The Wellington Pétanque Association said: “Pétanque: The Greatest Game You have Never Heard Of!” by Byron Putman may simply be the best English language book ever published! … All clubs are encouraged to purchase at least one copy of the book for their members to read. Any player who is serious about improving their game should also purchase a copy for their own study. Anyone involved in coaching should definitely purchase a copy.”
La Pétanque Marinière (Marin County Pétanque in California) Blog said: “Here is a great book, just published, about Pétanque. Actually the first English language book to be written about the sport.”
Almost everyone is familiar with the Italian bowls game Bocce. With the exception of those who have traveled to France, few Americans know Pétanque the “Elegant & Intelligent French Game of Boules.” Contrary to the opinion of many ill-informed Americans, the French are a warm and generous people – that is except when it comes to their national game of Pétanque. In America too many clubs are tightly controlled by elitist French-Americans who practice Pétanque as an extension of French culture rather than a competitive sport. With respect and admiration to my French friends, now is the time to relinquish control and let the entire world embrace this great sport.
Since I’m stepping on cultural toes (and with apologies to U.S. Bocce players who outnumber U.S. Pétanque players by a 1,000-to-1 ratio) Bocce is to Pétanque what checkers is to chess. Bocce is a simple, two-dimensional rolling game. Although it reputedly can be played on any surface, other than the most casual Bocce game is confined to expensive, smooth and level groomed courts enclosed with side and backboards; Pétanque is a three-dimensional throwing game in which the concept of a formal court doesn’t exist. Even the world championships are played on rough, unlevel, ungroomed dirt and crushed gravel terrains. Ugly terrains tend to make Pétanque both aerial and savagely aggressive – boules are rarely rolled, instead they are gracefully lofted high into the air and competitor’s boules are removed from play with sniper-like precision before the shooter’s boule even touches the ground.
If you’re looking for a fun distraction during a family barbeque, stick with Bocce; if you want to be challenged with a subtle, complex, multilayered, inexpensive, egalitarian, environmentally friendly and truly universal sport – then you’ve got to give Pétanque a hard look.
This is the first comprehensive English language Pétanque book. With a few minutes of introductory practice throws, you can play games and have a great time; however, after teaching over 120 people how to throw in just the past year I can unequivocally state that the more technique and strategy one masters, the more engaging and fulfilling Pétanque becomes. The book starts at the absolute novice level and provides sufficient technique and strategy instruction to take a player to a regional-level competition. In Pétanque (like all things French) “function follows form”; throw effortlessly with style and grace, and your game will flourish!
You probably don’t live near an existing Pétanque club – but that’s not necessarily bad. Starting a new group provides the opportunity to establish baseline etiquette and player ethics to create an inclusive and supportive, yet uncompromisingly competitive environment. Without any prior Pétanque experience you can create a start-up group for less than $100 and a few hours of time. You don’t need a formal terrain; play on the types of public spaces reminiscent of the south of France where Pétanque originated: packed dirt public plazas, gravel walking paths, unpaved parking areas, and in America you’re never more than a few miles from the dirt infield of a baseball diamond. These surfaces are great terrains.