The following is a glossary of the terminology used in the sport of golf.


19th hole
the clubhouse bar.


When a player hits the ball directly from the tee into the hole with one stroke. Also called a hole in one.

The act of taking a stance and placing the club head behind the ball. If the ball moves once a player has addressed the ball, there is a one-stroke penalty.
A player who rarely hits the ball in a consistent line. One who sprays the ball.
Refers to a score made over more than one round of play, or by two or more players playing as partners.
Generally, the direction in which your target lies and the direction you intend for your ball to go.
Air shot
an attempt to strike the ball where the player fails to make contact. Counted as a stroke. See also whiff.
A hole played three strokes under par. Also called a Double Eagle.
The position of a player’s body relative to the target line of the ball.
All square
in match play, a match is all square (tied) when both players or teams have won the same number of holes.
A system of team play whereby each player takes a tee shot, after which the most favorable ball position is chosen. All the team’s players then take a shot from this new position, and so on. (Also known as a Texas Scramble)
Angle of approach
The angle at which the club head strikes the ball. This affects the trajectory the ball will travel and spin.
Approach shot
A shot intended to land the ball on the green.
The grass surface on the perimeter of the green that separates it from the surrounding fairway or rough. Also known as frog hair, or fringe.
A class of membership of a golf club with restricted rights at a low cost. Historically, many British golf clubs had small artisan sections, drawn from the working classes. Typically artisan members had limited playing rights, could not enter the clubhouse, had no vote on the management of the club, played in separate competitions from the main membership and had to perform unpaid maintenance of the course. Often an artisan club was a separate organization that had negotiated use of a course with a private members club. Some artisan organizations have survived to this day.
Attend (the flag stick)
When a player holds and removes the flag stick for another player.
Describing the golfer whose ball is farthest from the hole. The player who is away should always play first.
Any ball that lands off of the green yet still on an imaginary line passing through the flag stick. The ball can be any distance off of the green, out to infinity, as long as it is still located on the imaginary line. Thus a player can be pin high 50 yards wide right and still claim an Austin.


Back nine
the last nine holes of an 18 hole golf course. Playing the back nine is called “heading in”.
a reverse spin inevitably placed on any ball that becomes airborne. The spin causes the ball to climb and land softly on the green.
Back swing
The backward part of the swing starting from the ground and going back behind the head.
a small sphere used in playing golf, which is intended to be struck by a club and travel in the general direction of the green for a particular hole, if one is playing on a regulation golf course.
a token or a small coin used to spot the ball’s position on the green prior to lifting it.
a device found on many tees for cleaning golf balls.
A slice that curves to the right in the shape of a banana. An extreme slice.
See Sandbagger.
Bare Lie
When the ball lies directly on hard ground without any grass to buoy the ball up – ie where there is no grass creating a gap between ball and the ground. Applicable when practicing off hard mats.
Best ball
A form of team play using two, three, or four person teams. The team score on each hole is the lowest score obtained by one of the team members. For example, if player A has a 5, player B has a 6, player C has a 4, and player D has a 5, the “best ball” and team score is a 4.
is the professional association in the United Kingdom dealing with all matters of golf management from a green keeper’s viewpoint. For the U.S. equivalent, see GCSAA.
A hole played in one stroke under par.
A form of handicapping used in private match play games. The higher handicapped player is allowed to choose on which holes they receive their handicap allowance of “free shots”. As this is a matter of negotiation between the players involved there are many variations in the number of shots allowed and when (before the start of the round, before playing a hole, during the play of a hole, after playing a hole) the claiming of “free shot” is allowed. Bisque matches are not recognized by the rules of golf.
heavy backspin applied to a ball that causes it to stop quickly instead of rolling when it lands. Depending on where the ball lands, the ball may roll backwards.
term used to describe one type of iron where the weight is distributed evenly across the back of the club head as opposed to mainly around the perimeter (see “cavity back”). Also, describes a shot struck “thinly” with the bottom of an iron striking high up on the golf ball, causing a low trajectory shot with a lack of control.
a bunker shot that sends the ball, and accompanying sand, (hopefully) onto the green. Also known as an “explosion”.
a shot that does not allow the golfer to see where the ball will land, such as onto an elevated green from below.
a shot played severely to the right; as opposed to slices, which curve from left to right, a blocked shot goes directly right. Similar to the “push”.
a hole played one stroke over par.
technically, the measure of the angle from the front edge of a club’s sole to the point that rests on the ground when addressing the ball.
The tendency of a putted ball to roll left or right of a straight line. This deviation may be a result of a number of factors or combination of factors including uneven surface, grain of the grass, how firmly the putt is struck or, in extreme circumstances, wind. In the United Kingdom, it is also known as “borrow”.
Playing consistently above your regular handicap or regularly failing to achieve in competition play. It is the opposite of sandbagging.
Bump and run
a low-trajectory shot that is intended to get the ball rolling along the fairway and up onto the green. Similar to a chip shot, but played from a greater distance.
A depression in bare ground that is usually covered with sand. Also called a “sand trap”. It is considered a hazard under the Rules of Golf.
Bunker, Green side
A bunker next to or even in a green. See bunker.
Bunker, Fairway
A bunker located on or in the fairway. See bunker.
a short game played over the remaining holes when the main match finishes early because one player or team has won by a large margin. It serves the joint purpose of adding some competitive meaning to the rest of the holes and also for the losing side to attempt to regain some of the pride lost as a result of their humiliation in the main match. It is usual for the loser of the bye to buy the first drinks in the 19th hole afterwards. In this respect it is an almost direct equivalent to a beer match in cricket.


