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Golf Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

    Ace - A score of one on any hole. More widely known as a hole in one.

    Albatross - A score of three under the predetermined par for a certain hole. For instance, a score of two on a par five. Also known as a double eagle, these are extremely rare.

    All square - In match play, when the two golfers or teams are even. They are said to be “all square” through however many holes they have played.

    Approach shot - A full shot taken when in striking range of the green. For instance, the second shot on a par four, if played right.

    Away - The golfer in the group whose ball is farthest away from the cup, whose turn it is to play.

B

    Back tees - The set of tees farthest from the green, and thus, the hardest.

    Backspin - The end over end reverse movement of a ball usually achieved by a cutting motion on the downswing off of a clean line.

    Backswing - The part of the golf swing in which the golfer takes his or her club back away from the ball; the windup.

    Bag - Every player has a personal golf bag, which holds all of his or her clubs, balls, tees and other accessories. Only 14 clubs are allowed in a player's bag at once.

    Ball marker - A small, circular placeholder for a player’s golf ball once it is on the putting green.

    Beach - A slang term for a bunker.

    Birdie - A score of one less than the prescribed par for that specific hole. For example, on a par four, a score of three.

    Bite - A term yelled by a golfer when a shot seems to be going too far or rolling too fast for the correct distance. The player wants his or her ball to stop, or, bite.

    Blades - A type of set of irons designed for more advanced golfers that have smaller club heads and offer less forgiveness in return for more control and distance.

    Bogey - Taking one stroke more than allotted on a particular hole. So, scoring a five on a par four.

    Bucket - The container that holds the golf balls when buying practice balls for the driving range.

    Bump and run - A type of chip shot made using a closed-face club to make the ball jump a short distance, before hitting the ground and rolling for some time. It is a good chip shot to use when nothing is blocking the green.

    Bunker - A nickname for the sand trap. A player cannot put his or her club head down onto the sand of a bunker without a penalty. Also known as the beach.

C

    Caddy - A person who assists the player by carrying their bags and offering advice and assistance during play.

    Cart - A battery, gas, or electric powered vehicle that golfers can use during their round. Each cart can usually hold two players and their bags.

    Cavity backs - A type of set of irons designed for newer or less advanced golfers with larger, concave club heads that offer more forgiveness.

    Chip - A chip shot is used from around the green to get the ball onto the putting surface. Usually done with a wedge.

    Closed face - When the golfer turns the club so that the club’s face is directed towards the ground, which gives the ball less loft.

    Club face - The grooved part of the club head that makes contact with the ball.

    Club head - The end of a golf club used to hit the ball.

    Condor - The act of taking four less shots than the prescribed par for a certain hole. It would have to be a hole-in-one on a par five, a practically impossible task.

    Cross handed - An inversion from the normal hand positioning for the putter’s grip. For a right handed golfer, this means putting the right hand above the left (a typical putters grip is left above the right).

D

    Dance floor - Slang term for the putting green.

    Distance marker - On a hole, there will be distance markers set up so that a golfer always can estimate how far away he or she is from the green.

    Divot - A chunk of grass and dirt taken from the ground after a shot. It is proper etiquette to replace the chunk of grass and dirt as best as you can.

    Divot tool - A small, metal pronged device used to poke into the green to lift up the dent made by a ball landing on the green.

    Dogleg - A term used to describe the shape of a hole that starts out straight and then turns one way or the other at a significant angle. A hole can dogleg left or right.

    Downswing - The part of the swing where the golfer comes down at the ball after the backswing.

    Draw - The left-leaning version of a fade (for right-handed players).

    Driver - The biggest and longest club in a golfer's bag, the driver is used off of the tee on par fours and par fives.

    Drop - When, in the case of a lost or hazarded ball, a player drops a new or the original ball from shoulder length into play.

E

    Eagle - A score of two less than the prescribed par for a specific hole. For example, on a par five, a score of three.

    Etiquette - The proper decorum and manners of the game. Etiquette concerns respect for the golf course and for fellow players.

F

    Fade - A shot that starts out going straight and gently leans to a right-handed hitter's right side (left-handed hitter's left). You can learn to do this on purpose to skirt around trees or adjust your shot to the wind.

    Fairway - The closely mown area between the tea and green. Also known as "the short stuff." Sometimes, on shorter, par 3 holes, the fairway may not exist, since the player is challenged to get to the putting green in one shot.

