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Kolven - Early Golf

Kolven (or Kolf, Colf) was a game played in the Netherlands in medieval times. It is possibly a precursor to the modern game of golf. The game was played in the streets, in public squares, or as often depicted in paintings, on the ice of frozen lakes and canals.

Although no detailed rules of play have been found, it is believed to involve small teams of up to four players. The players would take turns hitting a small ball toward a target, using clubs made of wood, later with iron heads.

Play begins by setting up a pole to use as a target (otherwise some local landmark was used as the target). The distance to the target could be anything from a few meters to hundreds of meters away. The aim was to reach the chosen point in the minimum number of strokes.

An image by Dutch painter Hendrick AvercampAn image by Dutch painter Hendrick Avercamp depicting Kolf

Over time, the playing area of the sport was reduced in size, eventually moving to indoors. This version of kolf is still played today in the Netherlands, taking place indoors on a 19x5.5 yard solid court with a pole at one end serving as a target. The aim is to get the ball as close to the pole as possible, with rings marked on the ground around the target used to determine the score. In the modern rendition of kolf, the ball is closer to a baseball in size and is typically made of rubber

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