The game of colf was played in the Netherlandish speaking part of the Low Countries, the present Netherlands and Flanders. The game was mentioned for the first time in 1261 in a poem from the medieval Flemish poet Jacob van Maerlant. The game was played with curbed wooden clubs and spherical wooden balls in the streets, in the churchyards and on the open fields in or around the towns. In a later stage the wooden clubs were replaced by iron-headed clubs.


Not much is known about the rules of the game. It was probably a one target team game.
The team that would reach the target, consisting of a tree, a stake or perhaps a hole, in the fewest number of strokes would be the winner. When more and more accidents occurred in the towns, hitting passers-by, breaking glass windows from churches and houses, the game was banned from the towns into the unprepared open fields. During the Little Ice Age in the 16th and 17th
centuries colvers enjoyed playing on the ice surface of the canals, ponds, lakes and rivers. Playing on the ice required different equipment, like Scottish cleeks and leather balls. Because of the crowded ice fields the golf game changed from a distance oriented game into a target oriented game.
By the end of the 17th century the interest in the colf game reduced significantly and finally ceased to exist. Its place temporarily was taken over by the French game of ‘jeu de mail’ and the indoor game of ‘kolf’, a mix of the ancient colf game and the French mail game. Today the indoor kolf game is still played in one of the provinces of the Netherlands.

Publications on colf/kolf



Published in

The first international golf/colf match?

Geert & Sara Nijs
2015 April
'What's new', category 'Colf' on our site

Earliest paintings of colf players

Geert & Sara Nijs
2015 February
'What's new', category 'Colf' on our site

Colf in America

Geert & Sara Nijs
2014 July
From 'Games for Kings & Commoners' Part Two
Chapter 'Spreading (s)wings'

A present with a long history

Geert & Sara Nijs
2014 March Golfika # 13
(Magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)

750 Jaar 'Mit ener coluen'

Geert & Sara Nijs
2011  www.colf-kolf.nl
(Web museum van de Koninklijke
Nederlandsche Kolfbond)

750 Years 'Mit ener coluen'

Geert & Sara Nijs         
2011 April Golfika no. 7
(Magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)

From Colf to Kolf

Geert & Sara Nijs
2010 December Golfika no. 6
(Magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)
1297, Loenen aan de Vecht:
Fact or fairy tale?
Geert & Sara Nijs2009  September Golfika no. 4
(Magazine of the European Association
of Golf Historians and Collectors)

Steven JH van Hengel

Rick van den Boom
2007 December Through The Green
(magazine of the
British Golf Collectors Society)
Een Kleine Golfgeschiedenis
Ab Bloemendaal1999 September
Golf & Country Club Hooge Graven,

The Other Golf Book

Max Behr
1915 August
(Golf Illustrated & Outdoor America)