Golf Glossary: Essential Golf Terms for Golfers

Golf Terms

Have you ever found yourself at a golf course, listening to people talk about birdies, putters, and sand traps, and wondering if they’re speaking a language you don’t understand? Fear not, my friend. Golf is a sport that has its own unique vocabulary, and with a little bit of know-how, you’ll be speaking like a pro in no time. 

Whether you’re trying to improve your backswing or just trying to learn the lingo, this A-Z list of golf terms has got you covered. From Ace to Zinger, it’s time to brush up on your golf speak and hit the green with confidence.

A

  • Ace: Hitting the ball in one shot and getting it into the hole. 
  • Address: Position of the body before making a golf shot. 
  • Aggregate: Total score for a round or tournament event. 
  • Aim: Direction you are aiming your golf shot. 
  • Air Shot: Missing the ball entirely with a swing. 
  • Albatross: Getting three shots under par on a single hole. 
  • Alignment: How your body is positioned when setting up to make a golf shot. 
  • All Square (AS): When two players have equal scores during match play.  
  • Ambrose: A method of playing golf where each player takes the ‘best shot’ and then all players take their next stroke from that spot. 
  • Angle of approach: The direction of travel the club head takes through the impact area when hitting the ball. 
  • Approach Shot: Shot aimed at getting onto or near the green on a hole, usually using an iron or fairway wood club. 
  • Apron: Area between rough and fairway, close to putting green’s edge.   
  • Artisan: Professional golfer who makes and sells clubs, repairs clubs, etc. 
  • Attend (the flag-stick): Remove it from the hole before putting so as not to interfere with the putting path; also known as ‘tending’ or ‘tending the pin’.  
  • Away: The person whose ball is farthest away from their cup, and so gets to go first during each turn in golf play.

B

  • Back nine: Nine holes on the back side of a golf course (18-hole golf course).
  • Backspin: A shot with a spin that causes it to travel backward after hitting the ground. 
  • Back-swing: Swinging the golf club back prior to hitting the ball.
  • Ball: A small, round object made of rubber and used in golf. 
  • Ball-marker: A small object used to mark the location of a ball on the green. 
  • Ball-washer: A device found on golf tees used to clean golf balls on the course. 
  • Banana-ball: A golf shot that curves sharply in one direction or another due to spin and/or wind resistance that resembles a banana.
  • Bandit: Slang for an exceptionally skilled golfer or player who plays above their handicap. 
  • Bare lie: When the ball lies directly on the ground that has no grass, making it difficult to get enough loft on shots out of it. 
  • Best ball: A type of team competition in which one member from each team plays their best shot and each team’s score is determined by adding up all their best shots for the round.  
  • Biarritz holes: These par-3s are typically 210-240 yards long and designed to test the accuracy of long shots.
  • Bifurcation: Recently, the USGA and R&A proposed a Model Local Rule that would require highly skilled golfers to use a different golf ball starting in 2026. We will see a bifurcation in our sport, which means that the amateur golfer will use different equipment from the professional.
  • BIGGA: British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association which helps ensure the health, safety, and proper upkeep of golf courses worldwide. 
  • Birdie: A score in golf that is one stroke lower than par. 
  • Bisque: In match play, bisque is a handicap given to a weaker player by allowing them extra strokes on certain holes. 
  • Bite: The ability of a golf ball to spin when it lands on the green; this helps keep it close to the hole during approach shots. 
  • Blade
    • (i) A type of golf club whose face is narrow and flat, usually used off a tee or fairway wood. 
    • (ii) The area of iron clubs that make contact with the ball when hit with full force during shots. 
  • Blast: Hit a shot off the sand out of a sand bunker with extra power so that it will make more distance before it comes to rest on the green or fairway along with some sand. Also known as the explosion.
  • Blind: When a golfer cannot see their target while making a shot due to an obstacle blocking their view or because they are hitting from an awkward angle. 
  • Block: When the player mis-hits the golf ball resulting in it going too far right.
  • Bogey: A score of one stroke higher than par in golf for any particular hole being played on.  
  • Bogey golfer: Someone who takes more than one shot more than par on each hole they play on average.  
  • Borrow: Taking into account how much slope there is on either side of the putting surface when aiming your putt as this can affect roll distance and outcome; also referred to as break.
  • Bounce: The angle at which the club impacts with the ground causing it to jump from its surface when hitting a ball resulting in less spin when hitting from tight lies or sand bunkers.   
  • Bounce Back: A statistic showing the ability of a golfer to recover after making a bogey or worse to make a birdie or better the next hole.
  • Break: The ability of a put ball to move left or right in a straight line.
  • Bullarding: Consistently exceeding your handicap in competitions or failing to achieve your goal.
  • Bump and run: A shot where the golfer hits the ball below its normal trajectory in order to make it roll forward quickly after it lands. 
  • Bunker: A sand-filled hazard on the course where golfers must hit out of with a special club. 
  • Bunker, Green-side: A bunker located near the green, usually meant to challenge golfers toward the end of the hole. 
  • Bunker, Fairway: A bunker located on the fairway, usually meant to challenge golfers earlier in the hole.
  • Bye: A short match played over the remaining holes when a major victory has been won by one player or team. In addition to adding a competitive element to the rest of the holes, it also adds pride for the losing team.

