Golf Terms and Definitions for the Curious Golfer

A B C D E F G H L M N O P R S T U W Y Z

Ace - A hole in one.

Address - the final position taken by a golfer just before the swing.

Adjusted Gross Score - Your score after you apply your handicap stroke allowance.

Alternate Shot - Another twist of stoke play. In this format one player hits the drive and then the other player hits the next shot and so forth until the hole is completed. The score recorded is the same manner as stroke play.

Aeration - To get better air circulation into the soil underneath the turf of a golf course. This is necessary for the health of the microbes that live in the topsoil. Grass depends upon these microbes because they convert the nitrogen of fertilizer into a form that the grass can use. Aeration takes the form of poking holes (or slits) into the turf every few inches.

Approach - Normally a short or medium shot played to the putting green or pin – commonly referred to as the "approach shot."

Attend the flag - To hold and then remove the flag while another player putts. A common courtesy performed when playing a round of golf.

Attest - If you play in a tournament, you will submit your score card at the conclusion of each round. You will sign your score card as testimony that you stand behind the accuracy of those numbers you wrote onto the card. But there is another person who must also sign your score card. And that is one of the golfers who played with you and will vouch for the accuracy of your score card. To "attest" means to say that you were a witness to the score that someone else posted

Away - The nature rule of golf where the player farthest from the hole is the first to play, as in "Who's away?" In certain circumstances on the putting green, however, particularly in medal competition, a player who has already putted once may hole out before her partner, who may be further from the hole, takes her shot.

Backspin - Reverse spin applied to the ball and prevents it from bouncing forward after landing; same as 'bite'.

Back Foot - Refers to the golfer's foot, farthest from the target when addressing the ball. In this illustration, the back foot would be the one to the right. The "front foot" is the left one, closest to the target.

Back in the Stance - At address means that you stand with the ball closer to your right foot than to your left foot (right-handed golfer). When hitting a wedge, for instance, it is generally accepted that you should have the ball back in your stance.

Barber - Someone in your foursome who talks a lot during the round.

Barkie - when your ball hits any part of a tree and you still complete the hole with a par.

Beach - Slang for sand trap.

Bell - Used on fairways that are designed to provide blind shots during the course of normal play, it is common to see a ship-style bell on the cart path near the green. The bell is to be rung when the group ahead leaves the green so as to alert the group playing behind that it is now safe for them to hit their approach shots. At WCC, they are used on the 14th and 16th holes.

Best Ball - A match in which one player plays against the better or two balls or the best ball of three players. Also the better score of two partners in a four-ball or best-ball match.

Birdie - A score of one under par on any given hole.

Bite - The backspin imparted on the ball that makes the ball stop dead, or almost so, with little or no roll.

Bogey - A score of one over par on any given hole.

Break - In reference to putting. It is the curve due to the slope of a green.

Bunker - A crater or hole in the ground filled with sand; derived from a Scottish word for a store place or receptacle. The American term is 'trap'. A bunker, as laid down by the rules of golf, is a hazard in which a player must not ground their club before striking the ball.

Bye - A term used in tournaments. The player who draws a "bye" is allowed to advance to the next round without playing an opponent. In match play, it is the hole or holes still left to play if the match is won before the 18th hole.

Caddie - A person who carries clubs for a golfer. Could also be defined as a person who gives a golfer advice -- with club selection and course strategy.

Carry - The distance a golf ball must travel from impact (the moment the golf ball leaves the clubface) 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, etc.).

Casual Water - Any temporary accumulation of water which is visible before or after a player takes her stance and which is not a hazard of itself or is not a water hazard. The most common is flooding after heavy rain.

Chip - A short, lofted shot, from around the green.

Choke - To grip down farther on the club handle. Also a slang term used to indicate a collapse under pressure.

Closed Face - When the clubface is pointed to the left of the target when you address the ball.

