Golf Terms and Definitions

Golf Terms and Definitions

A

  1. Ace: A term used to describe a hole-in-one, which is when a player successfully sinks the ball directly into the cup with their first shot on a par 3 hole.
  2. Adjusted Gross Score: The score that results after applying any necessary adjustments to a player’s raw score, typically involving handicap differentials or equitable stroke control.
  3. Address: The position a golfer takes before making a swing. It involves standing behind the ball, aligning the club, and positioning the body for the shot.
  4. Afraid of The Dark: A humorous term used when a golfer leaves a putt just short of the hole, as if they were afraid of the dark (the inside of the cup).
  5. Aeration: The process of perforating the greens or fairways with small holes to improve soil aeration and drainage, promoting healthier turf growth.
  6. Airmail: In disc golf, this term refers to overshooting the target, sending the disc sailing past the basket, similar to missing a short putt in regular golf.
  7. Albatross (Double Eagle): Achieving a score of three strokes under par on a single hole. This usually happens with a hole-in-one on a par 4 or holing out in two shots on a par 5.
  8. All square: A term used in match play to indicate that both players or teams have the same score and the match is currently tied.
  9. Alternate Shot: A format of play where two golfers partner together, taking turns hitting the same ball until it is holed. One player tees off on even-numbered holes, and the other tees off on odd-numbered holes.
  10. Army Golf: A nickname for a golfer who frequently hits the ball from one side of the fairway to the other (e.g., left, right, left, etc.), similar to the way a soldier marches.
  11. Away: In stroke play, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole is considered “away” and plays their shot first.

b

  1. Backhander: A term used to describe a putt that is struck with the back of the putter head rather than the face. It is an unconventional method and not commonly used.
  2. Banana Ball: A shot that curves significantly from left to right (for a right-handed golfer) or right to left (for a left-handed golfer), resembling the shape of a banana.
  3. Ball Mark: A depression or mark made by the impact of a golf ball on the green, typically caused when the ball lands on the putting surface from the air. Golfers are expected to repair ball marks to maintain the green’s smoothness.
  4. Barkies: A slang term for scoring one stroke under par on a hole. For example, if a player scores a birdie (one stroke under par) on a hole with a dogleg, they might jokingly call it a “barkie.”
  5. Beach: A colloquial term for a sand bunker or sand trap on the golf course.
  6. Birdie: Scoring one stroke under par on a hole. For example, making a birdie on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in three strokes.
  7. Bite: The amount of backspin applied to a golf ball, causing it to stop quickly or spin backward upon landing.
  8. Bogey: Scoring one stroke over par on a hole. For example, making a bogey on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in five strokes.
  9. Break: The amount and direction a putt or shot curves due to the slope of the green or the course.
  10. Bracket: In golf tournaments, this term refers to the pairing of players into groups, usually based on their scores. For instance, the top players might be in the championship bracket, while others might be in lower brackets.
  11. Bunker: A hazard on the golf course, typically filled with sand, designed to challenge golfers when their ball lands in it.
  12. Buzzard (Double Bogey): Scoring two strokes over par on a hole. For example, making a double bogey on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in six strokes.

C

  1. Cabbage (Spinach): Slang for thick, deep rough on the golf course, often making it difficult to advance the ball with ease.
  2. Can: A slang term for the hole or cup on the green where the golf ball is intended to be sunk.
  3. Carry: The distance a golf ball travels through the air before landing. For example, “The carry over the water hazard was 200 yards.”
  4. Carpet: Slang for the well-maintained, lush fairway of a golf hole.
  5. Casual Water: Temporary water on the golf course due to rain or irrigation that is not part of a water hazard. Golfers are usually allowed to take a free drop from casual water without penalty.
  6. Cat Box: Another term for a sand bunker or sand trap on the golf course.
  7. Caddie: A person who carries a golfer’s bag and provides assistance, advice, and course knowledge during the round.
  8. Chicken Stick: Slang for the putter, the club used on the greens to roll the ball into the hole.
  9. Chili Dip (Fat/Chunk shot): A poorly executed chip shot or pitch shot where the club head hits the ground before contacting the ball, resulting in a short and often disappointing shot.
  10. Chipping: A golf shot played from close to the green, typically with a lofted club like a pitching wedge or sand wedge, to lift the ball into the air and land it softly on the green.
  11. Condor: A very rare and unofficial term for scoring four strokes under par on a single hole (usually a hole-in-one on a par 5).
  12. Cuban: Slang for a putt that just misses the cup and lips out, preventing the ball from going in.
  13. Cup: The hole on the green where the golf ball must be sunk to complete the hole.