C

  • Caddie or Caddy: A caddie is someone who carries a golfer’s bag and provides helpful advice. 
  • Calcutta: A form of wagering in which people bid money to buy a certain player in a tournament. 
  • Carry: The distance a ball travels through the air when struck. 
  • Cart: A vehicle used to transport golfers and their equipment around the course. 
  • Casual water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the golf course that is not part of a water hazard. 
  • Cavity back: A type of golf club with an indentation on the backside for better feel and control when hitting shots. 
  • Chip: A short shot made with a high lofted club, typically used to hit the ball close to the hole from off the green. 
  • Champions Tour: The professional tour for players aged 50 and over, also known as the PGA Tour Champions. 
  • Chunk: When a golfer hits the ground before making contact with the ball, resulting in poor contact with the ball and little distance traveled. 
  • Closed face: When the clubface is angled slightly toward the target instead of being square to it at impact.  
  • Closed stance: When a golfer takes their feet closer together than normal as they address their shot before striking it.  
  • Club
    • (i) One of 14 different types of clubs in a golfer’s bag, each designed for particular shots or distances.
    • (ii) An organization that owns or manages a golf course.
    • (iii) The entire golf facility.
  • Club-head: The part of a golf club that makes contact with the ball when it is struck during a golf swing.  
  • Club-face: The surface of a club head that comes into contact with the ball during a golf swing.  
  • Clubhouse: An area on a golf course that serves as a place for golfers to relax, store their clubs and equipment, and meet other players. 
  • Come-backer: A shot made from off the green towards one’s own original position after missing an attempted putt or chip shot from that spot previously.  
  • Compress: Squeezing the ball when hitting it with a club. 
  • Compression: An indication of the hardness of a golf ball, usually 90 compression. Those with higher compression (100) are intended for players who swing faster and may also prove useful in windy conditions.
  • Condor: A score of four under par on a hole, usually achieved with an eagle or two birdies.  
  • Count-back: A system used to decide the winner in a golf tournament if more than one player has the same score at the end of 18 holes. 
  • Course: The entire area of land designated for playing golf, including all tees, greens, fairways, roughs, and hazards. 
  • Course rating: A numerical value indicating how difficult it is to play on any given golf course compared to other courses in the same region. 
  • Courtesy of the course: Free access to play on a golf course given by its owner or operator. 
  • Cross-handed: A style of gripping where the left hand is lower than the right hand (opposite normal ‘overlapping’ grip) while holding onto the club handle. 
  • Cut
    • (i) When a stroke play tournament is played over more than one round, the field size is reduced, known as cut. 
    • (ii) In a similar way to a fade, a cut curve from right to left (from a left-handed player’s perspective), but generally has a higher trajectory.

D

  • Dead: Broadcaster slang for a shot with no chance of success.
  • Dimples: Tiny circles on a golf ball that help it stay in the air longer when hit.  
  • Divot: Pieces of turf and dirt that are taken away when a golfer hits the ground with their club. 
  • Dogleg: A hole on a golf course where the fairway turns in either direction.  
  • Dog license: A match play contest that ends with the winner winning by 7 holes (known as 7 & 6), after 12 holes for 18 holes or 30 holes for 36 holes.
  • Dormie or Dormy: A situation in match play when one golfer has reached a number of holes equal to the number of holes remaining in the match.  
  • Dormie house: A small building located near a golf course, often used by players for overnight stays. 
  • Double bogey: A score of two strokes over par on any individual hole.
  • Double cross: When a golfer hits a ball far off the line from the intended target than expected.
  • Double eagle: A score of three strokes below par for a hole. 
  • Downswing: The part of a golf swing where the club is swung downwards from the top of its backswing arc to strike the ball.  
  • Draw: A type of golf shot that curves from left to right (for right-handed players).  
  • Drive: The first shot played from the teeing ground at each hole, typically made with a long-distance wood or iron club designed for maximum distance rather than accuracy. 
  • Duck-hook: An erratic shot that curves sharply from right to left (for right-handed players).  
  • Duff: To mis-hit a golf shot, usually resulting in an inefficient outcome.

