Golf Terms Explained: Over 250 You Should Know

Matt Beasley Matt Beasley
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golf terms explained

Ok, so you got the gear. The bright golf shirt, the performance shorts, the newest waterproof golf shoes, that beautiful driver you saw on the commercial, and hopefully a lot of balls. You're ready to take on the local muni course. Although you may not play like a pro yet, you certainly look like one in all the latest gear. The only problem is, you can't figure out what your buddies are talking about. I mean, what the heck is a "Big Dog," and why do I need to let it eat? What the heck is a "Snowman?" and why do they keep saying you got one on that last hole!? You don't know the latest or even basic golf terms!

Have no fear. We have compiled the most extensive list of golf terms that you will find anywhere. 

You'll be speaking golf before you know it, maybe even throwing out a "Bump and Run" for good measure. Take a look at our list of golf terms, and you'll no longer be the only one in the dark.


Ace – Otherwise known as a hole in one. An ace is when the ball finds the hole from the tee in a single stroke. Easier to accomplish on par-3s and short par-4s. It's basically the dream of every golfer.

Address – The way you stand and position your club before a shot is known as address. Touching the ball accidentally when addressing the ball as this will result in a penalty of one stroke.

Albatross – Occasionally called a double eagle, an albatross is a score of three under par. So, a brilliant two on a par five or a hole in 1 on a par three would give you all the bragging rights that come with it. 

Alignment – This refers to the position of the player's body relative to the intended target. If your alignment is off, so will your shot.

Apron – The section of the fairway that leads up to the front of the green.

Approach – Shots played that are intended to land on the green area known as approach shots. See how I said intended? My approach is horrible.

Approach Wedge – A wedge that is the loft between a sand wedge and a pitching wedge. Typically, the loft is around 52 degrees. Usually has an A to distinguish in your bag.

Away – The player that is farthest away from the hole and is up to play. When you're all in the trees, determine who's the deepest, they become away.


Back Nine – Refers to the last 9 holes of a typical 18-hole course, also known as heading in.

Backswing – As this golf term suggests, this is simply the action taken when swinging back before striking the golf ball. It is essential for distance and accuracy and has a lot to do with how you end up striking the ball.

Backspin – Spin is critical in most aspects of golf, and you will often come across the term when comparing clubs. More backspin will give you a high ball with a fair amount of control, and the pros make it look so easy.

Ball Marker – A device that is used on the green to line up a putt and get out of the way of other players on the green. I used an Altoid once.

Banana-Ball – A hard slice that curves very hard. For right-handed golfers, the ball goes from the left to right. So basically, don't even bother looking for it.

Bandit – A golfer with an artificially high handicap compared to their actual ability to shoot low scores.

Baseball Grip – A type of grip that resembles a baseball bat grip. Others might call it a 10-finger grip.

Beach – One of the many golf terms used for Sand Bunker.

Below the Hole – A term that refers to a putt where the hole is at a higher elevation than the ball.

Big Dog – A Driver. Let the Big Dog eat means it's time to crush your tee shot with your driver.

Bite – A term used by golfers for a golf ball to stop rolling. You'll have one buddy that just yells "Bite" for everything like he has skills.

Bladed Shot – A chip shot from just off the green purposely hit with the bottom of the club. Played often from when the ball rests against the collar of the green. Runs like a putt.

Blind Shot – A situation where a golfer can't see the fairway or green, they are aiming for. 

Block – A shot for a right-handed golfer that goes straight to the right due to the open clubface.

Bounce – Along with launch angle, this is a measurement for wedges.

Bump and Run – A chip shot around the green involving a low lofted iron, like a 5-iron. This type of chip is excellent for a large part of the green to work with.

Best Ball – A type of golf format between players in a group. Only the best score is taken at the end of each hole.

Birdie – A hole where you score one stroke under par is a birdie. Shoot a three on a par-4, birdie. Shoot a four on a par-5, birdie. You get the picture.

Blade – This is a style of iron that, while the only option in years gone by, is now primarily only used by better players. It has a compact "blade" shaped head with relatively even weight distribution on the rear of the club. I certainly don't have a blade in my bag.

Bogey – This is simply a score of one over par on a hole. Shoot a five on a par-4, bogey.

BOX – Exclamation when holing a putt. I've only heard this once, and honestly, I think the guy made it up. I'll include it anyway. You're welcome Bill.

