address – (aka: “set up”) the position of the player and his club as he/she stands over the ball preparing to take a shot.
airmail – a shot that carries completely over something. Similar to an ‘airball’ in basketball. Example: “I hit driver, 3 wood and then airmailed the green with my wedge.”
alignment – the lining up of the body to the intended target or the position at which the player addresses the ball. Typically the player is aligned at ninety degrees to the intended target. This being said, drawing a straight line from the players toes (on both feet) towards the target, the players shoulders and from the face of the club should result in three parallel lines. and is known as ‘parallel alignment’. It is the usual starting position or address position.
angle of approach – The direction in which the head of a golf club is traveling during a golfers downswing. The ‘angle’ is created between the line created by the traveling club head and the target line. Example: a steep angle of approach is more likely to cause a large divot.
approach putt – see “lag”) a long putt that the player do not really expect to be holed. Rather, it is intended to finish close to the hole so as to enable a second putt that is much easier that the first.
approach shot – (aka: “approach”) a shot taken from the fairway with the intention of landing (and staying) on the green.
apron – (aka: “collar” or “fringe” or “frog hair”) the short grass that separates the putting green from rough or fairway. Usually fairly short but longer than the grass on the green.
army golf – a person is said to be playing ‘army golf’ when they hit the ball back and forth over the green. The term is derived from a drill sergeant yelling at his men “Left! Right! Left! Right!” as they march. Example: “Robert’s drive got him into the green-side bunker but then he played army golf and scored a triple bogey.”
attend the flag – (aka: “tend the pin/flag”) holding the pin/flag stick while a player makes his stroke ensuring that once contact is made with the ball the pin can removed from the hole to avoid any penalty strokes being incurred.
away – the player in a group who is ball lies farthest from the hole. Example: John’s drive was the shortest so he was away to hit his second shot.
back nine – (aka: “backside”) the last nine holes on any golf course. The opposite of “front nine or the first nine holes of any golf course. Example: “The best holes at Royal Woodbine are on the back nine.”
backspin – (aka: “juice”, “english”, “junk”) the action of the ball spinning in the reverse direction to its flight. Backspin will cause the ball to slow down much faster or even roll back towards the shooter once it lands on the green.
backswing – the part of the swing that begins at the address with the club head right behind the ball and and ends at the top of the swing immediately prior to the downswing. The backswing essentially begins the golf swing.
bag – (aka: “golfbag”) the bag (usually made of some kind of fabric or leather) in which a player places his/her clubs during a game of golf until needed.
ball mark – (aka: “ballmark” or “pitch mark”) the divot left on the green (whether torn on not) when an approach shot strikes the green. Example: “When Jackie got to the green she repaired her ball mark prior to evaluating the 20 foot putt that she had left for birdie.”
ball marker – (aka: “marker”) a small, flat object usually about the size of a dime (if fact a dime is sometimes used) that is used to mark the position of the ball while it is lifted.
ball position – a term used to describe the position of the ball relative to the stance of a player (and specifically his/her feet and shoulders) at the address position.
ball washer – any unit used to clean golf balls. Typically the golf course will provide ball washers at most tees so that golfers can clean their balls prior to driving.
beach – (aka: “sand trap” or “bunker”) any hazard on the golf course consisting of sand. Often found near a putting green or around the landing area of the fairway. Example: “Doug’s approach shot fell short of the green and into the beach.”
best ball – a type of golf tournament where each player plays his/her own ball for the entire round, while the team records the individual score from the low team member on each hole. The ‘best scores’ are then totaled for the teams final 18 hole score. There can be two, three or four golfers on each team. Note: a ‘best ball’ and a ‘scramble’ are not the same thing.
birdie – a score of one less than par for any hole. Example: “Steve made a birdie (4) on the par 5, 15th hole.”
bite – (aka: “check” or “grab” or “hold” or “sit” or “sit down” or “hit a house”) the result of backspin when the ball lands on the green. Example: “Wallace applied so much backspin that the ball bit the green and stopped short after one bounce.” Golfers often yell or mutter under their breath ‘bite’ (or ‘hold’ or ‘sit’ or ‘hit a house’) when they want the ball to stop quickly. Most often used on an approach shot. Also see “check”.
blade – part of the head of an iron. Specifically where the face of the club meets the bottom/flange forming the leading corner of the club head or the blade. Example: “If you hit the ball with the blade of the club it could hurt your hands if the weather is cold.”
blade – a type of iron where the bottom and the top are particularly thin as compared to standard or even oversize clubs. Example: “Karl prefers to hit blades rather than those new oversized irons.”
blade – (aka: “skull” or “thin” or “belly”) the action of hitting a ball with the blade of a club resulting in a low trajectory shot. Example: “After a good drive Mark bladed/skulled/thinned/bellied his approach shot into the bunker at the back of the green.”
blast – (aka: “blast shot” or “explosion” or “explosion shot”) a shot (usually out of a sand bunker) that impacts the sand prior to the ball and results in a splash or blast of sand that hopefully removes the ball from the bunker. Derived from the similar appearance of a grenade or other blast in sand. Example: “As Adrian blasted out of the bunker but we couldn’t see him for all the sand.”
block – (aka: “block shot” or ” push”) technical term used to describe a shot that travels away from a player’s intended line due to an open face &/or an inside-out swing path.
blocks – see “tee blocks”.
bogey – (aka: “bogie”) a score of one more than par for a hole.
bogey golf – shooting an average of one over par on every hole. Example “I am shooting in the high nineties now but my goal is to play bogey golf by the end of the summer.”
break – the turn or curve expected to result from a ball rolling over the undulations of the green. Regardless of how minute the turn or curve may be. Example: “It was amazing! Jim read a twelve foot right-to-left break and sunk the thirty foot putt for par.”
bump and run – See ‘chip’
bumping it – (aka: “foot wedge” or “improving your lie” or “preferred lies” or “winter rules”) changing the position of the ball making either the swing path cleaner or making it easier to hit the ball. Unless agreed upon by players before hand or part of local/seasonal rules this is illegal and penalty strokes may apply.
bunker – a noticeable depression usually filled with sand. See also: ‘beach’.
caddy – (aka: “caddie”) an assistant to the golfer who is in charge of carrying the players equipment and providing advice on club selection and reading the green. Usually employed by the player although some private clubs will provide caddies free of charge to the members and their guests.
card – (aka: “scorecard”) provided by the pro shop on which a players score is recorded. It usually lists each hole by number with the par, yardage (from each of the different tees) and handicap as well as other general information about the course (i.e. slope, rating, address, contact information and local rules).
carry – the distance a ball travels or must travel in the air in order to clear something or reach some destination. Example: “You gotta carry 210 yards to clear the water”.
casual water – water on the golf course that is not part of the design (i.e. it is not marked/staked either out of bounds or as a hazard). Typically the result of a large or constant rainfall. The Rules of Golf state that you may take free relief from casual water no nearer to the hole.
check – (aka: “bite” or “grab” or “hold” or “sit” or “sit down” or “hit a house”) the result of backspin when the ball lands on the green. Example: “Wallace applied so much backspin that the ball bit the green and stopped short after one bounce.” Golfers often yell or mutter under their breath ‘bite’ (or ‘hold’ or ‘sit’ or ‘hit a house’) when they want the ball to stop quickly. Most often used on an approach shot. Also see “check”.
chili dip – when a chip or pitch shot is hit a much shorter distance than intended/expected.
chip – (aka: “chip and run”, “chip and roll”, “bump and run”) a shot that is intended to fly for a very short time and then roll or bounce the majority of its way towards the intended target. Usually, a shot from close the the green designed to get the ball close to the hole. Example: “Sean chipped over the fringe and it rolled to within 6 inches of the cup.”
choke – a term used to describe the lack of performance or execution in a situation where there is significant pressure for a positive outcome. Example: “Having never before won the club championship, Brad choked under the pressure of a 4 foot putt on the eighteenth hole.”
choke down – the action of establishing ones grip further down the grip of a golf club. Similar to “choking up” on a baseball bat.
chopper – See “hacker”.
chunk – (aka: “fat” or “thick”) to miss hitting the ball properly by impacting the ground too soon. Usually results in a large divot or at a minimum a poor shot that travels a short distance. Example: “On his second shot Charlie chunked his ball ten feet into the water.”
closed – (aka: “closed club face”, “closed stance”) applies to either the alignment of the body/stance or the club face or both! A straight line drawn through the players shoulders or through the players ankles or straight out of the club face that crosses the intended target line is said to be in a closed stance or have a closed club face. Example: “A right handed player aligned to the right of the target or whose club face is aligned to the left of the target is too closed.”
clubface – (aka: “club face”) the flat surface of any golf club. Usually having grooves and intended for striking the ball.
