Golf Terms: The Beginner Golfer’s Glossary
It only takes one afternoon on the golf course or a few hours at the bar to learn that golfers have a terminology all to their own. From common golf terms like, “par,” ‘birdie” and “mulligan,” to uncommon golf terms like “line,” “break” and “dogleg” having a diverse golf vocabulary might not make you a better golfer, but it will sure make you sound like one.
To help expand your golf lingo, the 18Birdies team put together a list of beginner and intermediate golf terms and definitions that will have you talking the talk in no time.
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Beginner Golf Terms
- Birdie: Completing the hole in one less stroke than the par.
- Bogey: Completing the hole in one more stroke than the par.
- Double Bogey: Completing the hole in two more strokes than the par (catch the trend?).
- Eagle: Completing the hole in two less strokes than the par.
- Fairway: The stretch of shorter grass that directs you to the hole (it’s where you want to be).
- Green: The area of finely trimmed grass at the end of each hole (it’s where you want to end up).
- Hazards: The crap golf course architects put in your way like water, sand traps and tall grass (Robin Williams’ standup on golf has it right).
- Hole-in-One: Hitting it in the hole on your first shot; a moment a golfer, nor their bar tab, will ever forget. Note: any golfer achieving this feat is expected to buy all patrons of the 19th hole a drink upon finishing the round.
- Hook: A golf shot that moves severely right to left for right-handed hitters and the opposite way for lefties, not to be confused for Peter Pan’s nemesis.
- Mulligan: An unofficial “re-do” or “re-hit” that is undoubtedly a golfer’s best friend.
- Out of Bounds: Golf’s point of no return; white stakes designate an area that is out of play for golfers.
- Par: The amount of strokes the powers that be determined a golfer should take to complete the hole.
- Pin or Flag: The object used on the greens to give you hope (seriously Robin Williams was a genius).
- Ranger: The woman or man who drives around in the cart monitoring the speed of play. You do not want to be visited by the ranger, that means you are a slow poke which will not win you fans on the golf course.
- Rough: The areas of longer grass that line the fairway (it’s where you don’t want to be).
- Sand Trap: The sand-filled pits of despair that line fairways and guard the greens. Slang for bunker.
- Slice: A golf shot that moves severely left to right for right-handed hitters and the opposite way for left, which also happens to the the most common shot shape in golf.
- Starter: The woman or man stationed at the first tee who makes sure you tee off on time.
- Stroke: What you have when you miss a short putt; just kidding, refers to the act of making a swing.
- Tee Box: The designated area that marks the beginning of each hole (It’s where you tee off from).
- The Beach: Another name for the bunker/sand trap. Pass the sunscreen.
- Three-Putt: When it takes you three putts to get your golf ball t in the hole; also the quickest way your putter earns a trip to the time out closet.
Intermediate Golf Terms
- 19th hole: Golf lingo for the clubhouse bar where your rounds are always enjoyable.
- Ball Mark: The indentation left behind after your golf ball lands on the green (best to fix these).
- Break: The movement your golf ball will make on the green after you putt it (or what you will do to your putter after you missed).
- Bunker: The official term for what is commonly referred to as a sand trap.
- Caddie: The kind fellow who carries your clubs during the round.
- Dogleg: Refers to a bend to the left or the right in fairways.
- Divot: The piece of turf you take out of the ground after you hit a golf shot (best to replace these).
- Draw: A gentler hook.
- Fade: A gentler slice.
- Fat: Taking a little too much turf when hitting a golf shot, catching it heavy as they say.
- Fore: What golfers yell (hopefully loudly) when they hit a bad shot to alert the golfers in the area where their ball is headed. Generally translated “duck and cover.”
- Gimmie: A putt so short that you wouldn’t miss it, so your golf buddies give it to you. The rule of thumb for measuring gimmie is often “in the leather” which is the length of the grip of your putter.
- Handicap: Refers to a number given to players that determines their “potential” average score in relation to par, not their day jobs.Read all about handicaps here.
- Line: The imaginary path your golf ball will travel on the green on its way to the hole, as well as the line of direction you take to the hole.
- Match Play: A one vs. one format where golfers compete against each other on a hole-by-hole basis.
- Pull: For right-handed hitters, it’s when a shot goes immediately to the left after you hit it (opposite direction for lefties).
- Thin: When you hit the golf ball too low on your clubface.
- Top: When you the hit golf ball at the lowest point on the club face, producing a rolling shot that doesn’t catch much air.
- Snowman: When you make an 8 on a hole (because the 8 looks like a snowman, get it?).
- Shank: Feared by all golfers, this is one of the most dreaded shots in golf. Produced by hitting the ball on the hosel of the club.
- Stroke Play: A format in golf where players count all their strokes to determine a final score (the common format of professional tournaments).