Break – This term is used to describe the curvature of the path a ball needs to travel on the putting green. It is based on the slope and grain of the green and other factors such as wind.

Breakfast Ball - Taking another shot without penalty, usually off the first tee. See Mulligan.

Bunker – The much-dreaded bunker, also known as a sand trap, is a hazard that is a depression in the ground containing sand. They can either be near the green or on the fairway.

Burn – A Scottish word for a stream alongside or across the fairway.

Businessman's Grip – Often seen on a golfer who does not play regularly. The Vs in the hands are not in sync (the right hand is too far on top of the shaft, and the V points to the right shoulder instead of the left).


Cat Box – Another name for a bunker. Hopefully, it's clean.

Carpet – Another of many golf term used for the grass on a putting green.

Carry – Refers to the distance the balls travel through the air. It is essential when you need to get over obstacles or hazards.

Cavity Back – These irons are designed to be more forgiving than blades. The cavity back allows for perimeter weighting allowing off-center hits to still travel a fair distance without losing direction. They offer a bit less control and shaping ability than blades but are preferred by the average golfer and certainly the beginner.

Center of Gravity – This refers to the design and balancing of the golf club. To keep the concept simple, the farther back and lower the center of gravity (CG), the higher the trajectory will be according to the loft angle. This will give golfers an easier launch that generally has good backspin. Low handicap players do not need this advantage as much and tend to prefer a progressive CG with a higher CG on the longer irons.

Center Shaft – The shaft comes out of the center of the putter head.

Chip – This is a short shot to get on the green and close to the pin if not in the hole. It is generally a low-trajectory shot around the green.

Choke Down – Chocking down refers to gripping the club lower down on the shaft. It is often used on shorter approach shots for greater control. Or if you don't want the entire distance from the club, you are using.

Chunk – A mishit golf shot where the golf club makes contact with the ground before the ball. You'll hear, "I chunked that one," a lot.

Clone Clubs – These are generally knockoff brand that makes clubs at a much more discounted price than name brand golf clubs.

Collar of the Green – The first cut of grass off the green.

Comeback – Refers to a second putt at the hole due to over-shooting the hole on the last putt.

Coming Over the Top – A term used by the golf instructional world all of the time. It usually refers to your swing path on your approach to the ball. Generally, not a great thing to hear.

Concede – Refers to a situation in match play where a golfer counts an opponent's put without them actually making it yet.

Course Rating – A measurement of how hard a course is based on the skills of a scratch golfer. Also referred to as the slope rating.

Covey – A name for your drawn partners.

Closed Face – Angling the clubface towards the body relative to the target will result in a closed face.

Closed Stance – Placing the front foot nearer the target line is a closed stance. It can be used to prevent a slice or play a draw.

Coefficient of Restitution – Another important consideration when comparing clubs is the Coefficient of Restitution or COR. It is a term used to measure the energy transfer from the clubface to the ball. A higher COR will result in greater speeds and, therefore, more distance. Modern clubs generally have a higher COR than those in the past, and thus it has become a bit easier to get a reasonable distance.

Compression – The compression ratio is an essential factor to consider when selecting a golf ball. Softer balls with lower compression are more suitable for people with a slower swing speed. While they will not offer as much control, they will deliver better distances for these players. Therefore, it is vital to match your ball section to your swing speed. Didn't realize buying a golf ball was complicated, did you?

Cup – Slang for the hole on the green.

Cut – A golf shot with a high trajectory and moves from left to the right for right-handed golfers. Also referred to as a high fade.


Dance Floor – The Green. Now we're dancing!

De-Loft – Lower the loft on the club by keeping your hands well in front of impact with a closed face.

Dimples – Golf balls have dimples to improve aerodynamics and regulate spin. The correct number and design of dimples for your swing could improve performance.

Divot – A chunk of turf from beneath the ball is often displaced when striking the ball. The remaining mark or hole is known as a divot. Replace your divots, people!

Dogleg – A straight fairway with a sharp bend left or right is referred to as a dogleg.

Dog Lie – Bad lie is generally in the rough.

Double Bogey – A score of two above par on a hole is a double bogey, this one of my most common golf terms. Shooting a five on a par-3 is a double bogey.

Double Cross – When a golfer intends to hit a fade or a draw but does the complete opposite. For example, if a golfer wants to hit a fade and then hooks it. Then, instead of the ball flying from left to right, it goes from right to left.

