Contrary to popular belief, the best kids’ games don’t always come courtesy of modern technology. Our staff at Thailand’s Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui has given pétanque (pronounced pay-tahnk)—a pastime that originated near Marseilles, France—a tropical twist with generational appeal.
Similar to British lawn bowling and Italian bocce, in pétanque players in teams of one, two or three toss a ball (or boules) from a designated circle towards a “jack,” keeping their feet planted on the ground while throwing. (Until 1907, the game was called la provençal and involved running. But the rules changed at a tournament where a former champ was suffering so badly from arthritis that organizers encouraged him to play seated.)
Though traditionally played with metal balls, we take a local approach. We use dried coconuts from nearby palms and paint them in varying colours to differentiate players. We’ve also been known to get in on the pétanque fun alongside our guests.
Here’s how you can play Coconut Pétanque with your kids at home. No coconuts? No problem. Just localize it.
-Two or three marked or painted coconuts (or balls) per player
-One jack (or wooden ball)
-A measuring stick or tape measure for determining coconut-to-jack proximity
Step 1: Outline your playing area, which should be approximately 13 feet wide and 49 feet long. The game can be played on any terrain, though concrete, asphalt and tiled areas are often avoided for safety reasons.
Step 2: Draw a circle on the ground about 14 to 20 inches in diameter at one of the short ends of the playing area. This is where the players stand to throw coconuts (or balls).
Step 3: Following a coin toss, the first player from the first team stands inside the circle and throws the jack. It should land within 20 to 33 feet of the circle and rest at least three feet from each side of the playing area. This player then throws his first ball—always underarm—with feet planted, trying to hit as close to the jack as possible.
Step 4: The first player from the opposing team is up next. Standing inside the circle with feet together, each member of this team continues to throw until a ball lands closer to the jack than the first team’s ball, or they run out of balls. Then the second player from the first team takes a turn, and so on.
Step 5: Once all members of both teams have run out of balls, the score is tallied. One point is given for each ball closer to the jack than the closest ball of the opposing team. The first to reach 13 points wins.
Or better still, join us at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and let our beach team teach you the rules of the game. There’s no better way to play than with your toes in the sand—and a fresh coconut cocktail to sip as you toast the winner.
Read more on Koh Samui in Four Seasons Magazine.
A part of the Four Seasons family since 2004, Lubosh Barta is general manager of Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. He is a former ice hockey player who hails from a long line of hoteliers. With experience working in the Czech Republic, Germany, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and now Thailand, Lubosh is convinced Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful resorts he’s ever seen, anywhere, and is happy to his spend his downtime exploring the island paradise with his family.
View all posts from Lubosh
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