Golf Terms and Sayings
Golf Terms and Sayings
Ever wonder why the people at the golf course keep talking about the birds. What’s a bogey anyways? Why does everybody keep talking about someone’s back side? Exactly how much does a drop cost? You might be new to golf and not know a lot of these golf terms, or you could be an avid golfer who just hasn’t seen or heard a few of these terms or sayings. We have a list of terms and sayings for you and you might even get a chuckle out of a few of them. No matter if you’re on the course or in the clubhouse these terms can help you out!
ACE – When a golfer makes a hole in one! In other words, the tee shot is hit and it goes into the hole – Quite rare. Always Awesome!
ADDRESS – We are not trying to mail you anything we are talking golf here people. This is the position of a golfers body just before they swing the club to hit the ball. Most of the time you will hear the term used as “addressing the ball” which means the golfer is standing there preparing to hit the ball.
ALBATROSS – It’s a large seabird that ranges widely around the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic. But we are talking golf so let’s get back to that. As a golf term it’s an old British name for a double eagle. Means you scored 3 under par on a single hole! In other words, you scored a 2 on a par 5 hole. It’s a very good score and doesn’t happen very often either.
APPROACH – A golf shot played into the green. Often referred to as an “approach shot”.
APRON – The closely cut area just around the edge of the green. Often called the “Fringe”.
BACKSPIN – This is a reverse spin on the ball, which causes the ball to stop very quickly on the green.
BACKSWING – The backward part of the swing starting from the ground and going back over the top of the golfer’s head.
BAIL OUT – A shot played to the “safe” part of the course. For example if the flag is right next to the water and the golfer intentionally shoots away from the flag to avoid the water – thus “bailing out”
BALL MARKER – A token or small coin which is placed directly just behind the ball in order to mark the position of the ball on the green. This is usually done to allow another player who is farther away to putt without hitting any other balls.
BALL RETRIEVER – A long pole with a scoop on the end of it used to get balls out of water hazards.
BALL WASHER – No trickery here people. These are found all over the golf course usually at the tee boxes. They clean and wash your ball.
BANANA BALL – A slice that curves in a banana like shape from left to right (for right-handed golfers).
BASEBALL GRIP – Holding the golf club like one would hold a baseball bat. All 10 fingers are on the grip.
BEACH – An expression for sandtrap. (i.e. I’m in the beach)
BENT GRASS – Type of grass which is found in mostly in northern climates.
BERMUDA GRASS – Now think about this one for just a minute. This is a type of grass found mostly in southern climates, as it is tougher and more resilient to harsh sunlight. Kind of like you would find in… that’s right Bermuda! You are a genius!
BIRDIE – A score of 1 under par for a hole. (i.e. a score of 3 on a par 4 hole)
BITE – A term used for the action of the backspin on the ball stopping it very quickly on the green.
BOGEY – A score of 1 over par on a hole. (i.e. a score of 5 on a par 4 hole)
BUNKER – Another name for a sandtrap.
CADDIE – A person who carries a player’s clubs during play and offers assistance in accordance with the rules.
CARRY – The distance in the air that a ball must travel before it hits the ground. (i.e. you need 160 yards to carry the water means you need to hit the ball 160 yards in the air to clear the water)
CASUAL WATER – No this is not water dressed in blue jeans and T-shirt but rather any temporary puddles of water on the course which are not supposed to be there, like say for instance after a rainstorm. There is no penalty for a player to move his ball out of casual water.
CHIP SHOT – A short approach shot with a low trajectory usually hit from close to the green.
CHIP IN – This happens when you hit a chip shot (see above) into the cup. (Note: this is usually good!)
CHOKE – This word has two meanings. One is to grip lower on the club than normal (you may hear the term “choke down” on the club) The other definition in golf (and most other sports) means to collapse under pressure (i.e. he “choked” under the pressure of the Master’s).
CHOP – To hit the ball with a hacking motion or the word immediately after “pork”.
CHUNKY – We aren’t talking about those love handles. These are normally chip shots that your club grabs the ground and the shot normally ends up being short.
CLUBHEAD – The hitting area of the golf club.
CLUBHOUSE – The main building at the golf course where players usually go to have refreshments and tell about their 2 under par round (note: at times, you can actually see their noses grow!)
COURSE RATING – The difficulty of a course. Usually the higher the course rating the harder it is.
CUP – The thing in the hole that holds the flagstick.
DEUCE – Hmmm, now lets see, if an ace is a hole in one, then a deuce must be a hole in two! That’s right Sherlock! It is a score of 2 on a hole!
