Pensacola News Journal | Article by Troy Moon | Editor

They’re not marbles. They’re Murbles.

And for the first time, the decades-old game that resembles a laid-back mix of bocce ball and lawn bowling, is coming to the Pensacola Senior Games, which began Friday and run through Sept. 22. The Murbles competition is at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Bayview Park, 2000 E. Lloyd St.

Pensacola Navy veteran Murray Kramer invented the colorful game back in the late 1970s inspired by two events.

The first came while stationed in Europe in 1973 when he stumbled upon a game of bocce ball in Rome, the city where bocce first gained prominence.

It seemed interesting, but…

“It was so stuffy,” Kramer said. “They were wearing dress shoes, suits, vests and fancy hats.”

At one point, play was stopped so a leaf could be moved from the playing court.

“I thought it was a pretty good game, but if I was playing I would be wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops.”

A few years later, while living in Michigan, he found a set of old rusty horseshoes, cleaned them up and challenged his neighbor to a game. In two years, Kramer never beat his friend in horseshoes so he conjured up a new game just so he might finally be able to best his neighbor in some kind of competition.

He came up with Murbles – actually, he was going to call it “Murray’s Big” but that was too long to fit on the balls, so he settled on Murbles. He manufactured his first set – then aluminum – at a local foundry.

“I came up with the idea to beat my neighbor, but he would never play me,” Kramer said. “He said ‘I don’t play Murbles, I play horseshoes.’ “

He made sets for friends over the years and played casually himself. But he decided to push the homemade game commercially about 15 years ago at the urging of his daughter. Now, Murray can be seen driving around in the colorful Murbles’ van that he uses to travel to far-ranging sites – including Las Vegas – to introduce the game and run startup tournaments. He has hosted a Murbles tournament at Bayview Park for more than a decade.

The game is simple. Toss a Murble point ball – usually white – out in front anywhere from 3 to 30 feet. Then, players take turns throwing their colored balls toward the point ball. Whoever is closest gets a point. Whereas a leaf can halt a bocce ball, Murbles strategy involves using trees, mounds, etc. to a player’s advantage. You can play on smooth terrain, beach sand, hilly areas. Like the goal, the game is laid back.

How laid back? Murbles even come in a canvas bag that can be attached to the belt.

“You can put your beers in there and even if you bend down, they won’t spill,” Kramer said. (Rules of the game are on the back of the bag).

Murble sets can be purchased at Sets range from $59 for a two-player seven-ball set to tournament-style 56-ball sets for up to 16 players for $279. Murbles are make of polyethylene and are manufactured by Diversified Fasterners in Pensacola.

Kramer won’t be playing in Tuesday’s competition, though he will be there overseeing the event.

“That wouldn’t be fair,” he said. “I’ve been playing 44 years. That’s an unfair advantage.”

Murbles is just one of 22 events open to folks 50 years and older. Other competitions include tennis, pickleball, swimming, basketball, bowling, table tennis, and, yes, bocce ball, which we’re sure won’t be as stuffy as what Kramer witnessed in Rome decades ago.

Fees for one event at the Pensacola Senior Games is $10, but only $1 for each additional event a participant signs up for. Each participant gets an event T-shirt and the top three finishers in each competition receive ribbons. The Pensacola Senior Games are sponsored by the City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department and Cigna. For information, including sign-up details, go to

“You don’t just compete, you gain friendships and build relationships,” said Deja Dowdell, marketing director with Parks and Recreation. “We have a great senior community here and this is an opportunity to boost the quality of life for seniors in Pensacola.”

Martin Lee, 56, participated in the Pensacola Senior Games disc golf tournament in 2022 at Blue Angel Recreation Park and won the gold medal in his age division. He’ll be back to defend this year.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the Florida outdoors,” said Lee, who plays almost daily and averages about 27-to-36-disc golf holes each daily, walking about three to five miles each day. “You’re competing against people your own age. It’s a great way to get out and stay active and have fun.”

Murbles is a simple game that is loosely based on the European game bocce. Here is a diagram of game scenario examples on the playing field: One player throws the white ball (target ball). Once it is thrown, players cannot move from their chosen positions. The object is to get as close to the target ball as possible.

The catch is that only one player can score points per round, so whoever lands more balls closer scores those points for each ball. If you’re competitive, you can knock an opponent’s ball away from the target. Click here for a full set of rules (and tips).

Happy Murbleing!!!