clubhead – (aka: “club-head” or “head”) attached to the opposite end of the shaft to the grip. Held properly the clubhead is at the bottom of the club and is used to impact the ball. The size of the clubhead is typically measured in cubic centimeters (cc). Example: “Some modern day drivers have clubheads larger than 400cc”
clubhead speed – (aka: “head speed”) the speed of the clubhead measured in mph or kph at the moment of impact.
coil – the action of turning the hips and shoulders of the body during the backswing prior to beginning the downswing. Example: “The more coil you get the more likely you will be able to generate higher clubhead speed.”
collar – (aka: “apron”, “fringe”, “frog hair”) the grass between the fairway or rough and the green. Typically longer than the grass on the green but shorter than the fairway or rough. Usually between 2-3 feet wide and completely surrounding the green. Example: “My approach shot landed on the green but rolled on to the fringe.”
compression – the flattening of the golf ball at impact with the clubface. Also the measurement describing the ease with which a ball may be compressed. The higher the compression ratio the harder it is to compress. Golf balls are commercially available with 80, 90, 100 or 110 compression.
connected – a slang term used to describe good/solid impact with the ball. Example: “On the par four third hole John really connected with his driver and put the ball on the fringe!”
course management – (aka: “game management”, “managing your game”) a skill developed by players allowing them to play to their strengths while on the golf course. A plan to accommodate getting the ball in the hole in as few strokes a as possible while considering/managing the hazards, terrain, distance and particular skills of the individual golfer.
course rating – an evaluation of the difficulty of a course for a scratch player (expressed in relation to the par of the course) Example: A course with a rating of 71.2 is more difficult than a course rated 69.
cross bunker – a bunker that crosses the width of the fairway. Different from the bunkers that generally lie to the side of fairways or run parallel to the fairway. Example: “John’s driver took his ball right into the middle of the cross bunker on the fourth hole. Perhaps he should have laid up”
cross-handed – a type of grip whereby the traditional top hand is on bottom and vice versa. Often used when putting for additional control. Example: “While the cross handed grip can sometimes be uncomfortable it often results in fewer putts per round after a little practice.”
cup – (aka: “hole”) the hole in which the lag rests. specifically the liner of the hole. Usually constructed of plastic but aluminum cups are used as well. Example: “I love the sound of a long putt falling into the cup.”
cut – (aka: “cut shot”, “fade”) a shot resulting from an outside-in swing path traveling, for a right-handed golfer, from left to right. Typically a cut shot travels slightly more aggressively from left to right than a fade but not as aggressively as a slice.
cut – (aka: “cut line”) the score that a player must post (at a maximum) in order to be allowed to play in the next round of a tournament. Example: “Tiger Woods made friday’s cut by 8 strokes.”
dance floor – (aka: “green” or, “putting green” or, “putting surface”) slang term for the green or putting surface. Example: “Wow! That’s gonna be a tough putt, but at least you’re on the dance floor.”
dimples – the small circular indentations on all golf balls designed to improve flight, distance and spin.
dip – 1. the act of a golfer lowering his/her head during the process of making a golf swing. 2. an area on a golf course (often the green area) in which there is a gradual depression within the ground surface. Example: 1. He had a pronounced dip in his downswing and as a result frequently shanked the ball. 2. If you’re not left of the pin on the fifth green your ball will roll right back to the front because of a large dip on the left side of the green.
divot – the portion of turf that is ripped out of the ground by the head of the club during a swing (regardless of whether the ball is contacted or not). Also, the hole that is left after a portion of turf is torn out of the ground as above. Example: “Rita took a six inch divot but she picked it up and replaced it afterwards.” Also, “My ball rolled close the edge of fairway as I had planned but ended up in a divot.’
dogleg – any hole designed with a significant turn along the fairway either right or left. Derived from the similar shape of a dog’s rear leg. Example: “The par 4 9th hole is a 465 yard dogleg left.”
dog track – (aka: “goat path”) a derogatory term for a golf course that is poorly maintained, lacks expected landscaping or creativity in design. Example: “Q: What do you think of that course? A: It’s a dog track – especially for $85!”
double bogey – a score of two more than par on any hole.
double bogey golf – shooting on average two over par on every hole. Example: “I used to shoot in the low nineties but now I play double bogey golf.’
double eagle – (aka: “albatross”) a score of 3 less than par on any hole. Example: “Adrian hit a monster drive on the par 4 fourth hole and put it in the hole for a double eagle/albatross.
down – meaning that you are behind in score to an opponent. Counted by the number of holes in match play and by strokes in medal play. Example: “I was down by four strokes to my brother on the 12th hole but managed to win by two as he blew up on the 17th and 18th holes.”
downhill lie – when the position of the ball in on the down slope of a hill relative to the direction of the intended target.
downswing – (aka: “downward swing”, “forward swing”) the portion of the swing immediately following the backswing in which the club begins its downward motion towards the ball and continues until impact at which time the follow through begins.
drain – the act of sinking a putt into the cup. Example: “Geddy drained a thirty five foot putt for birdie.”
draw – (aka: “slinger”, “turn over”) a shot that curves gently from right to left (for a right-handed player). A very aggressive or uncontrolled draw might be considered a hook. Example: “You can score really well on the third at St. Andrews if you can play an effective draw.”
drive – a shot played off of a tee with a driver or other wood. sometimes with a low iron (i.e. #1, #2 or #3). Typically distance is desirable whenever you are driving the ball. Example: “After his drive Sid had only an 8 iron into the green.”
driver – the number 1 and largest wood. Usually the first club used on a hole other than a par 3, and usually hit off of a tee in the tee area.
driving iron – (aka: “1 iron” sometimes a “2 iron”) an iron that is used by some instead of a wood to promote additional control while still providing adequate distance off of the tee.
driving range – (aka: “practice range”, “practice tee”, “range”) a location, either at a golf course or separate where players can practice by hitting balls provided with their various clubs in order to improve or warm up.
drop – the action of dropping the ball from shoulder height with an extended arm such that the ball, as it comes to a rest, is back in play. a drop is required under specific situations covered by the Rules of Golf. Example: “As her ball was on the cart path she was permitted to drop the ball no closer to the hole with no penalty strokes.”
duck hook – (aka: “snap hook”, “snapper”, “quacker”) a shot that curves abruptly and severely right to left (right-handed player). Example: Timothy tried to kill his drive on the first hole and ended up with an ugly duck hook/snap hook/snapper/quacker.
duff – (aka: “dub”, “top”) a shot that is so badly misplayed that it travels only a very short distance or is even missed entirely.
duffer – (aka: “hacker”) a golfer who lacks any real skill or who is likely to have a number of duffs throughout the course of a round of golf.
eagle – a score of 2 under (less than) par on any hole.
embedded ball – (aka: “plugged”) a ball that is embedded in the ground. Often a portion of the ball is visible but it could be completely hidden rom view as well. Example: “An embedded ball is subject to the Rules of Golf. Under some circumstances you can lift it and clean it prior to dropping it back into play.”
etiquette – the expected behavior of players, caddies, visitors, guests, spectators etc. while on the golf course. Example: “Novice golfers are often not familiar with the etiquette of the game and must be educated.”
even par – (aka: “even”, “level”) a situation that develops when a players score is the same as par at any time during his/her round. Example: “After fighting back to even par at the 14th, I was one under by the seventeenth and finished at even par.”
executive course – (aka: “par three”) a course that is made up almost entirely of par three holes. Derived from the term that executive that have little time for a 4 or 5 hour round of golf are able to play at an executive course because it takes only about two and a half hours.
explosion shot – see “blast”.
face – see “clubface”
fade – a shot that curves or moves gently from right to left (for a right handed golfer). A very aggressive or uncontrolled fade may be termed a slice. The opposite of a ‘draw’. Example: “Julie faded her second shot nicely into the fat part of the green.”
fairway – one of the major components to a golf course. The closely cut grassy area between the tee and the green. Exclusive of the rough, the green, the tee and the hazards.
fairway bunker – a large indentation in the fairway usually, but not necessarily, filled with sand.
fairway wood – any wood other than a driver, or #1 wood.
fat – (aka: “chunky”, “fat”, “thick”, “heavy”, and many more) when too much contact is made with the ground either before or after contact is made with the ball resulting in a shot that does not travel as far as intended.
feel – (aka: “touch”) having very good judgment, or sensitivity for specific shots in golf. Most applicable on or close to the green. Example: “Phil had great feel around the green and was seldom unable to get up and down.”
flag – (aka: “flagstick”, “pin”) the fabric attached to the top of the flagstick denoting the location of the hole. Often colour coded to indicate the location of the hole on the green. Often used interchangeably with flagstick or its synonyms.
flagstick – (aka: “pin”, “stick”) the pin which is inserted into the hold on each green with a flag attached denoting the location of the hole.
flange – the bottom side of an iron. Most often in relation to a wedge as the flange on wedges tends to be much larger than other clubs. Especially with respect to sand wedges. Also see “bounce angle”.
flat – used to describe a swing plane that a relatively shallow in relation to the typical or ‘perfect swing’.
