2017-07-14 / Commentary

Entertainment in the Sand

40–Something

I’m pretty sure what passes for entertainment at the beach would not cut it in the real world. I could be wrong, but I just haven’t ever seen hoards of folks inhabiting inland communities playing a game with such enthusiasm where participants of all ages gleefully toss balls at a smaller ball. I see games like this a lot at the beach.

In this particular game, one player tosses a golfball-sized ball down the beach and then brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and friends toss croquet-type balls at that little ball with all the fanfare of Phil Mickelson lining up a 15-yard putt to win The Masters. The player whose ball is closest to the little ball wins and elicits huge applause along with some jealous groans. It’s called Bocce Ball.

Maybe I need to get out more or maybe it’s just because most people are on vacation at the beach and...well... they’re at the beach! Simply sitting in a chair for eight hours straight doing nothing but watching other tourists, crazy seagulls, and the occasional fiddler crab passerby is considered a productive day, so actually making the effort to play a game—even a game of this particular nature—is pure, unadulterated bliss.

Now before all you Bocce Ball enthusiasts slam me with hateful letters telling me what a great sport it is and how worldwide Bocce Ball tournaments exist and all that good stuff, please know this: My wife asked for one thing for her birthday this year.

One thing. So this past June 14, she got... you guessed it... a Bocce Ball set. You would have thought it was a diamond ring. Believe me, I’m not complaining. I know full well I’m blessed to have a woman who’s this easy to please.

But her gift also meant I’d get to spend a fair amount of my vacation being one of those dudes who hoops and hollers because he lands a big ball next to a little ball.

Well, guess what...I did hoop and holler like a complete mad man when I found out I wasn’t half bad at Bocce Ball. I even semi-perfected my own techniques and strategies. By the end of our beach week, I was tossing the things with backspin, playing off shells, surveying the terrain for the dreaded soft sand, and most importantly, discovering that Bocce Ball is a game best played with one hand.

I’m not endorsing the use of alcohol, but it certainly adds to the challenge of banking off a tiny sand dune for a winning roll and releases me of any hoop and/or holler worry I may have been suppressing for the sake of my three kids’ level of embarrassment.

In fact, I highly recommend a Tiger Woods’s fist pump and some trash talking if you find yourself placing a ball perfectly against the “jack.” Yes, that’s what the little ball is called. Knowing the lingo is another way to embarrass the kids.

My wife’s Bocce Ball set has been retired for the year. No one thinks about it much in the real world, but I’m sure we’ll break it out next year, and my backspin toss will once again rule the day while my hoops and hollers scare the seagulls and, more importantly, embarrass my children. Finding entertainment value in such simple things is just another reason to love the beach.

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