Double Eagle – also called an albatross. It occurs when a golfer achieves a 3-under par on a hole.

Down the Middle  – When you hit your shot straight down the fairway.

Draw – For right-handed golfers, this is a shot that moves from right to left through the air.

Duck Hook – When you hit a low hook shot that doesn't travel very far or Duck Fart, but I thought hook was more appropriate.

Duff – A golf term that refers to a mishit, and it is also called a shank or chunk.


Eagle – A score of two under par on a hole is known as an eagle

Elevated Green – A green at a higher elevation than the fairway or tee box.

Etiquette – Golf is a gentleman's game, and etiquette are the rules that govern a player's conduct and behavior, unlike Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

Even Par – When a golfer's score matches the 18-hole par for that golf course


Fade – The opposite of a draw; a fade moves from left to right during flight for a right-handed golfer.

Fairway – The shorter mowed middle of the fairway between the tee box and the green is the fairway. Your goal, stay in the fairway.

Fairway Markers – These markers will give you the distance to the center of the green. They are color-coded and give distance in yards or meters for 250, 200, 150, and 100. The specifics and colors can vary from course to course. Sometimes found on sprinkler heads.

Fat – A fat shot is when the club strikes the ground before the ball. The result is generally poor, and the ball will not travel very far. I'm guilty of saying that all the time. "Man, I hit that one fat!"

Ferrule – This is the little black piece of plastic that connects the shaft of your club to the hosel.

Ferret – Term for holing a shot from the fringe of the green (usually worth something in a betting game).

Flat Stick – A Putter.

Flex – The measurement of the stiffness of a golf shaft. It could be senior, regular, or shift flex. The better you get, the less flex you need.

Flier – A ball hit from the rough or wet grass often does not get enough spin and travels further than expected. This is known as a flier.

Flight – A golf ball's trajectory in the air after a golf shot.

Flop Shot – A flop shot is generally an approach shot with an open stance and clubface. The idea is for the ball to travel high and fall softly on the green for an easy putt—a type of chip shot.

Flush Shot – This type of golf shot perfectly hits the sweet spot and goes the maximum distance. So naturally, we'd all like more of these.

Follow-through – This is just as important as the backswing and is that part of the swing that occurs after impact with the ball.

Forgiving – A characteristic of beginner golf clubs to minimize the swing mistakes of golfers. Larger surface areas equal fewer mishits.

Forged Irons – A specific type of iron opposite of cast irons. They tend to have a much simpler head shape.

Fore – To warn players ahead of an errant ball or potential danger, a player should shout "Fore" as a warning. As Rodney Dangerfield said in Caddyshack, "I should have yelled two!"

Format of Play – The competition rules for the day's play.

Forward Press – This is a method of starting your backswing by pressing your hands forward. It can improve the smoothness of the takeaway.

Four-ball – This is a common form of play, particularly match play. There are two sides of two players, and each golfer plays their own ball for the duration of the hole. The lower score between the two partners is used to determine the score. Informally the term simply refers to four players playing together on the course.

Freshie - This is a swing that completely misses the ball (usually an internal penalty with playing partners).

Fried Egg – A nickname for the lie that happens in a bunker when part of the ball is buried in the sand. Good luck with that, see our Golf Shot Survival Guide for instructions.

Fringe – The fringe is the area immediately surrounding the green. It is closely mowed but not nearly as short or smooth as the green itself. It is relatively thin and separates the green from the fairway.

Frogged – Another expression for a chunked shot.

Front Nine – Simply the first 9 holes on the course.


Gap Wedge – A type of wedge called an approach wedge. The standard degree of the loft is between 50 to 54 degrees.

Gimme - This is a relatively informal term used when a player is close enough to the cup to be awarded the shot without actually taking it. They are not always allowed in many situations or competitions.

Goofed It – Another expression for a mishit.

Grain – Grain refers to the direction in which the grass grows, specifically in the green. It will impact the direction and speed of your putt.

Grand Slam – When a PGA Tour pro wins all four major championships in one calendar year.

Green – The green is the end part of each hole with the target cup and flag are situated. They vary in size and shape, and the grass, although short, can be different depending on conditions.