Caddy or Caddie
A person, often paid, who carries a player’s clubs and offers advice. Players are responsible for the actions of their caddies. Players cannot receive advice from anyone other than their caddy or partner.
A wager, typically in support of one team to win a tournament. In a Calcutta golfers bid, auction style, on the team (or golfer) who they think will win the tournament (you can bid on your own team or yourself). All the money raised through the auction goes into an auction pool. At the end of the tournament, those who bet on the winning team (or golfer) that won the tournament receives a pre-determined payout from the auction pool.
how far the ball travels through the air. Contrasted with “run”.
the four-wheeled electrical or gas-powered vehicle for use in transporting players and their equipment from hole to hole. Also, a hand-pulled (2-wheel) or hand-pushed (3-wheel) cart for carrying a bag of clubs, also available in powered versions controlled by remote.
Casual water
any temporary standing water visible after a player has taken his stance. Snow and ice can also be taken as casual water, as well as water that overflows the banks of existing water hazards.
Cavity back
any iron whose design characteristic is such that the weight is distributed primarily around the outer edges of the club head in order to maximize forgiveness on off-center hits.
a short shot (typically played from very close to and around the green), that is intended to travel through the air over a very short distance and roll the remainder of the way to the hole.
A swing that results in the club head hitting the ground before the ball, resulting in a large chunk of ground being taken as a divot. Also called a “fat” shot, or “chili-dipping”.
Budget brand golf clubs that look similar to, and emulate the characteristics of, more expensive clubs without breaching any patents.
Closed face
when (in relation to the target-line) the club face is angled toward the player’s body, i.e. angled left for right-handed players.
Closed stance
when a player’s front foot is set closer to the target-line. Used to draw the ball or to prevent a slice.
(i) An implement used by a player to hit a golf ball. A player is allowed to carry up to fourteen (14) clubs during a round of golf.
(ii) An organized group of golfers, usually owning or managing a golf course.
(iii) The entirety of a golf facility, including course, club-house, pro-shop, practice areas etc.
Club head
The part of a club that used to strike the ball.
Club Face
The surface of the club head which is designed to strike the golf ball. Striking the ball with the center of the clubface maximizes distance and accuracy.
This is where play begins and ends. The clubhouse is also your source for information about local rules, the conditions of the course, upcoming events and other essential information for the avid golfer. Normally, you can also purchase balls, clubs, clothes, and other golfing equipment at the clubhouse.
a putt required after the previous putt went past the hole.
the measurement for expressing the hardness of a golf ball, normally 90 compression. Harder balls (100 compression) are intended for players with faster swings but may also be useful in windy conditions.
a four-under par shot; for example, a hole-in-one on a par 5. Might also be called “a triple eagle”.
a designated area of land on which golf is played through a normal succession from hole #1 to the last hole.
Course rating
Course rating is a numerical value given to each set of tees at a particular golf course to approximate the number of strokes it should take a scratch golfer to complete the course.
putting (and, occasionally, full-swing) grip in which the hands are placed in positions opposite that of the conventional grip. For right-handed golfers, a cross-handed grip would place the left hand below the right. Also known as the “left-hand low” grip, it has been known to help players combat the yips.
(i) the reduction in the size of the field during a multiple round stroke play tournament. The cut is usually set so that a fixed number of players, plus anyone tied for that place, or anyone within a certain number of strokes of the lead will participate in the subsequent round(s). Tournaments may have more than one cut.
(ii) a shot similar to a fade, a cut curves from left to right (for a right-handed player), but is generally higher in trajectory.


