Peter Axelrod in the circle, focusing before pointing.
Peter Axelrod in the circle, focusing before pointing.

The Federation of Pétanque USA (FPUSA) is the American affiliate of the Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (FIPJP), the international governing body of the sport with over 600,000 members world-wide. The number of recreational pétanque players dwarfs official club membership, however, with an estimated 10-12 million players world-wide and over 50,000 players in the U.S. In addition to Europe, pétanque is particularly popular in Asia and its popularity is expanding rapidly in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

FPUSA is a non-profit federation of 52 affiliated clubs with 2200 members whose primary objectives are the growth, promotion, and organization of pétanque in the U.S. FPUSA clubs are divided into seven regions. Each region is represented by at least one Counselor, with representation proportional to regional membership.

Pétanque is exceptionally popular in Northern California, which is the smallest of the seven regions but has the greatest concentration of pétanque clubs. The Oakmont Pétanque Club, celebrating its 25th year in 2021, is a recreational club not affiliated with FPUSA, but several members are also members of nearby FPUSA clubs in Sonoma, Petaluma, and San Rafael. Since clubs sponsor both friendly play and open tournaments not requiring club or FPUSA membership in addition to FPUSA-sanctioned competitions, the opportunities for playing pétanque in Northern California are abundant.

Playing pétanque is easy, but like most sports playing it well requires focus. By rule, a player whose turn it is to throw has one minute to do so. Alec Stone Sweet of FPUSA urges intentional use of that time. “Never point or shoot until you feel ready to do so,” Sweet advises, “get balanced and comfortable” in the circle, both physically and mentally. “If you miss a shot or play badly, step out of the round, take a deep breath; give yourself a chance to rethink what you are going to do.” Sweet agrees with the maxim that throwing too quickly will almost always yield sloppy 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 beside the Shuffleboard courts) at 9:45 am on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have boules to lend, the game is easy to learn, and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone interested, regardless of experience, is welcome to join in. No Club membership fees 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 am – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

With Gallic shrugs and friendly banter, Barbara Newton, Max Hinchman, Ellean Huff, and Gordon Blumenfeld admire a particularly good throw right to the cochonnet.

Pi’i Edwards points as Gordon Blumenfeld, Jeff Clemence, Cindi Clemence and Jim Knapp look on during a recent Wednesday morning match.


Oakmont’s Own More Joy

Back again by popular demand, Oakmont’s beloved hometown group with songs from our past that will make you laugh and cry in the same concert. More Joy is a deep and delightful quartet of artists that weave amazing harmonies throughout a broad selection of folk, country, blues and beyond.

Comedy Show at OAK

Laugh along with Steph and Tom Clark and San Franciscan Dan St. Paul about married life and getting older

Ghostly Night

Boomers Ghostly Night with the Neon Playboys – October 29 at Berger Center at 5:00 with music at 6:30