Greenie – If you are playing a gambling format like Nassau, usually groups will make side bets. A greenie is a side bet traditionally played on a par 3, and the player who lands the ball closest to the pin (while on the green) wins the greenie.

Green in Regulation – Occurs when the golf ball is on the green, and the player is putting for a birdie or better.

Green Fee – The cost of playing a round of golf at a particular golf course.

Grip – There are several different grips golfers use to hold the club. It is mostly a matter of how you learned to play and personal preference.

Ground Under Repair – A specific area on a course that is not open for play. If a golf ball lands there, it usually warrants a free drop with no penalty.

Gross Score – This is simply the total number of strokes or shots played during a round before the handicap is factored in.

Grounding the Club – When you position the club on the ground behind the ball at address, this is known as grounding the club. This is not allowed when playing from a bunker or other marked hazards.

Groove – The horizontal lines on the clubface are called grooves and cause the ball to spin.

Gummed – A shot when you hit the top half of the ball, and it stays low and rolls some distance (another name for a thin shot).

Guzzler – When your tee shot finishes short of the front tees (usually you buy the 1st round of drinks afterward, among other things we won't get into here).


Hacker – Someone who is generally not a great golfer and does not hit the ball solidly.

Half Shot – When playing a close approach shot, one often has to play a reduced shot, otherwise known as a half shot.

Halve a Hole – Occurs in match play when the two golfers tie on a hole.

Handicap – This is a numerical system based on past results that measure the potential and level of a golfer's skills. It allows players of different skills and abilities to compete on a relatively even footing.

Hank – Opposite to the dreaded shank. The ball is hit with the club's heel and goes between your feet.

Hazard – Any body of water and part of the area around it and bunkers are known as hazards. There are specific rules that dictate how to play when your ball lands in a hazard.

Heel – This is the area of the hub that is next to the hosel.

Hole Out – A term that happens when a golfer shoots the ball into the hole from off of the green.

Home Course – This is the club/course to which the player is a member and houses their handicap.

Honors – The person with the best score on the previous hole has the benefit of teeing off first on the next hole.

Hook – The dreaded hook is a shot that curves dramatically from right to left for left-handed players.

Hosel – The hosel connects the clubhead to the shaft. Some are fixed, while others are adjustable.

Hustler – A golfer who plays below his handicap regularly and wins games.

Hybrid – A golf club that is a mix between a wood and iron. It offers a lot of versatility for golfers and is more forgiving than long irons.


Impact – The part of the swing when the clubface makes contact with the ball.

Interlocking Grip – There are several grip styles. This is one of the more popular grips in which, for right-handed players, the right-hand pinkie hooks or links over the index finger on the left hand.

In the Teeth – Another expression for hitting the ball thin.


Jack the Lipper – What my brother-in-law used to yell when lipping out.

Jerked the Putt – mishit the ball on a shortish putt.


Kick Point – Reference to the club shaft. High, Low, Mid — Influences the flight and shape of the shot.

Knock Down Shot – A golf shot where a golfer hits the ball with a much lower trajectory than expected. Typically used when it's incredibly windy.


Lag Putt – A putt of a fair distance that leaves the ball very near the cup.

Lay-up – This is when you purposely play a shorter shot than you could in order to avoid a hazed, particularly a water hazard. This will make the next shot easier and minimize the risk of a penalty should your ball find the hazard.

Launch Angle – The angle that a ball is launched from the ground during a golf shot.

Leak – An incorrect motion in the golf swing that reduces the power and accuracy of a shot.

Level-par – This simply refers to a score that is on par.

Lie – The lie is how your ball sits on the surface when it stops. You can use a tee off the tee box, but you will face a range of lies after that. Some will be easy, while others might pose more of a challenge. It can also refer to the angle between the sole of the head and the middle of the shaft.

Line – This is the path you need to or intend to play the ball.

Links – A course built on sand dunes on the coast, often reclaimed sand, is a links course. One of the most famous is the Old Course at St. Andrews. A bucket list course for many golfers.

Lip – A thin lip lines the cup or hole.

Lipping Out – is when the ball hits the lip and fails to go into the cup.

Local Rule – Specific rules that are not mainstream and only for that particular golf course.

Long – A term for a golfer who hits the ball far. See Bryson DeChambeau.

Long Game – Refers to hitting long irons, woods, hybrids, and drivers.

Lob Wedge – A type of wedge usually in the 60 to 64-degree range. Usually, the highest lofted wedge in a golfer's bag.

