St. Helena Bocce Club

St. Helena Bocce Club

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Court Plans

Court Construction Procedure

Step 1 Site Selection and Preparation

The site you select for your bocce court should be the most flat and level area you have available. This is imperative since the final court surface must be as close to level as possible to provide the most satisfactory playing conditions.

Also, it is recommended that the length of the court run in a North/South direction, if possible to prevent uncomfortable sun glare at sunset.

Step 2 Initial (Rough) Grading

If the site selected is not relatively flat and level, and cannot be corrected easily with the application of gravel or crushed stone, it is suggested that equipment grading (with a bulldozer, bobcat, etc.) be undertaken.

If the site has minor variations in elevation, it is recommended that an area slightly larger (16' X 64') than the finished playing area be stripped of sod and/or topsoil. It is suggested that the stripped area be treated with a commercial herbicide to prevent new growth of grass and weeds through the court surface. At this point, approximately ten [10] tons of #1 or #2 crushed stone or gravel should be spread evenly over the stripped area. The crushed stone or gravel will provide a relatively level subsurface for the playing area and will also provide drainage for the court.

Step 3 Court Layout

The actual playing area [12' X 60'] can now be laid out using four corner stakes and mason's twine. The stakes for the sideboards are placed at a distance 60 feet apart; and the stakes for the endboards are placed 12 feet apart, forming a 12' by 60' rectangle. To "square" the court, the diagonal distance between corner stakes should measure 61' 2".

When the corner stakes are properly located, they should be driven into the ground sufficiently to prevent movement. At this point, a transit should be used to mark the four stakes for elevation. If you are using 10" high sideboards, mark one stake 10" from the top of the crushed stone and "shoot your transit readings from that mark. [Note: If you are not using a transit, refer to Step 3X].

When the corner stakes are marked for elevation, stretch the mason's twine around the four stakes, securing it tightly to each stake at the level of the mark.

Step 3x Court Leveling Without A Transit

If a transit is not sued in the court installation, follow the same procedure as above to set the stakes and run the mason's twine. Rather than mark the stakes, begin setting the sideboards on one side of the court, using the stretched mason's twine to keep them as straight as possible and leveling each board with a carpenter's level as you go along. DO NOT SET ENDBOARDS YET.

After one side has been set, begin setting the opposite side along the mason's twine. The second side must be leveled relative to the first side which has already been set. This is accomplished by starting at one end, placing a straight board across the span from one sideboard to the opposite sideboard, and using a carpenter's level to ensure that both sideboards are level. As the second sideboard is set, the carpenter's level is used to level that board in the same manner as it was for the first side. As the second sideboard is set, occasional checks should be made to ensure that the two sideboards are level with each other.

Step 4 Side Wall Anchoring

In the event the sidewalls are 3" wide or thicker [either as the result of using larger than described dimensional lumber, or of laminating two or more pieces of dimensional lumber together], steel reinforcing rods 5/8" X 24" can be used to anchor the sidewalls. This is accomplished by drilling holes down vertically through the width of the sideboards at intervals of approximately 6'. The rods can then be driven through the boards until they are flush with the top of the boards [see cross sectional diagram].

If the sideboards are 2" or narrower, 2" X 2" X 24" angle iron is recommended. These may also be spaced at approximately 6' intervals and are driven into the ground on the outside of the court and attached to the sideboards using wood screws.

In either case, the internal and external finished grades of the court will further support the sideboards and help maintain their proper position.

Step 5 Stone Dust Application

Before either end board is set in place, the stone dust must be spread. This will facilitate wheeling the stone dust with a wheel barrow or allowing a truck to dump and spread the material.

The stone dust should be spread and raked evenly throughout the court at a depth of approximately 4". The stone dust may then be finish graded using the sideboards [which have been leveled] as a reference point. This can be accomplished easily by making a simple "jig" as described below, and "screeding" the stone dust in much the same fashion as concrete leveling.

