World champion croquet player shows up in Oakland. Mobs don’t come out

Ben Rothman is the world champion and hardly anyone knows it.

“Never heard of him,” said Lynda Hungerford, walking her dog on the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, just yards from where the world champion practiced what he is world champion of.

Rothman smiled. It’s okay, he said. That’s part and parcel of being world champion golf croquet.

“This is what you call a niche sport,” he said. “I can not do anything about that. It’s not something to get into if you’re interested in living in lavish luxury.”

Golf croquet is a variation of the tea-and-crumpets variety of croquet. Rothman became champion by winning a major tournament two months ago in England, a place where croquet is more tolerated than here in the colonies.

As with regular croquet, you should wear white pants for formal matches. But it’s one shot per turn with everyone competing for the same hoop at the same time, and the game is faster.

Ben Rothman, world champion golf croquet, practices at the Oakland Croquet Club on October 17, 2019 in Oakland, California.Kate Munsch / Special for The Chronicle

Even two months after becoming world champion and receiving a shiny trophy from the World Croquet Federation, when he wanted to play croquet on the Lake Merritt course, Rothman had to join the rest of the three dozen club members and clear the goose first. shit.

Rothman’s upset, come-from-behind victory is still the talk of the excessively compact croquet world. The other afternoon in Oakland, Rothman arranged the blue, black, red and yellow balls exactly as they lay two months ago at the key moment in the fifth and deciding game of the championship round, when he was trailing 6-5 and seemed to have lost everything.

His opponent, the highly regarded Mohamed Karem of Egypt, tried to knock Rothman’s ball out of position from a distance of 10 meters. He missed a few millimeters. Rothman made the next two hoops and won the title.

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