Lob Shot – A lob shot is generally used on approach or to get out of trouble or hazards such as bunkers. It is a high shot that travels a short distance with a soft landing.

Loft – It is crucial to understand loft. It is measured in degrees and is the angle of the clubface. A higher loft will produce higher shots with less distance than lower lofted clubs. Lob wedge, high loft. Three iron, low loft.

Low Handicapper – An above-average player with a handicap in the single digits.


Make the Cut – A situation where a golfer advances to the next round due to their position in the standings.

Mallet Putter – A large putter head shape with the weight away from the clubface and in the back of the head.

Major – The four most important events in professional golf, The Masters, US Open, The Open, and the PGA Championship.

Match Play – This format consists of teams competing per hole. The winner is determined not by the total strokes but by the number of holes won.

Marker – A marker is a small disk of plastic or metal to mark a ball's ball position on the green.

MDF – An acronym for golfers, that means that they made the cut but did not finish the tournament.

Mulligan – While not recognized or allowed in the rules of golf, Mulligans are a free second shot. They are generally limited to a tee shot and usually the first tee. When given a Mulligan, the player does not incur a penalty.


Nassau Golf – A standard betting system in golf for the front nine, back nine, and whole round.

Net Score – This is different from the gross score in that it takes the handicap into account.


OB – Short for Out of Bounds, this one of my most common golf terms. It usually causes a penalty stroke.

One-piece Take Away – Refers to turning your shoulders and arms in a single movement when starting the backswing.

On the Charge – Occurs when a golfer is connecting birdies to take the lead in a golf tournament.

Offset – The offset is a measure of the leading edge of the clubface from the hosel.

Open Face – You position the clubface away from the body relative to your target.

Open Stance – Often used to prevent or reduce a hook or play a fade, an open stance is when the front foot is positioned back from the target line.

Open the Face – This refers to opening up the face of the club, which increases the loft with the result of higher ball flight.

Out-of-bounds – All parts of the course have out-of-bounds areas. When the ball lands in this area, the golfer has to hit again from the original position and will incur a one-stroke penalty. White posts are generally used to delineate out of bound areas.

Oversize Grip – A golf grip that is bigger than normal. The benefits are better feel and accuracy. I use an oversize grip on my putter.


Pace – Golf is a leisurely sport, but players are often behind you. Therefore, one needs to ensure a decent pace so as not to hinder other golfers.

Par – Par is the standard or average score an accomplished golfer should make per hole. The distance of the hole primarily determines it. Par will range from 3 on shorter holes to 5 for longer holes. The course itself will also have a par which is the combined total for all 18 holes.

Pick Up – In order to speed up the game, depending on the format, some players pick up their ball after several strokes and do not complete the hole. I've always used the rule of 8 when playing. No, go after eight shots, pick it up.

Pin – An informal term for the flagstick.

Pin High – When a golf ball is on the same elevation as the pin or hole on the green.

Pitch – A wedge or highly lofted club is often used for shorter approach shots, generally 50 yards or less. It is a short, typically high shot that is played with a reduced swing.

Pitch Mark – This is the indentation, similar to a divot, that occurs on the green where the ball lands. Replace your marks, so it doesn't ruin the green for other golfers.

Pick up Your Lipstick – A term used when you leave your 1st putt very short of the hole.

Playing it "Up" or "Down" – Playing the ball down means that you have to hit your shot no matter what the lie is. In certain situations, golfers are allowed to play the ball "up," meaning they can improve the lie. Sometimes if there is inclement weather such as rain, it makes sense to play it up.

Playing the Tips – When a golfer elects to play the farthest tees available on any golf course. Not recommended for beginners.

Play Through – When the players in front of you are playing too slow, good etiquette often allows them to permit you to play through so as not to hold up your game.

Plugged Lie – Occurs when a golf ball sinks into the ground and is submerged. It quickly occurs in wet conditions.

Pot – Another name for the cup on the green.

Press – Occurs when a golfer brings up a second bet during a round and is usually used to hedge their first bet.

Pre-shot Routine – Most golfers have a specific routine that they go through before their shots. This is a pre-shot routine and differs from person to person.

Provisional Shot – A second golf shot that is played as a backup option if the first shot is not playable or found. It saves time instead of running back to the tee box after not finding a tee shot, especially if you know that you're first shot is gone.

