MINNEAPOLIS – We have a few precious months of barbecues in our backyard to look forward to. If you’re the competitive type, you’ll probably want to challenge your friends and family to that special lemonade season treat: the game on the lawn.
We asked a few local experts to explain popular games – from Croquet to Wiffle Ball – so you can choose the right one for you. They also offered advice on what to wear, what to eat and drink, and if you should be careful with the rules.
What it is: Roll balls across the lawn to see who can place their balls closest to a target ball.
Who it’s for: Everyone from teens to the elderly, according to Robert Johnson, secretary of the Northeast Bocce League, who plays the Italian cousin of lawn bowling.
What Goes With It: “It’s a drinking sport,” Johnson said. “If you like beer, drink beer. If you like wine, drink wine.
What to wear: “Anything that is comfortable to wear. Shorts and sandals work for me, ”Johnson said.
Rules, schmules: “It’s pretty damn easy,” according to Johnson. “It’s basically about throwing your ball and getting it closer to your opponent.”
What it is: you toss bean bags down an inclined board, trying to drop the bag into a hole in the board.
Who it is for: “Honestly, anyone,” said Mike Kruger, co-owner of Triple Crown Cornhole, a Midwest-based cornhole event promoter. “It’s for all ages.”
What Goes With It: Burgers, hot dogs, and kids are common cornhole dishes. And while cornhole poufs usually contain plastic pellets rather than corn or beans, why not corn on the cob and baked beans?
What to Wear: “A lot of people wear shorts and t-shirts,” Kruger said, although professional players can don custom shirts.
Rules, schmules: “It’s easy,” Kruger said. You just need to count and take turns. One point if your bag lands on the board, three if it goes into the hole. The first player to reach 21 wins.
What it is: You use mallets to hit wooden balls through a series of hoops. “It’s a bit like billiards on a lawn,” said Michael-Jon Pease, captain emeritus of the University Club of St. Paul’s croquet team.
Who it is for: Despite having a distinguished reputation, “he has a very strong appeal to really competitive people,” Pease said. But he also has fans among people who want to wear fancy hats and play a social game on a summer afternoon.
What goes with it: “An Arnie Palmer or a lemonade, and if you’re not in a public park, feel free to take a dip at your leisure.” The winner is buying the gin and tonics, ”Pease said.
What to wear: “The classic is white linen,” Pease said.
Rules, schmules: As long as all players agree, you don’t have to follow all the rules to the letter to have a good time.
What it is: Sometimes called “Viking Chess”, this is a Swedish game where you throw wooden clubs in an attempt to knock over the opponent’s wooden blocks set on the grass.
Who it appeals to: It can be played with people of a variety of skills, according to Eric Goplin, director and founder of Minnesota Kubb, a kubb tournament organization.
What goes with it: It’s the kind of game where you can hold a beer in one hand while throwing a stick with the other, Goplin said.
What to wear: Competitive players wear soccer cleats to improve their performance. Others are fine with going barefoot and wearing shorts.
Rulers, schmules: Basically you just need to throw sticks to knock down blocks. “It sounds infinitely more complicated than it is,” Goplin said. “There is no counting in kubb.”
What it is: A scaled-down version of kids’ baseball where you try to hit a hollow plastic ball with holes cut on one side, using a skinny yellow plastic bat.
Who it’s for: Players in the Twin Cities-based Home Run League, the nation’s largest adult Wiffle ball league, range from former major leagues to people who have never played baseball before. “That’s the glorious thing about the Wiffle ball. Everyone likes it, ”said league commissioner Dan Duehn.
What goes with it: With adult players, beer is traditional.
You want to wear: Serious players can appear in custom cleats and jerseys, but you can also wear tennis shoes and jeans.
Rules, Schmules: Feel free to create your own rules and count a hit ball on the garage roof as a triple. “You can play in the yard. You can play in the streets, ”Duehn said. “See ball. Hit the ball. Catch the ball. It’s pretty straightforward.
What it is: Balanced on a length of webbing stretched between two trees, similar to a tightrope walker.
Who it’s for: All types, from kids to retirees to professionals, according to Mark McKee, president of Slackline Minnesota, a nonprofit that promotes the activity.
What Goes With It: According to McKee, it’s best to have healthy food and water. After all, you are trying to stay on your feet.
What to wear: anything comfortable. And slacklining is generally practiced barefoot.
Rules, schmules: Like yoga, slacklining is more a personal practice than a competition. You can walk the rope, do yoga poses, or even pear trees. Just make sure you follow the safety precautions. Slacklineminnesota.org contains information to get you started.