To make the "jig", first measure the height of the sideboard from the top of the crushed stone to the top of the sideboard [let's assume that this measures 10"]. Next determine how deep you want the stone dust layer to be [lets say 4"]. The 10" height of the sideboard, minus the 4" layer of stone dust equals 6". The 6" represents the width of a "notch" cut into a board [see diagram below] that will be used to make the "jig". Next, measure the inside distance between the two sideboards [measurements should be made at several intervals over the length of the court to ensure that the boards are as parallel as possible]. This measurement, minus 1", will represent the notched-out portion of the "jig" in the diagram below.

The overall length of the "jig" should be approximately 6" longer than the inside distance between the sideboards. The two ends of the "jig" can now be reseted on top of each sideboard and pulled the entire length of the court to ensure a level surface of stone dust. As the "jig" is pulled, several times back and forth along the length of the court, high areas can be removed and low areas can be filled in.

After this initial "screeding", the court should be sprayed with water [not soaked, but thoroughly dampened], then rolled several times with a lawn roller. Then, the entire process of pulling the "jig" back and forth over the length of the court, cutting down the high spots and filling in low spots, should be repeated.

Step 6 Installing The Endboards

At this point, the endboards can be installed. They can be fastened to the sideboards by nailing or screwing, however, since the endboards receive constant pounding during a typical game, it is recommended that an additional endboard "shock absorber" be added directly in front of each endboard.

The suggested approach to the "shock absorber" application is as follows:
Measure the distance between the top of the stone dust and the top of the sideboards. This distance will determine the dimension of the lumber required [if all of the above steps were followed closely, 2" X 6" dimensional lumber should work well]. Next measure the internal distance between the sideboards which is the length to which the "shock absorber" should be cut.

Next, angled spacers should be cut from the same dimensional lumber that is used to make the "shock absorbers". These angled spacers should be 4" wide at the top and 2" wide at the bottom [see above diagram]. One should be cut for each of the four corners that is created at the junction of an endboard and a sideboard. The angled spacers should be placed, wide side up, in each corner [again, refer to above diagram]. IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED THAT AN ANGLED SPACER BE PLACED IN THE CENTER OF THE ENDBOARDS BETWEEN THE CORNERS. Once the angled spacers are attached to the corners, the "shock absorber" endboard can be attached to them. The objective of this "shock absorber" is to deflect swiftly thrown balls downward and prevent them from rebounding a great distance from the backboard, while at the same time avoiding frequent replacement of the endboards.

Step 7 Court Markings

In-bounds markers and foul lines should be applied to the sidewalls and endboards of the court in accordance to the diagram below. Markings at 4' form the endboard on each sideboard are used to delineate the foul line from which a player attempts to "point" or roll close to the object ball. This 4' mark also delineates the maximum distance the object ball may be thrown during beginning of a frame.

Markings at 10' from the endboard on each sideboard are used to delineate the foul line from which a player may attempt to "shoot" or knock out an opponent's ball.

A mark is placed at 30' [center court] on each sideboard to delineate the minimum distance the object ball must be thrown at the beginning of a frame of play.

Markings on each side of the endboards, 12" from the sideboard, are used to delineate the inbounds minimum distance from the sideboards that the object ball must be thrown at the beginning of a frame.

Step 8 Routine Court Maintenance

The court is now ready for use, and although it may appear soft and spongy at first, playing on it along with the elements of sun and rain will soon result in a very sompact and durable surface.

In order to enjoy years of satisfying use of the court, it will be necessary to develop some very simple routine maintenance habits. Generally, before each game, it is recommended that a push broom [36" or, preferably wider] be pulled over the court, in each direction, from endboard to endboard, to give the court an unmarred, uniform appearance.

When no further play is planned for a day, the same "brooming" should be done and, if possible, the court should be sprayed with water. This will promote an excellent curing process and result in a very rewarding playing surface.

During the first season of use, it is recommended that the above brooming and wetting procedure be followed by a weekly rolling of the court with a lawn roller. Thereafter, this process is only recommended if the court has been idle during winter snow and frost, or following significant rainfall.

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