d

  1. Dance floor: Slang for the putting green, where golfers aim to complete the hole by sinking the ball into the cup.
  2. Dawn patrol: Playing golf early in the morning, typically during the sunrise hours.
  3. Deep: A shot that goes significantly past the intended target, often referring to missing the green and landing far beyond it.
  4. Divot: A piece of turf or grass that is removed from the ground when a golfer takes a shot, usually from the fairway.
  5. Dogleg: A hole on the golf course that features a significant bend or curve, usually to the left or right, requiring a strategic shot to navigate the fairway.
  6. Dew Sweepers: Golfers who play their round early in the morning when the dew is still on the grass.
  7. Double Bogey: Scoring two strokes over par on a hole. For example, making a double bogey on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in six strokes.
  8. Doubler: Slang for a double bogey, referring to scoring two over par on a hole.
  9. Draw: A type of golf shot that curves from right to left (for a right-handed golfer) or left to right (for a left-handed golfer).
  10. Drive: The first shot played on a hole, usually executed with a driver, the club designed for maximum distance.
  11. Driver: The club used for the longest shots off the tee, designed to hit the ball a significant distance.
  12. Duck Hook (Snap Hook): A severe and unintended shot that curves sharply from right to left (for a right-handed golfer) or left to right (for a left-handed golfer), often ending up in trouble.
  13. Duffer: A term for an inexperienced or unskilled golfer.
  14. Dribbler (Fat Shot): A poorly struck shot where the clubhead contacts the ground before the ball, resulting in a short and weak shot.
  15. Duff: Slang for a poorly executed shot, often used interchangeably with “duffer” or “mishit.”

E

  1. Eagle: Scoring two strokes under par on a single hole. For example, making an eagle on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in two strokes less than the designated par.
  2. Executive Course: A type of golf course with shorter holes, typically par 3 and par 4 holes, designed to be played in a shorter amount of time than a standard 18-hole course.

f

  1. Fade (Cut Shot): A type of golf shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer) or right to left (for a left-handed golfer). It is the opposite of a draw.
  2. Fairway: The closely mown and well-maintained area between the tee box and the green, where golfers aim to land their drives.
  3. First Tee: The starting point of a golf course where the first hole begins. It is also a term used to refer to the nervousness and excitement experienced by golfers before starting their round.
  4. Flop Shot: A high, soft, and delicate shot usually played around the green when there are obstacles to carry. The ball flies high and lands softly, minimizing roll.
  5. Flub: A slang term for a badly mishit shot where the golfer fails to make solid contact with the ball, resulting in a disappointing outcome.
  6. Fore: A warning shouted by golfers to alert others on the course that an errant shot is coming their way, potentially posing a danger.
  7. Four-jack: In putting, taking four strokes to sink the ball in the hole after reaching the green.
  8. Fringe: The closely mown area around the green, often with longer grass than the putting green itself.
  9. Fried Egg (Plugged): A ball that buries or embeds itself into the sand or soft ground in a sand bunker, leaving a mark that resembles a fried egg.

G

  1. Gimme: A term used when players agree to concede a short putt to one another, eliminating the need to actually putt the ball into the hole. It is typically given for short putts that are considered easy to make.
  2. Get up: A phrase used to encourage the ball to reach the green or the target area, often when the shot appears to be falling short.
  3. Gimmie (alternative spelling of Gimme): Same as “Gimme,” referring to a conceded putt.
  4. Golf Terms: The collective name for all the specialized vocabulary and jargon used in golf to describe various aspects of the game, techniques, and equipment.
  5. Green: The area of the golf hole where the flagstick and cup are located. It is a closely mown and well-maintained surface, where golfers putt to complete the hole.
  6. Grounding: The action of placing the clubhead on the ground behind the golf ball at the address position before taking a shot. In some situations, grounding the club may result in a penalty, such as when the ball is in a hazard.
  7. Grip: The way a golfer holds the club. A proper grip is crucial for achieving control and accuracy in the golf swing.

h

  1. Hand Wedge: A humorous and informal term for a golfer’s hand used to surreptitiously improve a lie or move the ball in the rough or other undesirable areas.
  2. Handicap: A numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability, indicating the number of strokes they are given or must deduct from their gross score to compete on an equal basis with other players.
  3. Hazards: Obstacles on the golf course that can penalize golfers for errant shots. Hazards can include water hazards (lakes, ponds, streams), sand bunkers, and other natural or artificial obstacles.
  4. Hacker: A term used to describe an unskilled or inexperienced golfer, often struggling with their swing and overall game.
  5. Handicap (repeated for clarity): See the previous explanation.
  6. Honours: In match play, the privilege of teeing off first on the next hole is given to the golfer or team that won the previous hole. They are said to have “honours.”
  7. Hook: A type of golf shot that curves sharply from right to left (for a right-handed golfer) or left to right (for a left-handed golfer).
  8. Hot: A term used to describe a golfer who is playing exceptionally well and scoring significantly below their usual performance.

