Golf Glossary

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Your position in relation to the ball as you prepare to strike.


A score of three under par on a hole.


How your body is aligned in relation to an imagined ball-to-target line.

Approach shot

One whose target is the green.

Approach putt (or lag putt)

A putt not directly aimed at the hole, but close enough to make the next putt a certainty.




The spin on the ball caused by the loft of the club face.


The first part of the swing, when the club is taken away from the ball to behind the shoulder.

Banana Ball

A bad slice, so called because the flight of the ball resembles the shape of a banana.


A player that talks to the point of annoyance.


A score of one under par on a hole.


A hole or shot where you can't see your target.


Originally the expected score in which a good player was reckoned to complete a hole, but now replaced by par. Bogey has come to mean one over par on a hole.


How much you have to aim right or left when putting to allow for the slope of the green to bring the ball back to the hole.


A natural or artificial depression on a fairway or round the green. It is usually half -filled with sand but can be made of earth or grass.




A helper who carries a player's bag around the course and may advise on the course or the game.

Casual Water

Water on the course which is not part of the design, such as rain puddles or over-watered areas. If a ball is in such water or, to play it, the player's feet would be, one can take a free drop.. If there is casual water on the green, a ball on the green may be moved to the nearest place equidistant from the hole from which the putt will avoid water.


A lofted shot played from around the green. Usually played with a pitching wedge or a sand wedge.

Chip and Run

A low shot that runs towards the flag played from near the green.


The area of the club that you use to hit the ball.


The part of the club attached to the lower end of the shaft, and used for striking the ball.


Edge of a sand hazard.


The tubular lining sunk in the hole. Also the hole itself.



Deep Stuff

Grass left to grow so that off-line shots are made more difficult. Also called 'rough'.


A chunk of turf removed by the clubhead when you play a shot, usually on the fairway.


A hole with a fairway that bends sharply. A hazard is often positioned at the angle of the dog-leg to put you off driving across it.

Double Bogey

A score of two over par for a hole.

Double Eagle

A score of three under par on a hole (also called an Albatross)


The part of the golf swing from the top of the backswing to striking the ball.


A shot with a slight, controlled curve through the air, from right to left for a right-handed player and right to left for a left-handed player.


A shot which is played from the tee, usually with a driver (a 1 wood).


The 1 wood, the most powerful club in the set, used for getting maximum distance off the tee.


When a ball must be lifted under penalty or otherwise, the player, standing erect, holds the ball at arm's length and shoulder height and drops it making sure that it does not land any nearer the hole.




A score of two under par on a hole




The surface of the clubhead that strikes the ball.


A shot designed the curve slightly in the air, from left to right for a right-handed player and right to left for a left-handed player.


The cut grass, and proper route, between the tee and green.

Fairway Woods

2, 3, 4, 5, and sometimes higher-numbered woods designed to be used when the ball is in play after the tee shot.

Flag Stick

Also called the pin, flag, or stick, the flagstick marks the hole.


The part of the swing beyond impact with the ball.


The shouted word by which golfers warn others on the course that they are in danger of being hit by the ball.


A matchplay or strokeplay game of two players on each side, all four striking their own ball.


A matchplay or strokeplay game between two sides of two players each, the partners striking the ball alternately.


The collar of slightly longer grass around the the close-mown putting surface of the green.

Full Set

The 14 clubs which are allowed for playing a round. A full set usually consists of three or four wooden clubs or metal woods, nine or ten irons and a putter.



Get Legs

A term shouted by a golfer when a shot just made is assumed to be short of the intended goal.


Baby talk for "give me," a putt of two feet or less that a friendly opponent declares does not have to be holed out.


The angle at which the grass of a green grows. Putting "against the grain" requires more effort than "with the grain."


The closely mown, carefully manicured target area in which the hole is cut.


The part of the club you hold, and the way you hold it.

Gross Score

The number of shots taken to complete the course before deduction of handicap to give the net score.

Ground Under Repair

Area of a course temporarily out of play, from which a ball may be removed for a drop without penalty. A ball outside the area may also be moved if the lie would cause the player to stand on it.


A ball made from gutta percha. It lost popularity when the wound ball was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century.



Half Set

Either the odd or even irons, two woods and a putter. A half set of clubs is all a beginning golfer needs to start playing.


A system devised to make play between golfers of different standards an even match. Your handicap is the number of strokes over par you average over four rounds at a golf course. For instance, if your average score is 88 on a par 72 course, you are given a handicap of 16. In strokeplay, if you play with a person that has a 2 handicap, you are allowed 14 strokes - the difference between your handicaps - extra strokes, one on each of the most difficult 14 holes. In matchplay, the longer handicap player would receive 11 shots - three quarters of the difference.


A bunker, stream, ditch, lake, or pond are all hazards. Hazards are defined by a course committee.


The part of the clubhead beneath the end of the shaft.


This can mean the actual hole that you putt into or the entire area between tee and green.

Hole Handicap

Each score card indicates a handicap number for each hole. The lower the number, the harder the hole is to play. Some courses split odd and even handicap numbers between the front nine and back nine while others handicap all eighteen holes together. For example, the front nine can have handicap numbers 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15 & 17 while the back nine have 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16, & 18. In this case, the number 2 handicap hole isn't necessarily the second hardest hole on the course. It's the first hardest hole for that nine. A lot of golfers prefer to have all eighteen handicapped together but it is up to the course to decide.

Hole in one

Also known as an 'ace'. A 'hole-in-one' is registered when the ball enters the hole direct from the tee shot.


To play first off the tee, the privilege of the winner of the preceding hole.


Faulty stoke when the ball curves to the left for right-handed players and right for left-handed players.




Irons are metal-headed clubs used for most shots between tee and green. Sometimes you can use them from the tee at holes where accuracy is more important than distance. The sand and pitching wedges are also irons.



