When you are new to the game of golf, one of the issues you may face could be all the new words you must learn.  What is a birdie? If I have the honor, what does that mean?  Please know that it takes some time to not only learn to play the game, but to also understand what all the following words mean.


The Glossary

Ace:                                  Hitting the first shot into the hole, also referred to as a hole-in-one.

Addressing the Ball:        The position a player takes in preparing to take a stroke.

Approach Shot:                  A shot hit to the putting green from the fairway.

Apron:                             The grass that borders the green, normally slightly higher than the grass on the green.  Can be referred to as the fringe.

Away:                               The player that is farthest from the hole.

Back Nine or Back Side: The last nine holes of an 18 hole round.

Backspin:                         Spin put on the ball that helps it stop after it lands.

Best Ball:                         A team competition using the best player’s score on each hole.  For example, on the first hole, if one player has a five and his or her partner has a four, the best score for the hole is a four and the team gets a four.

Birdie:                              A score of one under par on a hole.

Blind Shot:                      When the spot where you want to hit the ball is not visible when taking your shot.

Bogey:                              A score of one over par on a hole.

Break of the Green:         Hills, slopes, or contours on the surface of a putting green that makes the ball curve when it rolls.

Bunker:                            A hazard near the green or fairway that includes a depression or mounding in the landscape and can be filled with grass or sand.

Buried Lie:                      A  ball imbedded in the sand, usually making that shot more difficult.

Caddie:                             A person that carries a players golf equipment and helps with club selection and strategy of play.

Callaway System:            A scoring method used to handicap players that do not have an established handicap.  This type of scoring method is often used for one day golf outings.

Carry:                               The distance a ball must travel in the air before touching the ground.

Casual Water:                 A temporary collection of water, not in a water hazard.

Chip Shot:                        A short, low shot into the green.

Choke Down:                   When the club is held closer to where the grip and shaft meet.

Closed Clubface:             When your clubface is aligned left of your target.

Clubface:                         The part of the club that hits the ball.

Course Rating:                  A rating system that assigns each course a number based on the difficulty

of the golf course.  The course rating is used to calculate a player’s handicap and is made in comparison to par.

Cup:                                 The hole in the putting green.

Cut Shot:                          A shot that travels from left to right.

Divot:                               A piece of sod often taken when taking a stroke.

Dogleg:                            A golf hole that curves left or right.

Dormie:                           A situation in match play when a player or team is  as many holes ahead as there are holes remaining to play.

Double Bogey:                  A score of two over par on a hole.

Double Eagle:                  A score of three under par on a hole.


Down:                              The number of holes or strokes a player is behind his or her opponent.

Draw:                              A shot that curves slightly from the left to the right.

Driver:                              Another term for the one wood.

Dub:                                 When a shot is poorly hit.

Duck Hook:                      A low shot that starts left of the green and goes further left.

Duffer:                             A player with poor golf skills.

Eagle:                               A score of two under par on a hole.

Embedded Ball:              A ball buried in soft ground.

Fade:                                A shot that curves slightly from the left to the right.

Fairway:                          The closely mowed area of grass between the tee and the green.

Fat Shot:                           When the club hits the ground before the ball, normally resulting in a poor shot.

Feral:                               A plastic fitting where the clubhead meets the shaft.

Flagstick or Flag:              A tall, straight indicator with a flag attched to the top to help identify the location of the hole on the green.  The movement of the flag will indicate how hardthe wind is blowing.

Flange:                             The bottom or sole of the club.

Follow Through:               The part of the swing from the point of impact with the ball to the finish.

Fore:                                A universal word yelled when your shot goes toward another golfer.

Forecaddie:                       A person assigned by a tournament committee to help spot where the golf balls land for players in a tournament.

Foursome:                       A group of four golfers playing a round of golf together.

Fried Egg:                         A lie in a sand trap where the ball is embedded in it’s own impact mark.

Front Nine or

Front Side:                      The first nine holes in a round of golf.

Grain:                               The direction the grass grows or lies on the putting green.  The grain can affect the amount a ball will break or curve when putting.

Green or Putting Green: The closely mowed surface where the hole, or cup is located on which you putt.

Greens Fees:                     The rate you pay for a round of golf.

Grip:                                The part of the shaft covered with rubber or leather where the club is held.

Gross Score:                     The score a player has before his/her handicap is deducted.

Ground Under Repair:   A marked area of the course where work is being done.

Grounding The Club:        When the sole of the club touches the ground while addressing the ball.

Halved or

Halving a Hole:               A term used in match play when both the players get the same score on a hole.

Handicap:                         A number representing a player’s ability in relation to par, used to equalize players with different abilities in a competition.

Hazard:                           Any bunker or body of water on the golf course.

Heel:                                 The area of the clubhead near the neck or shaft of the club.

Heeled Shot:                    When the club hits the ball near the heel of the club.

Hole:                                A round receptacle 4 1/4 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep in the green.  Also one unit of a golf course.

Hole High:                       A shot that lies even with the hole but to either side.

Hole Out:                          To complete the play of a hole when the ball lands in the cup.

Honor:                             The privilege of hitting first from the tee.  Determined by the lowest score on the previous hole or coin toss on the first hole.

Hook:                               A shot that curves from the right to the left.

Hosel:                              The part of the clubhead where the shaft goes into the clubhead, also referred to as the neck.

Insert:                               Apiece of material in the face of a wood head, to improve the durability of the face from the impact between the ball and the club.

Inside-To- Outside

Swing Path:                      This term is used in reference to the target line. 