Pull – A golf shot that goes left of the target for a right-handed golfer.

Push – A golf shot that goes right of target for a right-handed golfer.

Punch Shot – Often used from the rough or a problematic lie, a punch shot is a low shot often played with a short backswing. It is typically used to get you out of trouble when a standard shot is ineffective. It is particularly effective when low branches are obstructing your line.


Q-School – A path to the PGA Tour for golfers to qualify for the PGA and LPGA Tour.


Range Finder – This modern digital device will scan the course to determine the distance to the green or the flag.

Reading the Green – To judge the break of a putting green and how it will roll after a putt.

Recovery – A shot to get a golfer into a better spot after being in a rough spot on the course.

Release – When your wrists unlock as you make an impact, this is known as release. Too early or too late will generally result in an ineffective shot.

Re-load – Term for putting a second ball into play after hitting the first ball out of bounds.

Reverse Pivot – Falling onto your back foot when hitting the ball.

Rhythm – The order in the parts of your swing and how your body moves in a fluid motion.

Rough – The area with long grass around the fairway is the rough. Some parts are thicker and more challenging than others. It generally makes for a difficult shot to get back on the fairway and closer to the green.

Run – Once a shot lands, it travels a fair distance unless you have applied a lot of backspin. Sometimes these shots are done on purpose; other times, they are just mishits.


Sand Wedge – A type of wedge that is used for bunker shots and various chips. The typical degree for a sand wedge is 56 degrees.

Sandbagging – When a golfer claims they have a handicap that is much higher than their actual playing ability. If golfers compete against each other based on handicap, this practice is frowned upon because that golfer will get extra strokes that they technically don't deserve – don't be a sandbagger, be honest!

Scratch – A scratch golfer has a zero handicap. It is the ultimate goal of many better players. 

Schlaffed – An ugly shot that still gets a result.

Self Talk – Your inner dialogue during a round of golf. Positive or negative, it can have a big effect on your mental game.

Semi Rough – First cut of grass off the fairway.

Setup – Setup is similar to address and refers to your stance, alignment, and positioning before hitting the ball.

Shank – When an impact happens near the hosel, it usually results in a shank. This, for right-handed players, will send the ball far to the right of your intended path. This is another of my most common golf terms

Shape/Shaping – Better players can shape their shots, meaning they can control the curve to a large extent. This comes in extremely handy on many holes.

Shaft Weight – Normally measured in grams and significantly influences the clubhead speed.

Short – A golfer who does not hit the ball far. Or we can call them yardage challenged.

Short Game – This refers to shots on or around the green. It includes pitch shots, chips, and putting.

Short Sided – If you hit your approach, short on the side of the green where the pin is located. It makes your chip/pitch shot tricky. Always aim for the "fat" side of the green to avoid this!

Shotgun Start – Certain situations will call for a shotgun start where each team starts with different holes simultaneously.

Shot Making – The ability to put movement on the ball, such as a draw or fade.

Sink a Putt – Slang for making a putt.

Skied – A T-shot hit on the top of the face of the driver (ball goes straight up in the air). Not usually done on purpose.

Slice – While a fade is generally a planned and subtle movement of the ball from left to right, a slice is more dramatic and generally not a great shot—the bane of most golfers' existence.

Slider – A purposefully hit shot that moves from left to right in flight.

Slope Rating – This is used to measure the difficulty of a course, generally relevant to bogey golfers. It is a numerical value ranging from 55 to 155, with 113 being an average course rating.

Snake – A long putt holed.

Snowman – Of all the golf terms listed, this is the one you probably never want to be associated with. A snowman is when you score an eight on a hole.

Sole – The club's sole refers to the bottom area that makes contact with the turf or ground.

Spoon – Usually a 4-wood or 5-wood.

Square – The term square has several meanings. It can relate to the clubface or the impact and the stance at address.

Squirt – A weak shot hit straight right off the club.

Stableford – This format allocates points according to the number of strokes per hole relative to par. The player or team with the highest points wins.

Stance – Speaking of stance earlier, it is simply how the feet are positioned at address. It can be square, open, or closed.

Still Yours – After your 1st putt, you are still the furthest from the hole. This is one of my most common golf terms.

Stimpmeter – A device used to measure the speed of the greens. A shute that they run a few balls down on the green.

