The game of golf in the Netherlands in 1545

The first written evidence that the current game of golf was practiced here dates back to he year 1545. It can be found in the Latin textbook Tyrocinium linguae latinae, wriitten by Pieter van Afferden.

Several copies of the book have been saved, among others in the archives of the University in Bonn, Munich, Brussels and Edinburgh. In chapter 24 of this book he provides so much information about the game of golf as it was played then in the Low Lands that it is quite evident that it resembles the current game of golf.

In order to distinguish the game from other ball games in which the ball is hit, such as hockey or kolf sports, with above-ground goals or other games with short distances, we us the following definition of golf:

  1. It is played by striking the ball with a club.
  2. The goal must be a hole in the ground and not an object above the ground.
  3. It is played by multiple individuals, the winner being the player reaching the hole with the least number of shots.
  4. The distance from the tee off tot he hole must be reasonable long.



As evidence parts from the literal tekst of 1545:

Ad 1. Willen wij den bal met de colve slaan.         Shall we strike the ball with the club

Ad 2. Ick en ben niet verre vanden cuyl.                I am not far from the hole.

          Ick salt regt nae den cuyl setten.                  I will aim straight at the hole.

Ad 3. Wiens behoorte isst te spelen?                      Whose turn is it to play?

          Het is Johannes behoorte.                               It is John’s turn.

         Wijckt een weynich so langhe als ick slae.  Stand back while I am hitting.

As evidence that the strokes are counted:

         Die mist, die verliest sinen slach.                 Who misses the ball loses a stroke.

Ad 4. Een lode colve.                                                   A golf club with a head weighted with lead.

          Ick hebbe den bal verloren.                           I lost the ball.

          Die mist, die verliest sinen slach.                Who misses the ball loses a stroke.

In many publications about the history of playing golf prior examples of a game of golf are given. None of these comply with all of the requirements mentioned above.