E

  • Eagle: A score of two strokes under par on a single golf hole. 
  • Epson Tour: It is the Official Qualifying Tour of the LPGA & is also called the “Road to the LPGA.”
  • Even: A score on a hole that is equal to par. 
  • Explosion bunker shot: Hitting the ball with enough force to get it out of a sand bunker. 
  • European Tour: One of the professional golf tours for men sanctioned by the European Golf Association. 

F

  • Fade: A shot in golf where the ball moves from left to right (for a right-handed golfer). 
  • Fairway: The area of mowed grass between the tee and green. 
  • Fairway hit (FH): On a par 4 or 5 hole, any part of the ball touching the fairway is considered a fairway hit.
  • Fairway markers: Markers that indicate distances on the fairway. 
  • Fat: When a golfer hits the ground before hitting the ball. 
  • Ferret: To hit a shot into a very small area, often to save par. 
  • Flag-stick: The pole with a flag on top which marks the position of the hole.  
  • Flier: When a player hits a low-lying shot that is able to fly further than expected due to less air resistance.  
  • Flop shot: An intentional short-range high trajectory shot used to evade hazards or clear obstacles near the green. 
  • Follow through: The part of your swing after you have made contact with the ball. 
  • Fore: The warning call used by players when they think another player may be in danger from an incoming golf ball. 
  • Fore caddy: Someone who accompanies players and helps them locate their shots, as well as provides advice on how best to play the course.
  • Four-ball: A type of match play in which two teams of two players compete against each other using one combined score for each hole. 
  • Foursomes: A type of match play game in which two teams of two players take turns hitting from the same tee box, then playing alternate shots until they make it to the green.  
  • Frenchie: A ball ricocheting off a tree and onto the fairway.
  • Fringe: The area between the fairway and green which is partly cut grass and partly rough grass/ground coverings such as sand or gravel bunkers.
  • Front nine: The first nine holes on an 18-hole golf course which are usually harder than its back nine counterparts, featuring many doglegs and obstacles set up by course designers to challenge players’ skills severely 
  • Funnies: Slang for humorous or unlucky circumstances encountered while playing golf, e.g., striking an obstacle or making an unusual putt line to sink a putt.

G

  • Gimme: A gimme is a shot that the other players agree to count without the golfer having to actually hit it. 
  • Golden ferret: A shot in golf where the player hits their ball off a raised mound of grass, usually done as part of a trick shot. 
  • Goldie bounce: Ball hits a tree in the rough and bounces out on the fairway.
  • Golf club: A golf club is used by golfers to hit the ball from one place to another. 
  • Good-good: A good-good is when both players are willing to concede other players’ putts.
  • Grain: It refers to which way grass blades grow on the putting green, which affects how fast or slow putts roll.  
  • Grand slam: A grand slam in golf means when all four major championships are won in one year by one player.
  • Green: The area around the hole made up of manicured grass where the players attempt to put their balls into the hole. It is often referred to as ‘the putting surface. 
  • Green fee: Fee charged at most courses in exchange for playing 18 holes of golf. 
  • Greensomes: A format of play in which two players form a team, taking turns hitting tee shots and then playing alternate shots into the green from there on out until holing out with their last putt. 
  • Green in regulation (GIR): This is when a player hits their tee shot onto the green with two strokes or less left for that hole.
  • Gross score: The total amount of strokes taken by one golfer before any adjustments such as handicaps are applied during scoring for an entire round or tournament event. 
  • Grounding the club: Placing your club down behind your ball before you take your practice swing or stroke on any shot other than putting from within 10cm of your ball.
  • Ground under repair (GUR): Ground under repair (GUR) is any part of the course that has been damaged or marked with temporary maintenance work being done, such as sand bunkers that have been raked recently or large divots filled with sand or seed mix.  
  • Groove: Grooves refer to indentations cut into clubs, specifically irons, and wedges, which help control ball flight and spin rate when hit correctly.

