Golf has a wonderful history spanning over 400 years of funny names and interesting definitions. From the archaic terms of the Scotts to modern colloquialism, we have tried to develop the most complete Internet golf terms resource. Our research indicates that most average golfers do not know the difference between a red stake and a yellow stake, let alone a niblick and a mashie. Even if your game is not up to par, you can still impress your foursome with your golf knowledge.
Albatross: Three strokes under par for a given hole.
American Links: An American variation of the Links concept which incorporates trees, rolling terrain and grass expanses.
Approach Shot: A relatively short shot played from off the green onto the green.
Apron: The short fringe surrounding the green which isolates it from the fairway. It is cut shorter than the fairway but not as close as the green.
Bail Out Area: A particular zone adjacent to the green where errant shots are not as severely punished as other zones around the green. In the bail out area, recovery shots are made more easily.
Ball Mark: The depression a ball landing on the green causes. Should be repaired with a ball mark repair tool.
Banana Ball: An expression describing an extreme slice.
Barranca: A dry ravine filled with desert shrubs and rocks.
Barkie: When the ball hits any part of a tree and the golfer still completes the hole with a par.
Ben Hogan: Universally known as the greatest ball striker of all time whose fundamentals of the grip and full swing are still widely regarded and taught by today's top teachers. Hogan was also known for his strength of will and the intimidation of his opponents.
Bent: Species of fine grass used in cooler climates, known for its true putting surface.
Bermuda: Species of coarse grass used in hot climates. Does not putt as true as bent grass and has a higher root system.
Birdie: A score on a hole one less stroke less than par.
Bisque: A handicap stroke given to an opponents who may nominate what hole to take it on. The hole must be determined prior to the match.
Blade: The historic and traditional style of an iron clubhead with no perimeter weighting often used by the most skilled players. Also refers to modern muscleback designed irons.
Blade Shot: When the upper part of the ball is struck by the edge of the club face causing it to hug the ground in flight.
Blast: The material carried with the ball when it is hit out of a sand bunker. Also, to blast is another way of expressing an explosion bunker shot.
Bogey Golfer: Defined specifically as a male golfer with a USGA Handicap Index of 17.5 to 22.4 strokes or a female golfer with a USGA Handicap Index of 21.5 to 26.4 strokes.
Bomber: A golfer with excellent length off of the tee who sometimes lacks certain shot makings skills. The opposite of a "plinker."
Borrow: To compensate for the slope or undulations of a green when putting.
Bounce: The amount of the flange of the club hanging below the leading edge of the club. The more bounce angle, the less the club is supposed to dig into the surface. Sand wedges typically have the most bounce of all clubs, a full 10 to 16 degrees of bounce, to help get the ball out of the trap.
Brassie: Another name for a 2 wood or a lofted wood with a brass sole plate.
Break: The turning of the golf ball during a putt because of surface variations like elevations.
Buggy: Powered cart used to transport golfer and equipment around the course.
Bulger: Ancient clubs made of wood after 1890 that resembles today's modern woods with a bulbous head which replaced the longnoses. Bulgers had slightly convex faces, hence the bulge.
Bump and Run: To hit a golf ball onto the green from a short distance away with little loft and which rolls more than 75% of the way to the pin.
Burn: Scottish for creek.
Cast: A type of iron where molten medal alloys are poured into a mold which forms the club head. Allows more flexible clubhead designs like perimeter weighting.
Casual Water: Water on the course that is not a water hazard (such as puddles after rain). Relief maybe taken when in casual water or if having to play over when on the green.
Cavity Back: Means the back of the club head is hollowed out to varying degrees in a effort to redistribute the club head weight to other areas of the club. Usually made to promote forgiveness or to change the center or gravity of the club head.
Chili Dip: When an attempted chip shot is struck well behind the ball so as to cause turf to be taken before the ball is stuck during this weak scooping action.
Chipper: A now illegal club, resembling a putter with extra loft. Used by players who have difficulty chipping.
Chunk: When the club strikes the ground well behind the ball.
Cleek: An ancient, low lofted and narrow bladed iron often used for putting but also for long shots such as a 1 iron.
Colf: Medieval Dutch for club. Perhaps the originator for the word "golf."
Collar: The edge around a green or bunker, an apron.
Collection Area: A specific area next to the green with very short fringe grass designed to "collect" errant shots. Much wider than a simple apron or fringe which usually has some sort of slope involved. While not technically a hazard, higher handicaps often dread chipping or pitching from this lie.
Come Backer: A putt made after the initial putt goes past the hole.
