In 2006, a close-knit group of adventurers set up their tents on a lush hillside by Lake Chautauqua in New York’s southwestern region during the Memorial Day weekend. Amidst the natural beauty, they cleared a small area in the tall grass for camping and relaxing. It was here, amidst laughter, good food, and starry skies, that a new game was born. Using a lawn mower and a set of bocce balls, they creatively crafted tiny golf-like holes in the meadow, sparking the inception of what they playfully called ‘bocce golf’.
As the tradition continued into 2007, the enthusiasts returned, this time bringing sand and an even larger group, eager more for the game than the camping experience. They enhanced the makeshift course with sand-filled areas, a twist to the conventional game of golf where such traps are usually avoided. In this version, precision landing in the sand was a mark of skill, minimizing the unpredictability of the terrain. That weekend, they further polished the initial rule set, scribbling down a more formalized rulebook on a makeshift cardboard piece. A key decision made was to play the game in duos.
The game’s third annual meet saw an innovative addition: the first water hazard, integrating a penalty challenge for any ball landing in the water.
2009 marked a significant milestone as the game ventured off its original hillside for the first time. It found its way to a backyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where two of the original founders hosted a small-scale tournament, expanding its reach.
2010 witnessed the game’s international debut in Port Hope, Ontario, thanks to Canadian enthusiasts who had participated in the previous year’s event.
In 2011, the game’s versatility shone through at its first beach tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The entirely sandy landscape at the AC Invitational dramatically altered the gameplay, showcasing the game’s adaptability.
Spring 2012 brought a pivotal change. The game, which had begun as a fusion of bocce and golf, had evolved into something more fundamental and raw. Embracing this evolution, it was aptly renamed “Stones.” The introduction of varied-sized “stones” replaced the standard bocce balls, offering a better fit for the diverse landscapes where the game was played.
The inaugural public Stones course was established at the Southern Tier Brewing Company grounds in fall 2012, marking a clear shift from a hobby of friends, to a sport, beloved by all who play.