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Best Golf Terms: A Comprehensive Dictionary To Golf Slang

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If you plan on playing golf, it’s essential to be familiar with the game’s Lingo. Golf terms can seem like a foreign language to beginners, but don’t worry – we’re here to help.

This guide will teach you the most common golf terms used by recreational and pro players alike. Learning these golf terms won’t make you an expert, but it will save you from embarrassing yourself while at the golf course.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding golf terminology is crucial for anyone new to the sport.
  • Common terms for keeping score include:
    • Ace (hole in one)
    • Albatross (three strokes below par)
    • Eagle (two strokes under par)
    • Par (standard number of strokes)
    • Birdie (one stroke under par)
    • Bogey (one stroke over par)
    • Double Bogey (two strokes over par)
    • Triple Bogey (three strokes over par)
    • Snowman (score of eight on a hole)
    • Blizzard (score of 88 or multiple eights)
  • Shot types include:
    • Slice (ball curves right)
    • Fade (starts left then curves right)
    • Draw (starts right then curves left)
    • Hook (curves sharply left).
  • Golf course types include:
    • Parkland
    • Desert
    • Links
    • Stadium/Championship
    • Executive
  • Various areas of a golf course Include:
    • The Putting Green
    • Hazard
    • Tee Box
    • Rough
    • Bunker
    • Dogleg
  • Other important terms are:
    • Fore (warning cry)
    • Mulligan (replay of first shot)
    • Breaking 80 (shooting 79 or lower)
    • Handicap (player’s ability level)
    • Scratch (zero handicap player)
    • Yips (uncontrolled putting motion)
    • Shank (bad shot off the club’s hosel)
    • Divot (piece of ground lifted during a shot).

Golf Terms for Keeping Score

Image of a scorecard for Golf Terms Keeping Score section.

Golfers use various golf terms to track the number of strokes during a round. Here, we will explain a handful of the most common golf terms used. Each of these golf terms refers to the number of strokes during a round of golf.

What Does ‘Ace’ Mean?

An ace is a golf term that means you hit the golf ball into the hole in one shot. Hence, a Hole In One. Hitting a hole in one is excellent golf.

All it takes is skill, luck, and a well-placed approach shot. It usually happens on par 3s but occasionally on short par 4s.

What is an Albatross?

An albatross is a score of three strokes below par on a single hole, achieved on a par-5 hole. On a par-5 hole, your second shot is the one that needs to sink to achieve an albatross. This feat would likely require precision and luck with a second shot 200 or more yards from the green.

PGA Tour legend Gene Sarazen was the first professional golfer to record an albatross in one of golf’s four current major events. Albatrosses are less likely than elusive holes-in-one but remain highly coveted by golfers and are also known as double eagle.

What is an Eagle in Golf Meaning?

The eagle in golf meaning describes a score of two strokes under par for a golf hole. Hitting an eagle takes some luck and skill to make this happen. Scoring an eagle on a Par five hole is typical but can also occur on shorter holes.

What is a par?

Par is the number of strokes a professional golfer must make on a hole or course. There are different types of holes: par 3s, 4s, and 5s. For example, if you have a par four and make it in four strokes, you get a “par.”

What is a Birdie?

A birdie is another golf term that refers to scoring. A birdie is when you finish the hole one stroke under par. So, if you have a par four and make it in three strokes, you get a birdie.

What is a Bogey?

In golf, a “bogey” is when you score one more stroke than the hole’s par. If you have a par 4 and take 5 strokes to make it, you get a “bogey.”

What is a Double Bogey?

A “double bogey” is when you take more than two strokes than the hole’s par. For example, if you have a par 4 and make it in six strokes, you get a “double bogey.”

What is a Triple Bogey?

Scoring three strokes over the par of a hole is called a “triple bogey.” You have scored a triple bogey if you take seven strokes to make a par 4.

What is a Snowman in Golf?

A “snowman” in golf is a score of eight on any individual hole. Why a snowman? Look at a snowman’s resemblance to the numeral 8. One round ball of snow is placed on top of another ball of snow. When a golfer scores an eight, they might tell their playing partner, “Put me for a snowman.”

What is a Blizzard?

The term ‘Blizzard’ uniquely characterizes a situation where a player scores double the par or more on a single hole. It’s a quirky way of highlighting a golfer’s hurdles in mastering the course’s challenges. This term parallels the chaotic and overpowering characteristics of an actual blizzard, spotlighting the complexities and obstacles that golfers often encounter during play.


Golf Terminology for Various Shots

Do you know the names of the golf shots you can take during a round? Here are some of the most common golf shots and their definitions.

What is a slice in golf?