    Fairways hit - A stat a player can count in his or her rounds of golf that describes the number of times a tee shot lands on the fairway on par fours and par fives. Use to tally accuracy off of the tee.

    Fairways woods - A sub-category of woods, designed with slightly more loft and less distance than a typical long wood (the five-wood and the seven-wood).

    Flag - The marker that waves from the top of the pin to let golfers know where the hole is from a distance.

    Flop shot - A type of shot used around the green to get extra loft. Perfect when a player needs the ball to fly over a hazard and land softly on the green.

    Foot wedge - An illegal move that involves kicking the ball out of a bad lie.

    Fore - A term used to warn golfers of a ball hurtling toward their location. Shorter version and used in place of "watch out!"

    Foursome - A group of four golfers playing the course together. Usually the maximum number of golfers allowed in one group.

    Fried egg - A ball that’s been plugged into a sand bunker so that only the top half of it shows.

    Fringe - The short, fairway-like grass surrounding the green. Players can opt to putt or chip from this grass.

    Furthest from the hole - The player whose ball is farthest away from the hole in his or her group and gets to hit their ball first.

G

    Gimmie - An advantage given to a golfer when his ball ends up inches away from the hole, and he isn’t forced to tap it in to count the hole. Gimmie’s are informal and used to save time, but are illegal in stroke play competition.

    Glove - A leather or synthetic glove worn on the golfer’s off hand during play. Many golfers remove their gloves when around or on the green.

    Grand Slam - When a player wins all four major tournaments—the U.S. Open, the British Open, the Masters, and the PGA Championship—in the same calendar year.

    Green - A well-mown area that surrounds the hole and mostly used for putting. Also called "the dance floor."

    Greens in regulation - Achieved by hitting your ball onto the putting surface so that your next shot is a putt for birdie. For example, on a par five, your third shot needs to end up on the putting green for a GIR.

    Grip - The rubber handle of the club. Or, the way a golfer forms his hands on the club’s grip.

    Ground under repair - Usually marked off with ropes or little flags, a golf course can label a part of the course as GUR, which, if your ball lands in it, enables you to remove it without penalty.

H

    Handcart - A wheeled device that holds a golfer’s bag and is usually pulled by a handle.

    Handicap (hole) - Each hole is assigned a rank of difficulty. For an 18 hole course, the number one handicap hole is the toughest, and the 18 handicap is the theoretical easiest.

    Handicap (player) - A calculated number given to a golfer to assess his or her skill level where the lower your handicap, the better your game. There are official and unofficial handicaps.

    Hazard - Any obstacle on the course designed to trap, deflect, sink, or otherwise disrupt a player's path to the green. Common hazards are ponds and sand traps.

    Head cover - A soft cover for golf clubs to prevent scratching or clinking.

    Hit it fat - When a golfer hits too much of the ground before making contact with the ball. It makes the shot weaker than a solid hit, so the ball will usually end up short of the target. Also called “chunky.”

    Hit it thin - When the club only hits the equator or above on a ball. This makes the ball "come out hot," with little or no loft or spin.

    Hold the pin - When a putter asks someone to keep the pin in place in the cup while he aims and pull it as the ball starts rolling, since the pin must be out of the cup as the ball falls in. Used for longer putts.

    Hole - On a regulation golf course, there are 18 holes, each with its own hazards, layouts and obstacles to challenge your ability to get the ball into the cup in a low number of strokes. Each hole begins at a tee box and ends at the putting green.

    Hole (cup) - The hollow in the ground in which the pin stands. Located on the putting green of each of the eighteen holes, the cup is the destination of your golf ball.

    Hole in One - A hole in one happens when a golfer hits his or her first shot into the hole. Most of these shots, also known as aces, occur on par three holes.

    Hook - The left-ducking version of a slice (for right-handed players). Also called a "duck hook." It's just as ugly as a slice, but easier to fix than a slice.

    Hybrid club - A newer type of club being used to replace harder-to-hit long irons. They have the distance and loft of long irons, but the accuracy of a fairway wood.

I

    Irons - A set of clubs with a steel or iron head and narrow sole. They are usually numbered from one (the longest) to nine (the shortest).

L

    Ladies’ tees - The tees closest to the green, which shortens the hole.

    Lag - A long putt and one the golfer isn’t trying to make as much as use to secure a two-putt.

    Lay up - In the case of a distant water or sand hazard, a player can opt to play it safe by hitting a purposefully shorter shot in front of the hazard to set himself up for his approach shot.

