The Ultimate Glossary Of Golfing Terms: A-Z

The Ultimate Glossary Of Golfing Terms: A-Z

It can take years on the course to become fluent in the language of golf. The only thing golfers may enjoy more than the 19th hole is coming up with new golf slang to describe their shots. Golfing terms are constantly evolving and changing. We wanted to provide you with a shortcut.

We’ve pulled together a complete glossary of golfing terms and golf slang. It’s probably impossible to document all golf words, but we feel confident the below glossary covers 95%+. 

Even if you’ve been playing golf for decades we bet you’ll learn a new golfing term while reading our glossary. Did we miss any of your favorites?

A

golfer putting a ball into the hole

  • Ace: Golf slang for a hole in one. When your first shot finds the bottom of the cup!

  • Airmail: Golf slang for when you hit your approach shot over the green. You might hear a player say, “I hit too much club on #7 and airmailed the green.”

  • Albatross: This golfing term describes when you score 3 below par on a hole. You make a hole in one on a par 4 or a 2 on a par 5. Also known as a double eagle or “the rarest of birds.”

  • Alignment: The process of aiming your golf shot. Your alignment is dictated by your feet, shoulders, and your clubface.

  • All Square: Golf word that’s used when playing match play to describe a match that’s tied.

  • Angle Of Attack: The up or down movement of the clubhead at the time of compression of the golf ball. Attack angle is measured relative to the horizon. Your angle of attack is different with different clubs. This is one of the metrics measured when you use a golf simulator (ie TrackMan).

  • Attend The Flag: Often shortened to “tend it”, this is when you have someone (caddy or playing partner) hold the pin/flag while you putt. As your ball approaches the hole, the person removes the flag.

  • Automatics: Common golf betting term - it means that automatic new bets start at a specific time in the match. Typically, golfers play “2 down automatics” which means a new bet starts anytime someone is down two holes. 

  • B

  • Back Nine: Golfing term for the 2nd 9 holes of an 18-hole round of golf.

  • Backswing: Golfing term for the first half of your swing. Describes your swing from the start until you reach the top.

  • Backspin: When your ball lands on the green and spins backward. This happens primarily when you’re hitting an approach shot with a wedge or short iron.

  • Below The Hole: You’ll hear a golfer say “the greens are fast, you need to leave your ball below the hole.” This means you don’t want a downhill putt. You want your ball to stop below the hole so you have an uphill putt. 

  • Birdie: Golfing term for when you score 1 below par on a hole. For example, you make a 3 on a par 4.

  • Bladed Shot: Golf slang for when a player hits a shot with the bottom of an iron instead of the face. This causes a low shot that goes way too far.

  • Bogey: Golfing term for when you score 1 over par on a hole. For example, you make a 5 on a par 4.

  • Break: Describes how a putt is going to curve on the green. A player reads the “break” to determine where to aim their putt. 

  • Breakfast Ball: Golf slang for a mulligan. If you hit a bad shot on the first hole, you get to hit another one without a penalty. 

  • Bunker: Synonym for a sand trap. You can have a waste bunker, fairway bunker, or greenside bunker.

  • Buzzard: Golf slang for making a double bogey on a hole. A double-bogey is when you score 2 over par. For example, you make a 6 on a par 4.
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    C

    golfer chipping the golf ball

  • Cabbage: golf slang for high grass and deep rough. 

  • Caddie: Golf word for the person that carries your clubs and gives your advice on how to play.

  • Chilly Dip: Golf slang for a poor chip shot. Typically used when you hit behind the ball and it comes up way short of your target.

  • Chip: Golfing term for the shot you play when you are close to the green. You typically use a wedge, make a small swing (similar to a putting stroke), and hit the ball onto the putting surface.

  • Chunk: Golf slang for when you hit behind the ball and take a large divot. Typically a poor shot that comes up short. You might say, “I chunked that one.”

