About American Petanque

The purpose of American Petanque is to support and promote petanque in the United States. Our Facebook page is americaine.petanque. To contact us leave a comment. Our mission is…

To support American petanque groups
…via the American Petanque web site.

To make it easy to find information about petanque
…via the All About Petanque web site.

To help Americans to find American petanque groups and places to play
…via the American Petanque Directory.

To provide an entry-point to petanque resources on the web
…via the Petanque Portal USA.


Youth petanque programs

A few years ago there was a brief flurry of interest in the USA in starting youth petanque programs in high schools. In my opinion, that isn’t an effective way to promote petanque in the USA, and the interest in trying to do it didn’t last very long.

In any event, as I was doing some research on the topic, I discovered that Australia had experienced a similar wave of interest in 2005. At that time, they created an organization and a website devoted to Junior Petanque. One resource on that website is a 30-page brochure called Promoting and Developing Junior Petanque: Guidelines for Volunteers. It covers a lot of areas, including insuring volunteers, privacy issues involved with photographing children, and much more. If interest in youth programs ever revives in the USA, it would be a useful resource for us. It can be found and downloaded HERE.

How the FPUSA works

revised 2022-05-08
I’ve been curious about how FPUSA officers are elected, and about how the FPUSA works in general.  I found answers to my questions on the FPUSA website, in the FPUSA constitution and bylaws.

FPUSA organizational structure
The organizational structure of the FPUSA has three layers.

FPUSA board of directors
national officers
(elected by club presidents)
regional counselors
(elected by club presidents)
clubs & club presidents
individual member

Individual members
For a discussion of FPUSA individual membership and its benefits, see THIS.

Club presidents
Different clubs elect their presidents in different ways. Most clubs hold direct elections in which the club members vote for the president. Others elect club board members who then select the president and other club officers.

Regions and regional counselors (representatives)
The USA is divided up into seven regions. (For a map of the seven FPUSA regions, see below.) The club presidents in each region elect one (or possibly two, depending on the number of individual members in the region) regional counselors to be their representatives on the FPUSA board of directors. (For the current regional representatives, see THIS.) Elections for regional counselors are held each year in November, and regional counselors serve for two year. Elections for half of the regional counselors are held in even-numbered years, and for the other half in odd-numbered years. As of 2022 there are 13 regional representatives: Northeast (1), Mid-America (2), Southeast (3), Central (1), Southwest (2), Northern California (2), and Northwest (2).

National officers and the FPUSA board of directors
The FPUSA is governed by a Board of Directors. (For the current Board, see THIS.) The Board consists of two groups— regional counselors and national officers. There are five national officers— President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and National Sports Director. National officers are elected each year in November and serve for two years.

  • Elections for Vice-President, Secretary, and National Sports Director are held in even-numbered years.
  • Elections for President and for Treasurer are held in odd-numbered years.

The Board of Directors holds a regular Annual Meeting once a year, and may meet in special meetings on an as-needed basis.  Unless the meeting is closed to the public (which the President may determine is appropriate), any FPUSA member may attend any meeting of the Board of Directors.  Minutes of the meetings are taken by the Secretary and distributed to Board Members after the meetings.  The Annual Meeting typically takes place in conjunction with the FPUSA World Championship Qualification Tournament.  In 2015, that took place September 12/13 at the Fresno Petanque Club.

FPUSA national officers
In order to be FPUSA President, a person must have been a member of the Board of Directors (in some other capacity) for at least 3 years, and an FPUSA member for at least 5 years. For Vice-President, the corresponding requirements are 2 years and 4 years, respectively. And so on for the other regional and national offices.

The Board of Directors creates and supervises a number of standing committees whose job is to discharge specific functions. Some of the national officers chair standing committees.

