History of America's Favorite Lawn Games

History of America's Favorite Lawn Games

Posted by Krysia on Mar 13th 2018

Games and easy sports have always been a popular form of recreation for people of all ages and classes. It started with activities involving balls and sticks, which can easily be played on grassy areas and landscapes.

Planned and managed lawns developed in Europe around the Middle Ages. By this time, people have began inventing games that can be played in these small patches of land. Bowls, cricket, and gold are just a few of the very first games invented.

As civilization progressed, so did lawn games. More games were developed and some were even reinvented to fit the small space available in lawns and backyards.

Ever wonder how these lawn games became so popular to Americans? Read on...


It is believed that golf originated in 1457 Scotland where the first written record was an issued ban for the sports golf and soccer. The ban was enacted due to the king’s complaint that the sport was keeping his archers from their practice.

(source: alexanderseamon.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/blackheathmedaldayr.jpg)

The ban did not last long as the succeeding kings brought the well-loved game back to the people. In the 1600s, Scotsmen eventually took the game around the world as the British Empire spread.

It was in the 19th century that golf finally became popular in America and from then on, it spread around the world.


Same with golf, the game of bowls owes its existence to the Scots. However, with artifacts dating as early as circa 5000 B.C., many historians believe that the game developed from the Egyptians. One of their favorite pastimes was to play skittles with round stones.

(source: www.printsoldandrare.com/bowling/004bow.jpg)

From then on, it spread across the world and took many forms: Bocce (Italian), Bolla (Saxon), Bolle (Danish), Boules (French), and Ula Miaka (Polynesian).

In 1848 Glasgow, 200 players from various clubs all with their own rules met to draw up the so-called “uniform code of Laws” for bowling. This became the basis of what we now know and use as International rules and guidelines for bowling.


This competitive lawn sports has the French to thank for its invention. Originally known as jeu de paume, it was played — possibly as early as the 11th century — on indoor courts. It was only in the 18th century when tennis was taken out to the field.

(source: Getty images)

Field tennis requires a smooth lawn for effective play. In some places, it was even seen as a threat to the game of cricket.

By 1874, rules and equipment for a slightly different game “lawn tennis” were created. And in the turn of the 19th century, clay courts became more popular and the sport is simply referred to as “tennis”.


The game was formally described in 1856 with its origins believed to come from the game paillemaille or pall mall. It was played in England during the 17th to 18th centuries.

(source: avictorian.com)

A 14th century game known as ground billiards is also considered to be one of the origins of this well loved lawn game. The croquet field is called a “lawn” and is closely mown.


From Egypt to Asia Minor and Rome, Bocce’s popularity trickled down to Europe, to the USA, and to the rest of the world. It was a fun and easy way of entertainment and it can literally be played everywhere, from churches and castles to the city streets.

(source: www.boccebuildersofamerica.com/Websites/boccebuil...

People of all ages and genders have easy access to this simple entertaining game and it quickly became a favorite pastime until it was deemed a distraction from more important social and political duties in the 12th century. After being banned from the lower nobilities, it flourished as a public game in the areas of Holland and Belgium. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Despite having several theories behind the origins of this game, it is widely believed to have been discovered in 1990’s. It was said to have been played in campgrounds throughout the United States. Some say it was the Cowboys who invented this game using live snake and fences or tree branches for points.

In the turn of the 21st century, Robert G. Reid from Pennsylvania patented a ball and ladder game that he'd played with family and friends for decades. The patent was approved in 2005 and from then on, it was widely known as Ladder Golf.