  • Compression: Compression describes a golf ball smashing against the clubface at impact. This is how the club propels the ball forward. Different types of golf balls have different compressions. This is why the best golf ball for you will depend on your clubhead speed.

  • Condor: Golf slang for scoring 4-under on a hole. This can only happen by making a 1 on a par 5 and it’s extremely rare.

  • Course Rating: Course rating is used when calculating your golf handicap. It’s an evaluation of how hard a specific course should play for a scratch golfer (0 handicap). You can find the course rating on the scorecard.

  • Cut: Golf slang for a small slice. For a right-handed golfer, this describes a ball that curves slightly to the right.

  • D

  • Divot: Golfing term used to describe the hole you leave after hitting the ground during a shot. It is also used when you make a mark on the green when your ball lands.

  • Draw: Golf slang for a small hook. For a right-handed golfer, this describes a ball that curves slightly to the left.

  • Dogleg: Common golf term for a hole that’s crooked like the “hind leg of a dog.” Typically, the hole is straight for your tee shot but bends to the left or the right for your approach shot.

  • Dormie: A golfing term used when playing match play. It means that one player is up by as many holes as are left. In other words, if you’re 5 up with 5 holes to play, you’re “Dormie.”

  • Double Bogey: When you score two over par on a hole. For example, you make a 6 on a par 4.

  • Double Eagle: Synonym for albatross. When you score 3 under par on a hole. A 1 on a par 4 or a 2 on a par 5. 

  • Downswing: Golf word for the part of your golf swing from the top to contact with the golf ball.

  • Driver: The longest club in your golf bag. You use your driver on most par 4s and par 5s and you typically use a tee. Also known as a 1-wood.

  • Duff: Golf slang for a bad shot. One that you mis-hit and didn’t go as far as you intended. 

  • E

    image of a golf course

  • Eagle: Golfing term for when you score 2 under par on a hole. For example, you make a 3 on a par 5.

  • Elevated Green: You’re hitting up to the green. The putting surface is higher than the fairway.

  • Even (Even Par): Golfing term for when you score is the same as the par for the course. If you shoot 72 on a par 72 course, you shot even.

  • Executive Course: A golf course that’s shorter than a standard course for two reasons. First, the holes themselves are shorter, and second, there are more par 3s than normal. A standard golf course may be a par 70, 71, or 72, but an executive course typically has a total par of 62-65. 

  • F

  • Fade: Synonym for a “Cut.” Golf slang for a small slice. For a right-handed golfer, this describes a ball that curves slightly to the right.

  • Fairway: The closely mown part of a golf hole. You want your drives to land in the fairway.

  • Fat: golf slang for hitting the ground behind the ball. A “fat” shot will cause a large divot and come up short of the target.

  • Ferret: Golf slang for when you make a shot from off the green, typically for par or better.

  • Flop Shot: Golfing term for a chip shot that goes very high and lands softly on the green. Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson is famous for his flop shots.

  • Foot Wedge: Golf slang for kicking your ball instead of hitting a shot in order to get it out of a bad spot on the course. This is a form of cheating in golf.

  • Footwork: Describes what your feet do during your golf swing. Footwork is an important piece of your golf swing.

  • Fore: Golfers scream “FORE” if their shot is headed towards another player. It’s a warning to duck and/or protect your head.

  • Forward Swing: The final piece of your golf swing. You have your downswing, backswing, and forward swing. The forward swing is after you make contact with the ball.

  • Free Drop: Describes a rule that allows you to take relief without a penalty stroke. For example, if your ball is on a cart path you get a “free drop.”

  • Fried Egg: Golf slang is used when your ball is buried in a sand trap. You can only see the top of the ball, so it looks like a fried egg.

  • Fringe: A strip of closely mown grass that’s around the green. The fringe is typically a yard wide and is considered fairway.

  • Front Nine: Golfing term for the first 9-holes in an 18-hole round of golf.

  • G

  • Gilligan: A fun rule to spice up your next golf match. If you play a “Gilligan” you can make your opponent re-play any 1 shot during the match. For example, if they make a long putt, you can make them do it again.

