A sporting club at Dubbo has unveiled Australia's first synthetic croquet court dubbed 'wonderland' as it positions itself for the future.
With its installation, Muller Park Tennis and Croquet Club members have access to two full-sized courts that are projected to save about $20,000 a year in mowing and watering costs, their president says.
Players swung their mallets enthusiastically on Tuesday morning in a simultaneous first hit-off.
The project was achieved with a $191,131 grant from the NSW government's Stronger Country Communities Fund.
Club president Tricia Shanks said it was exciting and came after a lot of hard work in the almost two years since croquet players moved across town to the Muller Park complex to ensure they could continue playing the sport.
In the interim they had been playing on modified tennis courts, shorter than a croquet court.
"The main benefit is we don't have to mow it, we don't have to water it, and we don't have to pay someone to actually do it for the year, which would cost us about $20,000 to do," she said.
"We only have to get this one looked after after a couple of years, and then just get the dirt lifted and fixed up about every year after that, which is not a huge expense."
The club boasts more than 60 members but has a view to attracting more.
The synthetic court was installed by Prosports, led by Bruce Warwick, who returned to his home town for the job. The two courts have dimensions of 25.5 metres by 32 metres and a previously made version of a lawn bowls surface was adapted, he reports.
"We changed the stitch rate and pile heights to get the speed right," he said.
Mr Warwick said it was believed to be the first synthetic croquet court in Australia, and "certainly the first designated one, where the product was made exclusively for it".
"There's probably been croquet played on synthetic similar to here, tennis-type surfaces and other surfaces, but this is certainly the first time we've set out and made a grass especially for the sport and the club here has named it 'wonderland' grass, after Alice in Wonderland, so it will be the designated product from now on," he said.
The installer forecasts the idea may catch on.
"Without a doubt, as people come to try it out and experience it, obviously everything depends on how well it plays, but all indications so far are that it will be successful there and then it's only a matter of time," he said.