Every year in September, marbles enthusiasts from all over flock to Standing Stone State Park for the National Rolley Hole Marble Tournament.
If you thought nobody plays the game of marbles anymore, you’re wrong. And if you thought it’s just a kid’s game…well wrong again. If you were wrong both times, it’s a good bet you’ve never been to Standing Stone State Park in September. Wild Side Guide Terry Bulger takes us there for the National Rolley Hole Marble Tournament, an annual event attracting people from all over.
Rolley hole is a version of early European marble games like Cherry Pit and Nine-Holes. It is similar to croquet and is especially popular in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia where it is also called “three holes” or just “marbles.” A rolley hole match has two teams of two players each. The 20-by-40-foot course has three holes, each the size of a marble positioned along a center line about eight feet apart. Using only thumb power, players move their marbles around the field, sinking them in order to complete a course of twelve holes and win the game. Players not only try to sink their own marbles in the holes, but also to knock their opponents’ marbles away to keep them from scoring. Skilled players put spin or “English” on their shots to stop a marble short or deflect their opponents’ marbles.
The National Rolley Hole Marble Tournament is the largest of its kind and has been an annual event at the park for more than 30 years. The festival includes kids’ games, marble making, swap meet, tournament play, demonstrations, music and food. Registration is required if you are interested in competing in the tournament. To sign-up please call Standing Stone State Park Office at (931) 823-6347. You can also follow the tournament on Facebook.