DIMPLE – The small round indentations on the golf ball. A lot of really smart guys (some call them scientists) got together and figured out how many dimples would help the ball fly straight and true.
DIVOT – A piece of ground that is taken up by the club after hitting the ball. A good golfer ALWAYS replaces his divots and tamps them back down so they will grow back again!
DOGLEG – This is one of two things. It is either one of four things that Rover walks on or it is a hole that goes straight for a while then has a bend (or “dogleg”) to the left or right. You decide which fits here!
DOUBLE BOGEY – A score of two over par for one hole. These are not very good!
DOUBLE EAGLE – NO, this is NOT two eagles, but it is a good score for one hole! In fact it is an excellent score for one hole – three under par for one hole! (i.e. a two on a par five!) This is also referred to as an “albatross”.
DOWNHILL LIE – The ball is on the downslope of a hill. When a right handed player addresses the ball his right foot will be higher than his left foot.
DRAIN – To make a putt (“drain it”).
DRAW SHOT – This is when a right handed player hits a controlled hook, which goes from right to left.
DRIVE – This is the term which means your tee shot. It is also usually the way you get to the golf course.
DRIVER – This is the club known as the 1 wood. It is usually the club that hits the ball the farthest. It is also a person that very rich people have to haul them around.
DROP – This is a way that you get the ball back in play after hitting a shot into the water or out of bounds. This also happens to waitresses when they carry too many plates.
DUB – A poorly hit shot. I “dubbed” that shot.
DUFFER – One who hits a lot of bad shots. Can also be called a “hacker”.
EAGLE – This is a bird in real life, but in golf it means a score of 2 under par on a hole. (I.e. a score of 3 on a par 5 hole)
FACE – This is what you see when you look in the mirror and it is also the part of the clubhead that makes contact with the ball.
FADE – This is a shot (for a right-handed golfer) which curves gradually from left to right.
FAIRWAY – This is the area on the golf course which lies directly between the tee box and the green and is cut really short and maintained really nice. You want to hit from this area if at all possible.
FAT SHOT – This is a shot which is not good. The club hits the ground behind the ball and results in a poorly struck shot that usually doesn’t go very far.
FLAGSTICK – Come’on, you gotta know this one.
FLUB – See dub above.
FOLLOW-THROUGH – The continuation of the golf swing to the end.
FORE – This is spelled differently than the number 4. This is the term yelled when one hits a shot toward another person on the golf course to alert him/her of impending doom from being hit by the ball.
FOURSOME – A term given to a group of… come’on how many do you think players? (hint: 4!)
FREE DROP – A drop that you don’t have to pay for, really that is correct, you get to drop the ball and don’t have to add a stroke to your score. This can happen when there is casual water on the course or ground under repair.
FRINGE – The closely cut area just around the edge of the green.
FRONT SIDE – The first nine holes is usually referred to as the “front side”.
GIMME – A term for a putt that is close enough to the cup that it will certainly be made so the other player says “it’s a gimme” and the player doesn’t have to putt it. However, he does need to add this stroke to his score!
GRAIN – This is the direction that the grass on the green is growing. A golf ball will roll faster with the grain and slower against it.
GREEN – This is a color and also the term used to describe the putting surface on the golf course.
GRIP – This refers to either the part of the shaft by which the club is held by the golfer or the manner in which the golfer holds the club. (i.e. an overlapping grip)
GROSS – The total number of strokes a player takes on his round. Also a term that could be used for a terrible shot.
GROUNDING THE CLUB – Placing the clubhead on the ground behind the ball at address position.
GROUND UNDER REPAIR – An area on the golf course that is being repaired. Golfers are able to take a “free drop” if their ball ends up in ground under repair.
HACKER – A golfer who is not very skilled. Same as a duffer.
HANDICAP – The number of strokes a player may deduct from his actual (or gross) score to adjust his score to that of a scratch golfer.
HAZARD – A hazard is any sand trap, lake, pond, bunker, etc. that may cause problems on the golf course. It is normally a good idea to avoid a hazard on the golf course.
HEEL – What you tell your dog to do when walking him/her OR the part of the clubhead nearest the shaft.
HOLE – A 4 inch round receptacle on the green that you try to get your ball into.
HOLE HIGH – An approach shot which is even with the hole but off to one side.
HOLE-IN-ONE – See ACE above.
HOLE OUT – The process of a player completing the hole.
HONOR – The privilege of hitting first on the next tee. The “honor” is gained by having the lowest score on the preceding hole.
