The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. IV, Issue 31 - August 22, 2005 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   Bocce product of the week
•   Bocce news & readers' feedback
•   Non bocce product of the week
•   Photos of the week
•   Tournament update
Notes from the publisher
The weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 4, Issue #31 - August 22, 2005
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2005
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844

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Hello again my weekly correspondence pals,

I had a wonderful visit with the good people at Gotcha Bocce in Louisville, KY. See this week's photos for pictures and details. Under the "It's a small world category," a couple of former high school students of mine (Methuen High in Massachusetts) who've relocated to Louisville were on hand to greet me and play a little bocce too - an added bonus to what turned out to be a fabulous trip to a wonderful bocce venue. You're gonna love the photos...


Joy of Bocce 2nd Edition

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Bocce news & readers' feedback
{Publisher's comments in brackets...}

Jean Anthony (Bath, Maine) writes...

"Our local small Senior Center has just begun to play Bocce. The members are very keen to build an indoor portable Bocce court to use on the wooden floor in the main hall. Preferably by the least expensive means possible! Our severe winters do not allow an outdoor one. The portable ones we have found so far have been for installation in grass only.

Any advice you can give would be most appreciated."

{Chris Pfeiffer of has devised a way of setting up his courts without staking them into the ground. Contact him via his web site or email Click the logo to the right for more info on Backyard Bocce's portable courts.

Also, you might consider laying down carpet and then setting up boundaries (we've used 6" by 6" by 8 foot timbers). When the day's play is done, stack the timbers in a corner and roll up the carpet. This requires some able bodied seniors who can set up and break down the courts. }


Last week Bill Wenzel wrote...

"We are still investigating putting in some courts here at Meramec Bluffs retirement community. One of the companies has suggested gluing synthetic turf to a concrete base as opposed to putting it over compacted limestone. Do you have an opinion regards that type base?"

Boccemon Tom McNutt, who is expert in all phases of court installation offers this advice...

"In our opinion it is a bad idea to glue down synthetic turf as most of it needs replacing in 7 to 10 years. Do not glue it down unless you want to spend a lot of time or money to get the glue up in a few years when you replace the material.

Also, what is the advantage of gluing down? Most turf worth using has either a heavy backing or it uses a sand/rubber fill to keep it flat. Turf glued to cement will likely tear when a ball lands too hard.

This can be an expensive mistake and should be avoided! We recommend building in the style Tony Riconosciuto uses. Get your slab level and about one foot wider than you need for the court. Lay out the carpet or turf. Place 4" x 6" on edge along the turf edge to make up the perimeter. Using a drill/roto-hammer attach 1/2" or 3/4" "all thread" bolts through at appropriate distances along the perimeter (every 2 feet for example).

With this method you can stretch and 'clamp' down the material and when it needs replacing simply remove the nuts and washers and reattach the new turf without a bunch of clean up. Recess the nuts if they pose a hazard. We are referring lots of clients to good installers around the country. Let folks know that although we specialize in natural oyster surfacing, we work with people on many surfaces."


Last week I wrote that Neil Krane of Melrose, MA invited me to do a bocce demonstration/exhibition at his new court.

I responded that I would be delighted and that I am on a mission to promote this game. I noted that when I do demonstrations I always start with the disclaimer that "I am not a great player. My contribution is that I interviewed the great players and assembled the information in an easy to read book."

This statement proved nearly clairvoyant this week during my trip to Gotcha Bocce. Just about everybody in the Greater Louisville area beat me...a rather humbling experience.


Monica Burke (a2zMagnets) says...

"I make magnets with Bocce themes and sell them on eBay...I just started 'officially' playing Bocce this year - the league here in Portland, Oregon has grown over the last 3 years to 24 teams."

{Check the magnets out at }


Dick Chirico asks about foul lines on a short court...

"Am building a basic fun court in a limited space. Would like your input as to foul lines, etc. It's 10'x 50'. Or would I be better to play from just one end? Thanks for your time."

