You want to know the most difficult part of being a golfer? Understanding and speaking the language of golf is key.
Trust me on this one. There are many things to learn about golf and how you can swing a club. But, there is also the matter of golf lingo.
Golf slang may change depending on where you are playing and with whom. This guide will help you sound like a professional golfer regardless of your ability.
An ace is a hole in one. This is a term you’d love to hear during a round of golf. Many golfers will say, “I’ve never had an ace,” this means they are still looking for their first hole-in-one.
An albatross is scoring a 2 on a Par 5 hole. The albatross is extremely rare. You may even be talking to your local newspaper about your experience. It is very difficult to get three under par on a single golf hole.
The approach is the area immediately below the green where you will find shorter grass. While some may call it “the fringe”, many golfers will claim that they hit their shot on the approach. “My 7 iron came up short, but it was right on the approach setting myself up for an easy chip.”
An approach shot can be your shot at the green. This shot is intended to land directly onto the green so that you can make a putt for birdie.).
Army golf is when a player hits a ball to either the left or right side of the fairway. Let’s say your tee shot is pulled left, and your approach shot is pushed right. You may tell your playing partners, “I’m playing army golf.” Of course, this army golf is meant to resemble a marching soldier, but it’s not a quick way to shoot lower scores.
A barkie is a rare shot where your shot hits the trees and then hits the green. My husband had one of those the other day and we are still trying out to figure it out. If you bet money on golf, you might spend a few more dollars on a barkie. These are very difficult to pull off.
A birdie is one under par on the hole. Birdies are a great score and help players shoot low.
A bogey is a score greater than one on a hole. A bogey is a score of plus one on a hole. Golfers are often keen to avoid bogeys to maintain their scores.
Bunkers are sandtraps. They can be found either on or near the fairway. Golfers may say, “stay out of the fairway bunker” as they see their tee shot headed towards it.
We all know the basics of golf carts. However, you may have someone setting up a little match, say, “let’s play carts.” This can be confusing at first, but all they mean is that the golfers sitting in the carts together are partners.
Cart golf can sometimes mean playing golf and using a cart, but that’s not the case most of the time. Cart golf is when you drive your cart to the same spot as your partner. This can be either a good or bad thing.
A caddy is someone who helps you carry your clubs while you play. One or two golf bags can be carried by a caddy at a time depending on the type of club and their rules.
Short shots around a green where the ball is in the air briefly stop quickly, and you can then put the ball into the hole with a quick putt.
Dawn patrol is playing the course at dawn. The advantage of playing early is a faster round of golf.
The dewsweepers are the first to play early in the morning. The dewsweepers are likely to be in your mind when you think of the dew being swept away from the golf course by these early footsteps.
The divot refers to the dirt that is removed when you hit the ball. The divot can occur before or after you hit the ball. The best ball strikers take a dive after they hit the ball.
A double bogey occurs when you score more than par on a hole. This would be a score 6 on a hole.
The double eagle will be three over par on a hole and is the same as an Albatross. This is only possible on a driveable par 4 where someone hits a hole in one or on a par 5 where the player scores a 2 of 5.
Duck hooks are formed when the golf ball leaves the clubface and turns to the left. Duck hooks are a more extreme left-hand turn than traditional hooks and don’t turn naturally like traditional hooks.
A player who is not a good golfer. A duffer is a new player, or someone who just wants to have fun while playing.
An eagle is two under par on one hole. Two under-par is common on a Par 5, when players shoot a 3, or 2, on a hole. A hole-in-1 is also an eagle, as it is two less than par on a par3.
The flagstick is also known by the name “pin”. The flagstick is the long stick that has a flag on it. It is placed in the hole to indicate where golfers are trying to hit their shot. The USGA has rules regarding flag sticks that golfers and courses must follow.
It is smart to shout fore when a golf ball is heading towards someone. To protect themselves from being hit, players must duck and raise their arms above their heads when they hear fore.
A forecaddie can be described as a player assistant. The forecaddie doesn’t carry your clubs but will instead mark the ball if you hit one into a difficult area to find; they will bring your putter up to the green and even tend the flag and clean your clubs.
If your golf ball looks a lot like your breakfast when you reach it in the bunker, you will have a fried eggs lie. When the ball hits the sand, it causes areas of the sand around it to rise up a bit, and the fried egg lie is the result; these shots aren’t the easiest to hit, so shoot for the center of the green.
The green is the landing area for every golf hole. A green will have very little grass, making it easier for golfers put the ball in the hole.