Compression: The amount of resilience of a golf ball. Also, to compress the ball with the club implies that the ball is struck firmly and with good force.
Cord Grip: A golf grip, typically made of rubber, which is infused with cotton strands which look like "cords" in the rubber. While generally rougher on the hands than other grips, they are intended to give better grip in all weather conditions, especially in moist and wet conditions.
Course Rating: The overall difficulty of a golf course under normal conditions for a scratch golfer. The number is equal to the average of the better half of a scratch golfers scores. Basically, if a par 72 golf course has a Course Rating of 73, it plays one stroke more difficult for the scratch golfer and it can be assumed, it also plays more difficult for the higher handicapped golfers. The degree in which the higher handicap golfer will be affected can only be determined by using the Slope Rating.
Cross Bunker: A bunker which dissects the line of play and must usually be carried.
Cut Shot: To put side and backspin onto the ball when striking it so that the ball tends to fade. Shots hit into a green like this tend to hold greens better because they not only have back spin, but also some sidespin.
Divot: A piece of turf that may come out from under your ball after during the swing caused by the club passing through the turf. Bent grass divots should be replaced but most Bermuda divots cannot be replaced.
Dormie: Term given to describe the situation when a team cannot lose a match against the competition as the number holes remaining is the same as the current lead.
Double D: When a driver is used on the fairway after being used for the tee shot.
Double Eagle: Three shots under the hole par; also known as albatross.
Double Green: A very large single green serving two holes with two cups cut into the same surface. Big enough so that two groups can be putting simultaneously to their respective cups.
Down: Number of stokes or holes you are behind your opponent
Draw: To induce topspin onto the ball causing in to move from outside to in on your swing. A smaller and controlled hook. The opposite is a Fade.
Driving Iron: A 1 or 2 iron which gives distance rather than height.
Driving Mashie: An ancient driving iron.
Dub: A miss hit shot in such a way that the ball travels only a very small portion of its intended distance.
Duck Hook: To induce too much topspin onto the ball causing it hook and move from outside to in on your swing and also curve downward quickly.
Duffer: An unskilled golfer.
Dunk: When a ball lands in a water hazard.
Drop Shot: A type of shot used to extract a ball from tall grass around a green. The club is dropped down severely into the ball in an attempt to drive the ball out of the tall grass and upon the green. The ball usually comes out will little spin.
Embedded Ball: A ball which is stuck in its own pitch mark in the ground. It may be lifted and dropped without penalty except when the ball resides out of bounds or within a hazard.
English Links: The original links style which incorporates steep pot bunkers, very tall rough, none or very few trees and the ability to putt from far off the green. Wind and weather conditions are part of the course design. St. Andrews is an example.
Executive Course: A golf course with mainly par 3 and comparatively short par 4 holes.
Explode: The material carried with the ball when it is hit out of a sand bunker.
Explosion Shot: A type of shot where the club passes very forcefully at and under the ball from sand or heavy rough which causes the ball to jump out with no or very little actual contact between the ball and club face.
Fade: To induce backspin onto the ball causing it to travel through the air following inside to out swing. Often cause by an outside to inside swing. The opposite of a Draw. For right handed players, a ball curving away from the target in an arc to the right.
False Front: A green which appears closer than it really is due its intentionally deceptive design.
Fat Shot: When the club strikes the ground well behind the ball and then hits the ball, resulting in shortened distance.
Featherie: Early golf balls with a core of compressed feathers inside a leather outer.
Fescue: A type of grass commonly used in heavy rough areas which can grow to more than a yard high.
First Cut: The rough adjacent to the fairway which is usually cut lower than the regular rough.
Flange: The base of a club, the part that rests on the ground and projects back from the leading edge.
Flash-Faced Bunker: High-lipped bunkers where the sand extends very high up the sides. Usually requires more maintenance than other bunkers.
Flex: The degree that a club's shaft bends upon impact with the ball.
Flex Point: That part of a club's shaft which bends the most. Typically, shafts with a lower flex point tend to have a higher launch angle or higher ball flight. The opposite is true for higher flex points.
Flyer: When a ball travels further than expected when using a given club, sometimes caused when playing from the rough or off a slope where the full amount of spin cannot be imparted to the ball.
Fore: To cry "Fore" is to warn other players that your ball may hit them. "Fore" or forward being the area directly ahead.
Forecaddie: One who directs golfers to their balls during competition.
Forged: A club where the head is made from one piece of alloy/metal, compressed to increase the clubs density and minimize imperfections. A forged club purportedly gives a golfer more feeling and a pure strike at the ball but generally cost more and are often less forgiving due to limitations in design.