Course rating - The comparison of playing one course, as opposed to another, in terms of difficulty, used in U.S.G.A. handicapping. It is expressed in strokes or decimal fractions of strokes. The yardage of the course and the ability of a scratch golfer are the basis for determination. The higher the rating, the more challenging a course. At WCC, Ladies rating = 65.0 and Men's rating = 62.6.

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 its original place. No relief is allowed for a ball coming to rest in a divot mark. Many courses provide a container of sand in golf carts or at the tee box to fill your divots.

Dogleg - A left or right bend in the fairway. The 8th green has a slight dogleg left.

Double Bogey - A score of two over par for a single hole.

Down - Number of strokes or holes you are behind your opponent(s).

Downhill Lie - When addressing the ball and your right foot is higher than your left (for right-handed players).

Draw - The pairing of golfers for a match play tournament.

Draw Shot - A controlled 'hook' used to get in position for the next shot or get out of trouble. A shot that curves from left to right. Conversely from right to left for a left-handed player.

Drive - To hit the ball with maximum force and full stroke. Usually with a driver from the tee.

Drop - To deposit the ball on the course after which you put the ball back in play after it has been declared unplayable or after the ball has been lost.

Dub - A missed or badly-hit shot .

Duff - To miss-hit a shot by hitting the ground behind the ball and then top the ball.

Duffer - An unskilled golfer. Also called a hacker.

Eagle - A score of two under par on any given hole.

Fade - The opposite of draw, a shot moving slightly from left to right towards the target. Can be deliberate and controlled, unlike a slice.

Fairway - The area defined on a golf course where the grass is cut at a shorter length than the rough. The rough is usually along both sides of the fairway. Playing a golf shot from the fairway typically makes for an easier shot.

Fat - Hitting the ground before the ball, usually resulting in the ball not going as far as intended. Also called: chunky, fat, thick, heavy.

Fescue - Grass of the genus Festuca, widely used for rough on golf courses.

Flash Trap - A shallow and small sand bunker.

Flight - In tournament play, the division of players with players of equal ability being placed in the same flight. Sixteen is usually the number of players in a flight however any number of players may be placed in a flight.

Fore! - A warning call/shout yelled out by a player when their shot threatens another player.

Four ball - A match in which the better ball of two players is played against the better ball of their opponents.

Foursome - Four golfers playing together. Also a match in which two players play against another two players with each side playing one ball.

Fried Egg - A ball half-buried in the sand.

Get Legs - A term used by golfers to encourage the ball to keep rolling when they suspect it may stop short.

GHIN - Golf Handicap Information Network. The governing body of the handicapping system in the US. Learn more at www.ghin.com.

Gimme - A short putt so close to the hole that your playing partners allow for you to simply pick it up – without taking the time to actually putt the ball into the hole. You'll hear, “That's a gimme!” during a casual and friendly round of golf, but it is not within the actual rules of golf. A “gimme” still counts as a stroke. It is just typically used as a time-saving and friendly gesture -- that is offered by your fellow playing competitors.

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 shortly after it has been cut, which contributes to the speed and direction of your putt.

Grand Slam - The four major men's championships: the British Open, the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the Masters.

Green - The whole golf course according to golf rules. However, in popular usage, it refers to the putting surface.

Grip - The top part of the club held by the golfer, usually made from leather or rubber. Also, commonly used in reference to the manner in which the club itself, is held. The two most common grips are the “Vardon”/overlapping grip (named after golfer Harry Vardon, in which the pinky finger of the bottom hand overlaps between the index and middle finger of the upper hand), and the “Interlocking” grip, in which the index finger of the top hand is interlocked with the pinky finger of the bottom hand.

Gross - The actual number of strokes taken by a player for a hole or round before the player's handicap is deducted, when the number then becomes net.

Ground Under Repair - An area of the course from which the player is allowed to remove her ball without penalty, usually a temporary concession as a result of re-turfing, re-seeding and repairs.

Grounding the Club - To place the club on the ground prior to striking the ball when addressing it.

Halved - When a match is played without a decision. A hole is 'halved' when both sides play it to the same number of strokes. Each side is credited with a half.