A handicap is a number that roughly corresponds to how many strokes a golfer is likely take to beat par. For example, a scratch player usually shoots even par while an 8 handicap shoots around 80. To have a fair match, the golfers must be honest with their scores and track handicaps.
After taking a running start towards the ball, players attempt to hit the ball with a shot. This shot was popularized by many golfers and non-golfers alike.
A knee knocker is a short putt that makes it difficult to control your nerves. This means that your knees may be rubbing together while you attempt to make this putt. It would be frustrating to miss it.
Some golf shots can have a lot of spin. They stop almost exactly where the golf balls originally landed when they are hit. When this happens, many will say that it’s like throwing lawn darts.
Each golf club you own has a different level of loft. The loftier your club, the easier it becomes to hit your shots high. The wedges are the most lofted club in the bag.
A tournament in which you compete head-to-head with one person. You can play 18 holes until you have a winner. In match play, you may only need to play 15 or 16 holes in order to determine the champion.
Meat on the bone
This is a common comment made by golf announcers when discussing a missed putt. They will say, “oh no, there is still a bit of meat left on that one.” The meat on the bone means that the golfer still has their work cut out for them to get the ball in the hole.
Many golfers that don’t like their first shot will give themselves a mulligan. This is not in the rules of golf; it’s an informal way that players enjoy the game. You may also refer to this as a “breakfast ball” on the first tee.
To get your ball back in play, you will need to take a penalty stroke if the ball goes out-of-bounds or into a waterhazard. The USGA Rules of Golf book contains a lot of information about how to manage a penalty stroke, and the steps you should take.
Red stakes are used for marking a lateral water danger. If your ball crosses into the red stakes area, you will get a penalty stroke; if you can still play your ball feel free to play it; just don’t ground your club.
The rough is the thicker grass that surrounds the fairway and greens. If you are trying to hit your ball into the rough, it will be more difficult to get your ball back onto a green.
A sandbagger may shoot a 90 and still have a 100 handicap. This will make their handicap appear higher so that they can win more net competitions.
A sandie refers to the act of getting up and down from an sand trap. If you hit your shot onto the green and make the putt, you can call it a sandie and it’s a great accomplishment.
A sandtrap is the same thing as a bunker. A sand-filled hole makes the game more difficult. You can’t ground your club in a sand trap, so be aware of this when you play.
This is a popular tournament format in which all golfers tee off. The best drive is selected and all golfers hit again. The best shot is then chosen from the next location. This continues until the ball is in place.
A scratch golfer is someone who has a zero handicap. This means that the player shoots almost always par when playing a hole.
Golf shanks are hit off the hosel of the club, they cause the ball to go to the right, it happens fast, and it’s an ugly shot. Many golf professionals, including myself, will tell you that sometimes it’s best to return to the course the next day to get rid of shanks.
A skull is a thin shot in which the ball is struck approximately halfway up its center. The overall shot is more like a line drive. Skull shots will have a lot more topspin than backspin.
Slice is a shot that starts straight and then turns to the right. Slices can be frustrating because of an open clubface. You will need to learn how to release the ball effectively if you slice the ball.
Golf can have spin either forward or reverse. When the grooves of your clubface contact the dimples on a golf ball, you will experience spin. Backspin allows a ball to stop, while forward spin allows it to move forward after hitting the ground.
Stroke play refers to a round where you count all your strokes. It’s different from a hole-by-hole match play situation.
If you are playing against another golfer, you may lose strokes. This means that if you are playing a hole, you may have 5 shots to tie the competitor’s score of 4.
A small piece of wood or plastic golf equipment used to place a golf ball. There are many sizes of a golf tee depending on the club you want to use it with.
Texas wedge is the term for playing your approach shot into a green with your putter. The Texas wedge isn’t usually hit from the shortgrass, but rather from thicker grass. This makes it a truly unique shot.
A water hazard, which is similar to a bunker, is an area of the course where you should not hit your ball. It is filled with water. A penalty will be imposed for hitting your golf ball in a waterhazard.
This is called a whiff if you miss the ball completely when you hit it. This is the worst feeling in golf!
The out-of-bounds zone is marked by white stakes. If your golf ball goes on the other side of the white stakes, you can’t play it, even if you can still see it.
When you play in a tournament with a friend and one of you makes an error, the other saves it and vice versa. This is also known as ham-and-egging.
You can only go up to the area of the fairway directly across from your ball by using the 90-degree rule. You will turn your cart 90 degrees towards your ball, then you can exit the fairway. This is usually when the conditions on the golf course are wet.