  • The National Sport Committee is a 5-person committee headed by the National Sport Director. The responsibilities of the National Sport Director are quite broad. They include responsibility for the rules, administration of the umpire corps, running regional and national competitions, handling tournament hosting bids, and promotion of the game (including youth development and outreach).
  • The Discipline Committee is responsible for processing disciplinary complaints and actions. The chair of the committee is appointed by the President each year.
  • The Communications Committee is chaired by the Secretary of the Board. It is responsible for official communication among the Board of Directors, as well as official communications with the FPUSA member clubs and the FIPJP (the international federation). It is responsible for publishing the annual newsletter, maintaining the FPUSA website, and advertising.
  • In addition to the standing committees, the Board may create special committees for specific purposes. In 2018, for example, a special committee was created for strategic planning.

FPUSA regions and affiliated clubs
In December 2015 the map of the FPUSA regions and affiliated clubs looked like this.

Here’s a more detailed version of the map.

In 2016 FPUSA produced a new map that assigns every state to a region. The colors indicate the region. Stripes indicate a state that has at least one FPUSA-affiliated club, while dots indicate that the state contains no FPUSA clubs.

In 2020 the map looked like this. See the “Regions and Clubs” page on the FPUSA web site.

Is the FPUSA growing?
The FPUSA annual magazine for 2012-2013 published a chart on showing membership data for the 9 years 2003-2013. It shows that regarding total FPUSA individual memberships—

  • In the USA there are fewer than 1800 FPUSA members.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, total FPUSA membership increased by about 650 people.

Regarding FPUSA individual membership retention rates and turnover, in that nine-year period—

  • FPUSA recorded a total of almost 3000 (2915) new members.
  • For every player that joined FPUSA and continued as a member, more than three players joined and then dropped out.
  • More players (2261) joined the FPUSA and then dropped out, than the total current membership of the FPUSA (1751).

The chart shows the change in the number of clubs for each year, but not the number of new clubs each year. As a result, we can’t tell anything about the retention rate or turnover at the club level.

For 2008 the change in the number of clubs should be -2, not -1.FPUSA_membership_chart

As of 2022 the number of clubs in each region is: Northeast (4), Mid-America (5), Southeast (12), Central (5), Southwest (6), Northern California (8), and Northwest (7), for a total of 47. Compare that to 52 affiliated clubs in 2015.

What are the benefits of FPUSA membership?


In this post we look at the benefits of FPUSA membership— that is, of individual membership and club affiliation. (Clubs are said to be “affiliated with”, not “members of”, the FPUSA.)

At the outset let’s note that FPUSA membership is really cheap— $15 a year for membership through an affiliated club, and $20 a year for an at-large “individual” membership.

Benefits of FPUSA membership

  1. FPUSA membership is required for participation in FPUSA regional and national championships.
  2. FPUSA membership is often required for participation in play and competitions in other countries. Ernesto Santos points out—

    As an FPUSA member you get an international license that allows you to play around the world. In almost all other countries, you will need to show your license before being allowed to play in an affiliated club’s tournament (or even casual play). Many times they will collect that license before the start of a tourney and only give it back when you leave (provided you didn’t misbehave). If you don’t have a license you may be required to buy a day-license on the spot. And this holds true even for non-sanctioned open tournaments like La Marseillaise.

Benefits of FPUSA club affiliation

There are no club-level dues for FPUSA affiliation, but there is a minimum-membership requirement. FPUSA requires affiliated clubs to have at least 8 members for the first year of affiliation and at least 12 members during succeeding years. FPUSA will not “dis-affiliate” a club that cannot meet the 12-member requirement (the club can renew its affiliation and remain on the insurance policy), but the club’s voting rights are suspended until the minimum-membership requirement is met.

That means that

  • If your club has fewer than 8 dues-paying FPUSA members, long-term FPUSA affiliation is not an option.
  • If your club has at least 8 dues-paying FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is basically free.

Liability insurance

For a club, the primary benefit of FPUSA affiliation is the liability insurance that comes with that affiliation. If your club holds an event, and if someone gets injured during that event, then this insurance will protect your club and members from any financial damages for which they might legally be held liable.