H

  • Hacker: Someone who plays golf but isn’t very good.
  • Half: In match play, the hole is halved (or tied) when each player or team plays the same number of strokes.
  • Handicap: A numerical representation of a golfer’s potential performance. 
  • Halfway house or Halfway hut: A snack bar located on a golf course, halfway between the first and last tees. 
  • Handsy: When a golfer is too aggressive with their hands when striking the ball. 
  • Hard-pan: A type of hard, dry ground found on some courses, which makes it difficult for shots to stop rolling after they have landed.
  • Hazard: Any bunker, water hazard, or other obstacles on the course that can affect your score if you hit your ball into it. 
  • Heel: The part of the club closest to the shaft when you swing it.  
  • Hole: The area where you are aiming your ball in golf, usually marked by flagsticks and cups.  
  • Hole in one: When a golfer gets their ball into the hole in one shot from tee off.  
  • Hole-in-one insurance: Insurance taken out by tournament organizers, which pays out if any competitor has a hole-in-one during play. 
  • Hook: A type of shot that curves left (for right-handed players) due to spin created by striking the ball off-center with an open face.  
  • Hosel: The hollow part of a club head where it connects to the shaft.
  • Hybrid: A type of golf club with features from both an iron and wood club, designed for accuracy and distance control. 

I

  • Immovable obstruction: An immovable obstruction is something that cannot be moved and is found on the golf course, like a tree.
  • Interlocking grip: An interlocking grip involves holding the club in both hands so the little fingers of each hand are intertwined.
  • Inward nine: The inward nine is the second nine holes of an 18-hole golf game, which starts from hole 10 and runs until hole 18.

J

  • Jab: A jab is a short, quick swing used to hit the ball with less power than a full swing. By using a jab shot, golfers can put more spin on the ball to help control its flight path.

K

  • Knock-down: A shot with a low trajectory, used usually to counter strong winds.
  • Korn Ferry Tour: This is the current sponsored name of the PGA Tour’s official developmental tour.

L

  • Lag: A long putt intended to stop close to the hole.  
  • Lateral water hazard: Any body of water that runs parallel to the hole and is marked by red stakes or lines. 
  • Lay-up: A shot where the golfer intentionally hits the ball a shorter distance to avoid a hazard or set up their next shot. 
  • Leven: Taking a bold drive over a bunker or other hazard rewards you with an easier approach than playing long or to the side of the bunker.
  • Lie: The position of the ball on the ground, including its angle, height, and where it is located on the course.
  • Line: The intended path the ball should take to reach the target, often determined by reading the green. 
  • Links: A type of golf course typically found in coastal areas, characterized by natural terrain, tall grasses, and sand dunes. 
  • Lob: A high, short shot typically used to get over an obstacle and land the ball softly on the green.
  • Local rule: A rule specific to a certain course or tournament that may differ from standard golf rules.
  • Loft: The angle of the clubface, which affects the height and distance the ball travels when hit. 
  • Loose impediment: Any object or material that isn’t a part of the course, such as leaves or rocks, that can be moved without penalty.
  • LPGA: The Ladies Professional Golf Association, an organization that promotes and supports women’s golf through tournaments and events around the world.

M

  • Made cut did not finish (MDF): When a golfer makes the cut in a tournament but doesn’t finish high enough to earn a prize.
  • Major(s): The four biggest tournaments in golf: The Masters, US Open, The Open Championship, and PGA Championship.
  • Marker: A small object used to mark the position of a golf ball on the green.
  • Mashie niblick: An old-fashioned type of golf club used for hitting the ball a short distance.
  • Match play: A format of golf where players compete against each other hole-by-hole, and the winner is the person who wins the most holes.
  • Medal play: A format of golf where each player tries to finish the round with the lowest possible score.
  • Medalist: The person who has the lowest score in a medal play tournament.
  • Member’s bounce: A term used to describe a lucky bounce that a ball takes on a golf course.
  • Mid-amateur: A golfer who is above the age of 25 and not a professional, but still plays at a high level.
  • Misread: When a golfer misjudges the distance, slope, or speed of a putt or shot.
  • Monday qualifier: A tournament held on a Monday before a major event, where players can earn a spot in the main tournament.
  • Movable obstruction: An object on the course that can be moved without penalty, like a rake or a flagstick.
  • Moving day: The third day of a four-day tournament, where players try to improve their standings going into the final day.
  • Mud ball: When a golf ball picks up mud or dirt, which can affect its flight and direction.
  • Mulligan: A do-over shot or replay shot, usually not allowed in official golf tournaments.

