Although tossing round objects for sport dates to the sixth millennium BC — that’s post-dinosaur, but pre-alphabet — today’s modern style of bocce is commonly attributed to Italian culture, where it was cultivated to be as much of an informal social occasion as a heated athletic event.
The Cliffs Valley residents Bill Heitz and Vinnie Cialdella had something like this in mind when envisioning a bocce court in their community. Following the popularity of a bocce tournament hosted on The Cliffs Valley driving range, the pair set their sights on some prime panoramic real estate — a rarely used set of sand volleyball courts behind the Wellness Center — and got the ball rolling with a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.
Thanks to financial contributions by Valley residents — many of whom also donated their time and labor to complete construction of the project — the dual bocce courts debuted last year with an enthusiastic kickoff tournament attended by dozens. Outfitted with amenities like a gas grill, scoreboards, benches, and other equipment, the courts have not only become the home of competitions organized through the Valley Bocce Ball Club and impromptu weekend matches between members; they’re also a hub of regular sociable activity for both longtime residents and newcomers to The Cliffs Valley community.
Bocce by the Numbers:
- 2 TEAMS PER MATCH Link up with two or four players on each crew, or do a little one-on-one action and crown yourself the MVP.
- 9 BALLS REQUIRED TO PLAY This includes eight weighted, colored balls that players roll, bounce, and toss across the court. The goal here is to land as close to the jack (the pallino if you really want to get technical) as possible. That’s the smaller white ball sitting just past the court’s center line.
- 13’ X 91’ The standard size of a regulation bocce court, according to the United States Bocce Federation. Before you spend precious time carefully measuring out those inches, relax; most courts are scaled down for recreational play.
- 1 BOCCE BALL = 1 POINT Teams toss
(underhanded, of course) four balls each per frame, and the team whose balls are nearer the jack than the rival team’s closest ball scores. Frame play alternates between both ends of the court, and a typical game continues until one team reaches 12 points.