This is one of 40 stories from my book
Sports the Olympics Forgot
which is available here
The residents of the Goole in the East Riding of Yorkshire are famous for having invented the sport of Gool – a portmanteau word obtained from the sports of Golf and Pool. Originally the town council had decided upon Gooker but realized that this name wasn’t synonymous with their town as was also the case with Snoolf and Polf. So the sport of Gool was first played in Goole in 1956. The reason for this was the growing popularity of pool and the number of golf courses and putting greens that weren’t being used to their capacity.
There are two versions of the sport of Gool depending on whether a putting green is being used or a green on a golf course. The version played on a green on a golf course, called Green Gool, is much the easier game as all the balls have to be potted into the one hole. The only complications arise if a ball disappears into a greenside bunker. In this case, the player whose ball is in the bunker is allowed to take a free drop at the side of the green nearest the bunker without penalty other than playing their next two shots with their wrong hand.
The game starts with the Gool balls racked three feet in front of the hole. Both players must play all their shots from a prone position. The game then commences much like a game of pool with players either potting all the spotted balls or all the striped balls followed by the black. However, because of the lack of cushions some games can last for hours because unscrupulous players sometimes cannon their opponent’s balls down the fairway. Normally players agree that any balls that go off the playing surface can be replaced on the edge of the green. This rule was introduced after the June 20th, 1964 game between Jockie Smith and Jed Gerald, which had to be abandoned because of nightfall. Half the balls had been knocked off the green and every other shot was a miss because the players didn’t have the necessary cue power from a prone position to hit their balls.
Andy Kellock has won the Goole Green Gool championship four times. His tactics are to pot his balls into the hole and not worry where his opponent’s balls are as it’s so easy to overcomplicate a straightforward game.
The putting green version of Gool, called Putting Gool, is slightly more complicated as all 18 holes of the putting green come into play. The balls are racked in the very centre of the green and players must play all shots from a prone position and not be covering a hole when they play the shot. If the Checking Judge believes a hole has been covered, deliberately or not, when playing a shot then that player forfeits two shots.
The rules state that if, for example, a spotted ball is potted in any even-numbered hole then all the other spotted balls must be potted in even-numbered holes with a maximum of one ball per hole. This means that when the player potting the spotted balls has potted them all then there will be only one even-numbered hole not containing a spotted ball. This is the hole that the player must pot the black ball into in order to win the game. If more than one spotted or stripped ball lands in one hole all balls in that hole are returned to the centre of the putting green and are then in play.
Games of Putting Gool can last for several hours largely because players have to keep checking the holes to make sure there’s not a ball in the hole before attempting a pot. The champion Putting Gool player is Ricky Selby from Beverly who has a very good memory and so doesn’t lose concentration by checking holes for balls. He won the Goole Masters Putting Gool contest 10 times between 1974 and 1990 and the Goole Open twelve times between 1975 and 1992. He had to retire because of arthritis which his doctor believes was largely induced by Selby lying on damp grass for hours at a time. Now some players lie on thermal blankets to prevent a similar fate.
The Goole Open in June (and sometimes July) attracts hundreds of entrants per year and sometimes lasts for 6 weeks due to the protracted nature of some of the games. The motto of the event is “Putting Gool – Putting Goole on the map.”