  • Gimme: A short putt that is conceded without being putted. 

  • Golfer: A person that plays golf is considered a golfer.

  • Grain: Greens are built using different types of grass. Certain types (bermuda grass) have “grain” in them. Grain is the direction the grass is growing and this impacts how putts will break.

  • Grand Slam: If a PGA tour player wins all 4 major championships (The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship) they have won the “grand slam.”

  • Green: The closely mown grass where the hole is located. Once you reach the green you use your putter to roll the ball into the hole.

  • Green Fee: Golfing term for what you pay to play a specific golf course. Different golf courses charge different rates (Green Fees).

  • Green In Regulation: When you have a putt for birdie you have hit the green in regulation. For example, you reach a par 4 green in 2 shots.

  • Greenskeeper: This is a golf word for the person who’s in charge of the maintenance of a golf course.

  • Grip: Golfing term with two different definitions. 1) the rubber part at the end of your golf club that you use to hold the club. 2) the way you hold the club (interlock, overlap, 10-finger). 

  • Groove: Horizontal and parallel indentations on the face of golf clubs. Grooves are why the golf ball spins. 

  • Grounding: Golfing term for touching the ground with your club prior to starting your swing. In certain situations (bunkers) you aren’t allowed to ground your club prior to hitting the ball.

  • Ground Under Repair: A part of the golf course that’s currently being repaired by the course superintendent (greenskeeper). You get a free drop if your ball finishes in GUR (Ground under repair).
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    H

    image of a golf ball sitting right outside the hole

  • Hacker: Golf slang for a bad player.

  • Half Shot: Describes a shot that’s hit by taking a shorter backswing. The goal is to hit the ball shorter than normal with the club you are using.

  • Handicap: A golfer's handicap measures their ability as a player. It’s calculated by entering scores. If a golfer has an 8-handicap, they should typically shoot around 80 on a par 72 golf course.

  • Heel: A golfing term for the inside portion of the golf clubface. If a player hits this part of the club, the ball won’t travel as far as intended and you might hear the player say “I heeled it.”

  • Hole Out: When you make a shot from off the green using a club other than a putter.

  • Hook: Golf slang for a shot that curves violently to the left (right-handed player)

  • Honor: Golf term for which player in the group should hit the first tee shot. The golfer with honors plays first. This is based on their score on the previous hole.

  • Hosel: The hosel is the socket of the golf club where the shaft enters the head.

  • Hosel Rocket: Golf slang for when a player hits the ball with the hosel instead of the clubface (also known as a shank). A hosel rocket goes violently to the right (right-handed player) and is considered a very poor shot.

  • Hybrid: A type of golf club that’s a combination of a long iron and a fairway wood. Typically has the loft of a long iron (2, 3, 4, 5), but is shaped like a small wood.

  • I

  • Iffy Lie: Golf slang for a mediocre lie - the ball is sitting in high grass, but is playable.

  • Impact Position: The position of your club and your body at the moment you hit the golf ball. There are a lot of different swings, but most good players have the same impact position.

  • Interlocking Grip: Describes one-way golfers grip the golf club - for a right-handed player the pinky of your right-hand goes between the index and middle finger of your left hand. Tiger Woods uses an interlocking grip.

  • In Play: Golfing term for a ball that can be hit again. Not out of bounds or in a hazard, but “in play.”

  • In The Leather: Describes the length of a putter from the head to the beginning of the grip. May golfers use this to determine if a putt is a “gimme” or not. 

  • J

  • Jerked The Putt: Golf slang for a putt that’s immediately pulled to the left (right-handed player).

  • Juicy Lie: Golf slang for a poor lie in thick grass.

  • K

  • Kick In: golf slang for an approach shot that is hit very close to the hole. In other words, it is so close you could “kick it in”.

  • Kick Point: One of the key components of a golf shaft. The kick point is where the shaft is designed to flex. You can have a low, mid, or high kick point.