Handicap - The rating of amateur players based on the average of their scores which the record for each round of golf. Designed to allow golfers of all playing levels to compete together on an equitable basis. This rating is used in U.S.G.A. governed events to equalize the competition. (i.e.; A player averaged a score of 90 per round of 18 holes at WCC where the par round for women is 67. This player averages 23 strokes above par. Her handicap would be 23 in a handicapped event at WCC and she would receive 23 strokes).

Hazard - Any obstructive or difficult feature of a golf course. This may include lakes, ponds, fences, molehills, bunkers, etc.

Hit a Brick - A direct request to a ball rolling rapidly towards the hole in a fashion that it appears it will go substantially past the desired resting place.

Hit a House - see Hit a Brick!

Hole - A 4 1/2" round receptacle in the green - at least 4" deep. Also refers to one of the nine or eighteen areas between the tee and the green.

Holing Out - The complete the play for one hole by hitting the ball into the cup.

Honor - The honor on the tee goes to the last player to win a hole. The player with the honor tees off first.

Hook - For the right-handed golfer, it is a golf shot that curves strongly from right to left. Moreover, for the right-handed golfer, this shot usually lands left of their target (the direction would be opposite for the left-handed golfer). Note: a lesser hooking action is commonly referred to as a “draw”. A draw is a controlled right to left shot with a moderate curving action.

Lie - The position in which the ball rests on the ground. 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 any given hole – “She is lying three, and she still has the chance to par the 17th”. With lie, in reference to equipment, it is the angle at which the clubhead is set on the shaft.

Local Rules - A set of additional rules for a club determined by the members.

Loft - The angle on the face of a golf club. Also, the elevation of the ball in flight.

Loose Impediments - Any natural object that is not fixed or growing. This can include stones, twigs, branches, molehills, dung, worms and insects.

Lost Ball - A ball is lost if it is not found and identified within five minutes of the player's search of it. Five minutes is the maximum time allowed for search, but the player can declare a ball lost before the time is up.

LPGA - Ladies Professional Golf Association. This organization includes tournament operations and a teaching and club professional division.

Marker - A small object, like a coin, that is used to mark the spot of the ball when it is lifted off the putting green.

Markers - The objects placed at the tee box that indicate the area in which players must tee their balls. At WCC, typically the Ladies markers are red, and the Men's markers are white.

Match Play - A competition played with each hole being a separate contest. The team or player winning the most holes, rather than having the lowest score, is the winner. The winner of the first hole is "one up". Even if the player wins that hole by two or three strokes, she is still only "one up". The lead is increased every time the player wins another hole. The winner is the one who wins the host holes. This was the original form of golf competition.

Medal Play - A competition decided by the overall number of strokes used to complete the round or rounds. Same as 'stroke play'.

Mixed Foursome - A foursome with each side has a male and female player.

Mulligan - The chance to replay your last shot – penalty free. A mulligan is not within the actual rules of golf.

M.Y.O.F. - Make Your Own Foursome.

Net Score - A players score when her handicap has been deducted.

Ninety Degree Rule - (also "90° rule, 90 degree rule") a practice where golf cars are allowed to drive on the fairway, or away from the cart paths, only perpendicularly (90°) to the hole being played, usually for the purpose of decreasing wear and tear on the turf or for the reason of fragile grass condition, etc.

O.B. / Out of Bounds. The area lying outside of the defined golf course. A player is penalized stroke and distance, so they must replay the shot with a penalty of one stroke.

Offset - A club with the head set behind the shaft.

One Up - Used in match play to mean having scored one hole more than your opponent. Also, the score of the player who is one up.

Open Stance - The left foot is dropped behind the imaginary line of the direction of the ball. This allows the golfer to face more in the direction the ball is going to travel.

Par - The set score, in strokes, assigned to each hole on the golf course. The par for each hole is displayed on the scorecard. You'll have a great round if you score “the par” on any course!

Pawky - A Scottish term meaning cunning or tricky.