I

  1. Iffy lie: A term used to describe a golf ball’s position on the course, usually in the rough or a challenging area, making it difficult for the golfer to strike the ball cleanly and predict the outcome of the shot.
  2. In the Leather: A slang term for a conceded putt, implying that the putt is so short that it is deemed to be already holed, and there is no need to putt it out.
  3. Iron: A type of golf club with a metal head, typically numbered from 1 to 9 (e.g., 4-iron, 7-iron), designed for various distances and trajectories. Irons are commonly used for approach shots to the green.

j

  1. Juicy lie: A term used to describe a favorable lie for the golf ball, typically in the fairway or rough, where the grass is lush and the ball sits up nicely, making it easier to strike cleanly.
  2. Jungle: Slang for a dense and challenging area of rough or vegetation on the golf course, where it can be difficult to find or advance the ball.

K

  1. Kick: A term used to describe the unpredictable bounce or deflection of a golf ball after it lands on the ground. Sometimes, a ball may get a favorable kick and end up in a better position, while other times, it may get an unfavorable kick and end up in a more challenging spot.
  2. Knee-knocker: A short putt, typically around three feet or less, that is considered relatively easy by most golfers but can still induce nerves and tension, making it somewhat nerve-wracking to attempt.

L

  1. Lay up: A deliberate and strategic shot played to intentionally leave the ball short of a hazard, such as a water hazard or bunker, instead of trying to reach the green with the current shot.
  2. Lie: The position or orientation of the golf ball on the ground after it comes to rest.
  3. Links: A type of golf course often located near coastal areas, characterized by sandy soil, dunes, and natural hazards. Links courses are typically designed with few trees and are affected by the prevailing winds.
  4. Lip out: A term used when a golf ball hits the edge of the cup but does not fall into the hole, resulting in a missed putt.
  5. Lob: A high, soft, and lofty shot, usually played with a lob wedge, to clear obstacles and land the ball softly on the green.
  6. Loose Impediments: Natural objects, such as leaves, twigs, stones, and branches, that are not fixed or growing and can be moved without penalty if they interfere with a golfer’s shot.
  7. Lumberjack: A term used humorously to describe a golfer with a powerful and aggressive swing, often able to hit the ball long distances.

M

  1. Marker: A person responsible for keeping score during a round of golf. In formal competitions, a marker is often assigned to record the scores of other players in the group.
  2. Match Play: A format of golf where players or teams compete hole by hole, with the winner of each hole being the one who takes the fewest strokes (or wins the hole outright, depending on the specific rules). The player or team with the most holes won at the end of the round is the match play winner.
  3. Medal Play: Also known as stroke play, this is the most common format of golf where each player or team completes the entire round, counting the total number of strokes taken to complete all holes. The player or team with the lowest total score at the end of the round is the medal play winner.
  4. Mulligan: A term used for a “do-over” or a second chance to take a shot without incurring a penalty. It is an informal rule that allows players to replay a shot if they are not satisfied with their previous attempt.
  5. Mixed Foursome: A type of golf competition where two male and two female golfers form a team and take turns playing the same ball. One male and one female player will tee off on even-numbered holes, and the other male and female will tee off on odd-numbered holes.

n

  1. Nip it: A term used to describe a type of shot where the golfer makes crisp and precise contact with the ball, taking a small divot or no divot at all. Nipping the ball is often associated with short iron shots around the greens.
  2. Nuked: Slang for hitting the ball with tremendous power or hitting a shot with maximum distance, often used to describe a long and powerful drive off the tee.

O

  1. O.B. / Out of Bounds: Abbreviation for “Out of Bounds.” This term refers to areas on the golf course that are marked as being outside the playing area. If a golf ball goes out of bounds, the player incurs a penalty stroke and must play another ball from the original spot.
  2. Offset: A design feature found on some golf clubs, particularly drivers and woods, where the leading edge of the clubhead is set back slightly behind the hosel or shaft. This design is intended to help players square the clubface at impact.
  3. One Up: A term used in match play to indicate that a golfer or team is leading by one hole in the match.
  4. Out of Bounds (repeated for clarity): See the first explanation.

