Parchment with handscript

Act of Parliament of Scotland, 6 March 1457.
By courtesy of the National Archives of Scotland

Acts of Parliament banning golf

Scotland's Parliament banned golf, along with football, in 1457, as people were playing games when they should have been at miltary training.

Parliament repeated the ban in 1471 and 1491.

Extract from the Act of 6 March 1457


'Item it is ordanyt and decretyt that Wapinschawing be haldin be ye lordis and baronys spirituale and temporale four tymes in ye yeir. And [th]at ye futebawe and ye golf be uterly cryt done and not usyt And [th]at ye bowe markes be maid at all parochkirks a pair of butts And schuting be usyt ilk Sunday ... And touchand ye futebaw and ye golf We ordane it to be punyst be ye baronys unlaw. And if he tak it not to be tain be ye kings officars.'


'Item, it is ordained and the decreed that the lords and barons both spiritual and temporal should organise archery displays four times in the year. And that football and golf should be utterly condemned and stopped. And that a pair of targets should be made up at all parish churches and shooting should be practised each Sunday ... And concerning football and golf, we ordain that [those found playing these games] be punished by the local barons and, failing them, by the King's officers.'

Extract from the Act of 6 May 1471


'It is thocht expedient [th]at … ye futebal and golf be abusit in tym cumyng and ye buttes maid up and schot usit efter ye tenor of ye act of parlyament.'


'It is thought necessary that ... football and golf be abandoned in future and that targets should be made up and shooting practised according to the meaning of the Act of Parliament.'

Extract from the Act of 18 May 1491


'Item it is Statut and ordanit ... that in na place of the realme be usit fut bawis gouff or uther sic unprofitable sportes bot for common gud and defence of the realme be hantit bowis schuting and markis therefore ordnait in ilke paraochin under ye pane of xl [forty] sh[illings] to be rasit be the schref and bailzies forsaid.'


'Item it is Statute and ordained ... that no part of the country should football, golf, or other such pointless sports be practised but, for the common good and for the defence of the country, archery should be practised and targets made up in each parish under penalty of 40 shillings to be collected by the Sheriffs and Bailiffs as previously ordained.'

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