{Ten by fifty is small, but I've seen smaller. You can play from both ends...I like the foul lines to be at about 10 feet, but you can put them closer. The ones at Gotcha Bocce in Louisville, KY where I visited this week were less than 5 feet. You could go 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 - experiment a little before you mark the lines permanently. If hitters will use a run-up approach, you'll need more than 5 or 6 feet. Please send photos of the finished product.}

Photos of the week
Gotcha Bocce

At first glance I thought I was on the set of “Honey, I Shrunk the Bocce.” The gray carpeted courts at Gotcha Bocce (Louisville, KY) were too short, too narrow. The bocce balls were too small. And wasn’t that a table tennis ball they were using for a pallino?

On closer inspection, things got worse. The courts aren’t level – you play slightly uphill in one direction, down in the other. And the sub-flooring isn’t uniform, requiring players to hone the skill of “reading the gray.”

But there is a method to the madness hereabouts. The six well-constructed and attractive courts (custom built by the Kentucky-Indiana Lumber Co.) are situated upstairs from a hockey rink and make the best use of the available space. Since the courts are a tad short (four are 70-footers and two are almost 60-footers) and a bit narrow (8 feet), it makes sense to play with smaller balls (90 mm rather than the oft recommended 107 mm).

These courts are challenging and great fun to play. I participated in a tourney one day, and competed with some of the regulars on another. Each court has its own peculiar nuances of play, giving those with “court knowledge” an advantage. After a brief learning curve, however, they become user friendly for most. The first day I was AWFUL. But, always a quick study, the following day I was just BAD.

Introducing the game to legions of new bocce converts, owners Bob Valvano and Chip Sobel have done a marvelous job via their well thought-out venue and smart, scaled down game. They’ve fostered genteel bocce, dominated by smooth touch and good pointing. There are no hard throwing raffas here. In fact, if you knock the pallino out of the court, your opponent is awarded three points. In the 7 weeks the venue has been open, it had only happened once (I did it twice in two nights – in the process scoring more points for the other team than I did for my own).

Valvano, a highly successful college and professional basketball coach, has a bocce style that reflects his hoop background. Any ball that hits the backboard without first striking another ball is a “dead” ball (this good rule is catching on all over the country). Valvano naturally calls the shot a “bocce air ball.”

He and Sobel are having a blast with the sport, often playing in the leagues they run. Their infectious enthusiasm makes them a pair of Pied Pipers of the pallino. They’ve even developed their own bocce officiating signals, some of which are a real “hoot” (see photos).

And to top things off, Gotcha Bocce serves good Italian food. Angelina's Café, named after Valvano’s late mother, features family recipes.

The comments from the players were consistently positive. They love the sport. They Love the food. And they LOVE the venue.

“I’m so glad these guys (Valvano & Sobel) introduced me to bocce.”

"I like how easy it is and how friendly it is."

“It’s a great new game for us. Inexpensive too – you don’t need things like high end golf clubs or designer bowling shoes.”

In the two days I played at Gotcha Bocce everybody beat me – the tourney field, the owners, their children, even the guy who operates the Zamboni downstairs, but I never enjoyed myself more. I can’t ever remember having fun losing in basketball or baseball. Valvano & Sobel have reached down and grabbed the essence of sport by the scruff of the neck and shook some sense into it. Gotcha Bocce play is for gentle exercise and recreation. It fosters friendship and good-natured competition. I witnessed more smiles, laughs and joy per square foot than in any sports venue I’ve ever been in, and… a life-long jock … I’ve been in a lot of ‘em.

If you are in the Gotcha Bocce neighborhood, you need to get there and see for yourself.

If you are within driving distance, gas up the auto and take a ride.

If you are at a great distance, get on the Gotcha Bocce email list and plan to participate in a tournament or other event there.


Gotcha Bocce, 1701 UPS Drive, is open from 11 a.m. to approximately 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-10 p.m. Sunday. Call (502) 326-5555 or e-mail for more information.

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
Bocce Court Maintenance Tools

I’ve seen all kinds of home-made court maintenance brushes and scrapers. Two things have always struck me about them. 1 – they look like they are home-made and 2 – they tend to be HEAVY.

7' Drag Brush

Manufactured by Lee Tennis (makers of the Har-Tru surface), this court maintenance tool created for tennis courts works exceptionally well for bocce courts.

The 7-foot drag brush is light-weight and, even if you have a 13- or 14-foot wide court, you can smooth it over with just two passes. This is quick enough to do between games without players standing around waiting very long. Bristles are 4 ½ inches of synthetic fibers and the strong but light-weight frame is aluminum. Retails for $139.95 plus shipping.