  • FPUSA doesn’t provide any information about its liability insurance on its web site. US Lacrosse, however, does, and that information shows that liability insurance is a more complicated affair than you probably imagine. The moral of the story: when your club gets its FPUSA insurance document, read it carefully.

Your local Parks & Recreation Department may require your club to have liability insurance as a precondition for holding an event at one of its facilities. When a club joins FPUSA, it receives a certificate of insurance that should satisfy that requirement. Further certificates are available from FPUSA upon request.

Non-profit status

FPUSA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Affiliated clubs (meeting certain organizational requirements) may receive a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status through the FPUSA without having to file their own separate application with the IRS. This can be useful when setting up club accounts and dealing with state incorporation and taxation authorities.

New club benefits

During its first year of affiliation, a new club may be reimbursed by the FPUSA for up to $100 for purchases of petanque-related equipment— guest boules, playing circles, prize medals and trophies, club banners and signs, etc. During its second year of affiliation, a club is eligible for a 50% reimbursement of up to $100 on $200 in purchases.

Benefits to the sport of petanque

When an FPUSA national champion team travels to the FIPJP world championships, the FPUSA assists with the cost of travel. The money comes from entry fees for the national championship tournament (the international qualifier tournament); in addition 20% of FPUSA income from membership dues goes toward the travel costs. For any given trip, that amount might be somewhere between $500 and $1000 per person.

The bottom line

Clubs with fewer than 8 FPUSA members do not qualify for FPUSA affiliation. If such a club wants liability insurance, it will need to pay for it out of its own local club dues. Depending on the club’s location, such insurance may or may not be available and affordable.

For clubs with 8+ FPUSA members, FPUSA affiliation is a way to obtain free liability insurance.

For a club large enough to consider becoming a corporate entity, FPUSA can help in securing 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Warning! Before you do this, make sure you understand what it entails. It may result in FPUSA acquiring legal ownership of your club’s name, logo, etc.

For the serious individual player, FPUSA membership is required in order to compete in FPUSA-sanctioned tournaments at the regional and national level. In other countries, it may also be required in order to compete in any kind of competition.

For the casual player, your FPUSA membership helps keep your club eligible for the liability insurance that comes with FPUSA affiliation. (If you belong to an FPUSA-affiliated club that has its own, local club membership fees, part of those fees is forwarded to FPUSA as individual membership fees.) Your FPUSA dues also help defray the travel costs for Team USA to go to the world championships, but not by very much— only $3 of your $15 goes to support Team USA. If you really want to help, donate to the team’s Facebook fundraiser.

Petanque club websites on wordpress

WordPress.com is a great blogging platform. We use it to host this blog, of course, as well as Petanque Portal USA,  All About Petanque, and The Rules of Petanque.

In this post I want to talk about wordpress.com as a place to host a web site for a petanque club.

In our opinion, every petanque club should have a web site. And in our opinion, wordpress.com is the best place to host it. (Learn how to make a web page for your club.)


WordPress is free, well-established, and easy to use. It is powerful and offers many sophisticated features— but it doesn’t force you to use them if you don’t want to.

  • If all you want to do is to put up a single cover page with information about when and where you play, you can do it.
  • If you want to allow people to send you email — but NOT to expose your email address to spammers at the same time — you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to request confirmation of members’ plans to attend the next get-together, you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to post (and automatically send email) with notifications of upcoming events, or notifications of sudden cancellation of events due to bad weather, you can do it.
  • If you want to be able to post pictures of your club’s last tournament or picnic, you can do it.

If you are considering creating a WordPress web site for your petanque club, here is a small collection of links to the WordPress pages of other clubs. Skim through the collection, see what other clubs are doing, and see if this is something that might work for your own club. (Some clubs pay a small annual fee for a web address that omits “wordpress” and ends with .just .org or .com.)

Clubs in the United States

Clubs in other countries

Surfing the American Petanque Directory

Lately we’ve been working on the American Petanque Directory (APD) , adding pictures and navigation links to the pages for the states.