N

  • Nassau: A type of golf match where there are three separate bets: one for the front nine holes of a course, one for the back nine, and one for the overall 18 holes.
  • Net score: A golfer’s score after subtracting their handicap from their total strokes.
  • Nine-iron: A golf club used for hitting short to mid-range shots. It is called a “nine-iron” because, in the past, iron clubs were numbered based on their steepness of loft, with the nine-iron having the highest loft. 
  • No Card (NC): When a golfer fails to complete their scorecard with all the necessary information or completeness, it results in a “No Card.”
  • No Return (NR): A no return (or NR) is recorded when a player starts a round of golf but does not finish it, usually because they walked off the course early for some reason (such as giving up on a challenging hole). The NR is usually recorded as a score of par plus any handicap strokes the player is entitled to.

O

  • On the charge: When a golfer is playing aggressively and seeking to make birdies instead of just playing it safe.
  • Open face: The position of a clubface that is pointing right of the target (for right-handed golfers) or left of the target (for left-handed golfers).
  • Open stance: A golfer’s stance in which the front foot is positioned farther away from the target line than the back foot.
  • Outside agent: In stroke play, any agent who is not part of the competitor’s team. A referee, marker, observer, and caddy are all outside agents. Water and wind are not outside agents.
  • Outward nine: The first nine holes of an 18-hole course; the “front nine”.
  • Out-of-bounds: This is an area beyond the boundaries of the golf course where a player isn’t allowed to hit the ball, resulting in a penalty if it happens.
  • Overlapping grip: A grip in which the pinkie of the right-hand overlaps the index and middle fingers of the left hand (for right-handed golfers).

P

  • Pace: The speed at which you play golf.
  • Par: The number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to complete a hole or course.
  • Penal: A stroke added to a score due to an incorrect shot, usually because of a rule violation.
  • Perfect round: A round of golf in which all 18 holes are played with the least number of strokes possible.
  • PGA: Professional Golfers’ Association, the governing body for professional golfers worldwide.
  • PGA Tour: A professional golf tour for male players operated by the PGA. 
  • PGA Tour Champions: A professional senior golf tour for male players aged 50 and older operated by the PGA. 
  • Pin: The flagstick on the green of a hole in golf, used to mark its location. 
  • Pick Up: Picking up the golf ball before finishing a hole.
  • Pin-high: When the ball comes to rest level with the pin or flagstick. 
  • Pitch: A short shot with an iron club, typically played from within 50 yards of the green.
  • Pitch mark: An indentation left in the green from a pitched shot that should be fixed after completing your putt. 
  • Play through: When one golfer allows another in their group to play ahead of them.
  • Plugged lie: A plugged lie occurs when a golf ball lands in a spot where it is partially or completely embedded in the ground. 
  • Plus handicap: A plus handicap indicates that a golfer’s score was better than par for the course they played. 
  • Pop-up: When the ball travels high and short in the air, typically caused by too steep an angle at impact. 
  • Power transfer ratio: A measurement of how efficiently energy from a golfer’s swing transfers to the golf ball. 
  • Preferred lies: Certain conditions on the course which allow players to move their balls to improve playing conditions. 
  • Pre-shot routine: Performing certain rituals and mental tasks prior to hitting each shot, such as visualizing the target and taking practice swings. 
  • Pro (Professional): A professional golfer who has certifications and experiences that exceed those of most amateur players.
  • Pro shop: A store located on or near a golf course where golfers can purchase equipment, apparel, accessories, and more. 
  • Pull: A mis-hit shot where you impart spin opposite from the target direction.
  • Punch shot: A low trajectory shot used when there’s little room between your ball and an obstacle like trees or buildings.
  • Push: A shot that flies directly right of the target (right-handed golfers), usually without a curve.
  • Putting green: Areas on courses specifically designated for putting practice and competitions. 
  • Putter: Special clubs designed for making putts from shorter distances on putting greens.

Q

  • Q School: A qualifying tournament for professional golfers to gain entry into the PGA Tour. It consists of several stages, with the successful players earning Tour cards.