This strangely named 30” wide device is actually two implements in one. It is an all-aluminum combination tool for scarifying, leveling, and removing loose court material.

Strong and sturdy, the tool is light enough to handle with ease and is excellent for spreading new material during top-dressing. The concave shape of the 30” wide blade allows the tool to “float” along the surface without digging in. Use the serrated edge to scrape material from high spots, then flip the tool over to rake and smooth that spot and drag the loose material to fill in a lower point.

Retails for $50.95 plus shipping.

Besides a heavy roller, the lute/scarifier and 7-foot drag brush should be all the maintenance tools a bocce court owner needs.

Click for more on lute/scarifier and 7' drag brush...

Non bocce product of the week

Ever thought of having your own home bar? Check out our new affiliate...indoor and outdoor bars available.

Home Bars

Click to view Great Home Bars...

Tournament update
{chronological order}

Please - anyone running a tournament - do me a favor - put a notice near your tourney bracket board informing players that they can go to and "opt in" for my FREE Ezine on bocce. Click the logo to the right to opt in if you do not already receive this ezine every Monday.


Lots of tournament action listed - please consider designating someone as "official event photographer" and directing that person to send snapshots for us to reproduce as photos of the week. Our readers love seeing bocce action from around the continent.


August 22, 2005 - California - San Martin - 5-star Auberge Resort, The Lodge at CordeValle. Fund-raiser to benefit the El Camino Hospital Foundation. Contact Gigi Lugonja @ 650-988-7691.


August 26, 2005 - Massachusetts - Boston - North End FIERI Bocce Night (Commercial St.) beginning at 5:00 PM. Visit .


August 26 - 28, 2005 - Ohio - Wickliffe - Wickliffe Italian & American Club. 4 person team entry fee $120 - contact Wayne Farinacci at 440-461-6471 or Gino Latessa at 216-789-6393.


August 27, 2005 - California - Crockett - ABA Singles Raffa Championship. Contact @ Dick Gomez 707-554-9916 or


August 27, 2005 - California - Sacramento - East Portal Open – 4 Players - Sector Championship. Contact Rick Wagstaff @ 209-296-6151.


September 10-11, 2005 - California - Monterey - Santa Rosalia Tournament - Open – 4 person teams - Monterey Bocce Club Charter House - does any reader know the contact person for this event? Please REPLY.


September 16 - 18 - Canada - Ontario - Windsor - Ciociaro Club - 3 person teams - $6,000.00 guaranteed first place. Contact Remo Incitti @ 519-965-7799 or 519-969-4825.


September 17, 2005 - California - Los Gatos - Campo di Bocce - raffa men singles (ranking) - contact Ben Musolf @ 408-395-7650.


September 18 - 25, 2005 - Michigan – Orion - World Bocce Championships – Palazzo di Bocce, 4291 S. Lapeer Rd, Orion, MI 48359. Contact Bryan Sanborn at 248-371-9987 x13 or


September 18, 2005 - California - San Mateo - Open – 4 person team - 1 must be a woman - Contact Adriano Undorte @ 650-591-3318.


September 24, 2005 - California - San Francisco - XXX Italian/American Games - Raffa – 3 person team - contact Alvaro Bettucchi @ 650-871-9278.


September 24, 2005 - Californai - Martinez - Open - Battle Of The Sexes, 2 person (Men’s winner vs. Women’s winner). Contact Tracy Benetti or Jessica Benetti @ 925-372-5327.


September 24 & 25, 2005 - Maryland - Towson, Baltimore County - 4 person teams - proceeds benefit Baltimore Columbus Parade - contact Dino Bosso @ 410-536-0886.


October 1, 2005 - California - San Rafael - Open – 4 person team - Marin Bocce Federation, 550 B Street. Contact Diana Pellegrini @ 415-454-4483.


October 8, 2005 - California - San Francisco - Volo – 3 person team. Contact Alessandro Bettucchi @ 650-583-9936.


October 8, 2005 - California - Los Gatos - Campo di Bocce - Raffa – 3 Players - contact Bill Schlaefer @ 408- 379-9409.

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