  • Knee-Knocker: Golf slang for a short, but important putt. The golfer's “knees are knocking” because they’re nervous about missing it.

  • Knickers: A form of baggy, long shorts worn by men and typically accompanied by long socks. PGA tour player Payne Stewart famously wore them during tournaments.

  • Knife: Golf slang for a 1-iron.

  • L

    image of a golfer swinging after hitting a golf ball

  • Lateral Slide: Golf swing movement that you want to avoid. You want to turn during your swing, not slide.

  • Level Par: Synonym of Even Par. Means your score is the same as par. If you shoot 72 on a par 72 course you shoot level par.

  • Lie: Golf term that describes how your ball’s sitting in the grass.

  • Lip-Out: Golfing term for when your ball hits the hole but doesn’t go in. It curls around the cup or “lips out.”

  • Lob Shot: Synonym of flop shot. A short and high chip shot that lands softly on the green. 

  • Loft: Every golf club has a loft (measured in degrees). This controls how high and how far the ball travels when you hit a shot.

  • Long Game: Golfing term that describes the golf clubs you hit a long way. Driver, woods, and long irons. The opposite of “short game” (wedge play, chipping, and putting).

  • Loop: Golf slang for a round of golf - often used by caddies.

  • Lost Ball: Describes when you cannot hit your ball after a wild shot. You must take a penalty and replay the shot.

  • Low Handicap: A “low handicap” is a good golfer. Typically defined as a 10-handicap or less. 

  • LPGA: Acronym for Ladies Professional Golf Association. The LPGA is the top professional tour in the world for women golfers.
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    M

  • Marker: Golf term with two definitions. 1) a coin or other round object that’s used to mark the location of your ball on the green while other players putt. 2) The person that’s keeping your score in a tournament is your “marker.”

  • Match Play: Golf format where you play an opponent to win holes. Your total score for the 18 holes doesn’t matter - the winner is who wins the most individual holes. 

  • Mixed Foursome: Golf format where teams must have both a man and a woman playing.

  • Mudder: Golf slang for a golfer that plays well on a wet golf course.

  • Mulligan: Also known as a “do-over.” It’s golf slang for re-hitting a shot with no penalty. 

  • N

  • Nassau: A common betting game in golf. If you’re playing Nassau you have one bet on the front 9, one bet on the back 9, and one bet on the total 18.

  • Net Score: Golfing term for your score minus your handicap. For example, a 10-handicap golfer shoots an 84. Their net score would be 74.

  • Nineteenth Hole: Golf slang for the restaurant or bar located at the golf course.

  • Nip It: Golf slang for when you perfectly pick a chip off the ground. When you “nip it” the ball will spin and stop close to the hole.

  • O

    golfer in a stance to putt the ball

  • OB (Out Of Bounds): Golf term that describes when you hit your shot off the golf course. OB is marked with white stakes or white paint and you have to take a “stroke and distance” penalty. You add a stroke and replay the shot.

  • Open Face: When you twist the clubface to add loft to the club. An open face is used when playing from a greenside bunker.

  • Open Stance: When a right-handed golfer aims their feet to the left - you open your stance when playing from a bunker or trying to hit a slice.

  • P

  • Pace: Golf term to describe how long it takes you to hit a shot or play a round of golf. Also referred to as “pace of play.”

  • Par: Golf term for the “goal” score of each hole.

  • Penalty Stroke: Describes when you have to add a stroke to your scorecard to get your ball back in play. For example, you take a drop after you hit your ball in a lake. You must add a penalty stroke.

  • PGA: Acronym for Professional Golf Association. The PGA tour is the #1 professional golf tour in the world for men.

  • Pin: Synonymous for the flag. In the hole, so you can see it from a long distance.

  • Pin High: Golfing term that describes an approach shot that travels the correct distance. If it’s “pin high”, it’s equal to the hole.

  • Playing Through: The process of a slower group letting the foursome behind them pass them on the course.

