World Croquet Federation
Hall of Fame
Brice Cutrer Jones
Brice Jones is an American entrepreneur and winery owner. In the early 1980s Jones built two croquet courts at his winery, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Windsor, California. He built these courts in order to have the proper venue to host a world singles invitational. He directed the courts to be of the highest standard and invited the world's top players to play in his annual tournament, providing them with an all-expense paid tournament which attracted 1,000 final match spectators at its zenith and raised millions of dollars for charity.
The 1986 Sonoma-Cutrer tournament was the first ever international croquet tournament. It was truly ground-breaking in that it brought the world's best players together to compete in a high-level and professionally-produced event. It was also the first time in the history of croquet that players from several different countries could compete together. The Sonoma-Cutrer event was held annually until 2004 when Brice sold the business. It has since been replaced by the North American Open which is, inevitably, of main interest to American players.
Sonoma-Cutrer exposed American croquet players to top-level association play for the first time and led to a revitalization of the American croquet scene. Prior to this, American players had very little exposure to Association Croquet and the vast majority of them played only USCA rules croquet. Brice Jones was directly responsible for a quantum leap in the level of American croquet.
Brice hired Neil Spooner to produce the annual tournament and work at the winery. Spooner was a great mentor for players that would go on to excel and play on American international teams. Brice also directly influenced the building of croquet courts at Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley. This indirectly provided a home for Jerry Stark who became the long-time croquet pro and also served as a mentor for many American players.
In short, Brice Jones was a seminal figure in the history of American croquet. It is doubtful that the United States would be in the MacRobertson Shield competition without his contribution to the development of American croquet in general and "International Rules" (as AC is popularly known in the USA) in particular.