Golf has a language all its own. Golf Terminology for beginners brings you the phrases, slangs and terminology to help you understand and make sense of golf.
Ace: A hole-in-one.
Address: The way a golfer positions his or her body right before laying the clubface square to the ball. Each golfer has his or her own unique address.
Airball: When a golfer swings and misses the ball. It is counted as a stroke in putting.
Albatross: British term for double eagle, which means you scored 3 under par on one hole. A great score, which does not happen frequently.
Amateur: A golfer who plays golf for pleasure rather than for money or as a profession.
Angle of Approach: A golf shot made with the aim of landing the golf ball on the green.
Approach: A shot to the green, made from anywhere except the tee.
Apron: The grass around the edge of a green. It is longer than the grass on the green, but shorter than the grass on the fairway.
Attend: To hold and remove the flagstick as a partner putts, usually from some distance.
Away: The term used to describe the ball farthest from the hole and, thus, next to be played.
Back Door: When the ball drops into the hole, after rolling around the rim of the cup to the far side.
Back Lip: The edge of a bunker (a hazard filled with sand) that’s farthest from the green.
Back Nine: It is the second half, or last 9 nines holes of an 18-hole course.
Backspin: Is when the ball hits the green and spins back toward the player.
Backswing: The part of the swing which the clubhead moves away from the ball, to the point where it starts back down again. Also sometimes referred to as backstroke.
Baffie: Old name for a 5-wood.
Bail Out: A shot played to the “safe” part of the course.
Balata: Is sap from a tropical tree, which was formally used for the manufacture of golf ball covers.
Ball at Rest: When the ball is not moving.
Ball Marker: Is a small, round object used to indicate the ball’s position on the green.
Ball Retriever: Are long pole with a scoop on the end, used to collect balls from water hazards and other undesirable spots.
Ball Washer: Found on many tees; a device for cleaning balls.
Banana Ball: A shot that curves hugely from left to right, similar to a banana (see slice).
Bandit: Avoid bandits at all costs. See hustler.
Baseball Grip: Is to hold the club with all ten fingers on the grip.
Best Ball: Game for four players: two teams of two. The low score on each side counts as the team score on each hole.
Birdie: Score of one under par on a hole.
Bisque: Is a handicap stroke given by one player to another. Receiver may choose which hole it is applied to.
Bite A spin that tends to make the ball stop rather than roll when it lands.
Blade: The leading edge of the club, rather than the clubface, strikes the ball, resulting in a low shot that tends to travel way too far (see thin or skull). Also a kind of putter or iron.
Blast: An aggressive shot from a bunker that displaces a lot of sand.
Blind Shot: When unable to see the spot where you want the ball to land.
Block A shot that flies straight, but to the right of the target. Also see push.
Bogey: Is a score of one stroke over par on a hole.
Borrow: The amount of curve you must allow for a putt on a sloping green. Or what you need to do if you play a hustler.
Boundary: Edge, of course; it confines the space/time continuum. Usually marked by white stakes.
Brassie: Old name for a 2-wood.
Break: A slope that causes the ball to turn away from a straight line. See borrow.
British Open: National championship run by Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews — known in Britain as “the Open” because it was the first one.
Bulge: The curve across the face of a wooden club.
Bunker: Hazard filled with sand; can be referred to as a sand trap.
Buried Ball/Lie: Part of the ball below the surface of the sand in a bunker.
Caddie: The person carrying your clubs during your round of golf. With who may also communicate yardage measurements, rakes bunkers, and provides other information by the golfer’s request.
Caddie-Master: The person in charge of caddies.
Calamity Jane: The great Bobby Jones’s putter.
Carry: The distance between a ball’s takeoff and landing.
Cart: A motorized vehicle used to transport golfers around the course.
Casual Water: Water other than a water hazard on the course from which you can lift your ball without penalty.
Center-Shafted: Putter in which the shaft is joined to the center of the head.
Character Builder: A short, meaningful putt.
Charting the Course: To pace each hole so that you always know how far you are from the hole.
Chili-Dip: A mishit chip shot, the clubhead hitting the ground well before it hits the ball.
Chip: Very short, low-flying shot to the green.
Chip-In: A holed chip.
Choke: This word has two meanings: One is to grip lower on the club than normal. The other definition in golf to play poorly because of self-imposed pressure.
Choke Down: To hold the club lower on the grip.
Chunk: See chili-dip.
Cleat: A spike on the sole of a golf shoe.
Cleek: Old term for a variety of clubs.
Closed Face: A clubface pointed to the left of your ultimate target at address or impact. Or a clubface pointed skyward at the top of the backswing. It can lead to a shot that goes to the left of the target.
Closed Stance: Player sets up with the right foot pulled back, away from the ball.
Clubhouse: Main building at a golf club. An indoor area located on a golf course, which provides services such as the golf proshops and restaurants.
Club Length: Distance from the end of the grip to the bottom of the clubhead.
Collar: Is similar to the strip of grass which runs around the green and which is usually longer in length than the grass on the putting surface. Also see Apron.
Come-Backer: The putt after the preceding effort finished beyond the hole.
Compression: The flattening of the ball against the clubface. The faster you swing and the more precisely you hit the ball in the middle of the clubface, the more fun you have.
Concede: To give an opponent a putt, hole, or match.
Core: The center of a golf ball.
Course Rating: The difficulty of a course, measured with a formula by the USGA. Every golf course is given a rating. The higher the course rating, the more difficult the golf course is to play.
Cross-Handed: Grip with the left hand below the right (common for right-hand golfer’s).
Cross Wind: The breeze blowing from right to left or from left to right.
Cup: A container in the hole that holds the flagstick in place.
Cuppy Lie: When the ball is in a cup-like depression.
Cut: A score that eliminates a percentage of the field (or players) from a tournament. Usually made after 36 holes of a 72-hole event.
Cut Shot: A shot that curves from left to right.
Dance Floor: Slang for green.
Dawn Patrol: The players who tee off early in the day.
Dead: When there is no possible way out of the shot!
Deep: A high clubface from top to bottom.
Deuce: A score of two on a given hole.
Dimple: Depression on the cover of a golf ball.
Divot: Turf displaced by the clubhead during a swing.
Dogleg: Hole on which the fairway curves one way or the other.
Dormant: Grass on the course is alive but not actively growing.
Dormie: The player who’s winning the match in match play — for example, five up with only five holes left, or four up with four left.
Double Bogey: Score of two over par on a hole.
Double Eagle: Score of three under par on a hole. See also albatross.
Downhill Lie: When your right foot is higher than your left when you address the ball (for right-handed players).
Downswing: The part of the swing where the clubhead is moving down, toward the ball.
Drain: To sink a putt.
Draw: Shot that curves from right to left.
Drive: Shot from teeing ground other than par-3 holes.
Drive for Show, Putt for Dough: Old saying implying that putting is more important than driving.
Driving Range: Place where you can go to hit practice balls.
Drive the Green: When your drive finishes on the putting surface. Can happen on short par-4.
Drop: Procedure by which you put the ball back into play after it’s been deemed unplayable.
Dub: Bad shot or player.
Duck Hook: Shot curving severely from right to left.
Duffer: A bad player.
Dying Putt: A putt that barely reaches the hole.