TV-broadcaster slang for a shot in which there is no favorable outcome possible. Variations include “Get the body bags!” A favorite of Gary McCord.
The round indentations on a golf ball cover which are scientifically designed to enable the ball to make a steady and true flight. Dimples, by reducing drag, allow a golf ball to stay in the air for a longer flight than would be possible with a smooth ball.
(i) the chunk of grass and earth displaced during a stroke.
(ii) the indentation on the green caused by the ball on an approach shot; more properly called a pitch mark or ball mark.
scoring an ‘eight’ on any single golf hole. The origin of the term is in reference to what the number ‘eight’ looks like on its side.
a left or right bend in the fairway.
Dog license
A defeat in match play by the margin of 7&6. Named because the cost of a dog license in the United Kingdom before decimalization in 1971 was seven shillings and sixpence (written 7/6, 37½p in new money), commonly known as seven and six.
Dormie or Dormy
A situation in match play when a player leads by as many holes as there are holes left to play. For example, 4 up with four holes to play is called “dormie 4”.
Double bogey
a hole played two strokes over par.
Double cross
a shot whereby a player intends for a fade and hits a hook, or conversely, intends to play a draw and hits a slice. So called because the player has aimed left (in the case of a slice) and compounds this with hitting a hook, which moves left as well.
Double eagle
A hole played three strokes under par. Also called an Albatross.
The motion of swinging a club from the top of the swing to the point of impact.
A shot that, for a right-handed golfer, curves to the left; often played intentionally by skilled golfers. An overdone draw usually becomes a hook.
The first shot of each hole, made from an area called the tee box (see definition below), usually done with a driver (a type of golf club).
A severe low hook that barely gets airborne.


A hole played in two strokes under par.
Having a score equal to that of par.
A bunker shot that sends the ball, and accompanying sand, (hopefully) onto the green. Also known as a “blast”.


