Have A Lark On The Lawn

Old-school games CBS/The Early Show

There's more to summer fun than just hanging out by the pool. How about playing some lawn games? These old-school games bring family and friends together in old-new ways.

To help show some of them off, Steve Orr, garden editor of House and Garden magazine, dropped by The Early Show Wednesday.

Lawn games can serve as warm-ups to parties or dinners. They help lend focus and fun to outdoor time, and guests loosen up pretty quickly, whether they're participating or sitting in the shade sipping drinks and providing casual commentary.

Also, games can bring together generations (children and grandparents), houseguests and hosts, and even men and women.

Perhaps best of all, all the games demonstrated on The Early Show are portable and easy to learn.

  • Petanque or boules: The balls used for bocce (Italy's equivalent of bowling) are solid, about the size of a grapefruit, colored (green and red are popular), and generally made from resin or wood. The balls for petanque (the French cousin with a similar goal) are the size of an orange, hollow, and always made of metal.

    Bocce varies in court size and layout. The court should be smooth and flat; some rules call for wooden sideboards to make it an enclosed area. Petanque can be played anywhere; most players actually prefer an uneven terrain to make it more challenging.

    Bocce players mostly roll their balls, while petanque players tend to lob them in the air. The counting of points and game tactics are very similar between the two games. Overall, petanque is more flexible, and its equipment easier to carry around.

    Lawn bowling and skittles resemble indoor bowling, with similar rules. There are smaller versions used in English pubs.

    You can get petanque equipment at Petanque America for about $47. For bocce, try Brookstone.com, about $125.

  • Badminton: The modern history of badminton began in India with a game known as poona. It was the Duke of Beaufort who officially introduced the game to England. In 1873, guests at a lawn party on his country estate, Badminton, played a game of poona. The game was a hit and soon became popular among the British elite. People began calling the new party sport "the Badminton game."

    A sport similar to tennis, badminton is played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pair (doubles). Players are positioned at opposite ends of the court, aiming to hit a shuttlecock over the net so that it lands inside the marked boundaries of the court, and keep their opponents from doing the same. Only the server can win points.

    For a badminton set, try Target.com, about $40.

  • Horseshoes: The history of horseshoe pitching can be traced back to Roman soldiers. During their idle hours, the soldiers occupied themselves with games that consisted of tossing metal rings over stakes pounded into the ground. By the 16th century, English peasants were playing both horseshoes and quoits, and would later export both games to North America.

    A game for two or four players, horse pitching's main object is to ring the pin or throw the horseshoe as close to the pin as possible. Each player stands at one stake and throws two horseshoes at the other stake. A horseshoe encircling the stake is called a ringer and counts for the highest score. A ringer is made when the thrown horseshoe encloses the stake; it counts three points in scoring.

    The rules of horseshoes allow one point if no player throws a ringer, for the shoe closest to the stake, as long as it is within the width of a shoe itself. Regulation games are played to a winning score of 50, while informal games are played up to 21.

    For horseshoes, try the Smith and Hawken Web site, about $49.

  • Croquet has been played since the 1300s, originating in France and then taking off in England and Scotland. It was eventually overshadowed by tennis, but croquet has survived, with a reputation for being genteel but with a cutthroat undertone.

    You hit the ball through wickets, hoping to score the highest number of points, a point received for every wicket passed through, in proper order and direction.

    For a croquet set, try the LL Bean Web site, for about $49.
    • Ellen Crean

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