Forward Press: The action of the hands prior to the commencement of the takeaway for a golf shot or putt. It typically involves a slight forward action of the hands toward the target in a modest wrist cocking motion. Not generally considered a golfing fundamental but more an elective move along the lines of a waggle which may assist in beginning the takeaway.
Four Ball: Where two pairs of golfers play in match play against each other.
Fried Egg: When a ball remains in its own pitch mark when landing in a bunker. To be half buried in the sand.
Fringe: The short fringe surrounding the green which isolates it from the fairway.
Frog Hair: The short fringe surrounding the green which isolates it from the fairway.
Gimmie: When an opponent decides that it is not necessary to play the next shot, normally because you are close to the hole.
Go to School: To study the travel of a previous putt to 'read' the green.
Gorse: A many-branched spiny shrub having bright yellow flowers, common on waste lands and links style golf courses.
GPS: Global Positioning System. When used on golf courses, it provides golfers detailed yardages which are accurate to within three yards of the target.
Grain: The angle at which the grass on the green lies. Playing against it or with it affects the speed of the ball when putting.
Grass Bunker: A grassy depression usually with heavy rough inside similar to a sand trap without the sand. Technically not a hazard in the same sense a sand bunker is.
Grassed Driver: An ancient longnose fairway wood, made from wood that broke easily.
Green in Regulation: The number of shots you are expected to play before getting your ball onto the green. Always two shots less than the par of the hole.
Greenie: The getting of a par or better at a hole when the ball is got onto the green in regulation.
Grounding the Club: To place the club on the ground prior to striking the ball when addressing it.
Grouse: A species of bird that lives in tall grasses. Also, to complain or grumble.
Gutta Percha: Rubbery material used to make golf balls after 1848.
Guttie: A golf ball made of gutta percha which rendered Featheries obsolete.
Halve A Hole: In match play, refers to a draw when both opponents take the same number of shots to complete the hole and each side is credited with a half.
Halve A Match: In match play, refers to a draw when both opponents have won the same number holes in the round.
Handicap: The number of strokes a player is given to adjust his score to that of standard scratch. It allows golfers of different abilities to compete on approximately equal terms. Official Handicaps are calculated using a mathematical formula involving the slope and rating from the courses used to achieve the score.
Hanging Lie: When the ball is resting on the upside of a slope and the golf addresses the ball from higher on the slope.
Hardpan: Any compressed hard surface, devoid of grass. Usually hard packed sand. Plays differently from a normal bunker.
Haskel: First incarnation of the modern golf balls with rubber straps wound around core encased in gutta percha. Rendered Gutties obsolete.
Hazard: Any feature on the golf course which is intended to make play challenging or difficult. Hazards are considered part of the golf course and no relief is allowed in a hazard. Examples are bunkers, gorse grass and permanent water.
Heather: Wispy, long grass which sometimes borders the rough.
Hit a Brick: Expression used to encourage a ball to slow down and not go much past the cup when putting.
Hit a House: see Hit a Brick
Hogan Grip: A modified overlapping grip in which the pinkie finger of the low hand on the grip is hooked in between the index and second finger of the high hand. While Hogan did not invent this grip, he popularized it.
Hog's Back: A fairway which is raised in the center causing balls to roll towards the rough on either side.
Hold: Meaning a green is receptive to shots and discourages balls from rolling or bouncing off.
Hole High: Means that the ball has landed on the green level with the hole as you are looking at it. That is, that ball is not past the pin nor is it in front of it, but rather, even with it, even though it may be left or right of the hole a good deal.
Hole Out: To put the ball into the hole.
Home: Getting the ball onto the green.
Honor: The honor goes to last player to win a hole or take the least number of shots. The player with the honor tees off first.
Hooded Club: Turning the club face slightly inward in order to hook the ball or prevent a slice.
Hook: To induce topspin onto the ball causing it to move from outside to in on your swing. Often an exaggerated draw and its opposite is a slice.
Hooker: A person whose predominate ball flight is a hook.
Hosel: The socket or tube in which the shaft is inserted to make a connection with the club head.
Hosel Pfeffer: Colloquialism for a shank. Pepper of the Hosel.
Hustler: One who maintains an artificially high handicap in order to win bets.
Irish Links: A variation of the links golf design that incorporates high mounding, tall grasses and blind shots.
Jungle: Colloquialism for Heavy Rough.
Kick Point: A critical point on the shaft that is integral in determining the trajectory characteristics of the shaft. A high kick points generally causes a lower ball flights, a low kick helps hit the ball higher. Same as "flex point"
Kirby Marker: A type of yardage marker measured distances at 25 yard intervals on each side of a fairway to the center of the green.