Stroke – Any swing with a golf club from a golfer addressing and trying to hit the golf ball.

Stroke Play – This format, sometimes called medal play, is based on the total number of strokes over a round or a fixed number of rounds.

Strong Grip – Nothing to do with the actual strength of the grip; a strong grip is one in which the hands are positioned counter-clockwise when gripping the club.

Swale – A shallow depression on the course generally in front of the green.

Sweet Spot – The clubface area where the face will not twist or torque is the aptly named sweet spot. It allows for greater accuracy and distance. Clubs with a more prominent sweet spot are more forgiving and easier to hit.

Swing – The motion of moving the golf club to hit the ball is the swing. The higher your swing speed, the farther your ball will travel.

Swing Plane – The clubhead's angle travels through the air compared to the ground and clubhead.


Takeaway – As you move the club back from the ball, this is called the takeaway.

Target Line – The line one visualizes from the ball to the intended target, be it where the ball is to land or where you wish to aim when playing a curved shot.

Tap In – Golf slang or a golf term for a very short put.

Temperature – Another way of asking about your handicap.

Tight Lie – This is when a golf ball is not set up well, and the golf ball is sitting on a firm surface.

Thin Shot – When the club hits the top part of the ball and has a super low trajectory. Also is similar to a "blade" or a "topped shot."

Touch – The ability to judge a distance and the power to hit a golf ball at a certain distance. It comes into play with irons, and especially your short game.

Tending the Pin – When a person holds the pin and pulls it after the shot is performed.

Tee Box – This is the area from which you start or tee off on each hole. Markers dictate where you may position the ball on the tee box. There is often more than one tee box per hole to accommodate various players. The lady's tee is an example of this.

Tempo – The speed, or change in pace, through a golfer's swing stages. If you watch the best golfers in the world, their tempo rarely changes.

Texas Wedge – Some players choose to use a putter despite not being on the green. This is commonly referred to as a Texas Wedge.

The Knife – A 1-iron. This is very rare nowadays.

The Knife's Cousin – A 2-iron. Also, rare.

Toed Shot – As the name suggests, this is a shot hit off the toe of the club (the part furthest from the hosel).

Topped Shot – A topped shot is when the impact is near the top of the ball. It generally results in a low bouncing shot that does not go very far.

Trajectory – The trajectory is the angle and height of the ball path after impact.

Triple bogey – three over par on a hole is a triple bogey.

Turkey – Much more exciting, three birdies in a row is a Turkey.


Uncock – This is the moment in the downswing when the wrists release and straighten. The timing is essential for a quality shot.

Unit – A betting term.

Unplayable – Apart from on the tee, a player can declare his ball unplayable during play. The golfer can then drop the ball further from the hole or within two club lengths of where it landed. A one-stroke penalty will be incurred when this is done. If this occurs in a hazard, the drop has to be made in the same hazard.

Up and Down – A popular golf term used to describe one chip and one putt.


Vardon Grip – This is a popular grip style in which, with right-handed players, the right pinky sits on top of the left index finger. The Vardon grip, sometimes called the overlapping grip, is named after legendary golfer Harry Vardon.


Waggle – A familiar pre-shot routine is a waggle consisting of one or a few motions designed to help focus and relax and ready the player for the shot.

Weak Grip – With this grip, a right-handed player will turn their hands to the left when gripping the club.

Whiff – Sometimes called an airball, a whiff is an intentional swing that misses the ball completely. It counts as a stroke.

Whippy – Used to describe a golf club if the swing speed is too fast for the shaft's flex.

Wire-to-wire – When a golfer leads a tournament from start to finish.

Worm Burner – When you strike a shot that barely gets off the ground and just rolls


Yardage Marker – Used on a golf course to show specific yardages such as 100, 150, and 200 yards to the pin.

Yips – The dreaded yips are a twitch or nervous condition where the golfer has reduced club control. It is generally related to putting, although it can happen with any shot and is relatively common even amongst some top golfers.


Zinger – A zinger is when the ball is struck near the leading edge with power. It often has a lot of vibration and will fly low with questionable accuracy.

Zip – The spin put on a ball from a well-struck golf shot. Usually, it is backspin and makes the ball stop.

Final Thoughts

Now you should be comfortable slinging golf jargon all around the course, and who knows. You'll probably even find some golf terms that your buddies haven't heard yet.

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