Waggle: Movement of the clubhead prior to the swing.

Water Hazard: Body of water that costs you a shot to leave.

Wedge: Lofted club (iron) used for pitching.

Whiff: SeeAirball.

Whipping: The string around the shaft/head of a wooden club.

Whippy: A shaft more flexible than normal.

Windcheater: Low drive.

Winter Rules: See Preferred Lies.

Wood: Material that long clubs used to be made of.

Wormburner: Low mishit.


Uncock: See Release.

Underclub: To take at least one club less than needed for distance.

Unplayable Lie: You can’t hit the ball. One stroke penalty is your reward.

Up: Ahead in the match. Or the person next to play. Or reaching the hole with a putt.

Up and Down: To get the ball into the hole in two strokes from somewhere off the green.

Upright: To swing with a steep vertical plane.

USGA: United States Golf Association. The ruling body for golf in the United States.

U.S. Open: National men’s golf championship of America.

U.S. Women’s Open: National women’s golf championship of America.


Takeaway: Early part of the backswing.

Tap-In: Very short putt.

Tee: Wooden peg on which the ball is set for the first shot on a hole. Also, the area from which that initial shot is hit.

Teeing Ground: Area in which you must tee your ball, between the tee markers and neither in front of them nor more than two club lengths behind them.

Tee it Up: To start play.

Tempo: The rhythm of your swing.

Temporary Green: Used in winter to save the permanent green.

Texas Wedge: Putter when used from off the green.

That’ll Play: A kind reference to mediocre shot.

Thin: To hit the ball around its equator — don’t expect much height.

Three-Putt: Undesired number of strokes on a green.

Through the Green: The whole course except hazards, tees, and greens.

Tiger Tee: Slang for the back tee.

Tight: Narrow fairway.

Tight Lie: The ball on bare ground or very short grass.

Timing: The pace and sequence of movement in your swing.

Titanium: Metal used in lightweight shafts and in golf balls.

Top: Ball is struck on or above the equator. See thin.

Torque: Twisting of the shaft at impact.

Tour: Series of tournaments for professionals.

Tradesman’s Entrance: Ball goes in the hole from the rear of the cup.

Trajectory: Flight of the ball.

Trap: See Bunker.

Triple Bogey: Three over par on one hole. Not good.

Turn: To make your way to the back nine holes. Or the rotation of the upper body during the backswing and forward swing.

Twitch: See yips.


Sandbagger: A golfer who lies about his or her ability/handicap to gain an advantage.

Sand Trap: A bunker.

Sandy: Making par after being in a bunker.

Scorecard: Where the length, par, and rating of each hole is recorded. Also, your score.

Scoring: The grooves on the clubface.

Scramble: To play erratic golf but still score well. Or a game where a team of, say, four all tee off and then pick the best shot. All then play their balls from that spot; continues with each set of shots.

Scratch Play: No handicaps used in this type of game.

Scratch Player: One with a 0 handicap.

Second Cut: Second level of rough, higher than first cut. Some courses have three cuts of rough.

Semiprivate: A course with members that is also open to the public.

Semirough: Grass in the rough that is not too long, not too short.

Setup: See Address.

Shaft: The part of the club that joins the grip to the head.

Shag: To retrieve practice balls.

Shag Bag: To carry practice balls.

Shallow: Narrow clubface. Or a flattish angle of attack into the ball.

Shank: Shot struck from the club’s hosel; flies far to the right of the intended target.

Shooting the Lights Out: To play very well.

Short Cut: Cut of grass on the fairway or green.

Short Game: Shots played on and around the green.

Shut: Clubface aligned left at address or impact; looking skyward at the top of the backswing. Results in a shot that goes to the left of the target.

Sidehill Lie: Ball either above or below your feet.

Sidesaddle: Putting style where a player faces the hole while making the stroke.

Sink: To make a putt.

Sit Down (full flaps, pull a hamstring, develop a limp): A polite request for the ball to stop.

Skins: Betting game where the lowest score on a hole wins the pot. If the hole is tied, the money carries over to the next hole.

Skull (Hit it in the Forehead): See Blade or Thin.

Sky: Ball flies off the top of the clubface — very high and short.

Sleeve of Balls: Box of three golf balls.

Slice: Shot that curves sharply from left to right.

Smile: Cut in a ball caused by a mishit.

Smother: To hit the ball with a closed clubface, resulting in a horrible, low, hooky shot.

Snake: Long putt.

Snap Hook: Severe hook.

Socket: SeeShank.

Sole: Bottom of the clubhead.

Sole Plate: Piece of metal attached to the bottom of a wooden club.

Spade-Mashie: Old term for a 6-iron.

Spike Mark: Mark on the green made by a golf shoe.

Spin-Out: Legs moving too fast in relation to the upper body on the downswing.

Spoon: Old term for a 3-wood.

Spot Putting: Aiming for a point on the green over which the ball must run if it is to go in the hole.

Square: Score of a match is even. Or the clubface and stance are aligned perfectly with the target.

Square Face: Clubface looking directly at the hole at address/impact.

Square Grooves: USGA banned them from clubfaces.

St. Andrews: Located in Fife, Scotland, the home of golf.

Stableford: Method of scoring by using points rather than strokes.

Stance: Position of the feet before the swing.

Starter: Person running the order of play (who plays when) from the first tee.

Starting Time: When you tee off at the first tee.

Stick: The pin in the hole.

Stiff: A shaft with reduced flex. Or very close to the hole.

