By: Greg and Beverly Wise

If you haven’t heard about the craze wrapped around this sport called Pickleball… step out from behind your rock and look. In a 2023 Topline Participation Report, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) named pickleball the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year in a row.

Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) after playing golf one Saturday during the summer, to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. Pritchard’s property had an old badminton court in the backyard. Looking to get the kids involved in something to keep them busy, as he termed it… “Out of our hair for a while,” they looked around and found ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. They sent the kids down to the court to burn off some energy. After about two hours, they decided they needed to check ono the kids. 

Originally at a badminton height… they found that the ball bounced well off the asphalt surface and soon lower the net to 36-inches, and the kids game got a little more intense. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. McCullum was a woodworker and made specific paddles for pickleball: an M1 and M2 version. McCallum was quoted, “that M1 had to be the ugliest paddle ever made, but something about the M2 has just caught on and is still the sport standard for shape.” The 3 gentlemen continued to refine the rules, keeping in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.

Two Dallas golf legends started slow but found the groove by the end of the night.

If you want to play along with the likes of Tom Brady, Bill Gates, Annika Sörenstam, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Brees, or even Selena Gomez… just pick up a paddle and start practicing. These are all celebrities that are hooked on Pickleball.

We took up pickleball for two reasons. 1.) It is good for eye/hand coordination which ultimately helps our golf games, with a dash of fitness thrown in. 2.) The social aspect of the game. You can easily go to a park after golf and play a single match… in a version that is called “Skinny Singles.” For some reason, I just really like that term. And within minutes you’re asked to join in to a “Doubles Match” with total strangers and you have a new friend. I really can’t tell you how surprised I was when we went to play pickleball in one of our local parks and say people playing pickleball that I haven’t seen at the golf course in the past 6 months.

Let’s look at the real side of pickleball. While it is good for the fitness portion of our lives… we travel and constantly on the go. Now we take our pickleball paddles inside the golf bags. Golf is a 4 ½ to 5-hour game (okay if you are lucky) – while Pickleball… is an anytime game. Under the lights of a locate park or a more modern indoor facility. It has gone crazy and now you can go out for dinner and play pickleball at the likes of Chicken and Pickle, or Camp Pickle. Imagine the possibilities.

As popular as Pickleball has become you can find pickleball paddles everywhere. We started off wrong. We found the cheapest thing out there. Must be something inherent in people. But spend a little bit of money. A good paddle will range between $79 and roughly $250. We aren’t saying to get a $250 paddle, save that for another day… after you find that you like it. But look at the good side… if you wanted to play golf you are looking at $1,200 or so for clubs, then lessons… and then $40 per round to enjoy the game. Okay… back to pickleball.

Paddles: Some great information is directly online. One of the top manufacturers of equipment is Selkirk (, a family-owned business that has truly capitalized on this growing market.

Apparel: Okay… Don’t go crazy with this. Open your dresser drawer and find a comfortable T-shirt and a pair of shorts. There really isn’t a dress code in pickleball.

There are so many fashion/apparel companies’ now in the Pickleball sport. From “Funny” t-shirt… to awesome mixed-doubles matching outfit. It all depends on YOUR style.

Shoes: Most all Pickleball facilities want you to wear a flat bottom – non-marking shoe to protect their courts. They must fit well, because you are going to be stopping and going… and turning very quickly, so be mindful of that.

For us… we are very excited when the first of the year gets here. I wear SQAIRZ ( golf shoes. They recently announced that they have developed a Pickleball shoe that will be out in April 2024. With all the technology that went in to developing their quality golf shoe… we have been assured that the same stabilizing technology has transferred into the new pickleball shoe line by SQAIRZ.

 In reality… for less that $100 if you play your cards right… you can be playing pickleball in know time and enjoying the outdoors, and maybe find a few new friends. Then you too… will “Never leave home without them.”