flex – (aka: “frequency”) the stiffness of a particular golf club shaft. Usually measured as a numerical frequency but indicated on the shaft of most clubs as: L-Ladies, A-Senior, R-Regular, S-Stiff, or X-Extra stiff. These examples are listed from most flexible to least flexible (most stiff). A faster clubhead speed is required to regularly benefit from the attributes of a stiffer shaft.
flier – (aka: “flyer”, “shooter”, “jumper”, “airmail”) a shot that goes farther in the air than intended. Generally as a result of a poor lie and the inability of the golfer to apply backspin to the ball. Example: “Josh drove his ball 250 yards into the rough but then sent a flier into creek behind the green.”
flop shot – a relatively short short (i.e. within 50 yards of the green) that travels very high and lands very softly with little or no role.
fluffy – (aka: “fluffy lie”) used to describe a lie where the ball is sitting up on either long grass or large leaves and surrounded by the same. A fluffy lie presents a difficult next shot as the ball must be impacted with out any assistance from the ground.
follow-through – (aka: “finish”) the crucial part of the golf swing that begins immediately following impact and continues until all motion of the club and body has ceased. Often referred to as the second half of the swing.
fore – usually yelled loudly to warn golfers of an incoming ball of which they need to be aware for safety sake.
forecaddie – (aka: “spotter”) non-players positioned in the general landing area of a hole (off to the side) whose responsibility it is to spot each players drive and determine its final resting place. Example: “PGA events make good use of forecaddies in order to keep play moving and reduce the number of unnecessarily lost balls.”
forward press – when used, it is the beginning of the golf swing. It relates to a slight forward movement of the hands ahead of the ball and towards the intended target immediately after which the backswing begins.
foursome – a group of four players playing golf. Example: “My weekly foursome plays at noon on Monday.”
fried egg – refers to a lie, usually in a sand trap, where the ball appears to be the yolk of a fried egg and the sand (or ground) around the ball resembles the whites.
fringe – (aka: “apron”, “collar”, “frog hair”) the grass that is shorter than that found on the fairway and longer than that found on the green that encircles the green and separates the rough &/or fairway from the green.
front nine – (aka: “front”, “front side”) the first 9 holes of any course. The nine holes before the back nine. Example: “I find the front nine here much easier than the back.”
gallery – in golf the spectators when they are grouped together are known as the gallery. Example: “The gallery around the 18th green roared to life when Faldo drained the 12 foot putt for the win.”
gap wedge – (aka: many other names depending on the manufacturer) a lofted wedge with loft between that of the pitching and sand wedge. As such it is designed to travel distances farther than a sand wedge but less than a pitching wedge.
gimme – (aka: “gimmie”) a putt of sufficiently short distance (i.e. 6 to 12 inches) that the players in a group agree that it would certainly be holed and as such do not require the player to putt out (but do count one more on the score card). Permitted in casual play only and never when a competition in underway. Example: “Great putt Abby! That next one (the putt) is a gimme”.
grain – the direction in which the grass is growing.
green – (aka: “putting green”, “putting surface”, “dance floor”) one of the 18 closely mown patches of grass in which a hole is cut. The surface on which putting is the acceptable stroke. Example: “Mike’s approach shot fell short of the green but bounced on and rolled within 6 feet of the pin.”
green fee – the cost or price paid to play a round of golf at a particular course.
grip – the cover (i.e. rubber, leather or cloth) that goes on top of the club so that the player is able to hold on to the club without it slipping out of his/her hands. Also the method in which one holds the club. Example: “I got new leather grips on my clubs this year.” and, “The gator grip is rather unconventional but seems to work well for those who have managed to adopt it.”
groove – (aka: “score line”) the lines on the clubface of all clubs other than the putter. They are cut into the club to enhance control over the ball. Example: “Without grooves on your clubs you would not be able to put any backspin on the ball.”
gross score – (aka: “unadjusted score”) the actual score that a player shot on any one hole or group of holes. The score prior to any adjustments that are to be made (i.e. handicapping). Example: “Although he won the tournament with a net 75 his gross score was 83.”
ground – (“ground the club”, “grounding the club”) term used to describe the act of touching ones club to the ground. Example: “The rules state that you are not allowed to ground your club in a hazard under the penalty of two strokes.”
ground under repair – (aka: “GUR” pronounced “Grrrr”) any area of the golf course from which a shot is unplayable because of work being done. In tournament or competition play the area is always marked or staked by the committee prior beginning play. A ball that is in an area marked GUR is entitled to a drop his/her ball outside the marked area, no nearer to the hole, with no penalty.”
hack – (aka: “chop”) an extreme downward swing of the golf club that often results in divots and poor ball flight. Also a poor golfer – see “hacker”.
hacker – (aka: “hack”, “duffer”, “chop”, “chopper”) a golfer of very low skill who scores poorly and likely takes many divots. A golfer who has little control over his/her shots.
half shot – (aka: “half swing”, “knockdown”, “knockdown shot”, “punch”, “punch shot”) any shot in golf where the player does not take a full swing at the ball. Regardless of whether the back swing or follow through (or both) is shortened. This may be the result of a difficult lie where a full swing is not possible or it may be used to control a specific shot.
handicap – (related: “handicap differential”, “handicap index”, “index”) the typical difference between the rating of a course and a particular players average score. The calculation to determine handicaps includes only the better scores of the most recent games played (i.e. the best ten of the last 20 games). the difference between two players handicaps is used to determine if one should ‘give strokes’ to the other if they play against each other. Example: “Vince, has a handicap of 12, whereas Darin’s handicap is 18. So Vince needs to give Darin 6 strokes (i.e. beat him by more than six)”
handicap – (aka: “difficulty”) the rating of the holes on a golf course with 1 being the hardest and 18 being the easiest. It is required that the most difficult rated hole be on the back nine with the second rated hole on the front and rotating back and forth until the easiest (18th rated) hole is on the front nine.
hardpan – extremely hard ground. Often associated with dried dirt very close to the surface or an area that lacks grass. Almost impossible to take a divot in. Example: “I didn’t hit my drive well at all but once it got on the hardpan it seemed to roll forever.”
hazard – is any bunker or water hazard. Most hazards are marked with red stakes or a line painted on the ground (sometime sin yellow).
head – see “club head”
heel – the part of the club head that is nearest the hosel. Specifically the part of the clubface that is nearest the golfer. A ball hit off the hell of the club generally does not travel as far as intended.
hold – (aka: “check”, “grab”, “stick”) a ball that does not roll as far as expected due to the condition of the green or backspin applied to the ball. To stay on the green after landing. Example: “I hit a three iron into the par five 6th green but it wouldn’t hold.”
hole – (aka: “cup”) the hole cut in each green measuring 4 1/4 inches in diameter in which the flagstick is placed. Also a term used to describe a particular set of tees, fairway, hazards and green (i.e. there are 18 holes in a round of golf).
hole out – (aka: “make”, “drain”, “sink”) the action of making the ball go into the cup to end a particular hole. Example: “Rob conceded the hole so I did not need to hole out.”
hole high – see “pin-high”
hole in one – (aka: “ace”) a score of 1 on any hole. Golf tradition dictates that the player who scores a hole in one buys drinks for everyone in the bar after the round.
honor – (aka: “honour”) the person who has the right to play first on any particular tee. The Rules of Golf indicate that the person with the lowest score on the preceding hole has the honor for the next hole.
hood – to press forward slightly in order to tilt the club face such that the loft of the club is reduced.
hook – a shot that travels from right to left (for the right handed golfer) at a more dramatic pace than a draw. Also a shot that curves to the left uncontrollably. Example: “Tatum can hit the ball a long way off the tee but has a nasty hook that she is trying to correct.”
hosel – (aka: “neck”) the part of the clubhead that attaches to the shaft of the club.
improved lie – (aka: “improved lies”, “improving your lie”, “preferred lies”, “winter rules”, “bumping it”, “using your foot wedge”) changing the position of the ball making either the swing path cleaner or making it easier to hit the ball. Unless agreed upon by players before hand or part of local/seasonal rules this is illegal and penalty strokes may apply.
in play – anytime the golf ball is considered ‘live’ or ‘playable’. Unless the ball is out of play the ball must be in play.
inside – a term used to describe the fact that one ball is closer to the hole than the other. Usually on the putting surface. Example: “Megan hit a great shot into the green that looked like it would sew things up but I got inside her to make it interesting.”
inside-out – describing the a golfers swing where the club begins the downswing close to the body and finishes further away than usually desired (i.e. inside and outside the target line). Example: “Often I find that the reason a person is hooking the ball is because they are swinging inside-out.”
interlocking grip – (aka: “interlock grip”) the standard and most popular grip in golf. The index finger of the top hand is interlocked with the pinky of the lower hand while both thumbs point down the shaft of the club.