Knock Down Shot: A shot that is played intentionally to keep the trajectory lower than normal to "cheat" wind conditions. Usually made with a slightly shorter swing and often using a club with less than normal loft, which in turn causes the ball to spin less.
Lateral Water Hazard: A water hazard defined by red stakes and usually parallel with the fairway. If the ball resides within this hazard, the ball may be played or the player may elect relief. Under relief, the player is assessed one stroke penalty, and may do one of the following: (1) play another ball from the original spot of the shot; or (2) drop a ball behind the hazard at any point keeping in line with where the ball last crossed the hazard and the hole itself.; or (3) drop a ball within two club lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) where he ball last crossed the margin of the hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the hazard equidistant from the hole. See USGA Rule 26-1.
Lay Up Shot: A shot played intentionally short of the green or hazard to avoid the risk of hitting into trouble.
Lie: The condition of the ball position as the ball lays at rest upon the surface of the golf course.
Lie Angle: The degree of uprightness a club has as the head sits flush to the ground. The angle of the shaft against the clubhead. Generally, taller players need more upright clubs with a greater lie angle while shorter players need flatter lie angles or smaller lie angle, relative to the standard lie angle.
Links: Golf courses characteristically near the seaside of Scotland which have now been copied world over. The name has nothing to do with holes being linked together, rather, it is the area of land, which links the sea with the inner towns or fields. Old Scottish and English usage of the word implied rough open ground. Links golf courses are typically treeless with devilish bunkering which incorporate pot bunkers or sod faced bunkers. Links courses have heavy and tall rough grasses, sandy terrain or dunes and undulation in both fairway and rough. The surface conditions are typically very firm encouraging many low running shots. The treeless nature and nearness to open water also makes wind a major component that must be dealt with.
Linksman: A golfer.
Lip: The edge of the hole.
Lob Shot: A shot where the ball flies to maximum height and minimal distance, normally used to hit the ball from close range when trying to avoid an obstacle.
Local Rules: Additional rules pertaining to a given course by the membership or the local course itself which are in addition to the official rules.
Loft: The angle of the clubface in relation to the ground which dictates the trajectory of the ball as it rises in the air. 0 degrees loft is perpendicular to the ground. Also to hit a high shot.
Lofter: A person who hits the golf ball a long way.
Long Nose: An ancient Driver made prior to 1890 made mostly from wood and looking much like a hockey stick. These clubs broke easily and were replaced by the Bulger in the mid 1800's.
Long Game: That part of a golfer's game which involves hitting the ball over 200 yards and utilization of the driver, fairway woods and other long clubs.
Long Irons: The 2, 3 and 4 irons.
Loose Impediments: Natural objects on the course which are not fixed into place such as stones. Generally, if they interfere with play, they may be removed except within a hazard.
Marshall: One who controls the crowd during tournaments and may dispense rulings to players.
Mashie: Old fashioned hickory shafted iron varieties of which were similar to today's 5,6 and 7 irons.
Mashie-Niblick: An ancient club whose loft is between a Mashie and a Niblick, similar to a modern 8 iron.
Match: A medal round or game of golf between opponents.
Match Play: Form of competition where each hole is won, lost or halved. The winner is whoever won the most holes. A winning score of 3 and 2 means that the winner won by 3 holes with 2 left to play. The highest score possible is 10 and 8.
Medal Play: A score play competition where all shots are recorded and the winner is the one who took the least number.
Meow: Insulting cat call made toward opponents who leave putts well short. Listen: meow.wav
Middle Wedge: A medal iron with loft between that of a pitching wedge and a sand wedge.
Mid-Iron: Another name for a 2 iron in ancient clubs.
Mid-Mashie: An ancient 3 iron.
Middle Irons: The 5, 6 and 7 irons in modern sets.
Mixed Foursome: Two teams of a male and female golfer playing alternate shots.
Mulligan: When a player is allowed to reply any one shot per hole. Not permitted in official competition.
Muscleback: A type of blade iron where a band of thicker iron crosses the back of an iron from left to right to promote mass behind the area of impact.
Nature's Trick: A modern expression which refers to the mental difficulty in selecting the correct club and trajectory when playing into or against the wind. There is a tendency, for instance, to swing harder when hitting into the wind. However, swinging harder not only causes the ball to spin more, balloon and fall short, it also causes a poor swing, further compounding the "trick."
Niblick: Another name for a 9 iron. At the time of its use, it characteristically had a shorter face than other clubs and was also concave like a spoon.
Nineteenth Hole: The clubhouse bar after playing 18 holes.