  • Plugged Lie: Golfing term that describes a ball that’s embedded in the ground or in the sand.

  • Press: A golf betting term. The team or player that is behind can “press” and double the bet.

  • Provisional Ball: If you hit a shot that might be lost (or out of bounds), you can hit a provisional ball. If you don’t find the first ball, you play the provisional ball, but add two penalty strokes.

  • Punch Shot: Golfing term for a shot that you purposely hit low to avoid a tree limb or to keep your ball out of the wind.

  • Pull: A shot or putt that immediately starts left of the target (right-handed player).

  • Push: A shot or putt that immediately starts right of the target (right-handed player).

  • Putter: The golf club that’s used once you reach the green. A putter is designed to roll the ball smoothly on the ground.

  • Q

  • Q-School: Short for “qualification school”, Q-school is the tournament that allows players to make professional tours. You must advance through Q-school before you can play on the PGA or LPGA tours.

  • Quadruple Bogey: Golfing term for when you score 4 more than par on a hole. For example, an 8 on a par 4.

  • Quintuple Bogey: Golfing term for when you score 5 more than par on a hole. For example, a 9 on a par 4.

  • R

    golf carts lined up by a golf course

  • Range Finder: A device that allows you to quickly determine how far away you are from the pin. You point a range finder at the flag and it’ll tell you the distance in yards or meters.

  • Ready Golf: You hit your shot when you’re ready versus waiting for the golfer in your group that’s farthest from the hole. The idea of “ready golf” is to help your foursome play faster. 

  • Reading The Green: Golfing term for trying to determine how your putt is going to roll and where you should aim. To “read the green” you need to check the slope, break, and grain.

  • Re-Load: Golf slang for when you hit a shot out of play (out of bounds, lake, etc.) and have to hit another one.

  • Reverse Pivot: Golf swing term that describes when your weight’s shifting in the wrong direction.

  • Road Hole: Nickname for the famous 17th hole at St. Andrews. There’s an old road and a wall right next to the green that often comes into play.

  • Rough: Golf term for the higher grass that’s outside of the fairway. Shots from the rough are more challenging to play.
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    S

  • Sandbagger: Golf slang for a player that keeps their handicap higher to help them win net tournaments. For example, they might claim to be a 10-handicap but really play like a 5-handicap.

  • Sand Wedge: The golf club that you use from greenside bunkers and to chip around the green. A sand wedge typically has 56 degrees of loft.

  • Scramble: Golf word with two definitions. 1) the ability to get “up and down” - chip on the green and 1 putt. 2) a golf format where all players hit a shot and then proceed to the best shot and play from there.

  • Scratch: Golf slang for a golfer with a 0-handicap.

  • Shank: Synonym for “hosel rocket.” When you hit the ball with the hosel of the club instead of the clubface. A very poor shot. 

  • Short Game: Golfing term for chipping and putting.

  • Sink A Putt: Golf slang for making a putt.

  • Slice: Golf term for when a shot curves violently to the right (right-handed player).

  • Slope Rating: One of the key numbers used for calculating golf handicaps. Slope measures the difficulty of a golf course for all levels of players. Slope numbers can range from 55 to 155 (155 being the most difficult).

  • Snowman: Golf slang for making an 8 on a hole.

  • Sole: Golf word for the bottom of a golf club.

  • Square: Golf term for being aimed correctly. You’re “square” to the target.

  • Stableford: A golf format where you earn points on every hole based on your score. For example, you get 1 point for a bogey, 3 points for a par, and 7 points for a birdie. The player with the most points at the end of the round wins. 

  • Stance: Golf term for the placement of your feet during your golf swing.

  • Stroke Play: The standard format used when playing golf. You add up your total strokes for the 18 holes and the lowest score wins.
  • Strong Grip: Describes how a player holds the golf club. A right-handed player with a strong grip will have their left hand twisted to the right.

  • Superintendent: Synonym of a greenskeeper. The person in charge of maintaining the golf course.

  • Swing: Golfing term for the motion you make with the club to hit the golf ball.