A shot that, for a right-handed golfer, curves slightly to the right, and is often played intentionally by skilled golfers. An overdone fade will appear similar to a slice.
The area of the course between the tee and the green that is well-maintained allowing a good lie for the ball
Fairway hit (FH)
A fairway is considered hit if any part of the ball is touching the fairway surface after the tee shot on a par 4 or 5. Percentage of fairways hit is one of many statistics kept by the PGA Tour.
Fairway markers
Fairway markers indicate the distance from the marker to the center of the green. Some fairway markers give the yardage. Most are color-coded as follows: yellow=250 yards, blue=200 yards, white=150 yards, red=100 yards. These colors are not standardized and may vary based on the specific course layout.
A stroke in which the club makes contact with the turf long before the ball resulting in a poor contact and significant loss of distance.
Flag stick
A tall marker, often a metal pole with a flag at the top, used to indicate the position of the hole on a green. Also called the “pin”. An additional smaller flag, or other marker, is sometimes positioned on the flag stick to indicate the location of the hole (front, middle, or back) on the green.
a type of lie where the ball is in the rough and grass is likely to become trapped between the ball and the club face at the moment of impact. Flier lies often result in “flier shots”, which have little or no spin (due to the blades of grass blocking the grooves on the club face) and travel much farther than intended.
Flop shot
a short shot, played with an open stance and an open club face, designed to travel very high in the air and land softly on the green. The flop shot is useful when players do not have “much green to work with”, but should only be attempted on the best of lies. Phil Mickelson is a master of the flop shot.
A warning shout given when there is a chance that the ball may hit other players or spectators.
Four Ball
In match play, a contest between two sides, each consisting of a pair of players, where every individual plays his own ball throughout. On every hole, the lower of the two partner’s scores is matched against the lower of the opposition’s scores. (Four balls are the opening matches played on the Friday and Saturday mornings of the Ryder Cup.) In stroke play, a Four Ball competition is played between several teams each consisting of 2 players, where for every hole the lower of the two partner’s scores counts toward the team’s 18 hole total. The term ‚Four Ball is often used informally to describe any group of 4 players on the course.
In match play, a contest between two sides each consisting of a pair of players, where the 2 partners hit alternate shots on one ball. The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Also partners alternate their tee shots, so that one member of each team will always tee-off on the odd holes and the other will tee off on the even holes. (Foursomes are the afternoon matches played on the Friday and Saturday of the Ryder Cup). In stroke play, a foursome competition is played between several teams each consisting of a pair of players, where partners play alternate shots until the SINGLE ball is holed. The term foursome is often incorrectly used to describe any group of 4 players on the course.
The closely mown area surrounding the green. The grass in between the green and the fairway.
Front nine
Holes 1 through 9 on a golf course.
Terms used during a game to describe various achievements, both positive and negative. They differ from traditional expressions such a birdie, eagle, etc. in that they do not necessarily refer to strict scores, but to unusual events which may happen in the course of a game. Their main use is to add interest to informal match play games as they enable players to win something regardless of the overall outcome of the match. They are frequently associated with gambling because money, usually small stakes, changes hands depending on which funnies occur.


The American professional association for golf course superintendents. Analogous to BIGGA in the United Kingdom.
Refers to a putt that the other players agree can count automatically without actually being played (under the tacit assumption that the putt would not have been missed). “Gimmes” are not allowed by the rules in stroke play, but they are often practiced in casual matches. However, in match play, either player may formally concede a stroke, a hole, or the entire match at any time, and this may not be refused or withdrawn. A player in match play will generally concede a tap-in or other short putt by his or her opponent.
Goldie Bounce
when the ball strikes a tree deep in the rough and bounces out onto the fairway.
Golf club
(i) An implement used by a player to hit a golf ball. A player is allowed to carry up to fourteen (14) clubs during a round of golf. (ii) An organized group of golfers, usually owning or managing a golf course. (iii) The entirety of a golf facility, including course, club-house, pro-shop, practice areas etc.
the direction in which grass grows, specifically on the green (see below). Depending on the variety of grass used on the green and mowing patterns, grain can be a significant influence on the speed and movement of a putt.
the area of specially prepared grass around the hole, where putts are played.
is a variation of foursomes, where each side consists of 2 players. Both players play one tee-shot each from every tee. A choice is then made as to which is the more favorable of the 2 ball positions, the other ball being picked up. Thereafter the players play alternate shots. So if A’s tee-shot is selected, the playing order from the tee will be A-B-A-B etc until the ball is holed out. If player B’s tee-shot is selected, the playing order will be B-A-B-A etc. The team with the lowest score wins the hole.
Green in regulation (GIR)
a green is considered hit “in regulation” if any part of the ball is touching the putting surface and the number of strokes taken is at least two fewer than par (i.e., by the first stroke on a par 3, the second stroke on a par 4, or the third stroke on a par 5). Greens in regulation percentage is one of many statistics kept by the PGA Tour.
Grounding the club
to place the club face behind the ball on the ground at address. Grounding the club is prohibited in bunkers or when playing from any marked hazard.
Ground under repair (GUR)
An area of the golf course that is being repaired. A free drop is allowed if the ball lands in an area marked “GUR”.
the crevices on the face of a club that are designed to impart spin on the ball.
Golden Ferret
Term used to describe holing out from a greenside bunker.
When both players in a match agree to concede each other’s putts.


