Scotland is attacked mainly by English speaking historians on the origin of the Scottish game of golf. Some Scottish historians react to these allegations by stating that the game of golf as it is played today, has its origin in Scotland. Other historians however deny any ‘foreign’ claim on the origin of golf.
These Scottish Cause historians have chosen the hole as the main line of defence against the so-called allegations from ‘the Continent’. The hole, the target in golf, is put forward as the indisputable feature of golf, unique and invented in Scotland, the major difference between golf and all other stick and ball games.

01 bening détail
Sketch after an illumination in a Flemish Book of Hours from c.1530, attributed to the Fleming Simon Bening (1483-1561). It is one of the oldest depictions of a target used in an ancient colf game. One of the players is sitting on his knees, putting towards a hole. – By courtesy of David Stirk

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Al meer dan 100 jaar worden er – voornamelijk door de Schotten – discussies gevoerd over het begin van het golfspel. Volgens vele Schotse schrijvers is er geen twijfel mogelijk: golf is ontstaan in Schotland.
De laatste decennia claimen meer en meer Nederlandse schrijvers dat het golfspel van Nederlandse oorsprong is. Deze gedachtegang is onder meer gebaseerd op documenten die aan zouden geven dat in 1297 in Loenen a/d Vecht golf werd gespeeld en dat de eerste informatie over het Nederlandse golf in 1545 werd geschreven door Pieter van Afferden.
Klik hier om te lezen op welke informatie het ‘Nederlanderschap’ van golf is gebaseerd.

In Scottish golf history circles, it is considered that in the early days of golf, there were two golf games: a short game played in the streets of the towns by the commoners and a long game played mainly on the links of Scotland by the bourgeois and the aristocracy.
According to the above historians, the short game was also played in the European games of colf, crosse and mail. The Scottish long golf was the one and only real golf game.
We thought it of interest to research and analyse, based on written, drawn or painted evidence, how the continental games were played in ancient times.
Were the golf-like games on the continent divided into short and long games played by different kinds of people?
Was the short golf game the same as colf, crosse and mail in Europe?
Was the long golf game as played in the open fields of Scotland a unique game that never existed on the continent?
The following four blog posts will be devoted to the outcome of this research about games played short and/or long.
Click here for the story of golf.


Under the auspices of the ‘Stichting Nederlands Golf Archief Early Golf’ (Foundation Netherlandish Golf Archives Early Golf) the booklet ‘Colf Kolf Golf – Early Golf / Vroeg Golf’ has been published. The publication written by Do Smit (colf and kolf) and Michiel Eijkman (golf) explains the origin of the three games and what they have in common.
‘Early Golf / Vroeg Golf’ seems an excellent gift for any golf and sports enthusiastic.
The hardcover booklet contains 80 pages with some 40 pictures in full colour. The texts are both in English and Netherlandish. The price is 12 € 75 plus postage. For further information and ordering see

Some time ago an article was published in the French golf magazine ‘Golf Européen’ (March 2013), which explained the function and the importance of dimples on a golf ball. It was Rory McIlroy, one of the leading professionals in the world, who wanted to see how far he could hit a golf ball without dimples.
His experiment made us to have a look at the balls used in the long gone past in the games of colf, crosse, golf and mail. Here you can read about our findings.

In the course of the years not much attention has been paid to the influence of nature on Scottish golf and continental colf, crosse and mail.
Why did players use wooden balls of approximately the same size? Could it be that golfers used balls defined by the size of boxwood branches?
Do we accept that the whippy feature of the ash wood shaft was enhanced by the moon phases and that the end of the playing season was determined by the growth of certain weeds?
Here you can read about our findings.

One of the historical buildings in the ancient town of Largs on the west coast of Scotland is the remains of a church: the Skelmorlie Aisle of Largs Old Kirk. On the wooden ceiling of the aisle there is a painting from 1636 showing among others a picture of people playing with sticks or whatever on the ice.
The authors researched the winter scene picture and tried to find out what kind of game was presented: golf on the ice, colf on the ice or curling.
Here you can read about the research and perhaps find an answer yourself.

Some estimates suggest that up to a third of the current Scottish population may have had Flemish ancestors. While this is almost certainly an exaggeration, many Flemish émigrés did settle in Scotland over a 600 year period between the 11th and 17th centuries. Many shed their continental sounding names to take on the name Fleming or its variants. Others took on different names that give little clue as to their country or region of origin.
As the Flemish left Flanders over a relatively long time period they were absorbed into Scottish society gradually. So while the Flemish may well be one of Scotland’s largest immigrant groups the question of why they came, their significance in Scottish history, and their broader impact on the economy, society and culture of their adopted homeland has never been examined in detail. At the University of St. Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research a major project, called ‘Scotland and the Flemish People’, started in 2013.
This month we were contacted by Alex Fleming, cosponsor of and researcher in the project. At this point in the project the researchers would like to post guest pieces on the Flemish influence on sport in Scotland. One of these areas that has come up from time to time is the possible Flemish influence on the game of golf, reason why Alex Fleming invited us to write a posting for the blog of the project. Here you can read our contribution.

On the 1st and 2nd October the European Association of Golf Historians and Collectors organized its 10th annual conference in St Raphaël in the south of France at the Golf and Tennis Club de Valescure which celebrates its 120th anniversary.
At the conference several presentations were given on the history of golf and on collecting golf memorabilia. Members at the conference suggested making these presentations available, if possible, for all members of the association and for other interested readers.
Our presentation about the origin of golf under the name ‘All roads lead to Scotland’ you can find here..

In the first centuries in which golf was played, people played only or mainly in the winter season. In the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a climate change. Winters became extremely cold; this period is called the ‘Little Ice Age’. During these winters playing games on land was hardly possible. The Scots invented an ice game called curling in which people threw stones over the ice to a target. Several paintings exist of people playing this game.
But what about golfers? Where did they play their game? For more question marks see ‘The Little Ice Age in Scotland’.

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