When I think of Switzerland, my mind conjures up images of snow-capped mountains, yodelling, skiing, cheese, chocolate, what it doesn’t do is associate it to one of the quirkiest sports on the planet: Hornussen, which is colloquially know as “farmers golf”. The origins of this sport are not clear and has many folkloristic explanations but the most feasible is that it is rooted in an ancient defence system as the Swiss flung stones at their enemies.
This is a game played by two teams with 16 – 20 players and has been part of Swiss culture since the 16th century. The Nouss or Hornuss “loosely translated as hornet, thanks to the sound it makes” is struck by one team from the Bock, with a strange whip like pole with a timber end piece into the trapeze shaped playing field at speeds of up to 300 km/h. The defending team, that look like lost pizza makers, use paddles on sticks “Schindel”, to stop the Nouss from landing on the field. Each time the Nouss lands on the field the defending team is given a penalty and once the game is competed – the team with the least penalty points wins. Voted by Red Bull as one of the top 5 wildest sports in the world, and yes, it is a Swiss National Sport