Together, the pictures and the navigation links make it easy to surf through the Directory, viewing petanque terrains in different states. This is pretty entertaining, but it also has a practical use.

We’re interested in techniques that can be used to build a case for constructing a petanque terrain in a public park. (See the post on petanque in public parks.) It is pretty clear that any pitch to, say, a director of a city or county Parks and Recreation (P&R) Department needs to include pictures. Seeing petanque terrains literally gives a P&R director a picture of what he is being asked to build. And showing him that other cities have built petanque terrains assures him that it isn’t a crazy idea — other cities have done it, and done it successfully. This is why documents written to promote petanque in public parks invariably include an album of pictures. See the appendices to

Our hope is that the APD can be used as a virtual, online album when making a case for constructing a petanque terrain in a public space. The APD is easy to access — a P&R director can pull it up instantly on his office PC. And the vivid full-color photos have the immediacy of the 7 o’clock news. The Directory is clearly “live” — it’s obvious that you’re seeing pictures of clubs that are very much alive, active, and thriving right now.

Seeing petanque terrains in other cities might even suggest to a P&R director that his city is missing a trend. “Other cities are building petanque courts. Maybe we should think about building one too.”

Three models for successful public petanque courts

Related posts — What to look for when you’re looking for places to play

I’m interested in identifying “critical success factors” for public petanque courts. One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seem to be three different models of usage for public petanque courts.

The first is the classical village square model, which is where petanque was developed and became popular in France. In this model, the petanque terrain is located in the center of a busy public place — the village square or perhaps a small park. The area is surrounded by businesses, especially restaurants and cafes. Because of the businesses and cafes the area has a lot of foot traffic. People meet there to chat on lunch breaks and after work. Despite being located in the heart of New York City, Bryant Park fits this model. In a way, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the village square model is an essentially urban model. It works because the petanque court is located right in the middle of an area where people live, work, eat, drink, meet, and socialize.

The second model is the rec center model. Many cities or counties have created recreation centers and large recreation parks. The parks typically contain multiple recreation facilities — a rec center for basketball, badminton, and gymnastics classes, a weight room, a swimming pool, one or more baseball diamonds, football fields and soccer fields, tennis courts, perhaps a volleyball court. There are jungle gyms for the younger kids to play on, and shaded benches where moms can sit and chat and watch the younger kids while their older siblings practice team sports. There are water fountains and restrooms. There may be outdoor grills and small shelters with picnic tables, so that the whole extended family can come for a big family Sunday-afternoon grill and picnic.

Above all, there is lots of parking. Where the village square model is an essentially urban model, depending on foot traffic from people who are already in the area, the rec center model is an essentially suburban model, based on the rec center acting as a magnet for people who want to use the recreation facilities that it provides. People aren’t already there. They come to it, sometimes from serious distances, and they come in cars. That’s why parking is an important component of the rec center model. Another important amenity is lighting that can allow afternoon play to continue on into the evening. This can be essential to the survival of some petanque clubs in winter, with winter’s shorter days.

A good example of this model are the petanque courts in the Virginia Highlands Park (photo, above), a vast recreation facility in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.

There is a third model, which I call the amenity model. Developers of housing developments or vacation trailer parks or camp sites sometimes provide petanque courts — well, in the United States, bocce courts — as amenities. Tucked into a quiet corner of the grounds of a high-rise or a mobile-home park or a retirement community or a large camp ground, you will sometimes find a swimming pool, perhaps a shuffleboard court, and perhaps a bocce court. A good example of this model are the petanque courts at Park West Mobile Homes Estates, a retirement community in Tucson, Arizona.

I’m not sure how successful the amenity model is in the USA. There certainly is a scattering of “amenity” bocce courts in this country, but I’m not sure how heavily the courts are actually used (although I understand that petanque courts are popular as amenities at many nudist resorts). But in France, at least judging from the old photos that I’ve seen on the Petanque America website, petanque is a standard part of the standard family vacation in August. Camp grounds often provide a petanque terrain, and when a dedicated terrain is not available, families play on the open dirt fields of the camp ground.

