The early game of Scottish golf did not develop in a vacuum. There were a few other "stick and ball" games that historians believe played a role as precursors/influencers in golf's development. One in particular is the game of Colf. The name golf is a Scottish corruption of the Old Dutch word colf, meaning stick or club.
Offered here is an ancient colf head or "sclof" made from a lead-tin alloy and most likely made somewhere around the second half of the 17th century. It measures 2 1/2 inches in length and approximately 70 grams in weight. Because it is much smaller than the normal size, it would have been made for a young child and used with a correspondingly smaller ball.
The head is in excellent condition with its original decorative marks on the back of the head. There is a small crack in the bottom of the sole, near the toe.
To document this lost game and its artifacts, Geert & Sara Nijs wrote a series of three books titled Games for Kings and Commoners. These books are full of information on colf and a few other stick and ball games such as chole and mail. To order these wonderful books directly from Sara's website, Click Here.
In Games for Kings and Commoners, a number of colf heads are illustrated, and it is pointed out that colf was played on both land and ice. It grew in popularity beginning somewhere around the thirteenth century. By the end of the 17th century colf had evolved into kolf which was an indoor game with different clubs.
Few people own anything from the second half of the 1600s let alone something golf related. This is a wonderful opportunity. As colf heads go, one made for a child is extremely rare.