Lateral Water Hazard

A ditch, stream, or pond roughly parallel to the line of the hole. A ball picked out may be played from either side, with a one-stroke penalty.


Where the ball is in relation to the ground it is resting on. The more embedded in the grass or sand the ball is, the worse the lie. Lie also refers to the angle of the sole of the clubhead to the shaft.


A seaside golf course, typified by sand, turf, and course grass, of the kind where golf was originally played.


The angle of the clubface to the ground. The more loft a club has (indicated by how high the number is on the club) the higher the ball goes and the shorter distance it travels.

Long Game

Shots over about 180 yards (164m) long, played from the tee or on the fairway with woods or low-numbered irons.

Loose Impediments

Twigs and leaves, not actually growing, and not stuck to the ball, which may be removed from around it without penalty. The ball must not be moved.

Lost Ball

If after a five-minute search, a ball cannot be found, a competitor is penalized one stroke and plays another ball from the spot where the first one was hit, counting as the third shot.




To identify the spot on the green where a player has picked up a ball for cleaning or to clear the way for another player's putt.


A game between two players or two sides which is determined by the number of holes won or lost.


A second shot permitted without penalty. Usually only one is allowed per round and is limited to tee shots although the number can be agreed upon by players before the round begins.



Net Score

A player's score for a round after the handicap allowance has been deducted.



Out of Bounds

A ball is out of bounds if it lands anywhere prohibited for play - Usually beyond the courses boundaries.




The standard score for a hole, usually based on it's length. Holes up to 250 yards (228m) long are par 3's, up to 475 yards (434m) par 4's and any longer than that are par 5's. Course committees are now authorized to vary par when a hole's difficulty warrants not sticking rigidly to the distances laid down.


In strokeplay, a rule infringement usually costs two strokes; in matchplay, the hole is generally lost.


Informal name for the flagstick in the hole.


A reasonably high shot onto the green, traveling anything from a few yards to 120 yards (110m). You generally use a 9 iron, a pitching wedge, or a sand wedge.

Pitching Wedge

A short iron with a large degree of loft, used for pitching high but short shots onto the green.


If a competition ends with a tie, the winner is decided by playing further holes. Currently, the winner is usually the first competitor to win a hole. The U.S. and British Opens are exceptions.


A ball played when it seems likely that the preceding shot is lost or out of bounds. It will count, plus a penalty.


The rolling shot taken on the green, with a putter.



Reading the Green

Looking at the slope and contours of the green to decide the line and speed of your putt.


Grass left to grow so that off-line shots are made more difficult. Also called 'deep stuff'.



Sand Trap

Alternate name for a bunker.

Sand Wedge

Also called a sand iron, the shortest, most lofted iron used for playing out of bunkers and for very short pitch shots.


Team competition in which all players play from the site of their team's best drive, best second shot, and so on.

Scratch Player

A golfer with a handicap of zero.


The length of the club down to the clubhead.


Area of an iron's clubhead at the hosel; hence a shot hit by the clubface at this point, which flies off to the right (right-handed player).

Short Game

Chipping, pitching, bunker play and putting on the green and around it up to a distance of 100 yards (90m) away.


Hitting a chip or pitch shot too hard and sending the ball past the green.


Faulty shot which curves left to right in the air (right-handed player).


When the clubface is placed at right angles to the imaginary ball-to-target line.


A sharply hooked ball that dives quickly.


A popular system of scoring by points for holes completed: par = 2 points, 1 under par = 3 points, 2 under par = 4 points, 1 over par = 1 point.


The position of your feet just before playing a shot.

Standard Scratch Score (SSS)

The score expected of a scratch player on any given course.


A shot in golf.

Stroke and Distance

The penalty of one stroke and the return to the site of the shot before, when a ball is unplayable.

Stroke Index

The numbers on a scorecard indicating the order of the holes at which a handicap player receives strokes.


A competition in which a player's total strokes for a round are recorded to be compared with the scores of other competitors. 'Strokeplay', the correct term, is often referred to as 'medal play'.


The weight and balance of a club. All the clubs in your set should be the same swing weight.



Tagged It

Used to refer to a good golf shot. Usually a tee or fairway shot that is long and on target.


The start of the backswing.


The area of a hole from which you play the first shot.

Tee Off

The first shot that is played by the golfer on each hole. In one round the golfer will 'tee-off' eighteen times.

Tee Peg

You can put the ball on this device for your first shot to help raise the ball off the ground. It is then much easier to attain height.


The timing and rhythm of your swing, which should be even and smooth throughout.


A long, low shot hit by mistake with the leading edge of the club (blade).

Three off the tee

If a ball is lost, out of bounds, or unplayable from the tee shot, the player is penalized one stroke and tees off again - the third shot.


Someone who is playing unusually well.


A shot mistakenly hit with the bottom edge of the club, so that the ball is embedded in the ground before popping up, and in most cases traveling only a short distance.


A sand bunker.

Triple Bogey

A score of three over par on a hole.




A player may choose to deem a ball unplayable, taking a penalty stroke and dropping the ball no nearer the hole. A ball that is unplayable in a bunker must be dropped in the bunker or stroke and distance taken.

Uphill Lie

When a ball is positioned on ground sloping up ahead of the player.




A player's loosening-up movements at address.


A club with an extremely lofted face (pitching and sand irons).


A complete miss of the ball on a swing. Also called a fan.


A club normally used for distance shots. It can be made of wood, metal, or graphite.



Yardage (distance) Chart

A plan of the holes on a course showing the distance from one point to another. It can be printed by the course or prepared by the golfer or his caddie.


A condition where the played is so anxious about his putting that he can't swing his putter back, and the stroke becomes a jerky jab at the ball


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