P

  1. Par: The standard score set for each hole on a golf course, representing the number of strokes a skilled golfer is expected to complete the hole in. Par is used as a reference to measure a player’s performance relative to the hole’s difficulty.
  2. Pawky: A Scottish term used to describe a shot that is sly, cunning, or cleverly played.
  3. Penalty Stroke: An additional stroke added to a golfer’s score as a result of a rules violation or certain course hazards, such as hitting the ball out of bounds or into a water hazard.
  4. PGA of America: The Professional Golfers’ Association of America, an organization representing golf professionals in the United States.
  5. Pick & Drop: A term used when a golfer chooses to pick up their ball and drop it in a designated relief area, typically due to an unplayable lie or a rules situation that requires dropping.
  6. Pick Up: A golfer’s action of lifting their ball before completing a hole, often when they have no chance of scoring well on the hole or during casual rounds where strict adherence to all rules is not followed.
  7. Pin: Another term for the flagstick, which is the pole with a flag marking the location of the hole on the green.
  8. Pin High: A term used to describe a shot that comes to rest on the same line as the hole but ends up at the same distance from the pin on the green.
  9. Playing through: When faster players or a smaller group of players are allowed to pass a slower group on the golf course to maintain a proper pace of play.
  10. Preferred Lie: A local rule in golf that allows players to lift, clean, and place their ball within a specified area of the fairway to improve playability when the course conditions are particularly challenging.
  11. Pro Shop: The retail store located at a golf course or club where golf equipment, apparel, accessories, and other golf-related items are sold.
  12. Provisional Ball: An additional ball played by a golfer when they are unsure whether their original ball is lost or out of bounds. If the original ball is found, the provisional ball is abandoned; if the original ball is indeed lost or out of bounds, the provisional ball is played as the next stroke.
  13. Pull: A type of golf shot that starts left of the target (for a right-handed golfer) and continues in that direction without curving back toward the target.
  14. Punch: A low-trajectory shot usually played with a shorter club to keep the ball under the wind or tree branches.
  15. Putt: A golf shot played with a putter on the green, intended to roll the ball into the hole.
  16. Putting: The act of attempting to sink the golf ball into the hole on the green using a putter.

Q

  1. Quick: As mentioned earlier, “quick” refers to the pace of play on the golf course, encouraging players to move swiftly and efficiently.
  2. Q-School: Short for “Qualifying School,” Q-School is a series of professional golf tournaments held by various golf tours to determine which players will earn playing privileges for the tour’s upcoming season.
  3. Quadruple Bogey: Scoring four strokes over par on a single hole. For example, making a quadruple bogey on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in eight strokes.
  4. Quintuple Bogey: Scoring five strokes over par on a single hole. For example, making a quintuple bogey on a par 4 means the golfer completes the hole in nine strokes.

r

  1. Rainmaker: A term used to describe a long and high shot that can carry through heavy rain or inclement weather conditions.
  2. Ready golf: A style of play that encourages golfers to proceed with their shots promptly, regardless of who has the honor or the closest ball to the hole. The focus is on maintaining a good pace of play.
  3. Relief: The process of taking a drop or free relief from certain conditions or situations on the golf course, as allowed by the Rules of Golf.
  4. Rough: The areas of longer grass found on the sides of fairways and around the course, designed to penalize errant shots and make it more challenging for players to hit accurate shots.
  5. Rub of the Green: A term used to describe the unpredictable and incidental movements of a golf ball caused by outside influences on the course, such as a bounce off a tree or an unexpected deviation due to an uneven surface. Players must accept the rub of the green as part of the game.

S

  1. Sandbagger: A term used to describe a golfer who deliberately plays below their actual ability, often to gain an advantage in competitive or handicapped events.
  2. Sandy: A term used when a golfer successfully gets the ball into the hole after hitting a shot from a greenside bunker, using the least number of strokes possible.
  3. Scramble: A type of golf format where all members of a team hit their tee shots, then the team selects the best shot and all members play from that spot. This process continues until the ball is holed.
  4. Short-Sided: When a golfer’s ball comes to rest on the side of the green that is closest to the hole, leaving them with limited space to work with for their next shot.
  5. Shank: A dreaded and poorly struck shot where the ball is struck with the hosel of the club, causing it to veer sharply offline and usually ending up in an undesirable location.
  6. Slope: In the context of golf course rating and slope rating, slope refers to the measurement of the relative difficulty of a golf course for players who are not scratch golfers.
  7. Slice: A type of golf shot that curves sharply from left to right (for a right-handed golfer) or right to left (for a left-handed golfer).
  8. Snowman: Slang for scoring an 8 on a single hole. It is called a “snowman” because the numeral “8” visually resembles a snowman.
  9. Starter: The golf course official responsible for maintaining the pace of play and ensuring that players tee off at their designated times.
  10. Stroke: A single swing of the golf club to strike the ball.
  11. Stroke play: A type of golf format where the golfer’s score is determined by the total number of strokes taken throughout the entire round.
  12. Sand Trap: Another term for a bunker, which is a hazard filled with sand strategically placed on the golf course to challenge golfers when their ball lands in it.
  13. Sticks: A slang term used to refer to golf clubs.

