Last Updated on 18 January 2024 by Jeronimo Baron
Embarking on the golf course journey often feels like mastering a distinct language, with golfers reveling in creating new slang to capture the essence of their shots. Golfing terminology constantly evolves, making it an ever-shifting lexicon. To expedite your linguistic immersion, we’ve compiled an extensive glossary encompassing a wide array of golfing terms and slang. While it might be impossible to capture every golf word, we’re confident that our glossary covers 95% or more.
Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a newcomer, we bet you’ll encounter some fresh golfing terms as you explore our comprehensive glossary. Did we overlook any of your favorites?
A – Ace to Automatics: Unveiling Golf’s Lexicon
Ace: Golf slang denoting a hole-in-one, a euphoric moment when your first shot finds the bottom of the cup!
Airmail: Golf slang for hitting an approach shot over the green. A common expression: “I hit too much club on #7 and airmail the green.”
Alignment: The process of aiming your golf shot, influenced by your feet, shoulders, and clubface.
All Square: Used in match play to describe a tied match.
Angle Of Attack: The up or down movement of the clubhead during compression of the golf ball, measured relative to the horizon. This metric varies with different clubs and is assessed in golf simulators like TrackMan.
Attend The Flag: Also known as “tending it,” this involves having someone (caddy or playing partner) hold the pin/flag while you putt. As your ball approaches the hole, the person removes the flag.
Automatics: A common golf betting term where new bets begin at a specific time in the match, typically when someone is down two holes, referred to as “2 down automatics.”
B – Breaking Down Golf’s Vocabulary from Back Nine to Buzzard
Back Nine: Refers to the second set of 9 holes in an 18-hole round of golf.
Backswing: Describes the initial phase of a golf swing, from the start until reaching the top.
Backspin: Occurs when a ball lands on the green and spins backward, often during approach shots with wedges or short irons.
Below The Hole: Advises leaving the ball below the hole on fast greens to avoid downhill putts, aiming for a stop that sets up an uphill putt.
Birdie: Achieving a score of 1 below par on a hole, such as making a 3 on a par 4.
Bladed Shot: Golf slang for hitting a shot with the bottom of an iron instead of the face, resulting in a low shot that travels too far.
Bogey: Scoring 1 over par on a hole, like making a 5 on a par 4.
Break: Describes the anticipated curve of a putt on the green; players read the “break” to determine the putt’s aim.
Breakfast Ball: Golf slang for a mulligan, allowing a player to take another shot without penalty after a poor first-hole performance.
Bunker: Synonymous with a sand trap, encompassing various types like waste bunkers, fairway bunkers, or greenside bunkers.
Buzzard: Golf slang denoting a double bogey on a hole, scoring 2 over par, such as making a 6 on a par 4.
Unveiling Golf Jargon from Cabbage to Cut
Chipping: Capturing the essence of a golfer delicately guiding the golf ball with a controlled shot, typically played close to the green.
Cabbage: Golf slang referring to high grass and deep rough, creating challenges for the golfer navigating through it.
Caddie: The individual tasked with carrying a golfer’s clubs and providing valuable advice on course strategy and shot selection.
Chilly Dip: Golf slang characterizing a subpar chip shot, often occurring when the golfer hits behind the ball, resulting in a significantly shorter distance than intended.
Chip: A golfing term representing a shot played when near the green, typically executed with a wedge, featuring a small swing akin to a putting stroke to place the ball on the putting surface.
Chunk: Golf slang signifying a shot where the golfer strikes behind the ball, taking a substantial divot and resulting in a poor shot that falls short. Example usage: “I chunked that one.”
Compression: Describes the impact of a golf ball smashing against the clubface, influencing how the club propels the ball forward. Different golf balls have varying compressions, impacting performance based on individual clubhead speed.
Condor: Golf slang reserved for an extraordinary achievement of scoring 4-under on a hole, achievable only by making a hole-in-one on a par 5 – an exceedingly rare occurrence.