On the Dance Floor: When the ball has stayed on the green.
On the Screws: An expression which refers to the ball being struck squarely and in the center of the club face or on the sweet spot. In old persimmon woods, screws were sometimes used to secure a special piece of wood or laminate to the center of the club face which allegedly optimized energy transfer.
Open: A tournament open to both amateurs and professionals.
Out of Bounds: A ball is deemed out of bound when all of the ball lies out side of a boundary designated by the course as out of bounds. Usually designated by white stakes, fences or lines. When the ball is out of bounds, the golf must play another ball from as near a possible to the point of the original shot. You must count your original shot, plus the penalty for being out of bound, plus the stroke for hitting another shot. See USGA Rule 27-1
Outside Agency: Any object or person that is not part of the current golf match or golf course, such as a spectator, forecaddie or observer, that effects the flight or lie of a ball.
Over Clubbing: To use a club which gives more distance than intended.
Overlapping Grip: See Vardon grip.
Overspin: Forward rotation of the golf ball. A putt hit with overspin rolls true. A golf ball cannot fly with overspin since overspin will cause to ball to fall precipitously.
Par: The number of shots a low handicapper should take for a hole or round. The hole par is measured by the number of shots needed to reach the green plus two for the putting. The round of par is calculated by adding all the hole par's together.
Parkland: A course design with little rough that includes many trees and streams. Augusta National is an example of a Parkland Course. Usually lush conditions with few openings into the greens which requires high soft shots to get near the pins.
Pedestal Green: A green design in which the putting surface is well above the fairway as if on the top of a mini volcano. Errant shots are rejected down the slopes and up and downs require soft and high lobs shots.
Penal Design: A design principal or condition of a golf course which punishes poor shots more often or with more extensive hazards.
Persimmon: Wood from the USA to make club heads for drivers. Very sought after before metal woods came into service.
Pin High: The approach shot has left the ball within the distance of the length of the flag stick.
Pin Seeker: An expression used when a shot is struck well and appears to be headed directly at the holes in such a manner that the ball will come to rest either in the cup or very near it.
Pitch and Run: To pitch the ball onto the green using a club which enables the ball to roll on impact.
Pitch Mark: The indentation left by a ball on the green after it has landed. Also called a ball mark.
Pitch Shot: To hit the ball at a medium height into the air and onto the green using a lofted club. Usually struck with sufficient backspin so that the ball stops quickly on the green.
Playclub: Old fashioned wooden clubs that consist of Longnoses and Grassed Drivers. This was what is now called the driver but its purpose was somewhat different. Modern drivers tend to emphasize distance more than the "play clubs" of old which historically emphasiezed putting the ball in play off of the tee.
Playing Through: To allow golfers in the game behind to play past you while you stand to one side. Normally done as part of golf etiquette to allow faster players behind to move past a slower group.
Plinker: A golfer with good shot making skills who lacks great length off of the tee. The opposite of a "bomber."
Plugged Ball: A ball that when it lands remains in its own pitch mark.
Plumb Bob: Holding the putter in a vertical position and using it as a sight to determine the Line of Putt.
Pot Bunker: A small yet deep sand bunker with steep grassy sides.
Preferred Lies: A local rule that may be adopted in the event of adverse conditions that are so general throughout a course that improving the lie of the ball in a specified way would promote fair play or help protect the course.
President: An ancient Niblick with a hole in it to facilitate playing out of water. Water clubs are currently illegal.
Press: An additional bet made during a game.
Pretty: The fairway.
Primary Rough: The largest swath of rough which extends away from the fairways toward the treeline or heather grasses.
Pronation: Rotation of the wrist so that the hand is moving to a palm facing down position.
Provisional Ball: The playing of a second ball from the same place as the first because the player is unsure of what may have happened to the first ball (i.e. it may be lost or out of bounds). There is no penalty for playing a provisional ball if the original is found. If the provisional is played, the player must take a stroke for the original shot as well as one stroke penalty for the lost or out of bounds ball. See USGA Rule 27-2.
Pull: When the ball flies straight in an inward direction after being stuck. Not the same as draw/hook as these are shots affected by spin.
Punch Bowl: A green which sits in a depression or is surrounded by mounds which act to funnel errant shots onto the putting surface.
Punch Shot: Where the ball is struck on the down-stroke of a partial swing resulting in a short low shot; typically used to hit the ball out of rough or to keep the ball below the wind.
Push: When the ball flies straight in an outward direction after being stuck. Not the same as fade/slice as these are shots affected by spin.
Putting Cleek: A shortened cleek iron with a narrow sole and short face used for putting in the old days.
