Pétanque Club 6/1/2019

Petanque Banner

Don McPherson

LEARNING PÉTANQUE

Pétanque is a fun, social game popular worldwide that people of all skill and physical ability levels can play. If you’re interested in playing or learning, come to the court (between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank) at 9:45 AM on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have boules to lend. No membership fees are required. Just sign up to be on the roster. The court is also reserved 10 AM – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and is otherwise available to all Oakmont residents having their own boules. View the Pétanque Club webpage (OVA login required) at: https://oakmontvillage.com/article/category/clubs/petanque/.

ALL ABOUT BOULES

Pétanque is played as singles (head-to-head, three boules each), doubles (two on a team, three boules each) or triples (three on a team, two boules each).

The Pétanque boule is a hard, hollow metal ball. Inexpensive leisure boules are shiny, chrome-plated thin steel filled with dirt or sand for weight. They are perfectly adequate for recreational play but do not meet Pétanque Federation standards for official competitions. Somewhat more expensive but reasonably priced generic boules meet Federation size and weight standards but are not certified for competition. Competition-certified boules are more expensive and required for participation in many pétanque club-sponsored and all Federation-sanctioned tournaments.

Players have a variety of choices to make when buying boules depending chiefly on hand size and weight comfort. Generic and competition-certified boules are fabricated from carbon, stainless or nickel chromium stainless steel bars and finished with nickel-chrome, matt chrome or zinc multi-layer alloy plating to resist rust and corrosion. Official specifications require boule diameter to be between 70.5 and 80 millimeters (2.8 – 3.5 inches) and weight between 650 and 800 grams (1.43 – 1.76 pounds). There are also technical specifications for hardness. Most players throw boules between 690 and 720 grams in weight.

Frequently Asked Question: How can you tell them apart? Depending on their composition, tempering and finishing, boules vary in appearance from shiny silver to various shades of steel-grey to almost black and, occasionally, copper. They can be smooth, grooved or patterned and there are many groove and pattern choices. Competition-certified boules must be imprinted with the manufacturer’s trademark, weight in grams, and a unique serial number.

There are over a dozen Federation-certified boule manufacturers. Jean Blanc invented the modern steel boule in France in 1927 and his company manufactured JB trademarked boules, still in wide use, until 2012. Obut, headquartered in France, is the largest manufacturer with an 80% market share, having purchased the JB brand and many others including ELTE, Noire and Okaro. The second largest manufacturer is La Franc, headquartered in Thailand.

An excellent guide to boule choice, from inexpensive leisure to top-of-the-line competition-certified, can be found at petanqueamerica.com and in “All About Petanque” at petanque.wordpress.com.

Top: Two Obut competition-certified boules – patterned (left) and grooved (right).
Bottom: Two Obut generic boules in different groove patterns.

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