R

  • The R&A: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the governing body for golf outside the United States and Mexico. 
  • Range finder: A device used to help golfers determine how far away a target is. 
  • Ready golf: A way of playing that encourages players to take their shots as soon as they are ready instead of waiting for their turn in order to speed up play. 
  • Redan: A type of hole on a golf course with an elevated green that slopes from back to front, typically with a bunker short and right of the green. 
  • Release: The action taken by a golfer when their arms and hands release the club during the swing. 
  • Reverse bounce back: Making a bogey or worse immediately after making a birdie.
  • Rough: An area of grass on either side of fairways and around greens that require extra strokes to hit out of. 
  • Rowan match play: Three or more players can participate in this form of individual match play.
  • Rub of the green: Refers to luck or randomness that can affect the outcome of certain shots due to features such as elevation, wind, or even an unlucky obstruction.  
  • Run: When a ball rolls along the ground after it is hit by a club, adding distance to its total travel time. 
  • Rutter: A niblick with a small head that is used to hit the ball from a cart track.

S

  • Sandbagger: A player who pretends to be worse than they actually are to win.
  • Sand save: Hitting your ball out of a sand trap and onto the green in one shot.
  • Sand trap: A hazard filled with sand that makes it challenging to hit your ball out.
  • Sand wedge: The type of golf club used to hit out of sand traps effectively.
  • Sandy (or Sandie): Scoring par after hitting out of a sand trap.
  • Scotch foursomes: A golf game in teams of two where players alternate shots on every hole.
  • Scramble: A golf game played in teams where all players hit their shots and then the team selects the best one, and everyone hits from there.
  • Scratch golfer: Someone who plays at a very high level with a score of zero handicap.
  • Senior: A golfer above the age of 50.
  • Senior PGA Tour: A professional golf tour for senior golfers.
  • Shamble: A game similar to a scramble but only the best drive is selected and then players play their own ball from there until the hole is completed.
  • Shank: When the ball is hit off the hosel of the club, resulting in a poor shot.
  • Shrimp: Term used when a golfer hits a poor shot. 
  • Shoot your (my) age: Shooting your age is a noteworthy accomplishment when the score equals your current age.
  • Shoot your (my) temperature: Shooting the same score as the current temperature is a fun challenge for golfers.
  • Short game: The area of golfers’ game involving shots played within 100 yards of the hole.
  • Short side: When a golfer hits the ball in a position that makes it challenging to hit toward the pin.
  • Sit: A term used to encourage the ball to drop softly & stop rolling when approaching the hole.
  • Skin: A prize awarded to the winner of a skin game where each hole has a prize value. 
  • Skull: Hitting the ball above the equator and off the green, also called a “skulled shot”.
  • Slice: A shot that curves from left to right for a right-handed golfer. 
  • Slope rating: This is a numerical measure of the difficulty of a golf course for players of varying ability, ranging from 55 (very easy) to 155 (very difficult). 
  • Snap hook: A shot that curves quickly from left to right (for right-handed players). 
  • Snowman: Two consecutive shots resulting in an 8 on any given hole. 
  • Society: A term used to describe a group of players who meet up and play golf together regularly. 
  • Sole: The bottom of your golf club, which is designed to make contact with the ground during your swing.
  • Span: Move the marker when it is in the way of another player’s line of putt.
  • Speed: The rate at which your club head moves during your swing—measured in miles per hour (mph). 
  • Sprachle: To swing a club powerfully but inaccurately, often resulting in wild slices or hooks.
  • Spray: When a player hits their shot too far off line due to poor technique or bad luck. 
  • Stableford: A scoring system based on points rather than strokes taken per hole to determine who wins a match or tournament round.  
  • Stimpmeter: A device used for measuring green speeds by rolling a ball down it and gauging how far it travels before stopping at its final resting place. 
  • Strategic: A type of golf course design that factors in hazards and elevation changes, forcing players to carefully consider their options when playing each hole in order to score well.  
  • Stony: This is a term used in English golf dating back to the late 1800s to describe shots close to the flagstick.
  • Stroke Index: The number assigned to each hole on a golf course indicates its relative difficulty compared with other holes on that course.
  • Stroke play: In this style of scoring, the player who makes the fewest strokes wins. A stroke play tournament is a norm in most professional tournaments.
  • Stymie: This occurs when one golfer’s ball blocks another’s line when putting.
  • Sunday bag: A lightweight bag carried by many golfers containing just 7-9 clubs.
  • Sunday Stick or Sabbath Stick: Another name for putter given its primary use is normally limited only putting (as many courses do not allow drivers etc., on Sundays); often referred to as ‘granny stick’ due to its roots historically coming from grannies who did not have powerful swings yet wished still compete.
  • Sweet-spot: The exact center point on the face plate where optimal energy transfer occurs during impact between the ball and club head.
  • Swing: The action made by golfers involving multiple body movements coordinated together to create powerful shots over long distances while still staying accurate toward target locations.