A slice is a common fault in golf where the ball starts off to the right of the target and then curves further right. Several factors, such as an incorrect grip, poor swing technique, or faulty club equipment cause slices.

The best way to correct a cut is to work on your swing mechanics (stop coming over the top) and ensure that you have the correct grip and club set-up.

Related Content: How To Improve Your Golf Swing: An In-depth Analysis & Everything You Need To Know

What is a fade in golf?

A fade is a type of golf shot that begins center or left of the target and then curves back to the right. Fades are created by taking an outside-in swing path and ensuring that your clubface is square at impact. The best way to hit a fade is to set up your shot with an open stance.

What is a draw in golf?

A draw is a type of golf shot that starts to the right of the target and then curves back to the left. Draws are created with a closed stance and take an inside-out swing path while ensuring that your clubface is square at impact.

What is a hook in golf?

A hook is a type of golf shot that curves sharply from right to left. An inside-out swing path causes a hook and an open clubface at contact. A too-strong grip, poor alignment, and inadequate body rotation during the swing often cause hooks in golf.

Correcting these involves adjusting to a neutral grip, aligning the body straight with the target, and ensuring full upper body rotation and weight shift during the swing. These adjustments can significantly improve swing accuracy and consistency.


Golf Terms For The Course

Different types of golf courses change the way golfers play the game. Here are some common golf course terms and their definitions.

What is a Parkland Golf Course?

A parkland golf course is typically found in America, characterized by its many trees, water hazards, and undulating greens. The most famous parkland golf course globally is Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Georgia. It’s a very demanding course with narrow fairways and fast greens.

The best way to play a parkland golf course is to hit high iron shots and use the slopes on your approach shots to control your distance with your wedges. Don’t get too aggressive on the par 5s – save your energy for the more challenging holes.

What is a Desert Golf Course?

A desert golf course is typically found in hot, arid climates such as the Southwest States, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Southern California. A desert course is characterized by its cacti, native grasses, and sandy soil. The world’s most famous desert golf course is probably The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ.

The best way to play a desert golf course is to keep your ball in the short grass. You should always know the dangers when playing in the desert – especially cacti, snakes, and other critters! That is why it’s best to play your first time conservatively playing a desert course. However, if you end up in the wild, carry an extra club for shots from the desert floor. Last, drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration and protect yourself from sunburn.

What is a Links Golf Course?

Scottland is the home of the links-style golf course and is known for its rolling hills and thick, rough, and sandy soil. This golf course has well-manicured, tightly-groomed grass and natural, uneven ground. Links courses are usually located on ocean coasts, where strong, changing winds are a significant factor. Links courses are ideal for the Open Championship, or British Open as we know it in America.

Playing a links-style course usually requires lower trajectory shots and using the ground, letting the ball skip and roll for more distance. This type of golf can be difficult for beginners because of the challenging terrain and weather conditions. However, many experienced golfers enjoy the unique challenge that a links-style course provides.

What is a Stadium/Championship Course?

Championship or stadium courses are designed for easy movement and flow of spectators. They often feature strong vantage points and exciting holes. Championship courses are 18 holes, reasonably long, and relatively challenging. Previously hosting large tournaments is another way to define a Championship Course.

Two of the most popular stadium-style courses have already been mentioned above… Augusta National and TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course).

What is an Executive Course?

An executive golf course is a great place to golf if you want a shorter, more leisurely round. Executive courses are typically under 5,200 yards for 18 holes, making them perfect for those on a long lunch break or playing during a business meeting. The average par for an executive golf course is around 62, and the average length is approximately 6,700 yards for 18 holes.

If you’re looking for an executive golf course in your area, check out your directory of golf courses. Or take a trip to Banner Elk, N.C., and play Sugar Mountain Golf Club.

What is the Putting Green?

The putting green is the pin’s location in the golf course area. The grass on the green is usually cut very short so that the ball can roll easily.

What is A Hazard 

A hazard is any golf course area that can cause problems for the player, such as a water hazard, sand trap, or ground under repair.

If the golf ball lands in the ground under repair area, they can take a drop without any penalty.

What is the Tee Box

The tee box is the starting point of each hole. The tee box is usually short, well-manicured grass, and the player starts the hole with a tee shot where they hit the golf ball.

What is the Rough

The rough is the golf course area outside of the tee box, fairway, and greens. The grass in this area is usually much taller than in the fairway, making it difficult to hit the golf ball into the green in regulation.

What is A Bunker

Golfer hitting a shot out of a bunker

A bunker is a sand trap located on the golf course, usually strategically placed around the green. Most golfers try to avoid bunkers, while others aim for them in hops for a flop shot that ends with a sandy par.

