Crosse or crossage,
in English literature often incorrectly 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 game was mentioned for the first time in
The game was played
in the streets, on the ramparts and in the fields in and around the towns with
curbed 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
On a crosse field there
are several targets but there is no fixed routing. Two teams of two players
challenge each other. The players decide what the target will be; one team
tries to reach this target in the agreed number of strokes; the other team will
try to prevent the first team to achieve their goal by hitting in turn the ball
away from the target or into difficult playing positions. If the first team
achieved their objective they are the winner of the so-called partie. If not,
the other team is the winner. Which team, at the end of the match, has won the
most parties, is declared winner.
The game of crosse
or crossage is played in winter on unprepared meadows.
At Carnival the
game of crosse is still played in the streets of the towns. Use is made of big
wooden clubs and balls. Beer barrels in front of the cafés are used as targets.
Publications on jeu de crosse/choule
First’ in jeu de crosse
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.
the first time in the almost 1.000 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 to get to know in practice this remarkable
very ancient continental golf game.
golf historical societies of Australia, Britain and Europe were well
represented by their respective captains: Michael Sheret, David Hamilton and
Michael Sheret, captain of the Australian Golf Heritage Society, overjoyed at hitting the planchette.
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 very large light cork balls
(bouchons). They explained when and how to ‘chouler’ and ‘déchouler’, etc.
crosse clubs and choulettes are produced by the players themselves. There are
no pro-shops or Nevada Bob’s where you can buy choule equipment.
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.
is no coordinating ‘Saint Andrews’-like organisation to set general accepted
rules. Contradictory to the French crosseurs who have fixed rules, the Belgians
are free to produce equipment as they like. You see therefore 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.
are just a few basic rules for the game. Players decide among themselves on how
to go about special situations in the field.
difference between the ‘progressive’ Belgian game and the ‘traditional’ French
game has become so big, that at this moment, it is hardly possible to have
cross-border tournaments between them.
foreign players were flabbergasted about the ingenuity of the sport, about the
surprising likeness between the royal game and the common game.
David Hamilton and Geert Nijs, discussing the ingenieus design of the double purpose clubhead of the crosse.
teaching and the playing on the field were regularly paused with a glass of
famous Belgian beer, traditional crosseur meals, medieval music with ancient
‘cornemuses’ (Belgian bagpipes) and accordion instruments and by singing the
very ancient song of Saint Anthony, since more than 600 years the patron saint
of all crosseurs (and of all golfers).
Nijs, co-author of the CHOULE book and organiser of this unforgettable event,
offered in the name of all golfers a statue of Saint Anthony to the Pic et Plat
society, with the plea that the patron saint may help to preserve this
wonderful game for many years to come.