Course Rating: An integral component in golf handicap calculations, indicating the difficulty of a specific course for a scratch golfer (0 handicap). Course rating information is typically found on the scorecard.
Cut: Golf slang denoting a slight slice, describing a ball’s gentle curve to the right for a right-handed golfer.
D – Decoding Golf Lingo from Divot to Duff
Divot: A golfing term denoting the hole left in the ground after striking the turf during a shot. It is also used when a ball leaves a mark on the green upon landing.
Draw: Golf slang describing a small hook, particularly for a right-handed golfer when the ball curves slightly to the left.
Dogleg: A common golf term illustrating a hole that bends, resembling the “hind leg of a dog.” Typically, the hole is straight for the tee shot but curves left or right for the approach shot.
Dormie: A golfing term employed in match play, signifying that one player is ahead by as many holes as remain. For instance, being 5 up with 5 holes to play means you’re “Dormie.”
Double Bogey: Scoring two over par on a hole, exemplified by making a 6 on a par 4.
Double Eagle: A synonym for albatross, indicating scoring 3 under par on a hole – achieving a hole-in-one on a par 4 or a 2 on a par 5.
Downswing: A golf term representing the phase of a golf swing from the top to the point of contact with the golf ball.
Driver: The longest club in the golf bag, typically used on most par 4s and par 5s with a tee. Also referred to as a 1-wood.
Duff: Golf slang conveying a poorly executed shot, one that is mis-hit and doesn’t travel as far as intended.
E – Exploring Golf’s Enchanting Realm from Eagle to Executive Course
Eagle: A golfing term celebrating the achievement of scoring 2 under par on a hole, exemplified by making a 3 on a par 5.
Elevated Green: Describes a scenario where a golfer is hitting up to the green, with the putting surface positioned higher than the fairway.
Even (Even Par): Golfing term indicating that a player’s score is equal to the par for the course. For instance, shooting 72 on a par 72 course means the player shot even.
Executive Course: A golf course designed to be shorter than a standard course for two primary reasons. First, the individual holes have shorter yardages, and second, there is a higher proportion of par 3s compared to a standard course. While a standard course may have a par of 70, 71, or 72, an executive course typically has a total par ranging from 62 to 65.
Fade: A golf term synonymous with a “cut,” representing a small slice. For right-handed golfers, a fade describes a ball curving slightly to the right.
Fairway: The closely mown portion of a golf hole where golfers aim for their drives to land.
Fat: Golf slang signifying hitting the ground behind the ball. A “fat” shot results in a large divot and falls short of the target.
Ferret: Golf slang indicating a successful shot from off the green, typically executed for par or better.
Flop Shot: A golfing term for a chip shot that achieves significant height and lands softly on the green. Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson is renowned for his mastery of flop shots.
Foot Wedge: Golf slang describing the act of kicking the ball instead of hitting a shot to maneuver it out of a challenging spot on the course. Considered a form of cheating in golf.
Footwork: Describes the movement of your feet during your golf swing, playing a crucial role in the overall mechanics.
Fore: An exclamation used by golfers to warn others if their shot is headed toward them, signaling them to duck or protect their heads.
Forward Swing: The final phase of the golf swing, occurring after making contact with the ball, following the backswing and downswing.
Free Drop: A rule allowing golfers to take relief without incurring a penalty stroke. For instance, if your ball is on a cart path, you are entitled to a “free drop.”
Fried Egg: Golf slang applied when a ball is buried in a sand trap, with only the top visible, resembling a fried egg.
Fringe: A strip of closely mown grass surrounding the green, typically about a yard wide, considered part of the fairway.
Front Nine: A golfing term designating the first 9 holes in an 18-hole round of golf.
G – Unraveling Golf Terminology from Gilligan to Ground Under Repair
Gilligan: An entertaining rule to add spice to a golf match. When playing a “Gilligan,” you can make your opponent re-play any one shot during the match, adding a strategic twist.
Gimme: A brief putt that is conceded without being putted, typically granted when it is deemed easily makeable.