intermediate target – a target established by the in between the ball and the ultimate target. Usually the intermediate target is relatively close to the ball so as to assist in properly lining up without lifting the head too much. Also any time you aim at something other than what you are really trying to get to (i.e. a tree that you can see from behind a hill or mound when you cannot see the flagstick).
iron – a club whose clubhead is typically constructed of steel although the shaft can be of another substance. The clubhead of an iron is usually fairly narrow with a small sole. Typical lofts are between 16° and 65° and the clubs are numbed 1 through a 9 and include all wedges. Woods and putters are not irons. Example: “I have three woods and nine irons in my bag – plus my putter.”
jack and jill event – an event where men and women play together. Usually on the same team (i.e. teams are made up on two men and two women).
jelly legs – (also see: “knee knocker”) a person is said to have jelly legs when they are facing a particularly hard putt or may be under significant pressure to make a shot (especially a putt). Usually brought on by extreme nervousness. Example: “Stephanie always develops a case of jelly legs on the first tee when people are watching.”
jerk – (aka: “pull”) a shot that is hit left of the intended target. Often used to describe a putt that missed to the left of the hole (for the right handed golfer) due to an outside-in swing path. Example: “I would have made par but jerked the three footer for bogey.”
jump – When a ball is contacted and comes off of the clubface faster than expected/intended.
jump on it – to strike the ball with extra force so that it travels farther than would otherwise the be case. Example: “After duffing his drive, Ivan jumped all over it with his three wood and left it just short of the green – 265 yards away.”
jungle – (aka: “jail”) a term used to describe a lie in the middle of many trees or overgrowth (thick rough, etc.) as it might be in the jungle.
junior – any golfer who is younger than 18 years of age. Most golf clubs will offer junior golfers memberships or green fees at a discount to the standard rate.
kick – (aka: “bounce”) the action of the ball hitting the ground and bouncing farther, higher or in another direction than expected. A kick usually results from the ball striking a rock, sprinkler head, or mound. Example: “My approach shot was left of the green but it kicked to the fringe.”
knee knocker – (aka: “tester”) a short putt that a player is expected to make but is particularly difficult due to any number of reasons but usually the distance. Many golfers find 4-6 foot putts to be knee knockers. Derived from the concept of a golfers knees knocking together due to nervousness as he/she stands over the putt. Also see “jelly legs”.
knockdown – (aka: “knockdown shot”, “punch”, “punch shot”, “half shot”) a shot that does not usually see the golfer make a complete swing by choice rather than due to overhanging limbs etc. Typically the follow through is shorter than normal or nonexistent. Often combined with a hooded club in order to keep the ball from flying too high. Also see ‘half shot’.
lag – (aka: “lag putt”, “approach putt”) a long putt that the player do not really expect to be holed. Rather, it is intended to finish close to the hole so as to enable a second putt that is much easier that the first. Example: “I was just lagging it up there. I never expected for it to go in!”
lateral water hazard – a water hazard positioned such that it is very difficult of impractical for a player to drop a ball behind it. The lateral hazard should be marked by red stakes or red lines. Other hazards such as environmentally friendly areas can be declared by the Committee to be lateral water hazards in spite of the fact there may or may not be any water in the area so marked. The USGA official rules of golf deals with lateral water hazards in rule #26.
lay up – (aka: “lay back”, “play for position”) A shot that is purposefully hit short of a particular hazard requiring another shot to circumvent the hazard. Often a player will lay up rather than ‘go for it’ when a steam or other water hazard crosses in front of the green. Example: “I can’t got on that green in two I have to lay up in front of the bunkers.”
lie – a term used in golf to mean the ball is stationary in a particular spot. Usually used to describe the quality of the spot in which the ball sits (i.e. how difficult it will be to hit the ball out of the location in which it ‘lies’. Example: “I can’t believe that I have such a good lie after that drive!”
lie angle – the angle that the shaft of a golf club makes at the point where it intersects the ground. This is measured correctly when the golf club is set down in, in the address position, with the leading edge forming a parallel line with the ground. Example: I had the lie angle of all my clubs adjusted because my divots were noticeably deeper in the toe.
line – (aka: “target line”, “intended line”, “putting line”) the intended direction in which the golfer plans on hitting his/her ball. Most often used on the green. Example: “Should I mark my ball? Is it in your line?” also “No. I think that I have a pretty good line through these trees right to the green.”
line up – (aka: “align”) to look at a potential shot and choose the direction in which to play the next shot. Also to align oneself with an intended target. Example: “Alan waited quietly as Norm lined up his putt.
links – First used to describe a golf course adjacent to the ocean. In common current day use it is used as a synonym for golf course. Also largely used to describe courses with particular characteristics such as lacking trees, large mounds, rolling narrow fairways, pot bunkers, small greens the ninth hole does not necessary come back to the clubhouse, rocky terrain and significant rough/fescue. Example: “You wanna hit the links this weekend?” also, “Angus Glen is a links style course.”
lip – (aka: “rim”) the top rip or edge of the hole in which the flagstick is placed. Example: “I left my second put on the lip of the cup.” or simply, “I left my put on the lip.”
lip out – (aka: “rimmer’) a putt (or occasionally an approach shot) that hits the lip of the cup but does not go in. Typically the the ball will change direction fairly dramatically. Example: “My par putt lipped out -so mark me down for a bogey.”
lob – (aka: “lob shot”) a short high flying shot that is intended to land softly and roll very little. Almost always played into the green with a highly lofted club. Example: “I lobbed one from about 30 yards to within six feet of the cup”.
lob wedge – a wedge typically lofted between 58°-61°. Usually used to execute a ‘lob shot’.
loft – the angle of the face of the club as compared to flat ground. Example: “Most drivers have between 9.5 and 11 degrees loft.”
long game – the part of the game that does not take place around the green. The shots in a golf game that travel the farthest. Encompasses all shots taken with any wood and most shots taken with the 1to 4 or 5 irons. Example: “Nick’s long game is awesome but he can’t putt to save his life!”
long iron – the irons that are used to hit longer distances. Or the irons with the longest shafts. Typically thought of as the 1 through 4 irons.
loose impediment – any naturally occurring object whether alive or dead that is not embedded, fixed in place or growing any natural object that is not fixed or growing (e.g., rocks, twigs, leaves, apple core, etc.). Example: “The Rules of Golf stipulate that loose impediments can be removed/moved by the player unless he/she is in a hazard.”
lost ball – any ball that cannot be found within 5 minutes of beginning a search. Example: “The rules of Golf stipulate that any player who declares his/her ball lost is assessed a 2 stroke penalty and the next shot must be played from as close to the location of the last shot as possible (i.e. the shot itself, an additional penalty stroke, and the ball must be replayed from its original position).
mark – (aka: “spot”) the action of precisely marking the position of your ball so that it can be picked up and identified/cleaned etc and then replaced. Usually accomplished with a ball marker. Example: “In order to ensure that Anita would not hit my ball I marked it until she finished putting.”
marker – see “ball marker”.
markers – (aka: “tee markers”, “blocks”, “tee blocks”) the blocks/markers used to indicate the tee area from which the first shot is taken on any hole. Example: “The Rules of Golf allow you to tee your ball up within two club lengths of the tee blocks, but not ahead of them.”.
marshal – (aka: “marshall”, “ranger”) With respect to tournaments or competitions that marshal is appointed by the committee to assist in controlling and policing the spectators. During regular public play a marshal is responsible for ensuring that the golfers are adhering to the golf course’s rules and often encourages a reasonable pace of play. Most marshals have the authority to eject a player from the course.
match play – golf played and scored on a per hole basis. The player/team scoring lowest on a hole wins that hole. If the players/teams tie than neither wins the hole and play continues to the next hole. Example: “The winner of a match play competition is the player who has won the most holes, not necessarily the player with the fewest total strokes.”
medallist – (aka: “medallist”) the winner of a medal (stroke) play competition.
medal play – (aka: “stroke play”) a seldom used term to describe a game of golf scored on a stroke by stoke basis (as most people are familiar) rather than match play which is by hole. Example: “The PGA Championship used to be decided by match play, but now it is a medal play competition.”
member bounce – (aka: “member’s bounce”, “lucky kick”) a favorable yet unexpected bounce. As though a member of the club would know how/where to get these bounces or the course is paying back the member for treating the course well over the year(s).
miss club – (aka: “misclub”) playing the wrong club. Usually when the ball was struck well but flew either too far or too short resulting in the player to realize that he/she should have hit a different club. Example: “I must have misclubed! I hit that well but it fell a good 30yards short.”
miss hit – when the ball is contacted during a swing as intended but solid contact is not made. Usually associated with a ball that traveled shorter than the intended distance. Example: “Frank hit the right club but he mishit it into the lake.”
miss read – (aka: “misread”) to read the break of a green incorrectly. Especially on a putt or a chip shot. Example: “Wow! I sure misread that – it broke the other way to what I was expecting.”