t

  1. Tee Box: The area on each golf hole where players begin their round by teeing up their ball before the first shot.
  2. The Beach: Slang for a sand bunker or sand trap on the golf course.
  3. The Tips (Championship Tees/Back Tees): The farthest set of tee markers on a golf hole, positioned to provide the longest and most challenging playing distance. The Tips are typically used for championship play or by highly skilled golfers.
  4. The Turn: Refers to the point during an 18-hole round of golf where the front nine holes are completed, and the golfer transitions to play the back nine holes.
  5. Thin (Skinny): A term used to describe a poorly struck shot where the clubhead makes contact with the upper half of the golf ball, resulting in a low, line-drive trajectory.
  6. Three-Putt: Scoring three strokes to hole out on the green, typically used to describe missing a relatively short putt on the green and taking an extra stroke.
  7. Topped Shot: A shot where the golfer makes contact with the top portion of the golf ball, causing it to roll along the ground for only a short distance.

U

  1. Uphill Lie: A situation where the golf ball is resting on a slope with the higher side closer to the golfer. This lie can affect the ball’s trajectory and may require adjustments to the shot.
  2. Up and Down: A term used to describe a situation where a golfer successfully completes a hole with two strokes: one to get the ball onto the green and another to putt it into the hole.
  3. U.S.G.A.: Abbreviation for the United States Golf Association, the governing body for golf in the United States, responsible for setting and administering the rules of golf.
  4. U-turn: A term used humorously when a golfer hits a shot that starts in one direction but curves sharply and unexpectedly back in the opposite direction.

v

  1. Valleys: Slang for a series of difficult holes on a golf course, often implying that these holes are challenging to play and may lead to higher scores.
  2. Victory lap: A playful term used when a golfer putts out on the final hole of a successful round, celebrating their victory by taking an additional putt or two before leaving the green.
  3. Velcro: A term used when a golf ball sticks close to the hole after landing on the green, making it easier for the golfer to sink the subsequent putt.

W

  1. Waggle: The small and rhythmic movement of the golf club and hands that some golfers use as a pre-shot routine to help relax and get a feel for the swing before addressing the ball.
  2. W.G.A.M.: Abbreviation for the Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts, an organization dedicated to promoting and advancing women’s golf in Massachusetts.
  3. Watery Grave: A humorous term used when a golf ball lands in a water hazard, often leading to a penalty stroke and making it difficult to retrieve the ball.
  4. Worm burner: A low-flying shot that barely gets off the ground and skims along the turf, sometimes barely clearing the grass (like a worm close to the ground).
  5. Whiff: A term used to describe a swing and miss, where the golfer attempts to hit the ball but fails to make contact.

x

  1. X-Out: A term used to describe golf balls that have minor cosmetic blemishes or imperfections but are still usable. These balls are often sold at a discounted price compared to new, unblemished balls.
  2. “Made an X”: A casual expression used when a golfer scores a double bogey on a hole, completing the hole in two strokes over par.

y

  1. Yank: A term used to describe a shot that curves sharply from right to left (for a right-handed golfer) or left to right (for a left-handed golfer).
  2. Yips: A condition characterized by involuntary muscle spasms or tremors, often affecting the hands or wrists, that can negatively impact a golfer’s ability to make smooth and accurate strokes, particularly on short putts.

Z

  1. Zone: A mental state in which a golfer feels completely focused, in control, and performing at their best. Being “in the zone” often leads to excellent play and a heightened sense of concentration.
  2. Zinger: A term used to describe a long and impressive shot, often with great distance and accuracy.
  3. Zip: Another term used to describe a shot with significant distance, particularly off the tee.
  4. Zoomie: Slang for a golf ball that travels at high speed and covers a considerable distance, typically on a long drive.
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