Golf terminology one needs to know

  • ace- A hole in one
  • amateur- A golfer who is not paid for playing.
  • approach- Normally a short or medium shot played to the putting green or pin -- "approach shot."
  • attend the flag- To hold and then remove the flag while another player putts. A common courtesy performed when playing a round.
  • away- The player farthest from the hole is the first to play, as in "Who's away?"
  • best ball- The best score on a hole by two or more partners in a best-ball match.
  • birdie- A score of one under par on a hole.
  • bogey- A score of one over par on a hole.
  • break- In putting it is the curve due to the slope in a green. In a golf shot, a player may say, "I got a good break." (a favourable or unfavourable sharp bounce/roll to the left or right.)
  • bunker- A sand trap on a golf course, defined as a hazard.
  • caddy- A person who carries clubs for a golfer, gives a golfer advice with club selection and
  • carry- The distance a golf ball must traverse from impact to the point where it first hits the ground. Carry is especially important when judging the distance to the green over a hazard (water, bunker).
  • chip- A short, lofted shot from around the green.
  • compression- The degree of resilience of a golf ball. It is recommended that a beginner play with an 80 or 90-compression ball. One and two piece golf balls are not designated by compression.
  • course rating- The comparison of playing one course as opposed to another in terms of difficulty, used in USGA handicapping.
  • divot- A piece of turf removed with a golf shot. It is proper etiquette to always replace the divot, and to step the turf back in place. Many courses provide a container of sand in golf carts to fill your divots.
  • dogleg- A left or right bend in the fairway.
  • drop- The act performed when a player has an unplayable lie or when the original ball is lost. The golf ball is dropped from a shoulder height on the course.
  • eagle- A score of two under par on a hole.
  • fore- A warning yelled by a player when their shot threatens another player.
  • gimme- A short putt very close to the hole that your playing partners award you. You don't have to putt your ball. You'll hear, "That's a gimme!" during a casual and friendly round, but it is not within the rules of golf. Good on the "next" shot not the last.
  • grain- This term is important when determining your putting strategy on the green. It is the direction in which the blades of grass point on the green, which contributes to the speed and direction of your putt.
  • green- The area of a golf hole on the course designed for putting. The grass is extremely short and well-manicured.
  • green fee- A fee charged a golfer to play on a golf course. Prices do vary, a public course is usually less expensive than a golf resort.
  • grip- The top part of the club held by the golfer, usually made from leather or rubber. Also, the manner in which the club is held.
  • handicap- Designed to allow golfers of all levels (beginners to advanced) to compete together on an equitable basis. This is an allowance in strokes given to a player based on their past and current performance.
  • hazard- Any obstructive or difficult feature of a golf course such as lakes, ponds, fences, molehills, or bunkers.
  • hole- Where you want your golf ball to end up eventually. A small cylinder cut into the ground and measuring 4 1/4 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep, located on the green of a golf course.
  • hole in one- A score of one on a hole -- an amazing feat!
  • honour- The privilege of teeing off first on a hole, usually given to the player who scores the lowest on the previous hole.
  • hook- A golf shot that curves strongly from right to left. For the right-handed golfer this shot usually lands left of their target (the direction would be opposite for the left-handed golfer).
  • layout- Refers to the design of the golf course.
  • lie- The position of the ball on the course. You'll often hear a player say, "I have a good/bad lie." It is also used when a player has played a certain number of strokes on that hole -- "She is lying three, and she still has the chance to par the 17th."
  • links- slang for golf course. lip - The rim around the hole.
  • LPGA- The Ladies Professional Golf Association. This organisation includes tournament operations and a teaching and club professional division.
  • marker- An item used to mark the position of your golf ball. Used on the green to indicate the position of the ball. This may be a coin or a small object.
  • match play- A competition by holes between two parties/players. One player defeats the other one by winning more holes than there are holes left to play.
  • medal play- A competition where the player wins with the lowest number of strokes. Also known as stroke play.
  • mulligan- The chance to replay your last shot.
  • pin- flagstick.
  • pin-high- A ball on the green that is even with the pin but off to one side.
  • pitch- An approach shot to the green. The player does not use a full swing during a pitch shot. This shot is shorter than a normal swing, but longer than a chip shot.
  • play through- When a group or player will pass a group of slower golfers playing on the hole ahead. In terms of proper etiquette, it is recommended you ask permission before moving ahead.
  • putter- The club specifically designed for putting. It has very little loft and is usually shorter than other clubs.
  • range- A common slang word used to describe the course practice area.
  • recovery- Referring to a player's shot. A shot played back into a good position from a hazard, rough, or a generally unfavourable position.
  • relief- Referring to the Rules of Golf. Permission to lift and drop the ball without penalty.
  • rough- The area on the golf course where the grass is longer and thicker than the fairway.
  • scramble- A tournament and/or format of golf play. All golfers hit the ball, starting at the tee. The best ball is picked after each shot and the process starts all over again until the ball is putted out. This format is good for beginners, as it alleviates the pressure of playing with better players.
  • scratch- Not something you do when you have an itch. Used when referring to a player's handicap. A scratch golfer is a player who has a 0 handicap. A person who plays "par golf". A good place to be.
  • slope- Adjusts your handicap to the difficulty of the course you play. The more difficult the slope rating on the course, the more strokes the player will need. See the USGA web site for further information.
  • tee- A peg on which the ball is placed for driving (wooden or plastic). The tee is also the point from which the play of a hole begins, usually referred to as "the tee" or the "teeing ground." threesome - Three players playing a round together. Also, a match in which two players play the same ball and alternate strokes and play against a single player.
  • top- To hit the ball above its centre. A shot that will dive downward and roll or hop on the ground rather than rise.
  • whiff- To swing and miss the golf ball completely, counted as a stroke.
  • yips- A chronic condition of missing short putts due to nerves.


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