an unskilled golfer.
In match play, a hole is halved (or tied) when both players or teams have played the same number of strokes. In some team events, such as the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup (except for singles matches in the latter competition while its overall outcome remains in doubt), a match that is tied after 18 holes is not continued, and is called “halved”, with each team receiving half a point.
A number assigned to each player based on his ability and used to adjust each player’s score to provide equality among the players. In simplified terms, a handicap number, based on the slope of a course, is subtracted from the player’s gross score and gives him a net score of par or better half the time.
a term used to describe a player with too much wrist movement in their putting stroke causing inconsistent putts.
Hard pan
Hard, usually bare, ground conditions.
any bunker or permanent water including any ground marked as part of that water hazard. Special rules apply when playing from a hazard.
A circular hole in the ground which is also called “the cup”, 4.25 inches in diameter.
Hole in one
Getting the ball directly from the tee into the hole with one stroke.
Hole in one insurance
Since it is customary to purchase a round of drinks after achieving a hole in one, insurance is available to cover the cost.
when unintentional is a poor shot that, for a right-handed golfer, curves sharply to the left (may occasionally be played intentionally but is difficult to control). Hooks are often called the “better player’s miss”, thanks to the fact that many of the game’s greatest players (Ben Hogan, for instance) have been plagued by the hook at one time or another in their careers. A shot that follows the same direction but to a lesser degree is referred to as a ‘draw’ and is often intentional. The curved shape of the flight of the ball is a result of sideways spin. For that reason “hook” does not refer to a putt which “breaks”.
The crooked area where the club head connects to the shaft. Hitting the ball off the hosel is known as a shank.


Interlocking grip
grip style where (for right-handed players) the pinkie finger of the right hand is hooked around the index finger of the left.
Inward nine
The back nine holes of a golf course, so named because older links courses were designed to come back “in” toward the clubhouse after going “out” on the front nine.
a club with a flat-faced solid metal head generally numbered from 1 to 9 indicating increasing loft.


A type of shot designed to have a very low trajectory, usually employed to combat strong winds.
Knitted jumper
A jumper created by the art of knitting. As worn by most golfers.


(i) A long putt designed to simply get the ball close to the hole.
(ii) During the downswing, how far the club head “lags” behind the hands prior to release.
A stroke played with a shorter range club than is possible in order to position the ball in a certain spot. This may be done to ensure a more comfortable next stroke or to avoid a hazard.
(i) How the ball is resting on on the ground, which may add to the difficulty of the next stroke.
(ii) The angle between the center of the shaft and the sole of the club head.
The path the ball it expected to take following a stroke. This is of particular importance on the green, where stepping on another player’s line is considered a breach of etiquette.
A type of golf course, usually along a stretch of coastline,
the angle between the club’s shaft and the club’s face.
Loose impediment
A small natural item which is not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or stuck to the ball, such as a small stone or leaf. Unless found within a hazard players are generally permitted to move them away, but if the ball is moved while doing so, there is a one-stroke penalty.


Mashie Niblick
Term used for a 6/7 iron in the early 1900s.
Match play
a form of golf play where players or teams compete against each other on a hole-by-hole basis.
Medal play
style of scoring in which the player with the fewest strokes wins. Most professional tournaments are medal play. Also known as “stroke play”.
Member’s bounce
any favorable bounce of the golf ball that improves what initially appeared to be an errant shot.
A mis-read is to incorrectly discern the correct line of a putt.
A do-over, or replay of the shot, without counting the shot as a stroke and without assessing any penalties that might apply. It is not allowed by the rules and not practiced in tournaments, but is common in casual rounds in some countries, especially the United States.


a type of bet between golfers that is essentially three separate bets. Money is wagered on the best score in the front 9, back 9, and total 18 holes.
Nine Iron
A club which is highest in the “iron” family. Used for short distance shots.


