STANDING STONE-The world’s best marble players took center stage Saturday, September 12, during the 27th annual National Rolley Hole Championship at the state park here.
This year’s tournament mirrored those of the past by showcasing the world’s best Rolley Hole players with many in attendance to witness they player’s talents. Several close games were played but for the first time, Chris King and Bradley Wilson from Tompkinsville (KY) took home the national championship, earning their place in marble greatness.
Clay County’s Russell Collins and Larry Denton took second place in the Rolley Hole competition, while Molly Kimmell and Brian Cherry finished first and second in the Ringer Marbles event.
Other events were also held in conjunction with the main event of Rolley Hole. Four other serious marble competitions, marble making, a children’s marble festival, and live bluegrass music.
“Rolley hole is considered the Super Bowl of marbles,” said Shawn Hughes, park interpretive specialist and coordinator of the marble tournament, which attracted players from five states this year. “It’s one time a year that all the great marble shooters gather to become the stars of the show and battle for the elusive National Title. And, it’s been a great tool for the park because it’s something no one in the world has and the park event has as received media exposure to include the likes of: ESPN, ABC evening News, Sports Illustrated, Charles Kurault and CBS, Smithsonian Institution, CNN, National Geographic, Southern Living Magazine, Charles Shultz’s Peanuts, and many more.”
The game is played on a 40-by-25-foot dirt marble yard that has three marble-size holes in the center spaced nine feet apart. Playing with a partner, the idea is for players to make the hole or “hole out” 12 times. The strategy comes by figuring out the best way to keep opponents from making the hole, which often requires skillful hard shots against their marbles, sending them ricocheting across the yard much like sending an opponent’s ball away from the wicket in the game of croquet.
“It’s a game that combines golf, pool and croquet and the strategy of chess, but dead aim is needed,” Hughes said. “Some of these guys can hit a marble 12-15 feet away nine out of 10 times.”
Standing Stone State Park is the only state park with a marble yard, mainly because the best players in the U.S. hail from Clay County, Tennessee and Monroe County, Kentucky. The rolley hole yard is covered by a roof and is open on four sides. Players range in age from 14 to 70.
“It’s just fun. You’ve got to have a strong thumb,” said Hughes. “With rolley hole you’ve got to be smart. It’s a game of strategy combined with the ability to consistently make long shots. And, the game’s level of difficulty, combined with world’s best marble shooters has earn the National Rolley Hole Championship the title as the World Most Challenging Marbles Tournament. “
The park, seven miles south of Celina and seven miles north of Livingston, offers 1,000 acres of natural beauty. “I believe it is exactly what a state park should be. We’ve got outstanding scenery, a 69-acre lake, beautiful rustic cabins, campground, 10 miles of hiking trails, and of course a southern heritage in marbles that sure to last for years to come” Hughes said.