HOOK – To hit the ball and have it curve gradually from right to left (for right-handed golfers).
HOSEL – The hollow part of the clubhead that the shaft fits into.
INSIDE THE LEATHER – A golfer’s ball is “inside the leather” if it is as close to the hole as the distance from the bottom of the putter grip to the putter’s clubhead.
INTERLOCKING GRIP – A type of grip where the little finger of the lower hand is interlocked with the index finger of the upper hand.
IRON – A club with a metal head which is not a wood!
JAIL – A golfer’s term for a ball hit into a lot of trees which makes it very difficult to hit your ball out of…”in jail”
JUNGLE – A golfers term for heavy rough or in the woods. (i.e. in the jungle)
KICK – A golfer’s term for bounce. (I got a bad kick means I got a bad bounce)
LAG – To putt the ball with the intention of leaving it short of the hole so that the golfer is able to have a very easy putt on the next shot.
LATERAL HAZARD – Any hazard that runs parallel to the fairway.
LIE – This is what you tell your wife when she asks if you went to work and you really went golfing OR it is the position that the ball ends up when it comes to rest on the ground.
LIFT, CLEAN, and PLACE – This is more of a rule than a term but it’s something you will hear on the course for sure. If it’s a wet day you can decide at the beginning of the round to allow this rule. So if there is mud on the ball or the ball is plugged. You can LIFT it, CLEAN it, and PLACE it on the ground before hitting again.
LINKS – Another word for a golf course. This originally meant a seaside course. Normally not a lot of trees and plenty of wind on a links style course.
LIP – The top rim of the cup or what you have two of on your face.
LOB SHOT – A shot that goes straight up in the air and stops very quickly on the green.
LOCAL RULES – A set of rules for a particular golf course as determined by that course.
LOFT – This is an apartment in England OR it is the angle of the clubface from vertical.
MATCH PLAY – This is a form of competition by holes. Each hole is worth one point no matter how many strokes one player beats another by.
MEDAL PLAY – This is a form of competition decided by the overall number of strokes. This may also be referred to as stroke play.
MULLIGAN – An extra shot which your opponent MAY allow you to take if you hit a really bad first shot. NOTE: this is NOT the way we suggest to play golf.
MUNICIPAL COURSE – A public course which is owned by a local government agency.
NASSAU – A form of competition which breaks down the play into front nine, back nine and overall 18 holes. A point is allowed for each nine and the total 18.
NINETEENTH HOLE – Another term for the clubhouse or in particular the bar at the clubhouse. This is a RealGolfTalk favorite location!
OFFSET – A club with the head slightly behind (or offset) the shaft.
OUT-OF-BOUNDS – The area outside of the golf course limits in which play is prohibited. If you hit the ball out of bounds you must hit again from the same spot and take a penalty stroke.
OVERCLUBBING – Using a club that will hit the ball farther than necessary.
PAR – The number of stokes that is recommended to take to complete a hole (or 18 holes).
PENALTY STROKE – An additional stroke which is added to a golfer’s score for a rules violation, going out of bounds, losing a ball, or various other situations.
PIN – This is the flagstick or the pole that is in the cup.
PITCH – A short high arcing shot that lands on the green and usually stops quickly.
PITCH AND RUN – Same as a pitch but hit with a lesser lofted club which causes it to roll farther.
PIVOT – The rotation of the shoulders, waist, and pelvis during the golf swing.
PLAYING THROUGH – The process of slower players in front of faster players allowing the faster players to move ahead of the slower group.
PREFERRED LIE – A lie that may be improved by a player.
PRO SHOP – The golf course shop operated by the golf pro.
PROVISIONAL BALL – An additional ball which is hit in case the first ball can not be found. If the first ball is found, it is played. If the first ball is not found, the provisional must be played and the player is assessed a penalty stroke.
PULL – A ball that is pulled (or hit) to the left of the target (for right handers).
PUNCH THE GREENS – No we’re not mad and hitting the greens… this is another way to say the greens are being aerified.
PUSH – A ball that is pushed (or hit) to the right of the target (for right handers).
PUTT – A shot that rolls on the green hit with the putter.
PUTTER – The club with a flat face used to putt. Often called the “flat stick”
PUTTING GREEN – The surface area around the hole that is specially prepared for putting.
RANGE – This is the area where you go to practice. It usually has many stations to hit practice shots.
READING THE GREEN – Determining which way the putt will curve based upon the slope of the green.
ROUGH – Long grass area adjacent to the fairway. Normally you try to avoid the rough.