Quarter Shot: A shot hit with a significantly reduced swing.
Quitting on the Ball: Slowing your swing down before hitting the ball.
Rake: An ancient high lofted club with vertical slots through the face to facilitate hitting out of sand or water. Now illegal.
R & A: The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews who oversee golf in Europe, Asia and the Commonwealth. The world equivalent of the USGA.
Recovery Shot: To bring the ball back into a favorable playing position from an unfavorable one such as a hazard.
Red Stakes: Marks a lateral hazard. The rules for relief allow for more options than yellow stakes or white stakes. See Lateral Water Hazard.
Redan: A type of green complex named after an original Scotland design at North Berwick. Modern golf architects often like to feature at least one "redan" green on a golf course. The green sits at a 45-degree angle to the tee and slopes from front right to back left with a bunker guarding the front middle section.
Release: To hit the ball such that it rolls on impact with the green. Also refers to movement of golfer's hands during a swing.
Relief: To lift and drop the ball without penalty in accordance with the rules.
Reverse Overlap: Gripping the club with the little finger of one hand placed over the index finger of the other.
Ribbed Grip: A type of grip which has a spine extending straight down the inside of its length and serves as a reminder to the hands.
Rimmed: A shot which circles the lip of the hole without dropping in.
Round: 18 holes of golf, but historically, may have been as high as 24 holes of golf.
Rub of the Green: An unexpected bounce of the ball after it hits the ground. Sometimes helpful, normally not.
Run: The distance that the ball continues to travel after it's initial impact with the ground. Running iron An iron used to make short shots which roll.
Run-up: To hit the ball along or close to the ground toward and onto the green.
Rut Iron: Ancient club used to play a ball out or ruts caused by cartwheels or other holes and trenches.
Sand Bagger: A person who plays poorly, usually to maintain a higher than proper handicap, and then plays well at a later time to capitalize on low expectations of his ability or high handicap.
Sand Iron: Sometimes used to refer to a sand wedge, however, the original sand iron did not have the flange and bounce modern sand wedges have.
Sand Save: refers to a score where a player has a greenside bunker shot and a one-putt to score a par.
Sandy: When a golfer still makes their par after escaping from a sand hazard.
Savior Bunker: A bunker positioned in such a place that it helps stops errant shots from getting into worse trouble. For instance, between a green and a water hazard.
Sclaff: When the club unintentionally strikes the ground well behind the ball and then skips into the golf ball.
Schläger: German for golf club, also Golfschläger.
Scoop: To scoop the ball into the air rather than loft it. Implies sliding the club under the ball instead of compressing the ball against the club face.
Scoring: The linear groves or other marks in the face of a golf club, useful in transporting moisture away from the contact point between ball and club face.
Scoring Clubs: Typically the clubs used from 120 yard and in toward the green, and connotes clubs that provide the best opportunity to hit it close to the pin.
Scotch Foursome: Where players play in teams of two taking alternate shots. Each hole is started alternatively as well.
Scramble: To play inconsistently and often in trouble, but still managing to score well.
Scramble Team: Competition where players play from the position of the best ball of a team member after every stroke or drive.
Scratch: A player without a handicap and meaning that he can complete the course on par.
Shagging: To collect balls from a practice area.
Shank: To strike the ball with the part of the club head where the heel is joined to the shaft, causing the ball to squirt off dramatically on an outward path (dead right for right-handed golfers). To strike the ball with the hosel.
Short Game: Chipping, pitching and putting.
Short Irons: The 8 and 9 irons as well as the Pitching Wedge.
Short Knocker: A person who does not hit the ball relatively far.
Short-Sided: When the approach shot to a green misses the green on the side where there is little room to get up and down (not including chipping from the fringe) because the pin is close to the ball.
Shotgun Start: Golfers begin 18 holes from different holes at the same time rather than starting at the first tee. Often used to compensate for weather delays.
Sidehill Lie: When the ball comes to rest on a slope.
Sit: Expression aimed at the ball to encourage it to stop rolling or stop quickly.
Skull: Hitting the ball above it's center, thus making it fly very low to the ground.
Sky: When the club head only just strikes the very bottom of the ball causing it to fly straight up into the area. Normally happens when the ball is on a tee or in the rough.
Slice: To induce too much backspin onto the ball causing it to travel through the air following inside to out trajectory and often caused by an outside to inside swing. Ball flies in a curing path to the right for right handed golfers. A slice is an exaggerated fade and opposite of a hook.