mulligan – (aka: “lunch ball”, “Sunday ball”, “do-over”) allowing a golfer to take a second shot without counting the first stroke. Example: “Archie said that we could take as many mulligans as we wanted on the first tee but after that we had to count every stroke.”
muscle memory – a technical term used to describe the body’s ability to remember or repeat movements, Usually the result of a significant amount of practice.
nassau – a bet on the golf course meaning that there is a winner for low score after nine holes a winner for low score on the second nine holes and an over all winner who has a combined (of front and back nines) low score. Example: “Q: What game do you like to pay? A: I prefer a $10 nassau. If that’s okay with you.”
neck – see “hosel”.
nineteenth hole – (aka: “19th hole”, “bar”) the bar our lounge at the clubhouse. Usually where a group of golfers congregates for a drink and to share stories after the eighteenth hole. Example: “Stew! You’re going to join us at the 19th hole for a drink aren’t you?”
ob – (aka: “out of bounds”, “Oscar Brown”, “O.B.”) out of bounds. Usually marked with white stakes or noted on the scorecard. a ball is unplayable out of bounds regardless of whether or not it can be found. Example: “Uh, oh Megan. I think that went ob.”
offset – a golf club characteristic in which the face of the club is not ‘in line’ with the shaft when the club is held in the address position. This can be either a forward offset (having the face ahead of the shaft) or a backward offset (having the face located behind the club shaft).
one-piece takeaway – the beginning of the backswing where the hips, arms and hands all move away from the ball in one motion.
one-putt – an indication that a player required or requires only one putt to hole out on any green. Example: “How many one putts did you have on the back nine?”
open – a tournament or competition where there are no conditions for a player to attempt to qualify (i.e. both amateurs and pros will play together). Example: The US open is the one of the most popular open tournaments.”
open – (“open clubface”, “open stance”) describes the alignment of a player who is aligned to the left of the target line (for a right handed golfer) or whose clubface is lined up right of the target. Example: “I think that one of the reasons that you are slicing the ball is because your stance is so open.”
out of bounds – see “ob”.
outside – (aka: “away”) the opposite of “inside”. A relative term meaning that a golfer is farther away from the hole than somebody else. Example: “Looking at our balls lying on the green from way back there I thought that yours was outside mine but it looks like I am away.”
outside-in – describing a swingpath that from the top of the backswing travels outside of a line drawn through the target and the ball as it lies and then finishes through impact and into the follow through to the inside of this same line. Example: “I think the reason that you are slicing the ball, Jon is because you are coming down at it outside-in.”
overall weight – (aka: “dead weight”, “swing weight”) the weight of a golf club including the clubhead, shaft and grip.
overlapping grip – (aka: “overlap”, “Vardon grip”) used to describe ones grip of a golf club where the pinky of the bottom hand overlaps the index finger of the top hand or lies between (but also on top) of the index and middle finger of the top hand. All the while both thumbs are pointing down the length of the shaft. One of the most popular grips in golf.
par – the number of strokes in which a golfer is expected to complete a hole on a golf course. Also the expected number of strokes in which all golfers are expected to complete a number of holes. Each hole on every golf course has a par (between 3-5). Same is deduced by figuring how many strokes will it take the golfer to get their ball on the green and then adding two more (two putts per green is the world wide standard). Scores are often referred to as “3” over par. Example: “The third hole is a par 3 over water” or “Osprey Valley is a par 70”.
path – (aka: “swing-plane”) the direction that the clubhead travels during the duration of a golfer’s swing. Usually described in relation to the target line. Example: “Sean, you’re swing path is a little ‘outside-in’ and I think that it is causing you to slice the ball more than you did last year.”
pin – (aka: “flagstick”, “stick”) the circular pole that is inserted into the hole on each green and to which a flag is typically attached designating which hole it is marking. The purpose is so that the location of the hole can be seen from a great distance. Example: “Geez! Standing her on the tee that pin looks a really long way away!”
pin-high – (aka: “hole high”) a distance roughly parallel to the distance to the hole. Whereas a shot may not be struck in the correct direction it may be ‘pin high’, meaning that it has traveled the correct distance and had it been on line might have been in the hole. Example: “Christina’s 8 iron was pin high but on the right fringe.”
pin position – (aka: “pin placement”) used to describe the location of the pin/hole. Usually indicated in relation to the green. Example: “The pin placements are different today. they all seem to be near the back of the green.”
pin sheet – piece(s) of paper or a chart that indicates all the location of the hole on any given day. The sheet usually also includes other information about each green as well (i.e. tiers or slopes). Example: “It sure is nice when you play at a course you aren’t familiar with when they give you a pin sheet.”
pitch – (aka: “pitch shot”) a shot that is intended to travel a relatively short distance and land softly on the green so as to not roll very far. Example: “Jim pitched the ball on to the green but left it well short of the pin.”
pitch and run – a shot that looks like a pitch shot insofar as the trajectory is relatively high (especially when compared to a chip) but the intention is that the ball will roll further once it impacts the ground. Example: “The pitch and run is a cross between a chip and a pitch.”
pitching wedge – (aka: “wedge”, “PW”, “W” and more) an iron with more loft than a typical 9-iron but less than any other wedge in your bag. 47° to 52° is fairly standard loft. Its name is derived from its usefulness in executing a pitch. Example: “I like to use my pitching wedge between 50 and 100 yards out from the green.”
play through – (aka: “go through”) the term used to describe one group of golfers (or golfer) who passes another group on the golf course. Usually occurs because the group in front is slower and is holding up the group/individual behind. Example: “It’s golf etiquette to ask the group behind you if they want to play through if you are regularly holding them up.”
pot bunker – (aka: “pot”) a bunker usually, but not necessarily filled with sand that is particularly deep and has very steep sides making it, generally, more difficult than, a standard fairway bunker. Example: “There are some pot bunkers in Scotland that you need a ladder to get in and out of.”
practice green – (aka: “putting green”) a green provided by the owners of the property on which you are permitted to practice your putting (and sometimes your chipping as well). Usually, but not always located near the clubhouse. Example: “I like to get to the course about half an hour early so that I can spend some time on the putting green.”
practice range – (aka: “practice facility”, “practice tee”, “driving range”, “range”) a large area provided by the owners of the property designated as a practice area for anything other than putting. Typically, golfers are able to practice anything from their drives to their lob shots on a practice range. Some ranges have targets or indicators for distance accuracy in order to make practicing more enjoyable/useful. Example: “I just don’t get out to the range enough to get any better playing only once a week.”
practice swing – (aka: “rehearsal swing”) the action of taking a swing, usually near the ball, with no intent of making contact. Usually used as a warm up swing or practice to develop a feel for how the actual shot should feel regarding speed of swing transition etc. Example: “As part of my routine, I need to make two good practice swings before I set up to the ball.”
preferred lies – (aka: “improved lies”, “winter rules”, “bumping it”, “foot wedge”) a rule imposed at the beginning of play indicating that golfers are permitted to improve their lies without incurring a penalty. Usually the result of a significant amount of rainfall, or very poor playing conditions brought on by early frost, or late thaw. Example: “I figured that we might as well all play preferred lies as Tony was going to do it anyway.”
Pro-Am – (aka: “Pro Am”) a tournament or media event in which professional golfers play with amateurs either together or on teams.
provisional ball – (aka: “provisional”) an additional shot played from the location of the original ball because the golfer fears that he/she may have lost the first ball or hit it out of bounds. Any time a golfer thinks he/she might incur a stroke plus distance penalty or when the rules are in dispute he/she is permitted to play a provisional ball rather than walking up to where the first shot is thought to be only to find that they have to walk back to the location of the original shot to play their next shot. Example: “I don’t know Troy. That looked like it might go out of bounds. Perhaps you should play a provisional ball.”
pull – 1. (aka: “yank”, “jerk”) a shot that travels significantly tot he left (for a right handed golfer) than he/she intended. Also to take a club out of ones bag. Example: “Tiger pulled his second putt left to fall three strokes off the pace.” and “Nobody knew what club he would use and then gasped as he pulled out the driver.”
pull cart – (aka: “hand cart”) a device usually with two or three wheels manufactured so as to permit the golf bag to stand up on it allowing easy access to the golfers clubs while at the same time permitting the golfer to wheel it around (by either pushing or pulling). Example: “A lot of golfers prefer to use a pull cart rather than driving or carrying their clubs.”
punch shot – (aka: “punch”, “knockdown”, “knockdown shot”, “half shot”) any shot in golf where the player does not take a full swing at the ball. Regardless of whether the back swing or follow through (or both) is shortened. This may be the result of a difficult lie where a full swing is not possible or it may be used to control a specific shot.
pure – (aka: “flush”, “solid”, “on the sweet spot”, “on the screws”, “on the nut”) a term used to describe the clubface contacting the ball extremely well. The way that the club was designed to hit a golf ball. Example: “It feels so good to hit a few pure shots early on in the round.”
