BOULES . . . AND THE RULES

Boules from left: two chrome-coated leisure boules with different striations; two Obut stainless steel leisure boules with different striations; two Obut competition boules with no striation, diameter 670 mm; two La Franc boules striated, weight 71 gr.
Boules from left: two chrome-coated leisure boules with different striations; two Obut stainless steel leisure boules with different striations; two Obut competition boules with no striation, diameter 670 mm; two La Franc boules striated, weight 71 gr.

Pétanque boules, about the size of baseballs and weighing about 1.5 pounds, are made by welding two steel hemispheres together and covering the resulting ball with metal. They fall into two categories: “leisure” and “competition.”

Inexpensive leisure boules typically are sand or dirt ballast for weight encased by light steel and covered by a thin layer of nickel, copper, or shiny chrome. Higher grade leisure boules are 100% metal and hollow with thicker walls and heavier stainless steel. Leisure boules are “average” in size and weight. They are popular, acceptable for all recreational play, and available for as little as $20-25 for a three-boule set.

Competition boules are fabricated by a manufacturer certified by the international Pétanque federation. Because players have differing strength and hand sizes, as well as personal preferences, competition boules come in a variety of sizes, weights, hardness, and optional engraved striation patterns. Competition boules must be made of metal and may not be ballast-filled. They must have a diameter of 70.5 – 80 millimeters and weigh 650 – 800 grams. The manufacturer’s name or trademark, the model of the boule, its weight in grams, and a unique three-boule set identifier must be engraved on the boule. A player’s name, initials, or logos also may be engraved, but boules may not be modified after machining by the manufacturer.

Within these specifications, players may choose from various steel grades and tempering processes that affect a boule’s rebounding qualities. Some pointers prefer striations for gripping and heavier boules for control, while some shooters prefer lighter, smooth boules without striations for easy release. Many players choose distinctive striation patterns to distinguish their boules from others on the ground or simply for aesthetic reasons.

Competition boules are only required in officially sanctioned tournaments. They are available in sets of three for $90 – $350.

WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY CLUB PLAY
The Club encourages all Oakmonters who may be interested in playing or learning to play pétanque (pay-tonk’) to come to the courts (between Berger and the OVA offices) at 9:45 a.m. on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. The Club has boules to lend while you’re learning, and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone, regardless of experience, is welcome to enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of a simple game that is learned quickly, fun to play, and endlessly fascinating in its deeper levels of execution and strategy. No dues are required – just sign up to be on the Club roster. Club play days are casual friendly games with teams randomly assigned. The courts are also reserved 10 a.m. – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

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