Quail Creek CC’s addition of two bocce courts has given members another reason to stick around after dinner and socialize on-site.
Two years ago, Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Fla., took an empty grassy area adjacent to its 13 tennis courts and turned it into a new recreational amenity. Now, two side-by-side bocce courts are keeping members active and socializing—especially those who have found that other club sports, like golf and tennis, have become more difficult.
“It fits in well within the allotted physical space,” says Jonathan Call, Director of Tennis. “It’s something active for members who can’t play tennis anymore, or golf, or are physically limited. It’s very social.”
|Rules of the GameBocce, a ball sport that developed into its present form in Italy, is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts that are 90 feet in length and 8.2 to 13.1 feet wide. Bocce balls can be made of metal or plastic.
A game can be conducted between two players, or two teams of two, three, or four. A match is started with a randomly chosen side being given the opportunity to throw a smaller ball, the “jack” (called aboccino or pallino in some areas), from one end of the court into a 16-foot-long zone that ends 8.2 feet from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere it chooses within the prescribed zone.
The side that first attempted to place the jack bowls first. Once the first bowl has taken place, the other side has the opportunity to bowl. From then on, the side that does not have the ball closest to the jack has a chance to bowl, up until one side or the other has used its four balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls.
The team with the ball that ends up closest to the jack is the only team that can score points in any frame. The scoring team receives one point for each of its balls that is closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team. The length of a game varies by region, but is typically from 7 to 13 points.
Players are permitted to throw the ball in the air using an underarm action. This is generally used to knock either the jack or another ball away and attain a more favorable position.
The decision to build the courts was two-fold: members informally requested the space, and the club wanted to participate in Southwest Florida’s growing bocce culture.
Call and his team hadn’t built a bocce court before, so prior to the start of construction, the staff’s research included talking to other clubs in the area with existing bocce programs.
Between 30% and 40% of the club’s members now use the bocce courts, Call estimates, and the users’ profiles are wide-ranging. “Some people use the courts when they have grandchildren or guests in town,” he says. “Some have an organized game and come out every week.”
Much like tee times, members can call the pro shop to handle bocce court reservations, or view the schedule through the club’s website.
If You Build It…
Made of Clay Tech (a concrete base with carpet-type material glued on top, then topped with a Har-Tru blend similar to a tennis court), construction of the bocce courts began in the late summer and took about four months to complete, says Call.
The tennis department handles maintenance, brushing the surface on an as-needed basis. Rain can cause the material to wear down over time, so the tennis maintenance crew will add additional material as needed, and scrape the surface if any debris accumulates.
The courts are surrounded by awnings that provide protection from the sun, and brick pavers are topped with tables and chairs, so non-players can watch the action. To add to the social vibe, bartenders from the club’s Greenside Grille & Bar can set up stations near the courts, and the Quail Creek staff is also happy to bring food when members request it, or for special events.
Much like tennis, the bocce courts have lights installed overhead to allow for evening play—and to help extend the time that members now spend at the club. “Our members like to play after dinner,” Call reports.
“We plan a couple of [bocce] events for the year,” says Call, who is also a staff member of the club’s bocce committee, which consists of 10 members. “Members want to add more, because it’s a social environment.”
For the most part, the excitement surrounding the bocce program is spread by word of mouth, Call notes. Last year, the club’s Beer, Brats and Bocce event brought an outdoor grill and bar to the courts, inviting attendees to try out the sport on a rotation.
“Every event we’ve held has been well-received,” says Call. “We’ve had good turnout and continue to add more. We also joined the Southwest Florida Bocce League, an inter-club league where we go to different clubs and use their facilities.”
The Southwest Florida Bocce League consists of 20 communities, including The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Spring Run in Estero and Highland Woods in Bonita Springs.
In addition to incorporating food and beverage into bocce events, the club also combines bocce with tennis, through an event that has members play two rounds of tennis, followed by a round of bocce.
“When new members join, it’s definitely something we highlight,” says Jennifer May, Quail Creek’s Membership Director. “This coming season, we’re targeting new members by offering more events surrounding bocce.”