    Lie - The quality of the place your ball has landed. A good lie would be in the middle of a nicely mown fairway. A bad lie would be buried halfway under a bunker‘s sand.

    Line of putt - The invisible line of direction between a golfer’s ball on the putting green and the hole. Players must notice each golfer’s line and avoid walking or setting down objects over it.

    Loose impediment - Anything not attached to the earth affecting a golf ball’s lie that a player can legally move without penalty. For example, a loose leaf or pebble.

    Lost ball - A ball, presumably in play, that cannot be found. Players have five minutes to search for a lost ball before having to drop a new one into play with a penalty.

M

    Making the cut - Golf tournaments are usually arranged in four 18 hole rounds that take place on Thursday through Sunday. After the first two rounds, a certain score is chosen as the "cut-line," and anyone whose score is better than the cut-line continues to play.

    Mat - An artificial surface offered by some driving ranges to hit from instead of or along with real grass. Usually made of Astroturf.

    Match play - In match play, two golfers go head-to-head each hole. The winner of each hole is the golfer who scores a lower number on that particular hole.

    Metal spikes - Metal cleats on the bottoms of golf shoes. Many courses ban these types of cleats for use on putting greens due to the damage it can cause the grass.

    Mulligan - Replacement shots taken after a really bad first attempt. Oftentimes amateurs will give themselves one or two mulligans per round. They are illegal in tournaments, but common in exhibition rounds.

N

    No closer to the hole - The rule that states that when dropping a ball or moving it from an unplayable lie, the new location cannot be any closer to the hole than the original.

O

    Open - A type of tournament in which qualifying amateurs are allowed to compete with professionals.

    Open face - The club face can be tilted back by turning a club in one’s hands so that the golfer sees more of the club face. It allows a golfer to have more loft in a shot.

    Out of bounds - A section of the golf course (or the area surrounding the course) deemed out of play. A ball hit out of bounds carries a two-stroke penalty.

P

    Pace of play - The amount of time a group of golfers takes to play through the holes.

    Par - The number of strokes a player is expected to get the ball into the cup on a specific hole and for the entire course. For example, a hole can be a par four, but a course can be a par 72.

    Par five - A long hole, usually 500 or more yards, on which the golfer has five shots to put the ball into the hole to score par.

    Par four - A medium length hole, usually between 300 and 450 yards, on which the golfer has four shots to put the ball into the hole for a score of par.

    Par three - A short hole, usually around or under 200 yards, on which a golfer has three shots to put the ball into the hole for a score of par. When you think of a "hole-in-one," it's almost always on a par three.

    Penalty strokes - A punishment for a number of violations, including out of bounds and water hazards, that adds strokes to your score.

    PGA - The Professional Golfers Association.

    Pin - The object that sticks into the hole to let golfers know where the hole is from a distance. When putting, the pin must be out of the hole, or else a penalty is tacked onto that golfer's score.

    Pin high - A term used to say “you had the right distance.” For instance, if a golfer hits his approach shot exactly the distance to the pin, but hits it a little off target, his ball has ended up pin high.

    Pitch - A long chip shot, usually from about 20 or more yards.

    Play through - When a group’s pace of play is slowed down so that the group behind theirs is forced to wait on every shot. The proper etiquette is to allow that group to skip yours since they are moving at a faster pace.

    Practice swing - A full or partial swing taken away from the ball.

    Pre-shot routine - Any routine series of steps taken by a golfer before he or she hits the ball. Every golfer has a unique pre-shot routine.

    Pro shop - The product and service store located in a golf course’s clubhouse.

    Putter - A flat-faced club used on the putting green to hit the ball into the hole.

    Putts per round - A stat that counts all of the putts made by a golfer in a round. Usually, the lower the number, the better putter the golfer, and the lower (better) your score will be.

R

    Rake - A tool for players to use after stepping into and/or swinging in the bunker. There is usually a rake in or around every sand bunker on the course.

    Read - The analysis by a golfer before putting to see which way his or her ball will slope once it starts rolling. It is important to read the green, since some are hilly or uneven.

    Reverse pivot - The opposite motion of a good swing, this occurs when the golfer leaves his weight on his front foot during the backswing, and shifts his weight to his back foot during the downswing.

    Rough - A rougher batch of grass that is mown higher but typically surrounds the fairway and green to punish inaccurate shots.