Open Face
When (in relation to the target line) the club face is angled away from the player’s body, i.e. angled right for right-handed players.
Open Stance
When a player’s front foot is drawn backwards further from the target line. Used to fade the ball or to prevent a hook.
The single hole score of -5, or five under par. The only way this can occur is with a hole-in-one on a par 6. This score has never been achieved and it is unlikely that it ever will considering the dramatic length and rarity of par 6’s. See Par (score).
Outside Agent
Is any agent not part of the match or, in stroke play, not part of the competitor’s side. Referees, markers, observers, and forecaddies are outside agents. Wind and water are not outside agents.
Outward nine
refers to the first nine holes, so named as links golf courses were set up where the first nine holes went “out” away from the clubhouse.
the area designated as being outside the boundaries of the course. When a shot lands “O.B.”, the player “loses stroke and distance”, meaning that he/she must hit another shot from the original spot and is assessed a one-stroke penalty. Out-of-bounds areas are usually indicated by white posts.
Overlapping grip
See Vardon grip


the speed at which a putt must be struck to get to the hole. Pace and break are the two components of green-reading.
(apocryphally an abbreviation for “professional average result”), standard score for a hole (defined by its length) or a course (sum of all the holes’ pars).
any Professional Golfers’ Association, especially the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.
Slang for “flag stick”.
Refers to a ball on the green that is positioned along an imaginary horizontal line through the hole and across the width of the green.
a short shot (typically from within 50 yards), usually played with a higher lofted club and made using a less than full swing, that is intended to flight the ball toward a target (usually the hole) with greater accuracy than a full iron shot.
Pitch mark
another term for a divot on the green caused when a ball lands. Players must repair their pitch marks, usually with a tee or a divot tool.
Play through
Permission granted by a slow-moving group of players to a faster-moving group of players to pass them on the course.
Plugged Lie
a bad lie where the ball is at least half-buried. Also known as a “buried lie” or in a bunker a “fried egg”.
a lie where the ball is on the lip of a lake or other water hazard.
Plus (handicap)
a golf handicap less than zero. A ‘plus’ handicap golfer must add his handicap to his score.
a poor tee shot where the top of the club head strikes under the ball, causing it to go straight up in the air. In addition to being bad shots, pop-ups frequently leave white scuff-marks on the top of the club head, or dents in persimmon clubs. Also known as “sky shots”.
Pre-shot routine
is the steps an experienced player goes through to get ready for his or her shot. It usually involves taking practice swings and visualizing the intended shot.
a professional is a golfer or person who plays or teaches golf for financial reward, may work as a touring pro in professional competitions, or as a teaching pro (also called a club pro).
a poor shot played severely to the left; as opposed to hooks, which curve from right to left, a pulled shot goes directly left.
Punch shot
a shot played with a very low trajectory, usually to avoid interference from tree branches when a player is hitting from the woods. Similar to the knock-down, it can also be used to avoid high winds.
a shot played severely to the right; as opposed to slices, which curve from left to right, a pushed shot goes directly right. Similar to the “block”. Also, term used in match play where neither competitor wins the hole.
a shot played on the green, usually with a putter.
Putting green
a green usually found close to the club house used for warm up and to practice putting.
a special golf club with a very low loft that makes the ball roll.


“Qualifying School”, a term used for the qualifying tournament on several major professional tours, such as the PGA Tour, European Tour, or LPGA Tour. Q-School is a multi-stage tournament (four for the PGA Tour, three for the European Tour, two for the LPGA) that culminates in a week-long tournament in which a specified number of top finishers (25 plus ties in the PGA Tour, 30 plus ties in the European Tour, and exactly 20 in the LPGA) earn their “Tour Cards”, qualifying them for the following year’s tour. The final tournament is six rounds (108 holes) for men and five rounds (90 holes) for women.