What is A Dogleg

A dogleg is a hole with a sharp turn, making it more challenging to hit the ball straight. Golfers often find holes with sharp turns or corners more challenging and fun than those that run in a straight line from the tee to the green. Doglegs, or “bends” or “corners,” can range from modest to close to a right angle. You likely find doglegs on shorter par-4 or par-5 holes.

Many golfers enjoy the different challenges and options that dogleg holes present. The distance from the tee box to the turn is usually “the turning point” or “corner.” Dogleg holes can be either lefts (fairway goes left), rights (fairway goes right), or double-doglegs, which have two turns in their fairway.


Other Golf Terms to Know

We must discuss the other golf terms you must know to play the game. These golf terms will help you understand the different aspects of the game.

What Does ‘Fore’ Mean in Golf?

Fore is the yell when the player’s golf ball could hit someone. Golfers have to wait until the person before them has left before hitting their shot. When you hit the ball into a group ahead of you or a blind spot, you need to yell fore, so people know that a golf ball is coming.

Why Fore?

Some people believe that the word fore comes from artillery. Yelling fore warned gunners to move away. The first time golfers yelled fore in golf, it was a warning cry to people in front of the golfer.

There are three possible explanations for where the word fore came from:

  1. From Forecaddie! to fore! – Because golf balls were expensive and Golfers employed “Forecaddies” to stand where the ball might land;
  2. Shoot over their heads! – Because rank after rank would fire fusillades, some over the heads of those in front;
  3. Ware Before! – This is a story that John Knox told about someone who arrived at East Port (east gate) of Leith and warned his friends that there was danger ahead. The person then fired one gun and then the other.

What Does ‘Mulligan’ Mean in Golf?

When you hear the golf term mulligan, it refers to a replay of the first shot. After hitting a poor tee shot on the first hole, golfers will call for a mulligan. Technically, Mulligans are not allowed per the Rules of Golf. However, golfers frequently use mulligans.

The decision to take a mulligan usually rests with the golfer himself and/or those within the group. So, if you hit a terrible drive on the first hole, you can take a mulligan and replay your first shot. Just make sure your playing partners are okay with the mulligan, or don’t do it too often because you may irritate someone in the crew!

What Does it Mean to “Break 80”?

To “break 80” is to shoot a net score of 79 or lower on an 18-hole golf course. When a golfer posts a sub-80 number of strokes, it is considered a prestigious accomplishment.

Handicap

A handicap is a number that tells golfers how well they usually play. Depending on the course, posting a sub-90 score is expected from a 15 handicapper. Handicaps help ensure fairness when some people are better than others.

Scratch

A scratch golfer has a handicap of 0 (or better). These masters of the game usually make mincemeat of long par 4s, reaching the green in regulation in two. They usually possess a natural ability, many hours of lessons logged, lots of practice and hard work, and a high level of confidence in themselves. A scratch golfer is expected to shoot par at worst on most golf courses.

Yips

The Yips is a condition that prevents you from making solid contact. It usually happens when someone tries to putt. They will make an uncontrolled, jerky motion with their putting stroke, and the ball blows past the hole or comes way short. The best way to cure the Yips is to quit golf and take up tennis…

Haha, I’m just kidding. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure for the yips other than time.

Shank

A shank is a lousy shot in golf, if not the worst! If a person shanks the golf ball, they hit the ball with the club’s hosel and not the clubface. The ball shoots off like a cannonball straight right and is ridiculously embarrassing. How does this happen? The golfer lunges toward the ball instead of staying neutral and balanced during the swing. Don’t do that!

Do some drills and simulations to ingrain good habits to stop hitting this pesky worm burner. Stay down during your shot, keep the clubface pointing at the target, and use a practice swing to groove the feel of hitting the ball. These tips will help you conquer a bad case of the shanks and save your scorecard and your number of strokes per round!

Related Content: 7 Ways to Help You Get in a Better Golf Stance Now

Divot

Many divots surround a golfer before he hits his next shot

Part of the ground comes up when you hit a golf ball. This is called a divot. Therefore, a divot happens during contact with the ground.

Related Content: How To Clean Golf Clubs Super Clean Like A Pro


Golf Terms Conclusion

Write a conclusion paragraph for Golf Terms with a CTA. Many golf terms may seem confusing to beginners, but they’re all worth learning. Golf is a fantastic sport, and you’ll have more fun on the course when you know what’s going on!

For more golf tips, check out our blog post below! “How Many Golf Clubs In A Bag?” 

Thanks for reading!

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About Author

You're looking for some help when it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game. Chris Howard has been in the golf industry since 1995, and knows just what you need to take your game to the next level. Growing up on a golf course, Chris has always had a love and passion for the sport. He desires to provide others with a better golfing experience - from helping them choose the right golf gear, to finding the perfect set up for their individual game.

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