St. Helena Bocce Club

St. Helena Bocce Club

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Court Plans

Court Construction Procedure

Step 1 Site Selection & Preparation

The site you select for your bocce court should be the most 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.

Note: Court dimensions vary widely depending on the rules played and the space available. The International Bocce Association dimensions are 12' wide by 60' long. If you want to build a court for recreational use for yourself, your family and friends, the size should be whatever fits in your back yard and makes you happy. Call us to help with materials list.

Step 2 Initial (Rough) Grading

If the site selection 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. 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 10 tons of #1 or #2 crushed stone should be spread evenly over the stripped area. The crushed stone will provide a relatively level 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 side boards are placed at a distance 60 feet apart; and the end boards are placed 12 feet apart. To "square" the court, the diagonal distance between corner stakes should measure 61' x 2 1/4".

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 if you are using 10" side boards, mark one stake 10" from 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, stretch the mason's twine around the four stakes, securing it tightly to each of the stakes at the level of the mark.

Step 3x Court Leveling Without a Transit

If a transit is not used 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 in line and leveling each board with a carpenter's level as you go along. DO NOT SET THE ENDBOARDS YET. After one side has been set, begin setting the opposite side along the mason's twine-level this second side relative to the first side. This can be accomplished by using a long (12'6"-14') straight board to span the two side walls and placing a level on top of the board.

Step 4 Side Wall Anchoring

Steel reinforcing rods 5/8" x 24" can be used to anchor side walls that are thicker than 3". Holes are drilled vertically down through the width of the side boards at intervals of 5' to 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 2" or narrower side boards are used, 1" x 1" x 24" angle iron is suggested. These are spaced at intervals of 5' to 6' and are driven into the ground next to the side boards and attached to the side boards with screws.

In either case, the internal and external finished grades of the court will further help keep the boards in position.

Step 5 Surface Application

In California it has been found that dry mixing of loam or clay and crushed oyster shell works the best. Use of a roto-tiller does a good job of mixing these materials - also a cement mixer can be used. Enough material is used to give a uniform depth of 3"-4". The mixture is then leveled with the use of a screed or other leveling tool.

The surface must then be compacted. A tamper or a heavy lawn roller (300# to 500#) should be used. The surface should also be sprayed with a garden hose to get additional compaction. Another method of compaction is to flood the court. Then, while still wet, a bull float (cement finishing tool) can be used to smooth out the surface.

When the court has dried out completely cracks may appear on the surface. The backside of a rake can be used to move the surface around to fill in the cracks. A garden roller will do the same and compact the surface further.

Finally the court is dusted with oyster shell flour, to make the wear surface. It is rolled flat and at this time should be dry enough not to pick up the surface. The court is misted, dried, more flour is added if needed, and rolled again - until you get a solid and smooth surface. Too think a layer of shell flour may crumble and form a powdery surface. Save left over flour for future court maintenance.

Step 6 End Board Application

At this point, the dimension of the end boards can be determined by measuring the distance from the top of the surface and the top of the side boards.

The end boards can the be fastened to the side boards by nailing or screwing. No reinforcement rods should be used on the end boards. Since the end boards receive constant pounding, it may become necessary to replace them occasionally.

After the end boards are in place, the court surface should be "screeded" again, dampened and rolled.

The court is now ready for use. Although it may appear "spongy" at first, use and maintenance will ensure compactability.

Step 7 Court Markings

In-bounds markers and foul lines should be applied to the side walls and end boards of the court (see court diagram & markings). The markings are traditionally painted or taped on the wall boards and do not require any markings directly on the court surface.

Court Maintenance

Your bocce ball court can provide years of enjoyment, requiring minimal maintenance and virtually no additional expense.

Normal maintenance requires that the court be "groomed" after use. This is accomplished by brooming the court after play. The type of broom suggested is a long, coarse bristle push broom, 24" wide. Usually two of these push brooms are attached end to end, forming a 48" wide broom that is dragged across the court in each direction thereby grooming the court surface.

Occasional maintenance requires brooming, wetting, then rolling the court. Additional oyster shell flour might be added at this time. This is suggested about once a month for home courts and about once a week for commercial courts.

Spring maintenance requires that the surface of the court be loosened by scraping the surface with a rake; brooming, wetting and rolling the court. The 4" x 4" x 11'6" angle iron may be used to reestablish a flat surface whenever necessary. The side boards may require a realignment occasionally - follow step 3x.

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Phone: (707) 963-1663
Fax: (603) 754-7642
Email: info@sthelenabocceball.com

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