Golfer: An individual who engages in the sport of golf is considered a golfer.
Grain: Greens are constructed using various types of grass, with certain varieties, like bermuda grass, exhibiting “grain.” Grain refers to the direction in which the grass is growing, influencing how putts will break.
Grand Slam: Attained when a PGA tour player wins all four major championships – The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship – constituting a prestigious achievement.
Green: The closely mown area where the hole is situated. Upon reaching the green, golfers employ their putters to roll the ball into the hole.
Green Fee: The amount paid to play a specific golf course, with varying rates across different courses.
Green In Regulation: Achieved when a player reaches the green within the expected number of shots, presenting an opportunity for a birdie putt.
Greenskeeper: The individual responsible for the maintenance of a golf course, overseeing its upkeep and appearance.
Grip: A golf term with dual meanings: 1) Refers to the rubber part at the end of a golf club used for holding. 2) Describes the manner in which a player holds the club, such as interlock, overlap, or 10-finger grip.
Groove: Horizontal and parallel indentations on the face of golf clubs, influencing the spin of the golf ball.
Grounding: Refers to touching the ground with the club before initiating the swing. In specific situations, such as bunkers, grounding the club before hitting the ball is not allowed.
Ground Under Repair: A segment of the golf course undergoing maintenance by the course superintendent (greenskeeper). Players are entitled to a free drop if their ball lands in an area designated as Ground Under Repair (GUR).
H – Illuminating Golf Jargon from Hacker to In The Leather
Hacker: Golf slang designating an inexperienced or poor player.
Half Shot: Depicts a shot taken with a shortened backswing, aiming to cover a shorter distance than usual with the club in use.
Handicap: A numerical measure reflecting a golfer’s playing ability, calculated based on their entered scores. For instance, an 8-handicap suggests the player should typically shoot around 80 on a par 72 golf course.
Heel: Golfing term referring to the inner part of the golf clubface. Hitting the heel results in reduced distance, and a player might express, “I heeled it.”
Hole Out: The act of making a shot from off the green using a club other than a putter.
Hook: Golf slang characterizing a shot that sharply curves to the left (for a right-handed player).
Honor: A golf term determining which player in the group should take the first tee shot. The golfer with honors plays first based on their score on the previous hole.
Hosel: The socket of the golf club where the shaft enters the head.
Hosel Rocket: Golf slang for hitting the ball with the hosel instead of the clubface (also known as a shank). A hosel rocket veers violently to the right (for a right-handed player) and is considered a poor shot.
Hybrid: A type of golf club blending characteristics of a long iron and a fairway wood, typically featuring the loft of a long iron (2, 3, 4, 5) but shaped like a small wood.
Iffy Lie: Golf slang signifying a mediocre lie where the ball sits in high grass but is still playable.
Impact Position: The configuration of the club and the body at the moment of hitting the golf ball, a crucial aspect shared by many successful players.
Interlocking Grip: A specific way golfers hold the club, where, for a right-handed player, the pinky of the right hand goes between the index and middle fingers of the left hand. Tiger Woods employs an interlocking grip.
In Play: Golfing term indicating that a ball is still eligible to be hit again, not out of bounds or in a hazard but “in play.”
In The Leather: Describing the length of a putter from the head to the beginning of the grip, often used to determine if a putt is considered a “gimme” or not.
J – Deciphering Golf Lingo from Jerked The Putt to Juicy Lie
Jerked The Putt: Golf slang denoting a putt that is immediately pulled to the left (for a right-handed player).
Juicy Lie: Golf slang characterizing a poor lie in thick grass, making the shot challenging.
K – Shedding Light on Golf Jargon from Kick In to Knickers
Kick In: Golf slang for an approach shot that is struck very close to the hole, suggesting that it is so close one could “kick it in.”
Kick Point: A critical feature of a golf shaft, indicating the point where the shaft is designed to flex. Kick points can be classified as low, mid, or high.
Knee-Knocker: Golf slang for a short but crucial putt, with the golfer’s “knees knocking” due to nervousness about potentially missing the shot.
