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Crosse

Crosse or crossage, in English literature often called ‘choule’ or ‘chole’, has its origin in the ancient counties of Hainaut (Henegouwen) and (French) Flanders, once both parts of the Low Countries. The first mention of the game dates from 1332.

People played the crosse game in the streets, on the ramparts and in the fields in and around the towns. They used curved sticks and elliptical wooden balls.


From the 15th century until today, the game is played with iron-headed clubs in today’s Franco-Belgian border zone, around the cities of Maubeuge (France) and Mons (Belgium).

The essence of the crosse game is to reach a target in a number of strokes decided upon beforehand.

On a crosse field, there are several targets, but there is no fixed routing. Two teams of two players challenge each other. The crosseurs decide what the target will be. One team, the 'chouleurs', tries to reach this target in the agreed number of strokes. The other team, the 'déchouleurs', will try to prevent the first team from achieving their goal by hitting, in turn, the ball away from the target or into difficult playing positions. If the first team achieves its objective, it is the winner of the so-called partie. If not, the other team is the winner. The team that has won the most parties at the end of the match is declared the winner.

The crosseurs play their game in winter on unprepared meadows.

At Carnival, the game of crosse is played with big wooden balls and clubs in the streets of the towns. Beer barrels in front of the cafés are the targets.


Publications on jeu de crosse/choule

Publication

Author

Published (in)


Clubs de crosse


Freddy Gallez & Geert Nijs

2021 - Revised, extended & re-designed English edition of 'CHOULE The Non-Royal
but most Ancient Game of Crosse'

Choulettes (soules) dans le crossage



Freddy Gallez & Geert Nijs

2021 - Revised, extended & re-designed English edition of 'CHOULE The Non-Royal
but most Ancient Game of Crosse'

Hornu, Hainaut, Belgique &
jeu de crosse en 1934
 

Anonyme/Anonymous
2017 - Golfika no. 20
(magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)

Jeu de Crosse in Belgium


John Pearson
2009 September - Through the Green
(magazine of the British Golf
Collectors Society)

'World First' in jeu de crosse


Geert & Sara Nijs

2009 August
Bel’œil, Hainaut, Belgique &
jeu de crosse en 1901
Avec l’aimable atorisation de/  By courtesy of
André Auquier       
'CHOULE – The Non-Royal
but most Ancient Game of Crosse’
Geert & Sara Nijs, 2008
The lost book
'Around golf', A.M. Vagliano, 1938


André M. Vagliano
2008 December - Golfika no. 3
(magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)


St Anthony the Great and Jeu de Crosse


Geert & Sara Nijs
2008 March - Through the Green
(magazine of the British Golf
Collectors Society)

St Anthony the Great and Jeu de Crosse

Geert & Sara Nijs
2007 October - Golfika no. 2
(magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)

JEU DE CROSSE - The non-royal but most ancient game of 'crosse'


Geert & Sara Nijs
2006 - Golfika no. 1
(magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)
Germinal (parts in which Emile Zola
describes the game of crosse)



Emile Zola


1885
Germinal (parties dans lesquelles
Emile Zola décrit le jeu de crosse)

Emile Zola

1885

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‘World First’ in jeu de crosse

On the 9th and 10th August 2009, golf historians from all over the world met in Belgium to experience, after reading the book CHOULE – The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse, the real thing on the crosse fields of the Society 'Les Amis du Pic et du Plat' at Baudour, near the beautiful city of Mons (Bergen) in Belgium.

For the first time in the almost thousand years' history of 'choule' (for the Anglo-Saxons) or 'jeu de crosse' or 'crossage' (for the Francophones), golf players from Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Scotland came to the Belgian crosse fields. Here, they got to know in practice this remarkable and very ancient continental golf game.

The historical golf societies of Australia, Britain and Europe were well represented by their respective captains: Michael Sheret, David Hamilton and Christoph Meister. 



crosse01
Michael Sheret, captain of the Australian Golf Heritage Society, overjoyed at hitting the planchette.

Under the guidance of Marius Hallez, president of the Baudour crosse society, the very proud and friendly crosseurs showed the participants with infinite patience:

  • how to play the game
  • how to handle the crosse clubs (reversed baseball grip)
  • how and when to choose one the many different ellipsoid balls, from small, heavy and extreme rigid nylon balls to large light cork balls 
  • when and how to ‘chouler’ and ‘déchouler’, etc.  

The players make the crosse clubs and choulettes themselves. There are no pro-shops or Nevada Bob’s where you can buy choule equipment.

crosse02

Christoph Meister, captain of the European Association of Golf Historians and Collectors, and Geert Nijs being taught how to proceed from here to the next planchette.
 
There is no coordinating ‘Saint Andrews’-like organisation to set generally accepted rules. Contradictory to the French crosseurs who have fixed rules, the Belgians are free to produce equipment as they like. Hence, you see golf drivers with reinforced (5 mm) strike faces, original crosse clubs with metal shafts, and grips made of insulation tapes. Balls are hand-made from nylon, pressed wood, cork, willow, boxwood, etc.
There are just a few basic rules for the game. Players decide among themselves on how to go about special situations in the field.
The difference between the ‘progressive’ Belgian game and the ‘traditional’ French game has become so big that it is hardly possible to have cross-border tournaments.
The foreign players were stunned by the ingenuity of the sport and the surprising likeness between the royal and the common game.


crosse03
David Hamilton and Geert Nijs discussing the ingenious design of the double purpose club head of the crosse.
 

Between the teaching and the playing, there were breaks for Belgian beers, traditional crosseur meals, medieval music played on ancient 'cornemuses' (bagpipes) and an accordion, and by singing the old St Anthony's song, since more than 600 years the patron saint of all crosseurs (and of all golfers).

Sara Kieboom-Nijs, the co-author of 'CHOULE The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse' and organiser of this unforgettable event, offered in the name of all golfers a statue of St Anthony to the Pic et Plat society, with the plea that the patron saint may help to preserve this amazing game for many years to come.