                                         The club is traveling left of the target line before impact and right of the target line

                                         after impact, normally resulting in a ball flight that starts to the right of your target.

Lag or Lag Putt:                When a golfer tries to hit a long putt close to the hole.

Lie:                                  The position of the ball on the ground.  Also the angle of the shaft with the ground when the club is soled correctly.

Links:                               A seaside course.

Lip:                                  The edge, or rim,, of the hole or bunker.

LPGA                               Ladies Professional Golf Association.

Loft of The Club:            The angle of the clubface in relation to the ground.

Making the Turn:              The point during a round of golf when a group has just finished the first nine holes and is yet to start the second nine holes.

Mashie:                            In the past, the 5 iron was called the mashie.

Match Play:                     A competition between two teams or individuals by hole, where the winner is the one with the lowest score on the most holes.

Medalist:                          The player with the lowest score for a qualifying round in a match play tournament.

Medal or Stroke Play:     A competition or tournament where the individual with the lowest number

                                         Of strokes for a predetermined number of holes is the winner.

Mulligan:                          A common but illegal practice where a player hits a second ball off the first tee because they did not like their first shot, then selects the better of the two shots.

Nassau:                            A method of scoring a match, with one point awarded for winning the front nine, one point for winning the back nine, and one point for winning the total eighteen.

Neck:                                The area where the shaft meets the clubhead.

Net Score:                        A player’s score after his/her handicap is deducted.  For instance, if a player has a score of 90, and subtracts his/her handicap of 15, then the player would have a net score, or adjusted score of 75.

Niblick:                            In the past, a term used for the 9 iron.

Open Tournament:         A tournament where both amateurs and professionals can compete against each other.  For instance, The United States Open Championship or The British Open Championship.

Out of Bounds:                The area marked with white stakes or a white line where play is prohibited.


Swing Path:                       The opposite of an inside to outside swing path, normally resulting in a shot that starts left  of the target.

Par:                                  A standard of scoring excellence based on the length of the hole.

Penalty Stroke:                 A stroke or strokes added to your score as outlined in the rules.

Pin High:                         A shot that lies even with the holes, but to the side, also referred to as hole high.

Pitch Shot:                        A short shot hit to the green, with a high trajectory, that roles very little once it lands on the green.

P.G.A. of America:         The Professional Golfers Association of America.

Playing Through:              A group of players passing a slower group of players with permission.

Plugged Lie:                    When the ball is embedded in its own impact mark.

Posture:                            The position a golfer puts his/her body in when addressing the ball.

Pot Bunker:                     A small deep bunker.

Provisional Ball:               An additional ball hit when a player thinks his/her ball may be lost or out of bounds.

Pulled Shot:                     A shot that travels straight, but straight left of the target.

Punch Shot:                      A low, short shot hit with less than a full swing.

Pushed Shot:                   A shot that travels straight, but straight right of the target.

Rough:                             The long grass and other vegetation surrounding the fairway and green.

Royal and Ancient Golf

Club of St. Andrews:      The governing body, or association of the game of golf in Europe.

Sand Trap:                        Also known as bunker.


Sand Wedge:                   A club designed with a larger and heavier sole, to make is easier to hit the ball out

                                         of the sand.  This club may also be used from the grass when near the green.

Scramble:                         when you have to show exceptional short game skills to make up for other poor shots on

Scratch Player:                A highly skilled golfer whose score average at or below par, and who has a handicap of zero.

Seniors Tour:                    A tour of professional golfers all 50 years of age or more that compete in golf tournaments weekly.

Set Up:                             The position your body is in when you prepare to make a stroke, also referred to as address.

Shaft:                               The long, narrow part of the club that connects the clubhead and the grip.

Shank:                              When the ball hits the neck, or hosel, of the club, making the ball go way right or left

of the target.

Skying:                            Hitting a shot higher and shorter than intended.

Slice:                                A shot that curves from left to right.

Slope Rating:                   A number used to compare the difficulty of courses and calculate a player’s handicap.

Sole:                                 The bottom of the club.

Sole Plate:                        A plate, usually metal, located on the bottom of a wood.

Spoon:                              In the past, the 3 wood was referred to as a spoon.

Stance:                             The position of the feet when addressing the golf ball.

Summer Rules:                 When golfers follow the regular rules of the game, which means that you cannot improve the lie of your ball, except for certain circumstances.

Sweet Spot:                      The location on the club where you should hit the ball.

Swing Arc:                       The circle your body and club form when swinging.

Swing Plane:                    The angle of the circular motion the club makes in relation to the ground when swinging.

Tee:                                  A small wood or plastic tool used to elevate that ball, which may only be used on the teeing ground.

Tee Marker:                    Markers used to designate the starting point on each hole.

Teeing Ground:                The closely mowed area where the tee markers are set.

Toed Shot:                       A shot hit off the toe of the club.

Topped Shot:                    A shot that does not get up in the air because the club hits the top of the ball.

Under-Clubbing:             Using a club that will not hit the ball far enough to get your intended target.

Up:                                   In match play, the number of holes a team or individuals is ahead of an opponent.

Up and Down:                 Holing-out in two strokes when off the green.  Allowing one stroke to get the ball onto the green, and one putt to get the ball into the hole.

U.S.G.A.:                         United States Golf Association, the governing body of golf in the United States.

Waggle:                            Movement of the club or the body just prior to making the golf swing.  The waggle helps reduce tension in the golf swing.

Whiff:                               A stroke where a golfer swings and misses the golf ball.

Winter Rules:                 When a golf course is not in adequate playing condition, therefore allowing golfers to improve the lie of their ball prior to each shot.

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