Northeast Florida Croquet Club LLC was founded by Bill Simmons March 6, 2020 for the purpose of promoting croquet tournaments in Northeast Florida.
Bill began playing croquet at The Plantation, Ponte Vedra Beach in February of 2016 after the club built a croquet lawn. In March that year he attended a USCA Golf Croquet School in West Palm Beach, Florida at the National Croquet Center and began playing socially.
While skeptical of playing at first, remembering backyard croquet as a kid, he quickly discovered Golf Croquet was a fast moving game played on a golf green type of lawn. The game was challenging requiring a sharp aim to hit a ball through a hoop with a sixteenth of an inch clearance on each side. Controlling distance and mastering strategy were required to win.
Bill went back to West Palm Beach to take the USCA golf croquet intermediate, advanced and tournament schools to see what it took to begin to master the game.
In January 2019 he played in his first tournament, the USCA Florida Golf Croquet Championships finishing third in doubles first flight and 9th in singles. He went on to play in seven more tournaments finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in several events and finished 2019 ranked in the top 100 golf croquet players in the US.
Photo Chesapeake Bay Croquet Club, VA
At the 2019 USCA Western Regional Golf Croquet Championship, Bill had the opportunity to play Ben Rothman, the 2020 Golf Croquet World Champion, and other top ranked players. He took first place for the Plate in the Championship Flight.
At the 2019 USCA Club Team Doubles Golf Croquet Team Championship, Bill put together a team of eight players from his home club, The Plantation. The Plantation Team won the first place award for Club Teams. All four doubles pairs played in the quarter finals, including championship, first and second flights. Bill and his wife Dot finished 2nd place in first flight. After playing over a hundred singles and doubles tournament games in 2019 it was a nice finish to his first year competing.
Wanting to learn more about the game, Bill began training to be a referee April 2019. He passed his written exam and field test to become a Certified Class III Golf Croquet Club Referee. This was the first step to becoming a certified club level Golf Croquet Instructor. In March 2020, Bill completed his field work at a USCA school as an instructor in training and was certified.
Bill recognized that not all players in Northeast Florida could travel, as he had, to play in USCA tournaments. Many of the players are quite skilled. Players in NE Florida and S. Georgia had to commute 5-7 hours to play in tournaments in South Florida or North Carolina. He founded Northeast Florida Croquet Club to meet this unmet need to play USCA events and become nationally ranked locally.