Bocce Ball is a simple game, or one would think. Until I was asked to join a Bocce Ball Team this season I didn’t think much about it. I thought it was a game played mostly by older people to occupy their time after retirement. 

I was told that I should try out for the team because it would help my short game in golf. I am taking golf lessons and anything to help my game was for me. I didn’t see the link (pardon the pun) between bocce golf until I actually tried to play Bocce Ball. 

Bocce Ball is so popular in Benicia that new courts are being installed and there's a waiting list for new teams. Bocce is played with nine balls. One little ball and eight big ones are used.  The little ball (called the Pallino) is tossed down the court by one player and the ball must go at least over half the distance down the court, but not go so far as to hit the back wall. Next, the same player throws one of the larger balls (four are red and four are green) and attempts to get the bigger ball as close as possible to the Pallino. Each team has four of the larger balls of one color. Next the player from the other team tries to throw their ball closer to the Pallino than the first player. If they succeed in getting their ball closer, the first player must throw again. If they do not get their ball closer, they must keep throwing their balls until they either get closer to the Pallino or they are out of balls. The first player is in a very good position if the player from the other team is out of balls and the first player still has three more balls to throw. The object is to have as many big balls as possible closer to the Pallino than the other player at the end of the round.

That’s it in a nutshell. If the last paragraph is “clear as mud” just come down to the Benicia Bocce Ball Courts almost any weekend day or week day evening next summer and watch a game.  Once I played I was hooked. It is a mind game just like golf and just as addictive. A lot of strategy goes into the game and it takes a lot of skill, but occasionally luck helps too. If you want to be good, you need to practice. I have seen a lot of different methods in throwing the balls, but if you stoop down and throw the ball carefully, you can improve your play. A good coach helps too, just like in golf.

The bottom line for me is that it’s a lot harder than it looks, but it is fun! Come out next summer and join a team to see for yourself.