Range Finder
a measuring device used to determine one’s relative distance to an object. In golf, they are most commonly used to find out how far a player is from the hole.
the point in the downswing at which the wrists uncock. A late release (creating “lag”) is one of the keys to a powerful swing.
the grass that borders the fairway, usually taller and coarser than the fairway.
Rub of the Green
occurs when the ball is deflected or stopped by a third party/object, e.g. if a ball is going out of bounds and is deflected in bounds by hitting a spectator or a tree.
a small headed niblick for hitting the ball from a cart track.


a golfer that carries a higher official handicap than his skills indicates, e.g., carries an eight, plays to a two. Sandbaggers usually artificially inflate their handicaps with the intent of winning bets on the course, a practice that most golfers consider cheating. Also known as a bandit.
Sand save
when a player gets up and down from a green side sand bunker, regardless of score on the hole. Sand save percentage is one of many statistics kept by the PGA Tour.
Sand trap
see bunker.
Sand wedge
a lofted club designed especially for playing out of a bunker. The modern sand wedge was invented by Gene Sarazen.
Sandy (or Sandie)
a score of par or better that includes a bunker shot. Sandies are counted as points in some social golf games. See Funnies.
Scotch foursomes
In scotch foursomes teams of 2 players compete against each other. Players alternate hitting the same ball. The first player tees off, the second player hits the second shot, the first player hits the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. To this point, the definition of ‚scotch foursomes‚„ is the same as that of ordinary ‚foursomes‚„; however, players do not alternate hitting tee shots as they would in foursomes. If Player A teed off on the first hole and Player B holed the final putt, Player B would not tee off at the second, meaning that Player A could, in theory, play every tee shot on the round. The team with the lowest score wins the hole.
when a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better on a hole. Scrambling percentage is one of many statistics kept by the PGA Tour. Also a two or four man format, similar to Best Ball, except in a scramble, each player strikes a shot, the best shot is selected, then all players play from that selected position.
Scratch golfer
a player’s whose handicap equals zero.
a format, similar to a scramble, where every player hits from the tee, the best tee-shot is selected, and each player holes-out from the selected tee-shot.
a horrible shot in which the golf ball is struck by the hosel of the club. On a shank, a player has managed to strike the ball with a part of the club other than the club face. A shanked shot will scoot a short distance, often out to the right, or might be severely sliced or hooked.
“The shanks”
a condition in which a golfer suddenly cannot stop shanking the ball; novice and experienced golfers can be affected.
a severe hook, named because it resembles the shape of a shrimp.
Shooting your age
A round of 18 holes where a given player has a score equal to, or less than, a player’s age. For example, an eighty-year-old man who scores an 80 has shot his age.
Shoot your (my) temperature
usually an uncomplimentary term meaning to shoot a score of 98.
Short game
Shots that take place on or near the green. Putting, chipping, pitching, and green side bunker play are all aspects of the short game.
a skins game pits players in a type of match play in which each hole has a set value (usually in money or points). The player who wins the hole is said to win the “skin”, and whatever that skin is worth. Skins games may be more dramatic than standard match play if it is agreed by the players that holes are not halved. Then, when any two players tie on a given hole, the value of that hole is carried over and added to the value of the following hole. The more ties, the greater the value of the skin and the bigger the eventual payoff.
a poor shot that, for a right-handed golfer, curves sharply from the left to the right. A shot that follows the same direction but to a lesser degree is referred to as a fade or a cut and is often intentional. The curved shape of the flight of the ball is a result of sideways spin. For that reason “slice” does not refer to a putt which “breaks”.
Slope rating
Slope Rating is a number, from 55 to 155, used to determine the level of difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer. An “average” course has a slope rating of 113.
Snap hook
a severe hook that usually goes directly left as well as curving from right to left. Also known by the somewhat redundant term “Pull-Hook”.
To score an eight on a hole. So-named because an eight (8) looks similar to the body of a snowman.
Telling the ball to drop softly, and not roll after landing.
An organized group of golfers, usually not affiliated to any individual golf course. Members are often drawn from the same workplace, profession, alma mater or other association.
Move your marker when in the way of another person’s line of putt.
a term used to describe the pace of a putt. Proper ‘speed’ of a putt will either hole the putt or leave it about 18 inches beyond the cup.
play badly, Scottish term.
To hit the ball with a grossly inconsistent direction compared with the intended target in a seemingly random manner.
A points based scoring system. The number of strokes taken on each hole relative to par translates into a set number of points, with the winner being the player who accumulates the highest number of points.
A device used to measure the speed of putting greens.
Stroke Play
see Medal Play
To block another player’s putting path to the hole with one’s own ball. Now an anachronism since the rules of golf permit marking the spot of the ball on the green, thus allowing the other player to putt into the hole without obstruction.
The location on the club face where the optimal ball-striking results are achieved. The closer the ball is struck to he sweet-spot, the higher the Power transfer ratio will be.
The movement a golf player makes with his/her club to hit the ball. A golf swing is made up of a series of complex mechanical body movements. A perfect golf swing is regarded as the “holy grail” of the sport, and there are many approaches as to how to achieve “perfection”.