Knickers: A style of baggy, long shorts worn by men, often paired with long socks. Renowned PGA tour player Payne Stewart was famous for sporting knickers during tournaments.
Knife: Golf slang referring to a 1-iron.
L – Unveiling Golf Terms from Lateral Slide to LPGA
Lateral Slide: A movement in the golf swing that should be avoided, emphasizing the importance of turning rather than sliding.
Level Par: A synonym for Even Par, indicating that the player’s score matches the par for the course. For instance, shooting 72 on a par 72 course is playing level par.
Lie: A golf term describing how the ball is positioned in the grass.
Lip-Out: Golfing term for when the ball hits the hole but fails to go in, curving around the cup or “lipping out.”
Lob Shot: A synonymous term for a flop shot, representing a short and high chip shot that lands softly on the green.
Loft: The degree of incline on a golf club, determining the height and distance the ball travels upon impact.
Long Game: Golfing term referring to the clubs designed for hitting longer distances, such as the driver, woods, and long irons. In contrast, the “short game” involves wedge play, chipping, and putting.
Loop: Golf slang for a round of golf, often used colloquially, especially by caddies.
Lost Ball: Occurs when a player cannot locate their ball after a wayward shot, necessitating a penalty and a replay of the shot.
Low Handicap: A golfer with a “low handicap” is considered proficient, typically defined as a 10-handicap or less.
LPGA: An acronym for the Ladies Professional Golf Association, representing the top professional tour worldwide for women golfers.
M – Mastering Golf Jargon from Marker to Mixed Foursome
Marker: A golf term with dual meanings. Firstly, it refers to a coin or another round object used to mark the ball’s location on the green while other players putt. Secondly, in tournaments, the person responsible for keeping score for a player is referred to as their “marker.”
Match Play: A golf format where players compete against opponents to win individual holes, with the total score for the 18 holes being irrelevant. The winner is the one who triumphs in the most individual holes.
Mixed Foursome: A golf format requiring teams to consist of both a male and a female player.
Mudder: Golf slang describing a golfer who excels in playing well on a wet or rain-soaked golf course.
Mulligan: Also known as a “do-over,” it is golf slang for the act of re-hitting a shot without incurring a penalty.
Nassau: A popular betting game in golf where players place bets on the front 9, back 9, and total 18 holes.
Net Score: A golfing term representing the score after subtracting the player’s handicap. For instance, a golfer with a 10-handicap who shoots an 84 would have a net score of 74.
Nineteenth Hole: Golf slang referring to the restaurant or bar situated at the golf course, where players often gather after a round.
Nip It: Golf slang for precisely picking a chip off the ground. When a player manages to “nip it,” the ball typically spins and comes to a stop close to the hole.
O – Observing Golf Lingo from OB to Open Stance
OB (Out Of Bounds): A golf term indicating when a shot ventures off the golf course, marked by white stakes or paint. Players incur a “stroke and distance” penalty, adding a stroke and replaying the shot.
Open Face: The act of twisting the clubface to increase the club’s loft. An open face is often employed when playing from a greenside bunker.
Open Stance: When a right-handed golfer positions their feet to the left. Golfers adopt an open stance when playing from a bunker or attempting to execute a slice.
P – Perusing Golf Vocabulary from Pace to Provisional Ball
Pace: A golf term denoting the time taken to hit a shot or complete a round, commonly referred to as “pace of play.”
Par: A fundamental golf term representing the target score for each hole.
Penalty Stroke: Occurs when a golfer adds a stroke to their scorecard to bring their ball back into play. For instance, taking a drop after hitting the ball into a water hazard requires adding a penalty stroke.
PGA: An acronym for the Professional Golf Association, representing the premier men’s professional golf tour globally, known as the PGA Tour.
Pin: A term synonymous with the flag, denoting the flagstick placed in the hole and visible from a distance.
Pin High: Describes an approach shot that travels the correct distance, aligning with the location of the hole.
