Backyard bocce champs, it’s time to take your game to the next level.
“If you play on a lawn, there are so many bends and dips that you don’t get a true roll,” says Gino Latessa, president of the Wickliffe Italian American Club for 15 years. “Playing on a court is the only way to go if you really love the game of bocce.”
Latessa shares the love here, with step-by-step instructions on how to build a professional-grade court.
• Small stone (#57), available at Ontario Stone in the Flats (tell them court dimensions and they will estimate the load)
• Limestone screening (stonedust)
• 12 treated railroad ties
• Chain-link fence; 10-foot square board (optional)
• Garden spade and shovel (for removing turf and digging)
• Power tamp (rentals available)
• Soft-bristled brush/broom
• Garden hose
• Wood 2-by-4 or metal angle for leveling (ask a fabricator for scrap)
Plot: Choose a relatively level area. Minimum court size is 60 feet by 12 feet. You can extend the length up to 90 feet for extra room in the “spock line,” where players line up to throw the ball.
Measure the court and dig down 4 to 6 inches, removing turf and clearing away soil. Clear 2 feet beyond the length and 4 feet past the width of your court to allow for a railroad tie border.
Fill and tamp:
Fill the clearing with small stones (size #57) for drainage. Spread stones evenly. Use a power tamp to tightly pack down stones.
Set railroad ties along the edge of your court, creating a border. Stack them three high on ends. This “wall” will help stop a fly ball. You may add chain-link fencing behind these ends. If you do, hang a 10-inch square board (2 inches thick) on the fence to deaden shots. Drill eyelets on either side of the board and hang from hooks on the fence.
Evenly spread limestone screening (stonedust) on the court. Check for levelness by dragging a wood 2-by-4 or a scrap of angle iron across the court.
Your court should be brushed, watered and tamped before play. Regular care for backyard players includes watering the court with a hose and smoothing it with a soft-bristled brush. If railroad ties are treated wood, the court will last up to 30 years.