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Colf - Kolf - Golf
 
 
     
History of colf and kolf
Low Countries and Scotland
14th century: the first charters
15th century: Growth
16th century: Further growth and extension
17th century: The zenith and the end of colf
Game of kolf
History of golf
 
Colf (early golf) in America
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kolf video in english (1984 | 8:14 min)
   
     
9. Colf (early golf) in America  
 
The first traces of golf in the United States may be found around the present city of Albany N.Y. In the early part of the 17th century the Dutch West India Company established their first settlement in the 'New Netherlands' at the southern tip of Manhattan Island and sent Henry Hudson up the river, which now bears his nam, to find out what other possibilities there were. Eventually. since the main business in the first years consisted of buying beaver skins from the Indians and selling them various european products, a small fort, named Orange, was set up further inland along the river, just where Albany is today.
 
A village grew around the fort, appropriately named Beverwyck, and still later the efforts of the West India Company to attract settlers bore fruit in that Kiliaen van Rensselaer established such a settlement on both sides of the river around the fort and the village. Both the fort with the village and the manor of van Rensselaerswyck had their own court of law, the 'Small bench of Justice of the fort Orange and the village of Beverwyck' and the 'Manor Court of Rensselaerswyck'. Both kept records and here we find the first mentionings of colf.
 
The first entry is in the Records of the Manor Court and dates from the 13th December 1650. From the records we can reconstruct what happened on the 12th December of that year. After the game of colf that was the cause of it all the following persons were at the house of Steven Jansz. carpenter, who also ran an unlicensed gin shop there, in Rensselaerswyck:
• Steven Jansz., carpenter and his wife
• Teunis Jansz., sailmaker (a brother?)
• Jacob Jansz. Stol, ferryman on the river
• Philip Pietersz. (Schuyler), gunstockmaker
• Gijsbert Cornelisz., innkeeper
• Jacob Adriaensz., witness, nothing to do with the others
• Claes Adriaensz., also witness, nothing to do with the others
 
The course of events was most likely as follows: Philip and Jacob Stol, who were good friends, had played colf against Teunis and Gijsbert, teh losers to pay for the brandy of the winners. Since the brawl began by an argument between Teunis and Steven Jansz.'s wife over the marking up of the brandy which had been ordered, Philip and Jacob must have won the game. Jacob Stol, a notorious fist-fighter who had already been to court before, underlined the arguments of his partner Teunis by striking Steven Jansz. and Gijsbert who came to his rescue with his colfclub. His partner Philip then came to assist Jacob Stol and struck both Steven and Gijsbert with his fists. Gijsbert fell to the ground and was wounded. Jacob and Claes Adriaensz., who were also present in the house, were only witnesses to the brawl and were heard separately in court.
 
The court, presided over by Brandt van Slichtenhorst, director of the colony of Rensselaerswyck, hears the suspects and the witnesses on the 13th December and defers the case until to following 5th January. On that date Jacob is fined 20 guilders or 2½ beaver-skins. Philip who had been confined to the fort in the meantime, which he could only leave against bail, asked for a deferment of his case and got it. His case is never heard of again, which is not so surprising since shortly after that date he married Margaretha van Slichtenhorst, the daughter of the director of the colony and president of the court. Ironically, in later years, he gives the date of the fight as his wedding date. It is a unique feature that, thanks to the fight and the ensuing court case we can identify the players and even reconstruct the sides.
 
Play would have been with lead-headed clubs and leather balls, stuffed with hair, which were in fashion in Holland in those days and were probably brought from there.
 
Nine years later, on the 10th December 1659, the 'Small Bench of Justice' issued an ordinance prohibiting colf within the fort and along the streets of the village on complaints of the inhabitants about breakage of windows and imminent injuries to passers-by. The fine was set at 25 guilders, even higher than Jacob Stol had to pay in 1651.
 
So Albany can beat any other part of the United States in regard to claims about the earliest golf there. The next mentioning of golf is in Charleston, S.C. in 1743 when 8 dozen golf clubs and 3 gross golf balls were shipped there from Leith in Scotland.
 
Read more:
History of colf and kolf
Low Countries and Scotland
14th century: the first charters
15th century: Growth
16th century: Further growth and extension
17th century: The zenith and the end of colf
Game of kolf
History of golf
 
By courtesy of the Early Golf Foundation (Steven J.H. van Hengel's book Early Golf, 1982).  
     
     
Royal Dutch Kolf Union | St. Eloy's Hospice | Early Golf Foundation
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