S

    Sandbagging - In some amateur or league tournaments, players can list their handicap to set their score on a “curve.” Some players lie and bump their handicaps up so that their great scores appear more competitive.

    Scorecard - A sheet of paper given to the golfer at the golf course that lists the yardage, par, and handicap of each hole with a space for the golfer to input his or her score.

    Scratch - A golfer whose handicap is below par. In other words, a great golfer.

    Shaft - The long, thin metal or graphite part of the club that connects to the club head.

    Shaft flexibility - Every golfer has his or her own swing speed, which in turn dictates the appropriate amount of stiffness needed in the club’s shaft. Slow swings need more flexibility, medium swings work with regular flex shafts, and fast swings need stiff shafts.

    Shank - An extremely wayward shot. Also known as a hiccup.

    Short game - The shots on and around the green; i.e. putting, chipping, and pitching.

    Sit - Yelled at a ball by a player when a shot seems to be flying farther than anticipated. See bite.

    Skins - Competition format played by designating a certain amount of money to each hole, and competing with another golfer or team of golfers to win each hole’s prize. If both sides tie on a certain hole, then the prize money for that hole gets pushed to the next, until a hole is finally won.

    Slice - A fade gone wrong and a very common problem for golfers of all levels. For a right-handed hitter, a slice shoots over to the extreme right. For a left-handed hitter, the left.

    Slope - The calculated difficulty of a golf course. This number will range from 55 (easiest) to 155 (toughest), and appears on the golf course’s score card.

    Snowman - A snowman is whatever the par is for a certain hole, doubled. An eight on a par four, for example.

    Soft spikes - Rubber cleats on the bottoms of golf shoes. Many courses require you wear these to walk on putting greens.

    Sole - The bottom part of the club head, that is placed onto the ground when setting up to the ball.

    Southpaw - A left-handed golfer.

    Stimp - The rating  of the speed of a golf course's greens. In order to find the stimp rating, you use a stimpmeter. The higher the stimp, the faster the greens.

    Stroke - The indicator of a shot taken or a penalty added. The number of strokes in a golfer’s round is his or her score.

    Stroke play - In stroke play, golfers count their strokes as their scores. This is the primary mode used in professional golf, although some events, like the Ryder Cup, are played in match play.

    Sweet spot - The center of the club face that yields the best results when contact is made with the ball.

T

    Tee - A short and thin stick of wood placed into the ground to support a ball from off of the ground. A player can only tee up a ball on the tee box, the first shot of each hole.

    Tee time - The scheduled appointment for your group’s first hole tee-off.

    Texas wedge - From the fringe, a golfer can choose to keep the ball on the ground instead of chipping it into the air. If the fringe is too thick for a putter, the golfer can use a fairway wood like a putter to get some extra boost through the thick grass.

    The turn - When a player completes the front nine holes n a regulation course of 18 holes, they are said to be making “the turn” to the back nine.

    Tiger Slam - When one player holds all four majors titles at the same time. It is named for Tiger Woods who was the first to do so in his 2000-2001 season. It is the closest thing to a Grand Slam in modern golf.

    Toe - The tip of the club head. Full hits off of the toe usually result in shanks, although putting off of the toe can be used to soften a ball’s speed downhill.

    Topped - When a golfer hits only the top of the ball, which causes it to dribble forward a few measly yards. Also known as "skulling" the ball.

    Touch - The amount of strength a golfer uses for a shot. This term is usually used more around and on the green for chips and putts. Having a good touch means having good distance control.

    Two-putt - To take two putts on a green to get the ball into the cup.

U

    Up and down - The player's ability to hit the ball once onto the green and once more to putt it in. Used when chipping to the green from a short distance

W

    Water hazard - Any body of water a golfer’s ball might sink into. Streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans are all water hazards and carry a penalty.

    Wedge - A high lofted club used to chip, pitch, or shoot the ball onto the green from a short distance.

    Whiff - When you swing at the ball and miss. In competition, a whiff is a stroke penalty.

    Winter rules - While not used in competition, winter rules are enforced on a personal, informal basis and allow golfers to remove their golf balls from muddy or swampy areas usually caused by bad weather.

    Woods - A set of clubs with a larger head made of either wood, metal, or graphite. Woods hit the ball with less loft but more distance than irons and are usually hit from the fairway or the tee.

Check out this Golf glossary to find the sport-specific definitions for which you have been looking. From A to Z, we've got all the words covered.
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