push – (aka: “shove”, “block”) A descriptive term used to describe a shot that travels right (for a right handed golfer) of its intended line. Usually the result of not turning the body adequately for contact or contacting the ball with an open face. See also “pull”. Example: “Marcelle pushed his tee shot into the water.”
putt – a shot that is taken with the putter. Example: “I have no trouble getting to the green but I find putting very difficult.”
putter – (aka: “flatstick”, “wand”) a golf club used on the green. It generally has a very flat face with little loft. Example: “Before I went to the first tee I had to decide which putter I was going to use today.”
putt out – (aka: “finish”) to finish putting. Usually, but not always, used to describe the action of a golfer who is putting out of turn in order to finish the hole more quickly. Example: “Since my lag putt stopped just a foot from the hole I went ahead and putted out before everyone else made their putts.”
putting green – see “practice green”
Q School – an informal term used to describe the LPGA and PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament which is played once annually to establish the pros who are able to play in LPGA and PGA events the following year. A pro who has qualified to play on the tour is said to have “gotten their (pro) card.”
quit – (aka: “quit on the shot”) either referring to somebody who has stopped playing and is either walking/riding without taking any shots for the rest of the round or to describe the phenomenon where a player either decelerates through contact (often in putting) or does not complete his/her follow through.
rake – (aka: “trap rake”) just alike a garden rake. Usually placed in sand traps for convenience so that a player (or hi/her caddy) can “rake the trap” after taking a shot out it such that it is smooth for the next player who might be so unfortunate to land in the bunker. Example: “After blasting out of the trap I used the rake to fix the trap. When I was done you couldn’t tell that I had ever even been in the trap.”
range – see “driving range”.
range ball – (aka: “practice ball”) the golf balls that are used on a driving range. Usually marked with a stripe or oddly colored (yellow and black) to identify them as range balls and discourage theft.
ranger – see “marshal”.
read – the act of studying the terrain (usually the green) to discern the direction in which a ball will roll/bounce based on the undulations evident. Example: “I can get to the green alright but I am totally unable to read the green and so I don’t generally score all that well.”
recovery – (aka: “recovery shot”, “trouble shot”) a shot that is taken to get oneself out of a difficult situation (including, sand traps, weeds, rough, trees etc.) including mental stress. Example: “Tim scored very well although he wasn’t on the fairway all day. His recovery skills are excellent”.
release – with respect to ‘the swing’ it is a term used to 1. (aka: “let it go”) generally thought of as the act of allowing the centrifugal force of the swing (body/arms/ hands/clubhead) to take its course on the downswing rather than holding on or inhibiting it. or 2. the moment when a ball stops spinning backwards and begins spinning forwards. Often used around the green when a player is looking to get more roll out of a shot. Example: “He was afraid of hooking the ball, so he wasn’t releasing.” or “The ball bounced onto the front fringe and Vicky started yelling, “Release! Release!” in an attempt to make it roll to the back of the green where the pin was.”
relief – a term meaning that you may remove the ball from the present situation into a new location as dictated by the rules. a penalty stroke(s) may or may not apply. Example: “My ball rolled to a stop on the cart path and so I took relief from the cart path and was not required to count a penalty stroke.”
reverse pivot – (aka: “reverse weight transfer”) a term used to describe the incorrect pivot or weight transfer during a golfers swing. The weight is in the reverse/opposite position to what it should be. When the golfer is in his back swing the weight shifts to the front foot and when the golfer swings though the ball and follows through the players weight shifts to his/her back foot. This is the opposite to the weight transfer that is considered ideal. Golfers generally do not try to reverse pivot.
rough – grass that is cut at a higher length than that on the fairway, tees and greens. Usually surrounding the golf hole. Example: “A drive that lands in the rough usually doesn’t roll as far as it would have on the fairway.”
round – 18 holes of golf. Example: “Do you want to get out and play a round on Thursday?”
rub of the green – bad luck or a bad break. Usually with the ball in a particular position for which there is no relief under the rules. Anywhere on the golf course and not necessarily on the green. Example: “Player A – ‘I think that the ball bounced off of a sprinkler head and went out of bounds!’ Player B – ‘That really sucks but its the rub of the green. You might as well hit another one.'”
sandbagger – a golfer who understates his/her handicap with the hope that this will give him/her an advantage when playing against other golfers in a handicapped event. Example: “Sean’s such a sandbagger! I played against him last week and he said he was a 14 handicap and proceeded to shoot a 79 gross.”
sand iron – (aka: “sandwedge”, “sand wedge”) one of the irons that is specifically designed to be used to extricate the ball from a sand trap. The flange is usually larger than other irons to ensure that the club does not dig too far into the sand. Can also be used on the fairway when attempting a flop shot. Example: “I like to use my sand wedge in deep rough right next to the green.”
sand save – (aka: “sandy”) holing out in two from the sand trap (i.e. one shot to get out of the trap the next shot is in the hole). Example: “I made the sand save for par on the third hole.”
sand trap – (aka: “trap”, “bunker”, “sand bunker”, “beach”) a common term used to describe the and filled depressions on a golf course. Example: “The third green is well protected by three sand traps.”
sand wedge – see “sand iron”.
sandy – see “sand save”
score – (aka: “shoot”) the number of strokes a particular golfer required in order to complete a specific task. Example: “Hey Julie! What did you shoot ont he front nine?”
scorecard – (aka: “card”) the paper or cardboard card used to keep the players score for each hole. Example: “We got to the second tee before we realized that nobody had brought a scorecard with them.”
scoring – any markings on the face of a golfclub including those that are meant to be there (grooves, dimples, etc.) as well as those that are not (scratches, etc.).
scramble – a tournament format in which all players in a group (foursome or otherwise) hit a shot from the tee, then choose the best shot and each hit from that spot until the ball is holed. Example: “A scramble tournament is good for corporate events as it keeps the poor golfers moving and does not slow play down too much.”
scramble – (aka: “recover”) to be able to get out of trouble on the golf course with reasonable success. Example: “Tim was hardly on the fairway at all. He scrambled all the way to the green and then one putted for par.”
scratch – a player with a 0 handicap. Example: “Joshua has been a scratch golfer since he was 18 years old.”
semi-private course – a course that has members but is also open to public play. Example: “Many courses in the Toronto area are semi-private but almost always run through many tournaments.”
set – when the wrists are cocked at the top of the backswing.
set up – (aka: “setup”, “address”, “address position”) the position and the routine that a player goes through when setting up to take a shot. Example: “To be a consistent golfer you need to set up consistently.”
shaft – the long straight part of a golf club on which the grip is placed. At the opposite end the shaft is inserted into the clubhead. Example: “I saw a set of clubs the other day with bamboo shafts!”
shag bag – a container usually made of heavy fabric used to carry balls for practice. May also be constructed so as to assist with the picking up of practice balls after they have been hit. Example: “I brought a shag bag full of balls with me to the practice bunker.”
shank – (aka: “lateral”) to hit the ball laterally unintentionally. Usually the result of hitting the ball with the toe or heel of the club. Example: “I shanked my first three shots on Sunday!”
shoot – the act of playing a golf shot. Example: “Though the water loomed ominously, I decided to gamble and shoot right at the pin.” also see “score”.
short game – the part of the game of golf played near or on the green consisting of pitching, chipping, sand play, and putting. Example: “If you have a good short game you will score well at Royal Woodbine.”
short iron – any of the irons (typically with shorter shafts) from 8 iron up to the shortest wedge. Example: “If you hit a good drive to the top of the hill it will roll down about 30 yards and you’ll only have a short iron into the green.”
shotgun – (aka: “shotgun start”) a term used to describe a tournament or start of any game where everyone starts, on different holes, at the same time. Golfers travel in groups to different holes before the start of an event and then when a signal is given everyone starts play together. Often a shotgun is fired into the air as the signal to begin play. Hence the term. Example: “Q: What time is our tee off? A: The tournament is a 1:00 shotgun start.”
side – (“back side”, “front side”, “front”, “back”) a term used to describe 9 holes of an 18 hole course. Example: “He was excited to play the back side after shooting 38 on the front.”
sidehill lie – a term used to describe the position of the ball as it lies on the side of a hill causing the golfer’s feet to be at a different height than the ball and generally harder to hit properly. Example: “My drive stayed in the fairway but I ended up with a sidehill lie and my feet were a good 8 inches below the ball.”
skins – (aka: “skin game”, “skins game”) similar to match play. A type of golf game played where each hole represents one skin and in order to ‘win’ that skin a golfer needs to beat the other competitors outright on that hole. A skin that is not won outright is ‘carried over’ to the next hole. At the end of 18 holes the total number of strokes does not matter. the winner is determined by the player with the most skins. Each skin may be assigned a value (i.e. $5) should the players want to make a monetary wager on the round. Example: “We were tied after 13 holes and then the next three holes carried over so the 18th hole was worth 5 skins!”