ROUND – Complete 18 holes of golf. (i.e. a round of golf is the playing of 18 holes)
RUN – The distance the ball will travel along the ground after it lands.
SANDBAGGER – This is a golfer who purposely tells others that he is a worse golfer than he really is in order to gain an edge in competition.
SAND TRAP – The common name for a sand hazard. These are areas that are filled with sand and should be avoided.
SAND WEDGE – An iron normally used to hit the ball out of the sand. It can also be used on short pitch shots.
SANDY – A player makes a sandy when he hits a shot out of the sand and sinks the following putt.
SCRATCH GOLFER – A player who has a handicap of 0. This player will theoretically shoot even par or better every time out.
SHANK – Hitting the ball with the hosel of the club which normally makes the ball go almost straight. Not a good straight. Normally it ends up straight where your toes are pointing.
SHORT GAME – The part of the game made up of chipping, putting and other shots around the green.
SHOTGUN START – A method of starting play where players go to every tee box on the golf course and hit their tee shots at the same time. Sometimes a horn is sounded to start play.
SIDE – This is a term, which is interchangeable with the word “nine” as in front side which means the front nine or front nine holes. Now if you are really smart, you can also figure out that the back side is the back nine or last nine holes!
SIDEHILL LIE – This refers to a lie when the ball is resting on a slope and the golfer’s feet are either above or below the ball.
SLICE – This is either a piece of bread or a shot struck by a golfer which curves pretty severely from left to right (for a right handed golfer).
SLOPE RATING – USGA term that represents the difficulty of a course for bogey golfers relative to the USGA Course Rating (which represents the difficulty for scratch golfers). The higher the slope, the more difficult the course plays for bogey golfers. Slope ratings range from 55 to 155 and 113 is considered average.
SNAKE – An award given to a player in a friendly game when the player three putts. Whoever has the snake at the end of the round usually ‘gets’ to treat the other players to a beverage.
STARTER – The person who is responsible for sending the groups of players off the first tee. Usually the starter is located somewhere close to the first hole.
STIFF– When you hit the ball stiff, you’ve hit the ball very well and close to the pin.
STIMPMETER – This is a device which is used to calibrate the speed of the greens. Often referred to as ‘stimp’. A reading of 5 to 11 is the normal range with 5 being slow and 11 being extremely (PGA) fast!
STONY – You just stuck it next to the pin… congratulations on the stony. This is the shot you wiggle and grunt to try and make it go in because you hit it so close to the hole.
STROKE – This is often used in the following context, “how many STROKES are you giving me” which means how many shots or additional swings are you giving me to even out the match. It can also be the term used for the actual process of swinging the club through the ball.
SUDDEN DEATH – This is a method of breaking a tied match by playing extra holes. The first player to win a hole is the winner.
SUMMER RULES – Ordinary rules according to the rulebook.
SWEET SPOT – The center point on the face of the club. When you hit it here it feels really good!
TAKEAWAY – This is what a golfer does when he starts the backswing.
TEE – This is the wooden (usually) peg which is used to hold the ball up for driving. It is also the term for the area where play begins on a particular hole (i.e. the third tee is where the third hole starts)
TEXAS WEDGE – The term for the putter when it is used from off the green.
THREESOME – Hmmm… now if you think about this you might just get it. Hint: it refers to three players playing in the same group.
TIGHT FAIRWAY – A narrow fairway with not much area on either side to miss.
TIGHT LIE – Your ball is sitting on very tightly mowed grass.
TOE – This is a term for what you have on your feet OR it refers to the part of the club farthest from where it joins the shaft.
TRAJECTORY – The flight path of the ball. If it goes way up in the air it is referred to a high trajectory.
TURN – To start the back nine holes. To “make the turn” means you have finished the 1st nine holes and are “turning” to the 2nd nine.
UNDERCLUBBING – Using a club that does not provide enough distance to hit the ball to the intended target.
UNPLAYABLE LIE – A lie from which the ball can’t be hit. (i.e. it is up against a tree and the player can’t hit it)
WAGGLE – The movement of the clubhead just prior to the player taking a swing.
WEDGE – An iron with a high loft used for short shots requiring a high trajectory.
WHIFF – Swinging and missing the ball.
WINTER RULES – Local golf rules that permit the player to improve the lie of the ball in the fairway. There may be additional winter rules allowed depending on the golf course condition.
WOOD – A club (either wood or metal) which is used for shots requiring a lot of distance.
WORMBURNER – A shot which skims very low along the ground. Thus killing any worms that may be poking their heads up.