Playing Through: The process where a slower group allows a faster foursome behind them to pass on the golf course.
Plugged Lie: A golf term indicating a ball that is embedded in the ground or sand.
Press: A golf betting term wherein the team or player trailing in the match can “press” and double the bet.
Provisional Ball: When a shot may be lost or out of bounds, a golfer can hit a provisional ball. If the first ball is not found, the provisional ball is played, with an addition of two penalty strokes.
Punch Shot: Golfing terminology for a deliberately low shot, aimed at avoiding obstacles like tree limbs or to combat windy conditions.
Pull: A shot or putt that immediately starts left of the target for a right-handed player.
Push: A shot or putt that immediately starts right of the target for a right-handed player.
Putter: The golf club used upon reaching the green, specifically designed for smoothly rolling the ball on the ground.
Q – Querying the Golf Lexicon with Q-School to Quintuple Bogey
Q-School: Abbreviation for “qualification school,” Q-School is the tournament where players seek qualification to participate in professional tours such as the PGA or LPGA tours.
Quadruple Bogey: A golfing term for scoring four more than par on a hole, exemplified by an 8 on a par 4.
Quintuple Bogey: Golfing terminology indicating scoring five more than par on a hole, illustrated by a 9 on a par 4.
R – Recounting Golfing Terms: From Range Finder to Reverse Pivot
Range Finder: A device facilitating a quick determination of the distance to the pin. It points at the flag and provides the distance in yards or meters.
Ready Golf: The approach where a golfer hits their shot when ready, rather than waiting for the farthest from the hole in the group. This concept, known as “ready golf,” aims to enhance the pace of play.
Reading The Green: Golf terminology denoting the act of determining how a putt will roll and where the aim should be. Reading the green involves assessing the slope, break, and grain.
Re-Load: Golf slang for hitting another shot when the initial one is out of play, such as out of bounds or into a lake.
Reverse Pivot: A golf swing term indicating a shift in weight in the wrong direction during the swing.
Road Hole: Nickname for the renowned 17th hole at St. Andrews, characterized by an old road and a wall near the green, often influencing play.
Rough: Golf term for higher grass outside the fairway, presenting a more challenging playing condition.
S – Surveying Golf Vernacular: From Sandbagger to Swing Plane
Sandbagger: Golf slang describing a player who maintains a higher handicap to gain an advantage in net tournaments. For instance, they may claim a 10-handicap but play at a 5-handicap level.
Sand Wedge: The golf club utilized for greenside bunkers and chipping around the green, typically featuring 56 degrees of loft.
Scramble: Golf word with dual meanings: 1) the ability to get “up and down,” referring to chipping onto the green and one-putting, and 2) a golf format where players hit a shot, proceeding from the best shot, collectively working towards the hole.
Scratch: Golf slang for a player with a 0-handicap.
Shank: A synonym for “hosel rocket,” signifying a poor shot where the ball is struck with the hosel instead of the clubface.
Short Game: Golfing term encompassing chipping and putting skills.
Sink A Putt: Golf slang for successfully making a putt.
Slice: Golf term for a shot that curves violently to the right for a right-handed player.
Slope Rating: A key number in calculating golf handicaps, indicating the difficulty of a golf course for players of all levels.
Snowman: Golf slang for scoring an 8 on a hole.
Sole: Golf term for the bottom of a golf club.
Square: Golf term indicating correct alignment with the target.
Stableford: A golf format awarding points for each hole based on the score, with the player accumulating the most points winning the round.
Stance: Golf term referring to the positioning of the feet during a golf swing.
Stroke Play: The standard golf format where the total strokes for 18 holes are added up, with the lowest score winning.
Strong Grip: Describes how a player holds the golf club, with a strong grip for a right-handed player involving twisting the left hand to the right.
Superintendent: Synonymous with a greenskeeper, the person overseeing golf course maintenance.
Swing: Golfing term describing the motion made with the club to hit the golf ball.
Swing Arc: The path traced by the clubhead during a swing.