skull – (aka: “blade”, hit it thin”, “belly”, “scull”) the action of hitting the ball with the leading edge of the flange of any iron. The result is that the ball flies with lower trajectory and longer than intended. Example: “My drive set me up directly in front of the green about 80 yards out but I lifted my head and skulled my SW into the sand trap on the far side of the green.”
sky – (aka: “skyball”, “pop up”, “rainmaker”) to hit a ball extremely high. Usually unintentionally and often on a drive when the ball was teed up too high so that the top of the clubhead makes contact with the ball causing it to travel almost straight up in the air and a much shorter distance than intended. Example: “All I had to do was par the 14th hole to win my match but I skyed my drive and let Mats back into the match.”
slice – (aka: “banana ball”) a shot that travels from left to right (for the right handed golfer) at a more dramatic pace than a fade. Usually unintentionally. Also a shot that curves to the right (for the right hander) uncontrollably. Example: “Most beginners struggle trying to get rid of their slice.”
slope – (aka: “slope rating”) trademark of the USGA, it is a number indicating the difficulty of a course for bogey golfers relative to the course rating. The minimum slope is 55 and the maximum is 155. A course of average difficulty is slope rated at 113. The most important role of slope is to level the playing field for players of different skill levels. Example: “A course with a slope rating of 145 is far more difficult than one with a slope of 112.”
slow play – (aka: “undue delay”) to play slower than the group in front of you. A commonly used term used by almost all golfers but also an official term in the USGA rules. Usually judged by the distance behind the group in front. Example: “The ranger accused us of slow play on the fifteenth hole but the group in front of us had just left the green, so I don’t really think that we were playing slow.”
smother – (aka: “hood”) to make the trajectory of a shot lower by closing the face of the club somewhat. sometimes unintentional but also used intentionally to to hit a ball under foliage that is between the golfer and the intended target. Example: “I my drive rolled behind a tree and I had to smother my 6 iron to get it under the leaves – but I came up short anyway.”
snap hook – (aka: “duck hook”, “snapper”, “quacker”) a shot that travels like a hook but more pronounced and quicker. A shot that curves uncontrollably to the left (for a right handed golfer) right off the face of the club. Example: “Patty snap hooked her drive into the lake 25 yards left of the tee box.”
spike – (aka: “cleat”) points extending from the sole of a golf shoe intended to prove additional traction when swinging a golf club. ‘Soft Spikes’ are made of plastic and leave less severe marks on the green. Most courses now require soft spikes and will not permit any other type. Example: “Greg’s feet slipped as he swung because his spikes were all worn down.”
spray – to hit the ball in any direction other than that intended. Example: “After getting off the tee very well during my last round – I sprayed the ball all over the place today.”
square – to be exactly perpendicular or at right angle to (i.e. 90°). Example: “At the address position both the face of the club and the player him/herself should be square to the target.”
Stableford – a scoring system where players earn points based on their score in relation to par (e.g., in The International tournament on the PGA Tour, par = 0 points, birdie = 2, eagle = 5, double eagle = 8, bogey = -1, double bogey or worse = -3). The winner is determined not by the lowest score but instead by the player with the highest number of points.
starter – (aka: “tee master”, “master of the tee”) an employee of the golf course whose responsibility it is to ensure that each foursome tees off the correct tee in the correct order at the correct time. Often this person is also responsible to ensure that the players all know the local rules and have paid to play their round. Example: “I had just started putting on the practice green when the starter said we were up next on the tee.”
starting time – (aka: “tee time”) the time at which a particular round is scheduled to start. A reservation to begin play at the golf course. Example: “We have a regular tee time at my local club for 8:15 Saturday mornings.”
stick – 1. an alternative term (slang) for the flagstick 2. (aka: “stiff”) to put a shot close to the hole. 3. to hit an approach shot that lands and remains on the green. Example: 1. “I was thirty yards over the green but it was right at the stick!” 2. “From inside 80 yard Doug can stick it right next to the pin.” 3. “The greens are really hard today so its really tough to stick your approach shots.”
stiff – (aka: “stick it”) to hit a shot that finishes in the immediate vicinity of the hole/pin. Example: “Doug was thirty five yard out on the 8th hole and hit it stiff to about a foot and a half!”
stroke – 1. (aka: “shot”) the unit of measure used in golf which counts one each time a club is swung with the intent of contacting the ball. 2. the qualitative aspect of the swing (most frequently associated with putting). Example: “After 5 strokes Mark wasn’t even near the green yet.” 2. “Vanessa has an extremely smooth putting stroke.”
stroke play – (aka: “medal play”) to play golf and score by counting the total number of strokes.
sweet spot – (aka: “sweetspot”, “screws”, “nut”) the center of the clubface. The spot on the clubface where the golfer intends to contact the golfball and off of which the ball is expected to fly truest. Example: “It sure felt good to be the first off the with about 20 colleagues watching and hit my drive right on the sweet spot/screws”
swing – to cause the golf club to be lifted and dropped with the intention of contacting the ball or in practicing to contact the ball. Example: “Julie has such a smooth swing. She hits the ball 180 with her driver and it looks effortless.”
swing plane – (aka: “plane”) most easily visualized as the plane that the shaft of the club or of the clubhead’s arc during the swing.
swing weight – the measurement of golf clubs balanced at the 14-inch fulcrum. An industry standard ranging from A-0 to G-2 with the average standard at about D-0. Example: “The swing weight of a club is different than its overall weight or dead weight.”
takeaway – after the address the actual swing motion begins with the takeaway. Thus it is the first movement of the head of the club away from the ball and the beginning of the backswing. Example: “A smooth takeaway is essential in maintaining a consistent swing-plane.”
tap in – (aka: “gimme”) a golf shot that takes place on the green. The act, or potential act of putting the ball in the hole using your putter with little or no effort as a result of the distance left to the hole. Often referred to as a ‘gimme’ in informal situations because the competitor recognizes that there is no possible way to miss the shot given the proximity to the hole (note: a gimme is not permitted in any competitive stroke or medal play. The ball must always be holed in order to complete the golf hole) Example: “My 185 yard 4 iron into the green left me a tap-in for birdie.”
target line – the imaginary straight line between the ball and the golfer’s intended target. Example: “There was a large oak tree on my target line and so I needed to play my shot to the right side of the green and hope to get up and down from there.”
tee – 1. (aka: “peg”) the short straight device on which a golf ball is placed prior to hitting the first shot on any given hole. Usually made of wood and available in many different sizes and lengths as well as colors with or without branding. Plastic tees are also available. There is no rule in golf that a tee must be used. 2. the act of placing the ball on the tee is known as “teeing up the ball”. 3. (aka: “the tee”, “teeing ground”, “tee area”, or “tee box”) the area of each hole from which the first shot is meant to be taken and where the tee blocks are located. The grass on the tee is usually cut shorter than the fairway but not as short as the green grass. Example: 1. “As I arrived at the first hole I realized that I didn’t have any tees in my pocket and needed to borrow one from John on every hole.” 2. “I had the lowest score on the previous hole so I ahead and teed my ball up.” 3. “The starter was eager to get us on the tee so that groups behind us would not be late.”
tee blocks – (aka: “blocks”, “tee markers”, “markers”) the indicators placed on every hole to designate the area from which the first shot on that hole must be taken. Usually found in pairs of matching colors. Each tee box typically has a number of different colors signifying different levels of play/distances to the green. Example: “As I walked up to the 6th hole I almost teed by ball up between the blue markers/tee blocks by mistake.”
tee markers – see “tee blocks”.
tee off – the act of taking the first shot on any hole. In particular the first hole. Example: “Andy was goofing around getting his bag organized so I teed off even though it was his honor.”
tee off time – the time at which a round of golf is intended to begin. Example: “Peter and I have a regular tee off time Thursdays at 4:30.”
tee shot – (aka: “tee ball”, “drive”) the shot resulting from striking the ball off of the tee. The first shot of any golf hole. Example: “Vince’s tee shot faded left and bounced into the creek.”
teeing ground – see “tee” definition #3.
texas wedge – a term used to describe a putter when used from any location other than on the green. Example: “I was so close to the green and the pin was in the front location, so I played my texas wedge to within about 3 feet.”
thin – (aka: “skinny, bladed,) when the ball is not contacted in the sweet spot of the face of the club head, but instead by the leading edge of the flange. Typical flight path of a shot hit thin is much lower and produces less spin than intended or than is typical of a shot with the same club. Example: “I laid up perfectly but then hit my wedge thin and sailed it over the green into a bunker.”
third wedge – (aka: “utility wedge”) a wedge carried in a golfer’s bag in addition to the pitching wedge and sand wedge. Example: “My third wedge is a 60° lob wedge – and its my favorite club.”
through the green – 1. a official golf term/description used in the rules of golf to describe the entire hole/course. Any location “in play” is considered “through the green”. 2. A ball hit so that it travels onto and over the green. Example: 1. “Candy stayed through the green during her entire round on Saturday and didn’t take any penalty strokes at all!” 2. John hit his three iron 200 hundred yards right at the stick but it didn’t hold and went right through the green.”
