One of my good friends and current business partner, Lori, introduced me to one my favorite games a few years when I went to visit her and her husband in Napa Valley. She called me up out of the blue one day and said, “Hey, you busy next weekend? No? Good. Hop on a plane and come out. We’ve got our league bocce tournament next Saturday.”
I had no idea what bocce was, but have never needed an excuse to go to Napa, so I hoped on the plane. It was the best weekend I have ever spent out there, which is a tough list to top.
Typical of a Napa event, the food and wine were out of this world. It was a “bring your own” event, which in most parts of the States would mean that you threw a few six packs of beer in a cooler and brought some chips and dip.
In Napa, we started with champagne, moved to some of the best wines I’ve ever had, all interspersed with gourmet food. I was stuffed, and drunk, by noon. The games went on all afternoon and I was happy to merely be able to stay upright the whole time.
So here are the basics of how this game works. Bocce is basically lawn bowling and is scored similarly to shuffleboard. One team rolls the small, white target ball, the pallino, down to the other side of the court. They then throw one of their four balls down as close as they can to the pallino. The other side then throws balls until they get one closer to the pallino that the opposing team’s closest ball.
It goes back and forth like that until each team has thrown all four of their balls. The team with the ball closet to the pallino gets a point for that ball and another point for any other balls they have closer to the pallino than the opposing teams closest ball.
When I got back to Arkansas, I built a court in my backyard. To clarify how crazy that idea was, my backyard measures about 80 feet by 20 feet. The court is 60 feet by 8 feet. It took two full dump trucks to haul the eight tons of gravel, crushed limestone and sand to make my personal bocce court.
Yea, the resale value on my house might not be looking that great at this point.
Why am I such a fan? There is no other game where drinking, while playing, is such a good combination. Some of you might be thinking regular bowling, but no. Have you ever bowled with a beer or glass of wine in hand? I doubt it. Softball? Please. Darts? Perhaps, the danger level there does dramatically increase with alcohol consumption.
Bocce is the perfect outdoor party game. Easy to learn. Easy to play. No large advantage to more experienced players over rookies. Fun for all ages. You don’t need to be in good shape or strong to play.
And, you can drink while playing. Perfection.