gordon logo                   Professional Court Construction                       NHPA


       Gordon Homepage                                                                                       Court Contstruction page 

Well constructed courts and routine
maintenance can only enhance pitcher
enjoyment and tournament interest.....
The 4 primary elements of good courts are
Stakes - Pit Material - Platforms - Fencing....



Whether you, your club or your Parks & Recreation Department plan to build or remodel horseshoe courts, good planning should be done in advance...

Site selection and grading should call for reasonably level ground with suitable drainage away from the pits and walkways.

The actual court "playing area" measures from the back of the pitching platform to the back of the opposite pitching platform at the other end of the court and the 6 ft width of the pitchers box. Additional suitable space is necessary for safety...Space courts at least 10 ft (preferably 12 ft) apart measured stake to stake... Construct chainlink fencing across both ends of the courts at least 8 ft (preferably 10 ft) measured from the stakes.

Backstops are often used for containment of loose pit material but they also stop shoes which may have hit and bent the chainlink fence.

Fence gates should be located between courts and if practical, located every 2nd court to give pitchers a safe, direct exit from their court without crossing adjacent courts.

Surrounding yard areas should be graded level with or slope away from walkways to eliminate ledges and steps that may cause ankle injuries. If practical, the paved pitching platforms should extend the full length of the court as continuous walkways. The surrounding areas may be gravel packed, seeded or paved. Construction joints in paved walkways should be accurately positioned to act as foul lines or pitching platform dimensions, otherwise painted lines will be necessary.

"In-ground" courts should have top of pit fill material level with pitching platforms. "Portable" (aka "temporary" and "raised") courts have a maximum height limit of 7 in. above the pitching platform surface. Some portable courts have a slight adjustment in the pitching distance to compensate for the raised height of the pit and some portable courts eliminate much of the front edge of the "box" which otherwise blocks a view of the pit surface.

LIGHTING GUIDELINES Horseshoe court lighting should be uniform over the playing surface and for a few feet outside the side lines and backstops. Outdoor lighting offers no reflective background so all light must be direct from the fixtures. For club/tournament play, 25 to 35 footcandles is recommended, and for non-tournament play 15 to 25 footcandles is sufficient. All the surface area should be evenly lighted. Lighting fixtures should be placed outside of all courts so that beams are generally aimed across the courts. No light sources should be located directly behind the courts or at the back corners of courts if possible. Quartz, metal halide, fluorescent, and high pressure sodium lamps are all applicable to horseshoe court lighting. Poles should be 30 to 35 ft long, have cross arms at the top to which fixtures are attached, and be capable of withstanding at least 100-mph winds. Fluorescent fixtures should be mounted 14 to 16 ft above the court surface, outside the lines and tilted inward. Pole mounted fluorescent fixtures may be located 22 ft above the court surface. Poles should be primed and painted a dark color. All wiring should be installed underground and outside the court area. Basic design techniques are the same for almost any type of field.

Horseshoe pitching tournaments normally have "class" sizes of 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16 pitchers. Each "class" pitches a "round-robin" schedule where each contestant pitches one game against other in the same "class". Thus, a 6-man class would need 3 courts; an 8-man class would need 4 courts; etc. Accordingly, court installations should be constructed with enough courts to handle the largest anticipated tournament. For example, if 40 entries were expected they could be divided into five 8-man classes requiring 20 courts. Alternately, two 8-man morning classes and three 8-man afternoon classes would require no more than 12 courts. (Suggested: minimum of 18 to 24)

Court construction details

Possible stake assembly details
Stake options