Swing Plane: The angle and path the club follows during the swing, encompassing the journey from address to the top of the backswing and back through the ball.
T – Tackling Golf Lingo: From Takeaway to Victory Lap
Takeaway: The initiation of your golf swing.
Tap In: Golf terminology for a very short putt that requires a gentle tap to go into the hole.
Tee: Crafted from wood, plastic, or bamboo, a tee is used when teeing off on each hole, providing an elevated platform for the ball.
Tee Time: A golfing term denoting the reserved time for play, specifying when a player starts their round on the first hole.
Tee Box: The designated area that marks the starting point for each hole, requiring players to position their ball between two tee markers before the first shot.
Tempo: A golf swing term indicating the speed at which a player swings the club.
Tending The Flag: The action of holding the flag while someone putts and removing it before the ball reaches the hole.
Texas Wedge: Golf slang referring to using a putter for a shot from off the green instead of a sand wedge.
Thin: Golf slang representing the opposite of hitting the ball “fat,” where the club contacts the ball without hitting the ground, resulting in low, far-traveling shots.
The Turn: A golfing term marking the transition from the front 9 to the back 9, often accompanied by a break for refreshments.
Topped Shot: Golf slang for hitting the top of the golf ball, causing it to skim along the ground instead of gaining height.
Triple Bogey: Golf terminology for scoring 3 over par on a hole, such as making a 7 on a par 4.
U – Unveiling Golf Terms: From Unplayable to Victory Lap
Unplayable: A golf rules scenario where a player finds their ball but cannot hit it due to obstacles like large bushes or trees. In such cases, players declare their ball unplayable, leading to a drop and a penalty stroke.
Uphill Lie: Golfing term describing a scenario where the ball rests on an uphill slope.
Up And Down: Golf slang for a successful sequence where a player chips the ball onto the green and completes the hole with only one putt.
USGA: Acronym for the United States Golf Association, which governs the game by publishing rules and organizing various national championships, including the US Open and US Amateur.
V – Versatility in Golf Jargon: From Vardon Grip to Victory Lap
Vardon Grip: Also known as the overlap grip, it denotes the most common way to hold a golf club, where the pinky on the right hand overlaps the index finger on the left hand for right-handed players.
Victory Lap: Golf slang for a celebratory term when a putt circles the lip of the cup before dropping in.
W – Wandering through Golf Vocabulary: From Waggle to Whiff
Waggle: A golf term referring to the preparatory motion a player makes before initiating their swing, often involving wrist flexion to move the clubhead.
Weak Grip: Describes how a player holds the golf club, with a weak grip indicating a leftward twist of the left hand for right-handed players.
Wedge: Golf terminology encompassing the club or clubs used for shots within 100 yards, including pitching, chipping, and bunker shots. Various types of wedges exist, such as pitching, gap, sand, and lob, each designed for specific shot requirements.
Whiff: Golf slang denoting the act of swinging and completely missing the ball.
X – Examining Golf Lingo: From X-Out to “Made an X”
X-Out: A term employed by golf ball manufacturers to identify balls with imperfections, usually sold at a lower cost compared to regular golf balls.
“Made an X”: Golf slang indicating the act of picking up before completing a hole.
Y – Yonder in Golf Language: From Yip to Yardage
Yip: Golf slang for an involuntary flinch, often leading to a missed short putt.
Yank: Golf terminology representing “pulling a shot,” signifying a shot or putt that immediately veers to the left for a right-handed player.
Yardage: Golfing term denoting the measurement in yards of a hole, a shot, or an entire golf course.
Z – Zest in Golf Jargon: From Zinger to Zoomie
Zinger: A synonym for “blading” a shot, describing the act of hitting a ball thin, resulting in a low shot that travels excessively. The term is associated with the vibration or “zing” felt in the hands.
Zip: A synonym for spin, used in golf to describe the phenomenon when a shot lands on the green and spins back.
Zoomie: Golf slang denoting the act of hitting a drive much farther than usual, suggesting an impressive increase in distance.