Buying boules for groups

This post talks about what to do when you need to buy a lot of boules at once. You might want the boules for a new club, for a rec center, or for classes that you’re going to teach. Money is an issue, so you’re looking for good-quality but affordable leisure boules.

Our advice is NOT to try to get individualized sets of three boules for each player. In this situation, your best strategy is to buy boules in only two designs — smooth boules and grooved boules. In each game, one team uses the smooth boules and the other team uses the grooved boules.

  • With only two designs, new players can more easily tell which boules belong to which team. If you are teaching a class, the students won’t be spending massive amounts of time trying to figure out which boules belong to which players.
  • With only two designs, boules of the same type are interchangeable. The teams in your group can play with either two or three boules and use all of the available boules. If a boule gets lost, it is easy to work around the loss or to replace the lost boule.

This is why Petanque America sells a set of six boules— three smooth boules and three two-grooved boules. You can simply buy as many of these sets as you need.

The situation is more complicated when you want to buy many sets of boules where every 3-boule set is unique. With leisure boules, there is a limited number of ways to distinguish different sets—

  • the number (one, two, three, four) and spacing (wide, narrow) of the grooves
  • the color of the boules (chrome silver or polished gold)
  • a color that you add to the grooves

New players can see differences in color more easily than differences in grooves, so putting color in the grooves is the ideal strategy. Unfortunately, almost nothing sticks to a chrome boule. Acrylic paint (in “paint pens”) flakes out of chrome grooves almost immediately. Your best option is different-colored permanent marker pens (“magic markers”). A marker with a middle-sized chisel point works well and is quick and easy to use. Refreshing the color in the groves is a snap.

Here are the best sets of leisure boules for groups. In general, you can expect to pay about $5 per boule, or $15 per 3-boule set. Plus shipping.

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