Penalty stroke - An additional stroke added to a player's score for any of the many possible rules violations.

PGA of America - The Professional Golfers Association of America. They are the governing body of American professional golf.

Pick & Drop - The act of picking the ball out of a ditch, cart path or a puddle etc. and dropping it on a playable lie behind, or as otherwise allowed by the Rules of Golf.

Pick Up = To take up one's ball before holing out. In match play this concedes the hole or in stroke play incurs disqualification.

Pin - Slang for the flagstick.

Pin High - Reference to a ball on the green that is even with the pin, but off to either side of the pin.

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 same hole, or the hole ahead. In terms of proper etiquette, it is recommended that you ask permission before playing through other golfers.

Preferred Lie - Only in effect when posted by the Pro Shop. Local rules which allows a player to improve their lie by being able to lift, clean and place their ball within one (1) club length, not nearer the hole from where the ball originally lay without penalty.

Pro Shop - The golf course shop operated by the head professional where equipment is sold.

Provisional Ball - The playing of a second ball from the same place as the first because the player is unsure of what may have happened to the first ball (i.e. it may be lost or OB).

Pull - A ball that goes to the left of the target with little curve as hit by a right-handed player. The converse applies to left-handed players.

Punch - Low, controlled shot into the wind. It is made by slamming the club down into the ball with a short swing.

Push - A ball that goes to the right of the target with very little or no curving for a right handed player. Or the converse for a left-handed player. As opposed to "pull".

Putter - The club specifically designed for putting. It has very little loft (the angle on the clubface itself) and is usually shorter than other clubs.

P.Y.O P. - Pick Your Own Partner

Reading the Green - Determining the path which the ball will take on its way to the hole by analyzing the contour and texture of the green.

Ready Golf - A pre-determined method of play among a foursome to play each owns ball when the player is 'ready' for their next shot rather than play to 'away' etiquette; promotes the best pace of play for amateur level play yet is not recommended or endorsed at professional sanctioned tournaments.

Relief - a rules term meaning "to move your ball away from" Example: The rules of golf allow relief without penalty in many situations (e.g., from cart paths, ground under repair, etc.).

Rough - The area adjacent to the fairway, greens, tee off areas or hazards where the grass is longer and thicker than the fairway.

Rub of the Green - Any accident, not caused by a player or caddie, that moves or stops a ball in play and for which no relief is given under the rules. This is when your ball is deflected by agencies beyond your control that are not part of the match or the competitor's side in stroke play. A bit of bad luck.

Sandbagger - A player who understates their ability (may even not post all their scores to maintain a high handicap) in order to win in competition.

Sandy - You still make par on a hole after landing in a bunker/trap.

Scramble - A format in which all golfers hit the ball, starting at the tee (beginning of each golf hole). The ball in the best position is selected after each shot, and the process starts all over again, until the ball is putted/holed out. This format is good for beginners, as it alleviates the pressure of playing with better players.

Scratch - Used when referring to a player’s handicap. A scratch golfer is a player who has a 0 handicap. In other words, a person who plays “par golf”.

Shamble - Like in a scramble, all members of a team (usually four) tee off and the best ball of the four tee shots is selected. All players move their balls to the spot of the best ball. From this point, the hole is played out at stroke play, with all members of the team playing their own ball into the hole. So, select the best shot off the tee, move all balls to that spot, then play individual stroke play until each member of the group has holed out.

Shank - A shot struck on the clubs hosel that travels dead right (for a right-handed player). The shank is typically considered the worst shot in golf – even worse than a “whiff”.

Shiperio - Similar to a mulligan where a player is allowed a second shot without penalty but is allowed to choose which ball to play, the first one or the second one.

Short game - The part of the game that is made up of chip shots, pitching and putting.

Shotgun Start - A tournament that positions the starting of players at different holes and yet, starts all players at the same time. This tee time format is used in order to accommodate a large group of players on the course and allowing them to finish simultaneously.

Slice - A shot that curves violently to the right (for a right-handed golfer). Unfortunately, this is the most common ball flight in golf.