Slope Rating: A golf measurement which indicates the proportional difficulty of a golf course while playing from a particular set of tees under normal conditions. The number is arrived at in a complicated manner under the auspices of the USGA. The higher the number, in general, the more difficult the course is for the non-scratch golfer. It is generally known that as course get more difficult, the discrepancy between strong and weak players grows, as if on a diagonal if it were plotted on a graph (hence slope). Slope was designed to compensated for this for handicapping purposes but it also has other useful purposes such as aiding in tee selection at an unfamiliar courses. The number represent the ratio at which the non-scratch golfer will approximately increase his score over his handicap for each stroke his handicap is over par on various course.
The formula for a player’s actual Course Handicap is determined by multiplying his USGA Handicap Index by the USGA Slope Rating of the course played and then dividing by 113. The resulting figure is rounded off to the nearest whole number (.5 or more is rounded upward). For instance, on a course with a slope rating of 135, a three handicapper will find his handicap increases as follows: 3 x 135 / 113 = 3.58 or a handicap of 4. So the average three handicapper shots approximately 4 strokes over par on this course. However, the fourteen handicapper will find his score increases faster than the low handicapper on the same course so his handicap must also reflect this. The fourteen handicapper will find his handicap is 14 x 135 / 113 = 16.72 or a handicap of 17. Therefore, the average fourteen handicapper will approximately score 17 strokes over par, an increase of about 3 strokes to his handicap. On the same course, the three handicapper's score only increased by one stroke.
Slope of 55 is the minimum and 155 is the maximum. 113 is the standard difficulty. A Course Ratings generally tells the scratch or better golfer how difficult the course is.
Small Bucket: Modern colloquial-ridicule taken from range lingo which refers to someone's high number of strokes on a particular hole. Example: "He hit a small bucket on hole 5."
Smile: Colloquialism for a lacerated golf ball; a cut in the ball is normally caused by a thinned shot.
Snake: A long putt which travels over the undulations of the green like a serpent. It also connotes three-putting.
Snap Hook: To severely hook the ball.
Snipe: To hook the ball such that it drops quickly.
Sod Faced Bunker: A bunker design feature in which a bunker has one or more step faces which are lined with rows of sod instead of grass or raked sand. A favorite of English links style courses which still appears in modern designs due to its penal nature. A ball that comes to rest near the sod facing is often very difficult to extract from the bunker without going sideways or backwards.
Sole: The underside of the club head.
Sole Plate: The metal underside of a wood's club head.
Spade: Also a spade-Mashie. A deep faced ancient club whose modern equivalent is the 6 iron.
Spare: To play a shot with less than full power. Three-quarter or sawed off shots are spare shots.
Speed of Play: The time it takes to play an 18 hole ground.
Spike Mark: A tuft of grass caused by spiked shoes.
Spoon: Another name for a 3 wood. They traditionally had a concave face resembling a spoon. The spoon family was considerable, with long, middle and short spoons as well as baffing spoons.
Square Stance: When your left and right feet are level and at right angles to the ball when you take your stance.
Stableford Scoring: One point for a bogey, two points for a par, three for a birdie, four for an eagle and five for an albatross.
Staggers: A condition of a golfer who was playing well and possibly leading a tournament who then suddenly begins playing poorly coming into the final holes.
Strategic Design: A style of golf course design which challenges a thinking response to players rather than merely punishing poor shots. Honesty in self appraisal is rewarded through controlled shots.
Stimp Meter: An instrument used to measure the speed of a green by applying a known force to the ball and measuring the distance traveled. The higher the number the faster the green. Usually a ball is rolled down a ramp onto a green and the distance it travels is measured.
Stipulated Round: Consists of playing the holes of a golf course in their correct sequence unless otherwise authorized. The number of holes in a stipulated round is 18 unless otherwise authorized.
Stony: When a ball comes to rest near the flagstick.
Stroke Index: An assessment of a holes difficulty used to award shots during strokeplay / matchplay conditions.
Stroke Play: Where the winner of a match or competition is the player who used the least number of strokes (after handicap deduction) to complete the course.
Stymie: A golf feature and rule which was abolished in 1952. If an opponent's ball obstructed a player's line to the hole, it could only be marked if it lay within six inches of the hole. This made for interesting shots on the green, but was considered unfair and also damaging to the greens (from chipping while on the green to avoid an opponent's ball.) Today, anytime where an object such as a tree lies between a player's ball and the green.
Sucker Pin: Means that on an approach shot from the fairway, the pin is located in a difficult area of the green, perhaps because the shot must carry water or a bunker or perhaps the green is very narrow where the hole is cut and there is no bailout area. To aim for the pin in this situation is high risk and convention states that most players should play conservatively and aim for a safer, fatter area of the green.
