned in the durability section, solid hardwoods are best to properly strike the ball and keep the mallet intact.
The additional metal reinforcements and proper construction of the mallet will also matter. Make sure the mallet is properly attached at the head and shaft, and any metal components are safely and securely holding the wood.
Ball Weight and Quality of a Croquet Set
With many croquet sets, you may notice denting on the ball after extended play. This should not happen with a quality croquet set. Traditionally most balls were made using wood, which could become damaged over time.
Today’s croquet balls are mostly made of composite plastics that are more durable and easier to play with.
Standard plastics are going to be a challenge to keep intact, so make sure that you take a look at the ball quality and reviews associated with the ball when making your purchase. They are easy to replace but having a quality product from the beginning is better for extended gameplay. Regulation balls should be 3 5/8” in diameter and weigh 16 oz.
(Source: Croquet Association).
Toy sets and those of lesser quality will typically use lighter mallets and balls, which do not abide by regulation standards. You really run into problems when the mallets are light, but the standard balls are used, which leads to premature damage and cracking in the mallet head. Small variations from the standards shouldn’t make a large difference in garden play.
Number of Mallets inside a Croquet Set
When making a croquet set purchase, you will also want to consider how many people you will want to play.