Fun around the house

Lawn games popular among families, other warm-weather friends

Lawn games popular among families, other warm-weather friends

July 11, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Round up your shuttlecocks and ready your rackets. Break out your wickets and stakes. Warm weather means it's time for such tried-and-true lawn games as badminton and croquet.

And what better way to entertain backyard barbecue guests and spend family time than with a friendly volleyball match, game of Frisbee golf or round of horseshoes?

Pitcher's rules

Any piece of ground can be turned into a horseshoe pit with a bit of elbow grease. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association says to measure off 40 feet of ground, and drive two 36-by-1 smooth iron rods into the ground at an angle of about 12 degrees from vertical until 14 inches remain above ground. Each stake should lean toward the opposite stake. Next, loosen the top 2 to 4 inches of soil. Then place foul lines at 27 feet and 37 feet from each stake. The 27-foot foul line is for children, women and elderly men. The 37-foot foul line is for all other adult men, according to the NHPA Web site at


The game is broken down into innings with two horseshoes pitched by each contestant.

A ringer - worth three points - is a shoe that comes to rest around the stake. Both ends of the shoe must clear the stake for a ringer. A shoe that is not a ringer but leans against the stake or comes to rest with any portion of it within six inches of any part of the stake is worth one point.

Get in the game

Several toy retailers now sell a yard game combination pack that includes horseshoes, volleyball, badminton and backyard tennis equipment, a flying disc, junior soccer ball and plastic bat and ball.

The combination set and individual tetherball, volleyball, badminton and croquet sets continue to be "very popular items" with Toys "R" Us customers, says Pam Faatz, corporate spokeswoman.

"They sell very well," she says.

But you don't need to spend much money for hours of lawn-related fun. All you need is an imagination.

You can turn trees, fences and other yard fixtures into Frisbee Golf targets, according to the Yard Games Web site at Simply write one hole number on each of nine sheets of paper. Then tape each number, or hole, to a different target in the yard to create a Frisbee golf course. Make a scorecard with hole numbers in a vertical row on the left side of a piece of paper and player names in a horizontal row at the top of the paper. Frisbee golf can accommodate any number of players, and par columns can be added to scorecards for a more competitive edge.

Something for everyone

The Yard Games Web site also gives detailed instructions for the classic "Statue" game. At least four people are needed to play the game, which is great for all ages because it doesn't involve any running. Here's how to play:

  • Choose one person to be the store owner and another person to be the buyer. Everyone else is a statue.

  • The buyer waits while the store owner spins each statue.

  • After spinning, the statues position themselves into the shape of any object, animal or, well, anything. Statues must remain still.

  • The store owner quietly asks for each statue's identification and memorizes it before opening the store.

  • The buyer then chooses which statue to purchase by flipping the imaginary switch that activates each statue.

  • After the statue's switch is flipped, the statue must act in an appropriate manner. For example, a dog statue might start barking.

  • The game is over when the buyer guesses the identity of the statue he chooses to buy.

Remember hurling lawn darts at a target in the yard? Forget it. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1988 banned the sale of the popular outdoor game - which consisted of 12-inch long darts with metal or hard plastic tips on one end and fins on the other - after the deaths of three children.

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