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Bocce Court Construction

First off you need to know that there is a bewildering array of bocce misinformation on the web and in print. You can find "official" and "standard" plans for court construction that vary so widely that you might think they were for different sports.

There is no "standard" or "official" size bocce court in America.

For international bocce the courts and all equipment are standardized to the nth degree. Not so in America with its Open Rules. Whatever size court fits in your backyard and your pocketbook is OK. However, I do recommend that you play with the international standard bocce balls which are 107 mm and 920 g. And if you think you might want to represent the USA in international competitions, you need to learn punto, raffa, volo rules and you'll probably want a court that meets international specs (the English equivalents to the metric dimensions are approximately 90' by 13').


What follows is "The Readers' Digest version" of court construction. I've included some links to other sites as well (but if you leave to visit them, you have to promise to come back). The best and least expensive way to get started is to download the eBook version of my best-selling book, The Joy of Bocce. It has everything you could want to know about bocce including a comprehensive Chapter 8 on "Building A Backyard Court". The chapter has photos of the step-by-step process I took in building my own court. It covers topics like choosing the site, dimensions, grading, sub surface materials, top dressing and more. Chapter 9 follows with a pictorial of courts from around the country. I'd suggest carefully reviewing those pics for additional ideas.


"Build it and they will come...with beverages" (Mike Hoban, Raleigh, NC)

First decision - build it yourself or hire a contractor? I've built one myself and learned a lot in the process. But I don't want to build another, and have seen first-hand the value in hiring a competent
You're leaving a lot to chance if you hire a contractor who has no experience with bocce. I get a lot of calls from municipalities who had their public works department or outside landscapers put in bocce courts only to find out they get no use because the courts don't make the grade. One court had a top dressing of two inches of Rapid Dry - the stuff college and major league baseball teams use to dry a wet infield. Playing on Rapid Dry is like playing in the Sahara. You make footprints in the sand dunes as you walk back and forth. We want hard packed, fast rolling surfaces for bocce.


Another public park has two new and potentially outstanding courts that the local bocce posse refuses to play on.


"You might as well plant potatoes there, cause we're never gonna play on those courts." There were multiple problems. The two side-by-side courts were different dimensions. One was eight feet wide and the other fourteen. Both were long even by international standards (100 feet). The contractor reasoned "The eight-footer is for singles play, the wider one for teams." Fascinating! He must have found that little tidbit of misinformation while surfing the net.


For handicap access, the builder left a section open (no back wall) at one end. Balls rolled right out of the court and caromed off the surrounding courtside concrete barriers. So...do it yourself or find a competent builder with a track record of successful experience with bocce court construction.


Your decision should factor in things like your age and physical condition, your building skills and availability of tools and equipment. I look at the cost of hiring a contractor as a one-time expense. Do it right the first time and get years of enjoyment from it instead of months of headaches (and backaches). Several builders around the USA specialize in bocce court construction. If you are lucky enough to be located near them (or have pockets deep enough to afford flying them in) I can recommend them to you without reservation.


David Brewer (San Rafael, CA) http://www.boccebrew.com (415-461-8842)

Michael Grasser (Sylvan Springs, MI) http://www.DaVinciBocce.com (248-681-9022)

Tom McNutt (Bellingham, WA) http://www.boccemon.com (360-224-2909).

If you are in the New England area, I work with a top notch crew at Vernon Real Estate Management of Topsfield, MA. We have built or consulted on court construction in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As a bonus, you'll get me as a consultant/advisor/bocce coach. I keep tabs on the construction and offer suggestions and comments. See some of our work below...


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Here's one we built in Salem, NH. Nestled neatly into the environment, it has helped the owner quickly become one of the best players in the area.

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Andover, MA. White vinyl pergolas adorn this showcase bocce court. More photos to follow...

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Sideboard string lights (recessed to prevent them from being struck by rolled balls) help create the subdued lighting ambiance.

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Light fixtures hanging from the pergolas complete the illumination.

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