Slope (slope rating) - Used by the U.S.G.A to measure the relative degree of difficulty for the average golfer. The more difficult the slope rating on the course, the more difficult the average golfer will likely experience on the course. At WCC, Ladies slope = 106, Mens slope = 107.

Stableford - A method of scoring that uses points instead of strokes.

Stance - The position of your feet when addressing the ball.

Starter - Person who determines the order of play at the 1st tee. (a.k.a. "Paul")

Stimpmetre - Superintendents measure green speed with a stimpmetre. Its readings give a snapshot of the green speed at that time of day. Stimpmetre readings in the five to six range mean slow greens, seven to eight mean medium, nine to 10 fast and above 11 extremely fast - PGA Tournament speeds.

Stroke Play - A competition in which the total number of strokes for one round, or a pre-determined number of rounds, determines the winner.

Swale - A moderately contoured depression or dip in terrain. Not as sharp or defined as a ditch, nor as deep as a ravine.

Tee - Typically, a wooden peg, on which the golf ball is placed for striking the ball at the beginning of any given golf hole. Originally a pile of sand used to elevate the ball for driving.

Tee Box / Teeing Ground - The area reserved at each hole for the initial shot to be taken. Usually designated by two parallel markers facing the fairway of the hole by which the player may place her tee anywhere between these two markers as long as it is not past the markers and closer to the hole.

Temporary Green - A green used in the winter to save the permanent green.

Tending the Flag - To hold the flagstick such that a player may aim for it and then remove it as the ball approaches.

Threesome - Three players playing a round of golf together. Also, a match in which two players play the same ball and alternate strokes and play against a single player.

Tiger Tee - A slang expression for the back tee.

Toe - The part of the club farthest from where it joins the shaft.

Top/topped - To hit the golf ball above its center. A topped shot will dive downward, and roll, or hop along the ground rather than rise into the air.

TPC / Tournament Players Club - Golf courses designed specifically for holding Tour events Example: The TPC at Sawgrass is the site of The Players Championship.

Turn - To start the back nine holes.

Twosome - Two golfers playing together.

Unplayable Lie - A lie in which the ball is impossible to play such as in a thicket of tree.

Up - A specified number of strokes you are ahead of your opponent in match play. Also, a shot reaching at least as far as the hole.

Uphill Lie - Describes the circumstance where your ball has come to rest on the side of a slope and that slope is oriented such that a ball rolling downhill will roll in a direction away from the hole.
For a right-hand golfer, the proper stance is to bend the left knee more than usual, tip the left shoulder upwards and right shoulder down such that a line draw between them is parallel to the ground. Keep that left shoulder elevated as the swing is made. Be mindful that the hill will effectively add loft to the club. So instead of a wedge, select a 7-iron or 8-iron to compensate. If you insist upon using a wedge, your ball will pop straight up.

Up and Down - Getting out of trouble or out of a hazard and into the hole.

U.S.G.A. - United States Golf Association is the governing body for the game of golf since it's formation in 1894. Learn more at www.usga.com.

W.G.A.M. - Founded in 1900, the Womens Golf Association of Massachusetts is the oldest state women's golf association in the United States. The WGAM currently serves over 2000 individual members who belong to more than 180 member clubs. Learn more at www.wgam.org.

Waggle - Movement of the club head prior to swinging. A flourishing of the club behind and over the ball.

Wedge - An iron used for short shots that has a high-loft - pitching wedge, sand wedge.

Whiff - To swing and miss the golf ball completely. A whiff is counted as a stroke – because the intent to hit the ball was there. A “practice swing” invokes no intent to hit the ball.

Windcheater - A shot played low against the wind. It is played with strong backspin and starts low and rises only toward the end of the shot.

Worm Burner - A shot which rolls along the ground.

Yip - To miss-hit a putt due to an attack of yips.

Yips - Shakiness or nervousness in making a shot.

Zoomie - A drive that goes further than most drives ever hit by the golfer who smacked it.

 

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