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Crosse

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 1332.
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.

crosse

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 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

Publication

Author

Published (in)


Crosse too strenuous for women?
Geert & Sara Nijs2011 September
From 'Games for Kings & Commoners'
Chapter 'Clearly unsuitable for women'

Choulettes for the game of crosse
Geert & Sara Nijs2011 September
From 'Games for Kings & Commoners'
Chapter 'Knocking wooden balls around'

'World First' in jeu de crosse


Geert & Sara Nijs

2009 September

Expressions and proverbs



Geert & Sara Nijs
2008 September
From 'CHOULE -
The Non-Royal but most Ancient Game of Crosse'
Chapter 'Expressions, proverbs, songs and poems'

The lost book


André Vagliano
1938 March
From 'Around golf'
Chapter 'Golf in France'
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 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.
The golf historical 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 very large light cork balls (bouchons). They explained when and how to ‘chouler’ and ‘déchouler’, etc. The 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.

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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 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.
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 at this moment, it is hardly possible to have cross-border tournaments between them.
The foreign players were flabbergasted about the ingenuity of the sport, about the surprising likeness between the royal game and the common game. 

crosse03

David Hamilton and Geert Nijs, discussing the ingenieus design of the double purpose clubhead of the crosse.
 
The 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).
Sara 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.