  • Swing Arc: The path your clubhead takes during your swing.

  • Swing Plane: The angle and path your club travels as you swing back from address to the top of your backswing and then back through the ball.

  • T

  • Takeaway: The beginning of your golf swing. 

  • Tap In: Golf term for a very short putt. You just “tap it in.”

  • Tee: Made from wood, plastic, or bamboo, you use a tee when hitting your first shot on each hole. A tee makes it easier to make solid contact with the golf ball (versus hitting it off the ground).

  • Tee Time: Golfing term for your reservation to play. You’re assigned a time to tee off on the first hole.

  • Tee Box: The tee box defines the start of each hole. You must place your ball between the two tee markers and hit your first shot.

  • Tempo: Golf swing term that describes how fast you swing the club.

  • Tending The Flag: The process of holding the flag while someone else putts and removing it before the ball reaches the hole. 

  • Texas Wedge: Golf slang for using your putter to hit a shot from off the green. Instead of chipping with a sand wedge, you decide to use your putter.

  • Thin: Golf slang that means the opposite of hitting the ball “fat.” Instead of hitting the ground, you hit the ball. Thin shots typically fly very low and travel too far.

  • The Turn: Golfing term that describes when you transition from the front 9 to the back 9. You might hear a golfer say, “I got a hot dog and a drink at the turn.”

  • Topped Shot: Golf slang for when you hit the top of the golf ball. This is a poor shot that just runs along the ground instead of getting up in the air.

  • Triple Bogey: Golf word for when you score 3 more than par on a hole. For example, you make a 7 on a par 4.

  • U

    woman golfer crouched watching the golf ball

  • Unplayable: Golf rules situation. You find your ball, but you cannot hit it (large bush, tree, etc.). You take an “unplayable”, which involves a drop and a penalty stroke.

  • Uphill Lie: Golfing term to describe when your ball is sitting on an uphill slope.

  • Up And Down: Golf slang for when you chip your ball on the green and 1 putt. 

  • USGA: Acronym for United States Golf Association. The USGA governs the game of golf by publishing the rules and hosting several national championships (US Open, US Amateur, etc.).

  • V

  • Vardon Grip: Also known as the overlap grip, this describes the most common way to hold a golf club. The pinky on the right-hand overlaps the index finger on the left hand (right-handed players).

  • Victory Lap: Golf slang for when a putt rolls around the lip of the cup before falling in.

  • W

  • Waggle: Golf term for the motion a player makes before they start their golf swing. The most typical waggle is flexing your wrist to move the clubhead. 

  • Weak Grip: Describes how a player holds the golf club. A right-handed player with a weak grip will have their left hand twisted to the left.

  • Wedge: Golf term for the club(s) that you use from inside 100 yards to pitch, chip, and play bunker shots. There are several different types of wedges: pitching, gap, sand, lob. Each has a different loft and can be used to play different shots.

  • Whiff: Golf slang for when you swing and miss the ball.

  • X

    a golf ball sitting on top of a golf tee

  • X-Out: A term used by golf ball manufacturers to describe balls that have an imperfection. They’re much cheaper than buying a normal golf ball.

  • “Made an X”: Golf slang for picking up before you finish a hole. If you don’t complete the hole you “made an X.”

  • Y

  • Yip: Golf slang for an involuntary flinch that causes the golfer to miss a short putt.

  • Yank: Golf slang for “pulling a shot.” A shot or putt that immediately starts to the left of the target (right-handed player).

  • Yardage: Golfing term for the length of a hole, a shot, or a golf course. Measured in yards.

  • Z

  • Zinger: Synonym for “blading” a shot. Golf word for hitting a ball thin, causing a low shot that travels too far. This type of shot creates a “zing” in your hands due to the vibration.

  • Zip: Synonym for spin. Golf term that describes when you hit a shot that zips back (spins back) when it lands on the green.

  • Zoomie: Golf slang for when you hit a drive much farther than normal.
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