How to approach the Parks&Rec Dept. about support for petanque in your public park

Suppose you’ve decided to approach the Parks and Recreation Department about support for petanque in your local parks.

A wonderful example of a public petanque facility — Paggi Square in Austin, Texas, designed with input from the Heart of Texas Pétanque Club.

The first step in the process should be to develop a clear and detailed idea for the proposal that you want to present to parks&rec department. Write your ideas down in outline form. Eventually, with luck, this outline will be the basis of your proposal document. As you write the outline, ask yourself the kind of probing questions that soon will be put to you. Have you explained clearly what you want, and why, and why you think the parks&rec department should support it?

The first time that you meet with the department’s representative(s), he/she/they will probably never have heard of petanque. Your first meeting will go more smoothly if you have a printed introductory document to give them. It should provide a short executive summary of information about petanque, and about who plays the game and why. The purpose of the introductory document is to provide both information and reassurance… to provide concrete proof that petanque is something real, something that many people actually do play, and something that other cities support by providing facilities in their public parks. A full-color document makes a vivid impression, so (if you don’t own a color printer), copy your document file onto a flash drive and take it to your local graphics company or office-supply store. They can easily print color copies at a reasonable fee.

Your introductory document should be just that, an introductory document. It is not your proposal document. It is only the first step in your relationship with parks&rec so it should be short and easily digested. After introducing the idea of petanque, and support for petanque in public parks, you might continue with a little information about your local club. If you have a handout with information about your club, this will be a good time to bring that out. Eventually, you can lead the conversation around to an informal presentation of your club’s idea for a parks&rec project. Think of this as a casual, low-key, informal presentation of the ideas in your outline. Expect probing questions and perhaps even ideas, suggestions, or proposals for alternate projects. Stay calm, pay close attention to the feedback that you’re getting, and stay flexible.

If your meeting is successful, the next step will probably be for you and your petanque group to prepare a project proposal document for the parks&rec budget and planning committee. That document should quickly summarize basic information about petanque. (You don’t need to repeat all the detail of your introductory document in this document. Just append it to your proposal document.) The rest of your project proposal document should provide details about the specific construction project being proposed — the project’s details, costs, and benefits. In this document it is important to provide evidence that the proposed petanque facilities will actually be used, so presenting information about your club, its strength, membership, and history is important. It is also important to show that your club is committed to the project and prepared to support it. (In New York City, for example, La Boule New Yorkaise committed to offering free weekly petanque instruction at the new terrains in Bryant Park.)

If the proposal is approved by the budget and planning committee, the parks&rec department will issue an RFP (request for proposal). This is basically a request for contractors to bid on the construction of the planned facilities. By its very nature, an RFP must be very specific and detailed about exactly what is to be built. Writing such a document is not something you can leave to amateurs— the parks&rec dept. will have people who are experts in writing RFPs. Your job will be to work with them and provide them as much information and assistance as they need to get it right.


Introductory documents

  • Petanque in Public Parks by Stephen Ferg— (pdf) (docx)
    We hereby place this document in the public domain.
  • Pétanque in public parks & places by Philippe Boets— (pdf) (docx)
  • Petanque in Public Places by Gary Hosie — (pdf) (docx)

Proposal documents

  • Proposal for a Petanque Terrain at C.V. Starr Community Center by The Noyo Yoyos Pétanque Club (2010)— (pdf) (docx)

RFP documents

  • RFP for the construction of public petanque courts issued by the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan Parks and Recreation Department (2009)— (pdf)

How to become an FPUSA umpire

I’ve been trying for some time to obtain information on how to become an FPUSA umpire. That information should be easily available on the FPUSA web site, of course, but it is not.

Finally I managed to reach Gilles Karpowics, the FPUSA Sport Director, and he emailed me a copy of a pdf file containing the regulations for becoming an FPUSA umpire. Since this information is not available on the FPUSA web site, I thought I’d make it available HERE.