a ball that has come to rest very close to the hole, leaving only a very short putt to be played. Often recreational golfers will “concede” tap-ins to each other to save time.
the straight line from the ball to its intended target, also extended backward past the golfer’s rear foot.
A small peg, usually made of wood or plastic, placed in the ground upon which the golf ball may be placed prior to the first stroke on a hole. May also refer to the teeing ground.
Teeing ground
The area from which you hit your drive or tee shot. The teeing ground for a particular set of tees is two club lengths in depth. The ball must be teed between the markers, called tees, that define the teeing ground’s width, and no further back than its depth. Tees are colored, but there is no standard for colors. The “teeing ground” refers to one set of tees. Most courses have at least three sets of tees, some have more than twice that many. The areas where tee markers are placed are called “tee boxes”.
the smooth change of the speed of a player’s swing from first movement to ball strike.
Ten finger grip
grip style with all ten fingers on the club. Also known as the Baseball grip.
Thin shot
a poor shot where the club head strikes too high on the ball. When taken to an extreme but still at or below the centerline of the ball it is known “blading” the ball.
Through line
When putting, the imaginary path that a ball would travel on should the putted ball go past the hole. Usually observed by PGA players and knowledgeable golfers when retrieving or marking a ball around the hole.
Through the green
The entire area of the golf course, except for the teeing ground of the hole being played, the green of the hole being played and all hazards on the course.[2]
The championship tees on a golf course are known as “the tips”.
an errant shot where the club head strikes on top of the ball, causing the ball to roll or bounce rather than fly.
Tree shot
A bad shot that has hit the trees’ leaves and/or the branches and has resulted in negative situations, such as going out of bounds or into a hazard, or leaving the ball much shorter than its target.
Three consecutive birdies during one round of golf.


A player can declare his ball unplayable at any time when it is in play (other than at a tee), and can drop the ball either within two club-lengths, or further from the hole in line with the hole and its current position, or where he played his last shot. A penalty of one stroke is applied. A ball declared unplayable within a hazard must be dropped within that hazard.
Up and down
Describes the situation where a player holes the ball in two strokes starting from off the green. The first stroke, usually a “pitch”, a “bunker shot” or a “chip”, gets the ball ‘up’ onto the green, and the subsequent putt gets the ball ‘down’ into the hole. A variation is called “up and in”.


Vardon grip
A common grip style in which (for right-handed players) the right pinkie finger rests on top of the left index finger. Also known as the “overlapping grip”, it is named for Harry Vardon, a champion golfer of the early 20th century.
Vaulting dormie
A possible occurrence in match play when a player converts a lead into a victory without passing through dormie, a guaranteed minimum of a tie at the end of regulation play. For example, converting an 8-hole lead with nine to play into a 9-hole lead with eight to play, or converting a 1-hole lead with two to play into a 2-hole lead with one to play.


A type of golf club; a subset of iron designed for short range strokes.
An attempt to strike the ball where the player fails to make contact with the ball. A whiff must be counted as a stroke.
A type of club where the head is generally bulbous in shape except for the clubface. Named because the head was originally made of wood, although almost all are now metal.
Worm Burner
A shot that is hit low and hard


The yips
a tendency to twitch during the putting stroke. Some top golfers have had their careers greatly affected or even destroyed by the yips; prominent golfers who battled with the yips for much of their careers include Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and, more recently, Bernhard Langer.


A ball hit high and hard.