John Hobbs Croquet Mallets
John Hobbs makes croquet mallets to your own requirements - try one out before you buy.
Your mallet needs to be the correct height, and suitable weight, stiffness and head length for your grip style and your type of play. This leaflet aims to show you to how to pick a Hobbs mallet to suit you.
This primarily depends on your grip style. If you use the Irish grip you will have a low handle. If you use Solomon grip it will need to be higher, especially if you have a bad back! For "standard" grip players (top hand knuckles forward, bottom hand palm forward) the height is usually somewhere in between, depending on how much you bend down. Obviously it also depends on how tall you are and the ideal is to be able to try various handles to see what suits you.
The "average" head weighs 2lb 4oz, or 1022gms. This suits most players for either gold or association play. The all up weight will then depend on whether you have a wooden, aluminium or carbon fibre shaft; so it is better to think in terms of head weight since that's the bit that does the work. A heavier mallet is more stable if you hit the ball slightly off centre and it helps with roll shots in association. (My own mallet head weighs 2lb 10oz and is very accurate, but lousy for stop shots).
A 36" aluminium shaft weighs 10.5oz, making 2lb 14.5oz for a typical mallet and a carbon fibre one weighs 7.3oz, making 2lb 11.3oz in all. So in deciding the weight of the mallet, concentrate on the head weight.
My mallets have a flexible bit of nylon joining the handle to head and this absorbs shock and gives more oomph when hitting. Replacing the nylon with aluminium means you are more in control of the strength of a shot, but you will feel more on roll shots. A carbon fibre shaft will be very stiff and control can be very precise, as well as being lighter. The big snag is that carbon fibre costs £25 extra.
Longer heads are more stable, but I recommend that most players have 11". It's better than 10" and doesn't seems so long as 12".
A narrower head (2" or 51mm) means there is less weight of wood, so there has to be more lead weight just behind the faces. This is a good thing, since it improves stability. Old style 9" heads were very fat, to get the necessary weight of wood, since they didn't have any lead. I think that around 53mm looks comfortable and not worryingly narrow.
This is made from Duplon and can cover the entire shaft, or have a 8cm gap for my signature (pure vanity!).
The top grip is 16" long and I don't recommend any longer, because it is far better to have your hands together, regardless of what grip you use. The grip is Karakal Super Hockey Plus. If you have very large hands I can make the grip 35mm x 28mm instead of the standard 32mm x 27mm.
Type of Wood
The type of wood is largely a cosmetic factor, although a less dense wood again means more lead and stability. There are some of the colours I have in stock.
My usual is a lacquer finish, which is strong and gin proof, but doesn't like being scraped along concreate, or hitting balls balls with the side of the head. The alternative is an oiled finish, which can be topped up at any time with teak oil.
The Big Advantages
The handle fits in the head with a tapered fit and this means it can be rotated to suit your grip. For the standard grip this is especially advantageous, because by having the long axis of the octagonal grip going left to right, you can twist it so that when you hold it comfortably the head is automatically lined up.
When it is right for you, you tighten up a screw and the handle is fixed. You can take the mallet to pieces for airline travel, but make sure the handle comes as cabin luggage.
Try One Out
Either come and visit me at my house (directions on my website) or, if I am visiting your club, then come along and have a trial with a demonstration mallet and if you like it, pick a head from the stock I have available. If I don't have a suitable head then I can make one in about a week, depending on croquet commitments.
All mallets with nylon connector and aluminium shaft cost £180. Postage is £14 if you cannot visit. Aluminium connect £5, and Carbon fibre shaft £25.
- Andre Boeke