Over Memorial Day weekend in 2006, a group of friends went camping with their families on a meadow hill that overlooked Lake Chautauqua in southwestern New York. Mowed into the waist-high grass was a spot for their tents and a fire pit. It was two and a half days with friends, food, and drink under a clear country sky. But there was also a set of bocce balls and the lawn mower needed to mow in the campsite. With these, the four friends mowed small, miniature golf-like holes into the tall grass and played bocce within it. Over the course of the weekend, the initial rules were created for something they were calling bocce golf.
The group returned for Memorial Day 2007, but this time with bags of sand, a larger crowd of people, and great enthusiasm, not necessarily for camping, but for the game. With the rules more clearly defined, an “official” course was mowed in, this time with sand traps. Unlike traditional golf, where sand is avoided, the sand on a “bocce golf” course was a desirable target. It was a place where the most accurate of throwers could place their balls without having to run the risk of the inconsistent terrain sending the ball in the wrong direction. Throughout this weekend, the rough rules developed the year before were refined, and a rule book quite similar to the one used today was written on a random piece of cardboard. One of the most important of these rules was that the game was to be played in teams of two.
For the third annual Memorial Day Bocce Golf Tournament, the course for this weekend also included a new element critical to the game, the first water hazard—a small body of water added to the course which brought with it a one ball penalty if a player’s ball entered it.
September of 2009 was an important moment for the game as it formally left “the hill” for the first time. It made its way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where two of the three original founders lived. A small, four-team tournament was held in the backyard of one of the individuals.
In the late summer of 2010, the Canadians who attended the most recent Memorial Day tournament decided to hold a small tournament of their own in Port Hope, Ontario. It was the first time the game was played outside of the United States.
In October of 2011, the first beach tournament was held—the AC Invitational in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A course made entirely of sand greatly changed the way the game was played and opened the door to other unique playing surfaces.
During the Spring of 2012, it was decided that the game as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts. While it was originally somewhat of a blending of bocce and golf, it was now something totally different. In fact, it seemed even more basic and primitive, as if it was from simpler times. As a result, the game was renamed and reworked. The game of bocce golf was renamed Stones. To further progress the game, sets of “stones” of various sizes were developed as single-sized bocce balls had their limitations when used on the ever-changing terrains of Stones courses.
In the Fall of 2012, the first public course was constructed on the grounds of Southern Tier Brewing Company.
In the Summer of 2014, the Gwynedd Racquet Club in North Wales, PA embraced the game and became the first private Stones Club.
Summer of 2015, Stones begins to focus its attention on the City of Philadelphia, the town where the majority of the game’s founders call home.