Croquet has been described as "outdoor billiards". Indeed early forms of croquet-like games were called "lawn billiards"
Ball and stick" games have been around since before bored soldiers started hitting stones with their spears and croquet-like games (hitting balls through hoops) go back hundreds of years.
Sometime around 1630, a Frenchman named John Bonnealle laid out a court for playing Palle Malle (Ball and Mallet) on the south side of London, in an area now known as Pall Mall. It is most likely that that was a precursor to golf.
Modern croquet is more likely to have arrived in England in the mid 19th century from Ireland where shepherds played a similar game with their crooks called (not surprisingly) "crookie."
Croquet was included in the 1900 Olympic Games. It only attracted one spectator.
Paille-maille (Pall Mall)
Original image by Lauthier 1717