T

  • T: The scoreboard abbreviation for “Tied”, indicates that two players have the same score.
  • Tap-in: A very short putt that is easy to make.
  • Target-line: An imaginary straight line that marks the intended direction of the ball.
  • Tee: A small peg used to hold the ball off the ground for the initial drive.
  • Teeing ground: The designated area on a golf course where the first shot is taken from.
  • Tempo: The rhythm and pace of a golfer’s swing.
  • Ten-finger grip: A grip where all ten fingers are in contact with the club.
  • Thin shot: A shot where the club strikes the ball too high, resulting in a low trajectory.
  • Through line: An imaginary line that connects the ball to the hole.
  • Through the green: The whole course except for the teeing ground, greens, and hazards.
  • Tiger Slam: The feat of winning all four major golf tournaments in a row, accomplished by Tiger Woods in 2000-2001.
  • Tips: The championship tees on the golf course.
  • Toe: The front part of the clubhead opposite the heel.
  • Topped: A shot where the clubhead strikes the top of the ball, resulting in a little distance.
  • Tree shot: A shot where the ball strikes a tree, typically resulting in an unfavorable outcome.
  • Triple bogey: A score of three over par on a single hole.
  • Turkey: Scoring three consecutive birdies on three consecutive holes.

U

  • Unplayable: When a ball comes to rest in a position where it cannot be played.
  • Up and down or up and in: A term used when a player manages to get the ball out of a bunker or other hazard and then sinks the putt.
  • USGA: A governing body that sets the rules for golf in the U.S.
  • USPGA: The United States Professional Golfers’ Association, which runs professional golf tournaments.

V

  • Vardon grip: The Vardon grip is a common method of holding the golf club, where the little finger of the right-hand overlaps between the index and middle fingers on the left hand. 
  • Vaulting dormie: A situation in match play when one player is ahead by a number of holes equal to or greater than the remaining holes. For example, 3-up with three holes or 2-up with two holes.

W

  • Waggle: A back-and-forth movement of the club before a golf swing.
  • We Are Golf: A group (Club Managers Association of America, the National Golf Course Owners Association, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America & The PGA of America) formed to promote and celebrate the benefits of golf, including its impact on the economy and on communities. 
  • Wedge: A type of golf club with a high, angled face that is used for short, precise shots. 
  • Whiff: A swing and a miss, where the golfer fails to make contact with the ball.
  • Winter green: A temporary green used on a golf course during the winter months when the grass is dormant.
  • Winter rules: A winter rule allows you to lift, clean & place your ball within six inches of where it landed.
  • Wire-to-wire: Refers to a golfer who leads a tournament from start to finish.
  • Wood: One of the types of golf clubs, typically used for hitting long shots off the tee or from the fairway.
  • Worm burner: A shot that skims along the ground, rather than flying through the air.

Y

  • Yips: A condition where a golfer experiences involuntary muscle spasms or jerks during their putting stroke, leading to inconsistent short putts.

Z

  • Zinger: A type of shot where the ball is hit low and hard close to the leading edge of the club, causing a unique vibratory feel noticeable to the golfer.

Golf Terms – Ready for Golf Talk Like a Pro!!

Golf is a sport brimming with unique and specific lingo that can leave even the most seasoned golfers scratching their heads at times. However, with the help of this essential dictionary, you’re well on your way to mastering the language of golf. 

From birdies to bogeys, bunkers to fairways, and putting greens to tee shots, these golf terms will help improve your game and make the experience even more enjoyable. 
If you’re hungry for more golf-related content, scroll through Golf Ace Nation: The Home of Golf Lovers. You’ll find a wealth of resources, from tips and tricks for improving your swing to reviews of the latest golf equipment. Remember, the journey to becoming a golf ace starts with a solid foundation of knowledge, and we’re here to help you achieve just that!

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