While pingpong, that classic pastime, has enjoyed a serious surge in hipness over the past few years, its eyesore of a regulation green surface (with a few notable exceptions) has not. James DeWulf upped the bar on table tennis tables, serving up a combination ping-pong/dining table that debuted to acclaim and delight at May’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
There are a number of theories as to why bocce spread so quickly in America's better backyards in the past decade, but the most compelling is the oenological hypothesis. Bocce, in which grapefruit-size balls are rolled down a finely groomed court, can be played while holding a wine glass with nearly zero spillage. Not for nothing, as they say in Brooklyn, where Italian gentlemen play the game in public parks, but bocce's sudden popularity closely tracks the meteoric rise of domestic wine consumption over the same period.
For many of us, summer means dusting off the outdoor games. If you're looking to upgrade that 1970's badminton kit or your great aunt's croquet set, here are some beautifully crafted games worth investing in.
1. Croquet This heirloom-quality Edenbridge croquet set from UK-based Jaques of London features mallets made from English sports ash and a pine box for storage. ($1,000; jaqueslondon.co.uk)