Supination: Rotation of the wrist so that the hand is moving to a palm up position.
Swale: A gently contoured depression in the terrain.
Swing Weight: A measure of a club's weight in which the shaft and grip are correlated to the clubhead.
Tending the Flag: To hold the flagstick such that a player may aim for it and then remove it as the balls approaches.
Texas Wedge: Name given to putter when used anywhere other than the green.
Thin Shot: To strike the ball above its center causing it to skip and bounce along the ground rather than rise through the air.
Three Ball: A group of three golfers playing their own ball.
Three-Jack: To three putt a green.
Three-Quarter Shot: A shot intentionally played with 3/4 of the full swing. Often made for accuracy.
Through the Green: Any part of the course which is not 'out of bounds' except the tees, greens and hazards.
Through Line: A line extending away from the hole a reasonable distance following the line of a putt. Etiquette requires that you do not step in this line in case your opponent misses his put and needs to make his come backer.
Tier: Means common ground such as a green or fairway, which has higher and lower sections connected by steep slopes of the same ground which creates the appearance of layers or steps. A two tiered fairway or a three tiered green are modern creations.
Tip Stiffness: Refers to the stiffness of the shaft end nearest to the clubhead. Softer tips typically have greater feel and a higher launch angle. Conversely, stiff tips typically are more accurate and have a lower launch angle.
Track Iron: Old fashioned club with metal head used to lift balls from tracks and carriageways. Similar to a Rut Iron.
Trap: Sand or grass hazard. The proper name is "bunker."
Trouble Shot: Having to play a ball that is in deep rough, behind an object (such as a bush or tree) or from a bad lie.
Turn: The midway point on a golf course, the end of the 9th hole.
Turtle Back Greens: Old fashion greens which are high in the middle and low at the edges, similar to the outer shell of a turtle. Deigned for drainage, they also are notorious for rejecting approach shots which stray too close to the fringe.
Undulation: Wave like curves, bends or elevations in the surface.
Unplayable Lie: When ball ends up in a position from which it cannot be played, for example a bush. A player may opt to take relief and penalty from such a lie.
Up: The number of holes in which a golf has better his opponent in match play. For example: one up, two up, etc...
Up and Down: Means missing the green in regulation but still achieving par. Usually by playing one chip or bunker shot followed by just one putt.
Uphill Lie: Where the ball comes to rest on a slope above the target line.
USGA: United States Golf Association. The ruling body of golf for North America.
Utility Wood: A specialized wood that is designed to make shots from difficult lies.
Waste Bunker: Flat and hard-packed sand that typically lines some fairways. It is not usually considered a hazard like a sand bunker and carts are often permitted to drive through or across this feature. It is legal to ground your club in a waste bunker.
Water Hazard: A water hazard defined by yellow stakes. If the ball resides within this hazard, the ball may be played or the player may elect relief. Under relief, the player is assessed one stroke penalty, and may do one of the following: (1) play another ball from the original spot of the shot; or (2) drop a ball behind the hazard at any point keeping in line with where the ball last crossed the hazard and the hole itself. You cannot drop on the front side of the hazard as you are permitted in a lateral hazard (red stakes). See USGA Rule 26-1.
Wedge: A metal club designed to give loft rather than distance. Has more loft than a 9 iron. Used for high, shorter shots, pitches, chips and other scoring shots into the green.
Weight: Archaic term for the force applied to a putt. Good weight means "good speed."
Whiff: Missing the ball during a swing.
Whins: Heavy rough or gorse bushes.
Whipping: The straps used to reinforce the joint between the club head and shaft. These straps are no longer used on modern metal heads.
Whippy: A shaft with greater than normal flex.
White Stakes: Usually marks out of bounds. White stakes are more punitive than either yellow or red stakes. See Out Of Bounds.
Wind Cheater: A shot played intentionally low to offset the effects of winds or weather.
Winter Green: A temporary green used in winter to protect the permanent green.
Winter Rules: Local rules which apply during the winter season only. Allows the improvement of lies. See preferred lies.
Woods: Used for long range shots. Good lies are preferred for this club. Traditionally made with a wooden head where the width is nearer that of the length of the head than in irons. They are now mostly made with metal alloy heads of steel and titanium but newer materials like ceramics and graphite are also becoming more common.
Woodie: When the ball hits any part of a tree and the golfer still completes the hole with a par.
Worm Burner: A shot which rolls along the ground.
Yellow Stakes: Marks a water hazard. The rules for relief allow for less options than red stakes but more than white stakes. See Water Hazard.
Yips: To miss simple putts because of nerves.