tight – 1. a term used to describe a particularly narrow area of play in golf. 2. a slangish term used to describe two locations in very close proximity. Example: 1. “A lot of people don’t like Royal Woodbine G.C. because it’s so tight you often lose a lot of balls.” 2. “On the fourth hole Marty hit it his 8-iron so tight that we thought it was going to drop in for his second hole in one!”
toe – from a golfer’s position at address, the edge of the club head facing away from the golfer. When looking a the face of the club face the area of the club farthest away from the shaft/hosel. Example: “I hit the ball with the toe of my club and it went almost directly right into the pond beside the tee.”
toe hook – a shot that hooks as a result of contacting the ball with the toe of the club. Example: “Melissa toe hooked it right into the woods on the 8th hole.”
top – 1. (aka: “dub” or “duff”) to strike the top half of the ball usually with the an area on the club face lower than the sweetspot. The result of a topped shot is that the ball travels directly to the ground after contact without any meaningful time in flight and typically travels a much shorter distance than intended. 2. the point of any golfers swing when his/her hands are at their highest location. Example: “I topped my approach shot and had to settle for a double bogie!” 2. “Pam’s wrists were way too weak at the top of her swing.”
touch – (aka: “feel”) a per son who is able to play very sensitive or speed specific shots is said to have great ‘touch’. Touch is particularly important for shots around/on the green. Example: “Sean could hit the ball a mile off the tee but he had no touch around the green so his score was well over one hundred.”
tournament – (aka: “tourney”, “open”, “invitational”) a golf competition played amongst many golfers. Example: “Doug had only played in amateur tournaments. This was his first tournament as a professional.”
trouble shot – (aka: “recovery”, “recovery shot”) a shot taken from any location of particular difficulty. Example: “Tim was hitting trouble shots all day but still managed to break 80!”
turn – 1. term used to describe the rotation of a golfers body during a golf swing. 2. the transition between the front nine and the back nine (between the 9th and 10th holes) 3. the curve of a shot whether it be from off of a tee or not. 4. another description for a break in a putt. Example: 1. “Tiger Woods isn’t a huge person but he has a great turn that gives him a great deal of power!” 2. “I was one under par at the turn but finished with an eighty three.” 3. “Pam’s approach shot turned from left to right and rolled through the green.” 4. “The putt turned left when the read was that it would go right!”
underclub – when the club used to hit a shot does not provide adequate distance to reach the intended target when a another club would have provided enough distance to make a successful shot. Example: “You don’t what to underclub your shot into the third green with the water all along the front edge.”
under par – (aka: “sub-par”) Completing a hole or group of holes in fewer strokes than indicated by the established par. Example: “To win money on the PGA Tour you need to regularly shoot under par.”
undue delay – (aka: “slow play”) playing at a pace less than that of general play as determined by the committee. Example: “Because of the amount of time Garcia takes in addressing the ball and reading his putts he was finally penalized two strokes for undue delay.”
uneven lie – (aka: “sidehill lie”, “uphill lie”, “downhill lie”) the situation where the ball lies in a location causing the player to have to place his/her feet with either the ball above or below the feet, and/or one foot higher than the other. Example: “I hit the ball well off the tee but ended up with an uneven lie making the shot into the green harder than was deserved.”
unplayable lie – when the ball lies in a location deemed not to be reasonably playable. Example: “Sometimes it worthwhile to take the one stroke penalty for declaring your ball unplayable in order to get out of a particularly difficult situation.”
up – relating to the score of participants indicating that one is ahead of the other. Example: “After only two holes I was up on Ruby by three strokes”
up and down – to put the ball into the hole in two strokes with the first one taking place from off of the green. In particular when getting the ball in the hole within two strokes will result in the player making par. Example: “Trevor’s approach shot was way left of the green but his short game is excellent so he should be able to get up and down from there.”
uphill lie – when the ball lies on an uphill slope such that if an imaginary line were drawn directly from the ball to the target the first part of the line would travel up a hill or incline. Example: “I find it very difficult not to lose my balance during my backswing when faced with an uphill lie.”
upright – either a steep or relatively vertical swing plane, stance, or lie angle. Example: “Taller players usually have a more upright swing plane than do players of shorter stature.”
USGA – an acronym for the United States Golf Association, an organization hat governs golf and makes rules for golf particularly in the USA and along with the R & A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland). Example: “The golf rules of the USGA are subject to copyright.”
utility wedge – (aka: “third wedge”) a wedge carried in a golfer’s bag in addition to the pitching wedge and sand wedge. Example: “My utility wedge is 60° – and its my favorite club!”
Vardon grip – (aka: “overlap grip”, “overlapping grip”) named after historic player Harry Vardon who introduced the grip to the golfing public. The pinky of the lower hand rests on the index finger or between the index finger and the middle finger of the upper hand. This is probably the most popular grip in use today. Example: “It is sometimes difficult for players with smaller hands to be comfortable using the Vardon grip.”
waggle – the movement of a player and his golf club prior to or during the address position. A waggle is specific to each individual golfer and may involve the back and forth movement of the club head in an attempt to get comfortable or stay loose prior to making the anticipated shot.
waste area – an area of the golf course that is in play but is relatively unkempt such that it acts as a hazard area but is not necessarily played under the strict rules of a hazard.
water hazard – any sea, lake, pond, ditch, etc. whether or not there is any water in it. Usually marked with either red or yellow stakes (sometimes lines) (see also “lateral hazard”). Example: “The course had numerous water hazards and they were all in very difficult locations.”
wedge – (aka: “pitching wedge”, “sand wedge”, “lob wedge”, “third wedge”, “utility wedge”) one of the shortest clubs in a players bag. An iron with greater than 48 degrees loft causing much higher loft than when the ball is played with other irons. As a result a wedge is typically used to play shorter distance shots. Example: “On the third hole Jo-anne played driver , 3 iron, and a wedge to get on the green in regulation but proceeded to make a bogie.”
whipping – a very thin waxed string type substance similar in strength and texture fut thinner than fishing line used to assist in the attaching of a golf shaft into a wooden clubhead. Given that most woods are now constructed of metal, whipping is seldom seen anymore. Example: “The whipping on Adrienne’s old driver is coming unraveled and she doesn’t know where to get it fixed.”
winter rules – (aka: “preferred lies”, “improved lies”, “bumping it”) a local rule under which a player can improve his lie without penalty.
wood – Originally used to differentiate the clubs with wooden heads from the irons which were constructed of metal. In modern day golf more often used to describe a club whose clubhead is particularly large and shaped like a driver. The term metal wood is now often used instead of wood as it more accurately describes the type of material and the particular club in question. Example: Phil has only one [metal] wood in his bag and prefers to use his two iron off the tee.”
wormburner – (aka: “worm burner”) a shot with such a low trajectory that it skims the ground such that the ball would be burning up any worms on the surface of the ground. The result of striking the ball particularly thin. You can usually hear a wormburner and although the shot may be effective it is never intentional. Example: “Looking at Joe’s swing you would think he hit the ball a mile but he hit a wormburner that ended up about 75 yards down the fairway.”
X – For whatever reason when a score on a particular hole cannot be accurately determined an X is recorded on the scorecard. Example: “After ending up in the gully George took so many swings that he lost count and ended up taking an X on the hole.”
yank – (aka: “pull”, “jerk”) When a shot is hit such that it goes severely left (for a right-handed player) of the golfer’s intended target to the point that the shot can either no longer be called a hook (i.e. its too gone to be a hook anymore) or its such a horrible hook that it is considered, ‘yanked’. Example: “Diego teed up on the first tee and promptly proceeded to yank his drive into the lake surrounding the 18th green.”
yardage – (aka: “yardage book”, “yardage marker”) the measurement of distance, typically provided in yards. Example: “Some golf courses have yardage markers on all relevant sprinkler heads.”
yardage book – a booklet either provided by the golf club (sometimes at a price) or written by the golfer with or without the assistance of a caddie that provides measurements not only of the distance from tee to green but also of all other relevant distances that may be of interest or useful to somebody playing a particular hole (including distances to the beginning of water hazards etc.) together with notes to assist in the playing of the hole/course. Example: “I always ask at the pro shop if there is a yardage book available when I am playing a course with which I am not familiar. It makes my club selections much easier.”
yips – the either real or imaginary nervous twitching of muscles at the most inopportune time in a golf swing or putt. Example: “For the past three rounds Stacy’s been missing all her putts to the left. Its the worst case of the yips I’ve seen in a while!”
zinger – (aka: “zinner”) a shot that takes off from the head of the club and files toward the target reminiscent of a line drive in baseball. Often associated with a shot hit thin. Example: “Julie hit a great drive over the water but then on her approach shot hit a zinger over the green.”