For the average beach bum, flying kites, building sand castles and playing horseshoes may not cut it anymore. For beachgoers from Sullivan's Island to Folly Beach, a day at the shore requires more than just a tube of sunscreen and a cooler.
Beachgoers of all ages are enjoying bocce ball, ladder golf and half-rubber. Even as the end of summer approaches, there is still time to get out and get your game on.
Bocce ball is not an amusement just for Europeans. The age-old game has been a staple of American cookouts, lawn parties and beach bashes for decades. Its origins can be traced back to the Egyptians, who played a form of the game using polished rocks.
Today, it's played with manufactured balls, and in two teams with up to as many as four players per team. Equipment requires one bocce ball set consisting of eight large balls (four of one color and four of another) and a smaller ball called the pallina. The object of the game is to get your ball as close to the pallina as possible.
Ladder golf is also known as hillbilly horseshoes or redneck golf, and legend has it that the game originated in the American West where cowboys tossed live snakes at split fence posts.
Today, players toss colored, golf ball bolas onto ladder rungs to rack up different point combinations. The game can be played by two or in teams with multiple players. Equipment includes two ladders, usually made of PVC pipe and brightly colored bolas (a nylon rope with golf balls at each end). The object of the game is to wrap your bolas around the rungs of the opposing team's ladder.
Half-rubber has a debatable history. The old-time summer sport originated in either the Charleston or Savannah area, but nonetheless it's a great beach game for all ages. The games is a loose derivative of baseball. Equipment requires half of a hard rubber ball and a half-rubber bat, which more or less resembles a mop handle. The game is played with two teams with three to four players each, and consists of three innings with three outs per team each inning.
How to play bocce ball: Toss a coin to pick the starting team and assign one set of four colored balls to each team. A player from the starting team throws the pallina then rolls his/her first ball as close to the pallina as possible. An opposing team player follows trying to roll his/her ball closer to the pallina than the previous player. After all balls have been played, one team is awarded a point for each of its balls closer to the pallina than the closest opposing team's ball. A team may score up to four points per frame. No points are awarded if the closest ball of each team is equidistant from the pallina. The scoring team starts the next frame by throwing the pallina and playing the first ball. A team wins by reaching a score of 16 points. Players are allowed to knock the opposing team's ball away from the pallina, or the pallina toward their own team's ball.
The beach provides a variety of well-suited terrain for the game. Beginners often start out on the wetter, more compact sand near the water's edge, but experts might try incorporating natural obstacles such as dunes or piles of beach debris to pump up the competition.
Bocce sets can be purchased locally at a variety of retail stores.
How to play ladder golf: Set up the ladders five paces to 15 feet apart and draw a toss line beside each ladder. Flip a coin to pick the starters. During each round players toss three bolas each at the opposing team's ladder aiming to hit the rungs. The top rung is worth three points, the middle rung is two points, and the bottom rung is one point. A bonus point can be awarded for hanging a bola on all three rungs during a single turn. A team or player wins by reaching exactly 21 points. Points are not awarded if the player goes over 21. In the case of a tie, play as many overtime rounds as needed until one player/team ends a complete round 2 points ahead of the other player/team.
Ladder golf sets are sold locally at a variety of retail stores.
How to play half-rubber: According to the official "Charleston Rules" of half-rubber, contributed by Victor Hayes on halfrubber.com:
1. There are no called strikes or balls. If the ball is close, you swing. If you miss, it's a strike.
2. Home plate to the pitcher is 60 feet, or roughly 20 big steps.
3. Home plate to the home run line is 120 feet, or roughly 40 big steps.
4. There are only two types of hits: singles, which must pass the pitcher's line on the ground or the air; and home runs, which must pass the home run line in the air.
5. Outs are achieved in one of three ways: The pitcher throws the ball, batter swings and misses, then the catcher "catches" the ball before it can touch the ground. One pitch, one swing, one catch, one out. Secondly, a batter hits the ball and it is caught in the air by a member of the opposing team (anywhere on the field). Fielders must stay even with pitcher until ball is released. And finally, a double out can be achieved if the batter tips a pitched ball and the catcher is able the catch the ball before it hits the ground behind the batter. If the ball is caught in front of the batter, only one out is achieved.
6. The "free swing" explained: If the pitcher throws the ball and it hits the ground before it reaches the batter, the ball is considered a "dead ball." At this point, the batter can swing at the ball. If the batter does not make contact with the ball, the ball remains "dead." If the batter makes contact with the ball, the ball is brought back to "life" or considered back in play, which means all standard rules now again apply (such as home run or double out).
7. If, at the end of three innings, the two teams are tied, the fourth inning begins the start of "hit is a run." At this point, all hits are considered runs, and at the end of the inning, the team with the most runs is the winner.
8. The 10-run Rule: At the end of any inning, if one team has a 10-run lead, the game is over.
Half-rubber is sold locally at Island Time Beach Shop, 1011 Ocean Blvd., Isle Of Palms; Charleston Watersport Outfitters, 1547 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant; and Mr. Jones Beach Store, 20 Center St., Folly Beach. A pack of three half-rubber balls generally costs around $7.50, and a half-rubber bat usually around $20.