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Golf 101 Glossary

Golf 101: Glossary of Terms

As is true for virtually every type of recreation, golf has many terms that are used during the play of the game. Some words have a long history and are derived from the Scottish language. Other words are common to the English language, but they have unique meanings as they pertain to the sport of golf. Anyone just learning to play golf will want to brush up on this terminology so they can converse with confidence.

Ace: An ace is a hole in one.

Approach: An approach is a short or medium shot to the pin or putting green.

Attend the Flag: To attend the flag means to remove and hold it while another player putts.

Away: Away refers to the player farthest from the hole and the first to play.

Back: The back is the last nine holes on a golf course.

Below the Hole: When the next putt is uphill, the ball is said to be below the hole.

Birdie: A birdie happens when a player is one under par for a hole.

Bogey: A bogey happens when a player is one over par for a hole.

Break: When putting, the ball will follow the curve of the slope or grain in the green, known as the break.

Carry: The carry is the distance the ball travels from impact to the point where it hits the ground.

Chip: Chipping is taking a short shot with a little loft from the green.

Condor: A condor happens when a player is four under par for a hole.

Divot: When turf is removed from a shot, it's called a divot.

Draw: A draw is a controlled right-to-left shot with a moderate curve.

Drop: After losing a ball or when it is in an unplayable lie, a player drops a ball onto the course from arm's length at shoulder height.

Eagle: An eagle is when a player is two under par for a hole.

Fairway: The fairway is the short grassy area between the tee and the green.

Follow-Through: After swinging and striking the ball, the follow-through completes the motion.

Fore: Players shout "fore" as a warning when a ball might hit another golfer.

Foursome: A foursome is a group of two pairs of golfers who take shots alternately using the same ball.

Grain: The grain is the direction in which the blades of grass grow, which has an influence on the speed and roll of the golf ball.

Green: The green is the area of the golf course around the hole where the grass is very short.

Half Shot: A half shot is a smaller swing used when extra control is needed.

Hook: When a shot curves sharply from right to left or left to right, it's called a hook.

In Play: When a ball stops within the boundaries of the course, it's said to be in play.

Knee-Knocker: When a player misses a short putt, it's called a knee-knocker.

Lie: The resting place of the ball on the course is called the lie.

Links: Golf courses on coastal terrain with sand dunes are called links.

Lip: The edge of the hole is called the lip.

Marker: When one ball obstructs another ball, players might use a small marker to mark its place so they can move the ball temporarily.

Mixed: When men and women play golf together, it's described as mixed play.

Mulligan: A friendly game of golf might allow a mulligan, which is a chance to replay a shot.

OB: OB stands for out of bounds, which denotes the area outside the course.

Par: Par is the number of strokes that a hole should require.

Penalty: A penalty extra stroke might be added to a player's score if a rule violation occurs.

Pitch: The shot used to approach the green is called the pitch.

Play Through: When one group of slower golfers allows another group to pass them, this is called letting them play through.

Range: A range is the practice area where golfers practice their driving.

Rough: Grass that is longer and thicker is called the rough.

Slice: When a shot curves violently to the right, it's called a slice.

Unplayable Lie: When a ball can't be hit because of an obstruction or ground conditions, it's called an unplayable lie.

Whiff: Swinging and missing the ball is known as a whiff, which also counts as a stroke.

Additional Resources for Golfers