Stimpmeter: Device used to measure the speed of greens.

Stroke: Movement of club with the intent to hit the ball.

Stroke Hole: Hole at which one either gives or receives a shot, according to the handicap of your playing.

Stymie: Ball obstructing your route to the hole — now obsolete.

Sudden-Death: Form of playoff whereby the first player to win a hole wins the match.

Superintendent: Person responsible for the upkeep of the course.

Surlyn: Material from which most balls are made.

Swale: Depression or dip in terrain.

Sway: To move excessively to the right on the backswing without turning the body.

Sweet Spot: Perfect point on the clubface with which to strike the ball.

Swing plane: Angle at which the club shaft travels around the body during a swing.

Swing weight: Measure of a club’s weight to its length.


Rabbit: A beginning player.

Rake: Device used to smooth the sand after you leave a bunker.

Range: Practice area.

Range Ball: Generally a low-quality ball used on a driving range.

Rap: To hit a putt firmly.

Read the Green: To assess the path on which a putt must travel to the hole.

Regular: A shaft with normal flex.

Regulation: Par figures.

Release: The point in the downswing where the wrists uncock.

Relief: Where you drop a ball that was in a hazard or affected by an obstruction.

Reverse Overlap: Putting grip in which the little finger of the right hand overlaps the index finger of the left hand.

Rhythm: The tempo of your swing.

Rifle a Shot: To hit the ball hard, straight, and far.

Rim the Cup: See Lip Out.

Ringer Score: Your best-ever score at each hole on the course.

Road Hole: The 17th hole at St. Andrews — the hardest hole in the world.

Roll: On wooden clubs, the curve on the clubface from the top to the bottom of the face.

Rough: Unprepared area of long grass on either side of the fairway.

Round: Eighteen holes of golf.

Royal & Ancient Golf Club: The organization that runs the British Open.

Rub of the Green: Luck.

Run: The roll on the ball after landing.

Run Up: A type of shot to play when the ground is firm. You bounce the ball onto the green and let it roll to the hole.


Quail High (Stealth, Skull, Rat-High): Low.

Qualifying School: A place where aspiring professional golfers try to qualify for the PGA and LPGA Tours. A punishing week of pressure golf. The ultimate grind.

Quitting: Not hitting through a shot with conviction.


Pairings: Groups of two players.

Par: The score a good player would expect to make on a hole or round.

Partner: A player on your side.

Penal: Difficult.

Persimmon: A wood from which many wooden clubs are made.

PGA: Professional Golfers’ Association.

Piccolo Grip: A very loose hold on the club, especially at the top of the backswing.

Pigeon: An opponent you should beat easily.

Pin: The pole placed in the hole.

Pin-high: See hole high.

Pin-Placement: The location of the hole on the green.

Pitch: A short, high approach shot. Doesn’t run much on landing.

Pitch and Putt: A short course. Or getting down in two strokes from off the green.

Pitch-and-Run: Varies from a pitch in that it flies lower and runs more.

Pitching-Niblick: Old term for an 8-iron.

Pivot: The body turn during the swing.

Plane: The arc of the swing.

Playoff: Two or more players play extra holes to break a tie.

Play Through: What you do when the group in front of you invites you to pass.

Plugged Lie: When the ball finishes half-buried in the turf or a bunker.

Plumb-Bob: Lining up a putt with one eye closed and the putter held vertically in front of the face.

Pop-Up: High, short shot.

Pot Bunker: Small, steeply faced bunker.

Practice Green: Place for working on your putting.

Preferred Lies: Temporary rule that allows you to move the ball to a more favorable position because of wet conditions.

Press: You’ve lost your match, but you want your money back. This new bet takes place over any remaining holes.

Private Club: A club open to members and their guests only.

Pro-Am: A competition in which professional partners team with amateurs.

Professional: A golfer who plays or teaches for his or her livelihood.

Pro Shop: A place where you sign up to start play and can buy balls, clubs, and so on.

Provisional Ball: You think your ball may be lost. To save time, you play another from the same spot before searching for the first ball. If the first ball is lost, the second ball is in play.

Public Course: A golf course open to all.

Pull: A straight shot that flies to the left of the target.

Punch: A shot hit lower with the ball back in the stance and a shorter-than-normal follow-through.

Push: A straight shot that flies to the right of the target.

Putter: A straight-faced club generally used on the greens.


O.B. (Oscar Bravo, Set it Free): Out-of-bounds.

Off-Center Hit: Less than a solid strike.

Offset: Club with the head set farther behind the shaft than normal.

One-Putt: To take only a single putt on a green.

One Up: Being one hole ahead in the match score.

Open Face: Clubface aligned to the right of the target at address, or to the right of its path at impact. Can lead to a shot going to the right of the target.

Open Stance: Player sets up with the left foot pulled back, away from the ball.

Open Up the Hole: When your tee shot leaves the best possible angle for the next shot to the green.

Out-of-Bounds: Area outside the boundaries of the course, usually marked with white posts. When a ball finishes “O.B.,” the player must return to the original spot and play another ball under penalty of one stroke. He or she thus loses stroke and distance.

Outside: Area on the far side of the ball.

Outside In: Swing path followed by the clubhead into the ball from outside the ball-target line. (See inside out.)

Over the Green: Ball hit too far.

Overclub: To use a club that will hit the ball too far.

Overlapping: A type of grip where the little finger of the right hand lies over the index finger of the left hand.