Longboat Key resident Phil Couture is Sarasota Yacht Club fleet captain and organizer of the members’ bocce ball games. Bocce is one of the earliest games known to mankind. In 5,000 B.C., Egyptians played the game using polished stones. The game, as it is known today, was developed by the early Romans. With the many Italian immigrants, the game became popular in the United States.
What led you to organize bocce games at the club?
Many clubs include bocce in their activities. Initially, as fleet captain, I thought it would be a fun activity for our weekend cruises. We usually plan it for Saturday morning wherever we dock. It is a great way to get everyone together. We always have a fun prize for the winning team.
Does it require a lot of work to prepare the game area?
Not really. All you need to do is section off a rectangular game area by using a length of rope and stakes. The width is about 10 feet, enough for two players, and the length can vary up to maybe 100 feet. The course can be any surface, and a grassy area is fine.
What equipment do you need?
Each team has four players and one bocce ball for each. The balls weigh about one pound. There is a Jack ball. It is white ball not much larger than a golf ball.
How is the game played?
A designated team player opens the game by tossing out the jack ball. In turn, the players throw their bocce balls trying to get close to the jack ball. The team getting the closest to it scores a point.
A game win can be any number of points chosen. We generally set it at seven.
What do you enjoy most about bocce?
Definitely the camaraderie. It is so much fun. Everybody seems to have a good time. Some of players get very passionate and competitive. And, it really doesn’t take any special skills; maybe a little luck.
Any plans for a bocce tournament at the club?
We did have one at the club during our Blessing of the Fleet weekend held in April. It took place on Saturday morning, and it was a great success, so much so that I think it is going to be an annual tradition for this weekend.
Do you participate in any other sport?
I did play tennis and racquet ball but don’t anymore due to an injury.