Monday, November 24, 2008

Bolo Ball Game

Several months ago, I attended a company social at a winery nearby our work site. At this social, someone brought this weird pvc contraption that looked like a ladder, then started throwing stringed golf balls towards it. To this, my reaction was... “what the... “ , but I said that with interest in mind. I was actually on my way out when I saw this, so I didn't really get to play, but it looked like fun. So, I found out what the game was called and googled it.

Bolo ball, also known as bolo golf or ladder golf, is a simple and addictive backyard game that's similar to horseshoes, if you've played that. You basically throw the bolo (2 golf balls connected by a piece of string) towards the ladder and get it to stay on one of the ladder rungs for points. I'll talk about the rules later.

Anyway, I decided that this would be a fun game to play on Thanksgiving day. I must confess that the prospect of using power tools also helped guide my decision along. :-)

For construction of the ladder you'll need:
  • 8 – 1' pieces of pvc pipe (3/4” diameter)
  • 7 – 2' pieces of pvc pipe (3/4” diameter)
  • 6 – pvc tees
  • 6 – pvc elbows
And, here's how it's laid out. I hope the image is okay. I really wanted to use google sketchup to draw it up, but apparently the learning curve to that application is longer than a half an hour, so I'll have to play with that some other time. I also considered VRML since I've programmed in it in the past, but that was 8 years ago, and I have managed to forget quite a bit. Oh well. So, you get a photographed paper & pen sketch of the layout which, I think, is actually pretty good. :-)

Okay so, make the pvc structure like the picture. As a side note, if you do a lot of pvc projects using 3/4” or ½” piping (or plan to), do yourself a favor and get the pvc pipe cutters. They're kinda pricey, but worth it as it cuts pvc pipes very easily. They'll probably have it wherever you bought the pvc pipes.

Next you have to make 6 bolos.

For each bolo you'll need:
  • 2 golf balls (total of 12 golf balls)
  • 24” nylon string 1/4” diameter (total of 6 strings)
Construction of bolos:
  1. Drill a hole thru the middle of each golf ball. I clamped the golf balls down like this to keep it from moving while I drilled in.
  2. Thread the string thru a golf ball and tie a knot close to the end of the string and another knot sandwiching the golf ball with knots at the end of the string. Now do the same on the other end of the string with the other golf ball.
  3. Use a lighter and burn the knots on the ends of each string so it melts a bit. This will help keep the knots in place. You don't want to burn off the knot so be careful with that.
  4. Now all you have to do is make 5 more.
  5. You now have to be able to distinguish team colors. I use these stickers to make team golf balls. An alternative is to mark them with different color sharpies or maybe even paint them. But stickers were available, so I used that.
    So that's all it takes to build a set. I managed to build the whole thing with things I had around the house, so the cost of the whole thing was free. Even the golf balls were collected thru walks by a nearby golf course (lots of walks, my dogs loved them).

Alright so the rules... I copied these rules from another site.

Set up
  • Set the ladders about 20 feet apart (You can adjust the distance if you would like)
  • Team 1 throws first, followed by the opponent on that same side.
  • This game can be played with 2 people or in 2 teams of 2.
    If you are playing with 2 people, you both stand at one end and toss the balls, then move to the other end for the next toss.
    If you are playing with 2 teams of 2, 1 person from each team will stand on each side.
Top Pole = 3 Points
Middle Pole = 2 Points
Bottom Pole = 1 Points
(Feel free to adjust scoring as needed.)

Score is determined very similarly to Baggo (Cornhole, Bags), points cancel each other out. So if you score on a rung and the other team or person scores on that same rung, the points are canceled. (Example: Team 1 puts 2 lassos on top rung, it is 6 points, but team 2 puts 1 lasso on the same rung, it cancels out 3 of the 6 points.)

Play up to 21, you have to get EXACTLY 21 and points scored that would put you over 21 are deducted.

For a scoring variation
All balls that land in the base of the ladder can be scored one. The first rung can be scored 2, second rung 3, and top rung 4. This makes it a fast-moving game and works well when younger players are involved. For the one-pointers landing in the base, only one ball must be inside the area. The exception to this is a shot that lands both balls on the outside of the frame with just the rope on the inside of the ladder area. This is the only shot that counts for a point without any ball inside the base area.
Have fun playing!

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