James II's Act of Parliament of 6 March 1457 banned golf and football. The Act is the earliest known written evidence for the game in Scotland.
With a weak monarchy, powerful nobles and a constant threat of invasion, military training was compulsory for all males over 12. However, instead of practising archery, ordinary people preferred to spend their leisure time playing golf and football.
People often played in enclosed public spaces, such as streets and churchyards. This was considered dangerous and a nuisance, as well as 'unprofitable'.
Golf and football were so widespread and popular that Parliament considered them a problem serious enough for legislation.
The 1457 ban was repeated in 1471 and 1491, so it could not have been entirely successful.
J C Dollman's painting of 'The Sabbath Breakers' shows golfers caught playing on the links by clergy.
Tells of 6 boys playing golf at Perth instead of being at church. The minute book records their punishment.