Golf Glossary - The A to Z of Golf

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A

Above, the hole

A putting term referring to anything that is uphill from the hole. See also Below the Hole


Aim Line

An imaginary line that you intend to start the ball travelling upon. In a neutral stance when the golfer aims to hit the ball straight, this line is pointed directly at the target (usually the hole).


Albatross

A score of three shots under par on a golf hole. This is very rare and usually happens when a score of 2 strokes is obtained on a par 5. Rarer still is a hole-in-one on a par 4.


Apron

The area of well trimmed grass surrounding the green.


Address

The position that the golfer takes up directly before swinging the club.


Alloy

This is a combination of different metals blended together to gain benefits from the mixture of the two substances.


Approach shot

Any shot which you aim to reach the green with.


Ace

A hole-in-one. Usually on a par 3 hole where the ball enters the hole on the player’s first shot for that hole.


All Square, (A/S)

When opposing players (or teams) have an equal number of points or holes in their favour.


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B

Below The Hole

Referring to the low side of the hole, the ground that lies downhill of the hole.


Borrow

This is how far to one side of the hole you have to aim to account for the slope of the green.


Buggy

An electric car used to transport golfers and their equipment around the course.


Bent shaft

This is a type of shaft used with some putters to allow for different amounts of offset and for visual purposes. For example some allow a clearer view of the golf ball at address giving a better view for alignment.


Broomhandle

See long putter


Bandit

A term used to describe someone that plays golf better than their handicap suggests.


Bump & Run

When a shot is deliberately played along the ground or at a very low trajectory with several bounces before it reaches the target. This shot is used extensively on links courses which have notoriously hard greens and windy conditions which do not favour high lofted shots. The purpose is to roll the ball up to the green or to feed the ball into toward the hole much like a chip shot.


Bunker

An area on the course which is emptied of turf and prepared as a hazard by filling it with sand or a similar substance. The lip of a bunker that is not covered in grass is also considered part of the bunker.  Certain rules apply when playing from bunkers that are different to normal play.


Blast shot

A shot used predominantly in bunkers, which aims to strike the ground underneath the ball at a precise depth so that the ball is not directly hit by the club, but rather is moved with the sand or other material.


Bogey

A score of one over the par of the hole.


Butt

This is the very end of the club on the side where the grip is located. Often there is a hole in the top of the butt.  This is often used as a reference point in golf instruction.


Backspin

Backspin is needed to gain maximum distance on all shots as it provides the ball with aerodynamic lift. It also lets the ball stop quickly when the ball lands, and on some shots can cause the ball to travel back towards the golfer after landing.


Back nine

The second nine holes on an 18 hole course, also known as the inward nine, or simply “in”.


Belly putter

A putter that is longer than a conventional putter, whereby the butt of the club rests on the torso of the golfer, which is used as a pivot point for the club to travel around.  They are typically over 40 inches long.  When they reach around 45 inches they become Long Putters.  This is a putter type that is surrounded by controversy due to claims that it makes putting too easy and violates the spirit of the game. See also Broom Handle Putter, Long Putter


Better ball

A format of team matchplay where each golfer plays with his own ball. The player who gets the best score wins the hole for his team.


Back weighting

Usually found in woods to promote a higher trajectory and stability, or in mallet putters to promote a better roll of the ball and a more stable club.


Bounce

Most commonly referred to when describing wedges (although all clubs have a value), this is the angle of the bottom surface of the club in relation to the ground. A high bounce in a wedge is useful for soft surfaces like sand, while low bounce angles are good for tighter and harder lies.


Block

To hit the ball straight and to the right of the target (for a right handed player). The same as a push shot.


Breaking wrists

When chipping or putting, many teachers advocate the use of stiff wrists, meaning that the hands should not remain at a constant angle to the forearms. The breaking of wrists is an unwanted trait that reduces consistency and is a common cause of topping the ball, chilli dipping and excessive power. Players revert to this way of playing when trying to gain extra height on chips and pitches, or for more power on putts.


Birdie

A score of one under the par of the hole.


Ball retriever

A device which is used to collect the ball from awkward places like areas of water. They are often telescopic and designed to fit in a golf bag.


Bore-Through

A way of attaching the golf shaft to the club head. A hole is drilled in the club head for the shaft to enter.  In a bore-through club head, the hole continues through the bottom of the club head. Manufacturers like Callaway use this method and claim that it allows the redistribution of weight to more important areas.


Back Swing

This is the part of the golf swing that starts at the address position and ends at the top of the swing. To a large extent the backswing determines how the club is swung on the through swing.


Balata

This was the most popular choice for spin golf balls until the introduction of more durable materials like Surlyn. It is used to make the cover of the ball, but is notoriously easy to damage when playing golf.


Balance point

The precise location on the golf shaft where the club head end of the golf club and the grip end of the club balance when placed on a fulcrum.


Blade

This can mean several things. With putters it is used to describe one with a narrow club head from front to back. In relation to irons it is the hitting area of the club but also can mean a type of iron which is traditional in shape and has no cavity back.


Ball marker

Any object that is used to mark the position of a ball on the green.


Broom handle putter

See long putter


Baseball Grip

Also know as the ten finger grip, this is a way to hold the golf club. All ten fingers make contact with the grip, with the left hand high and the right hand low on the grip (for a right handed player). It is seldom taught, however some junior players and people with weak hands often find this grip helpful.


Break

When putting or chipping this is how much the ball moves due to the slope of the green.


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C

Chip-and-run

An attempt to play the ball along the ground as a chip is performed, although from a greater distance.


Cock Wrist

A motion that is used in certain golf shots. If you hold your hands out in front of you with your palms touching, it is the movement in you wrists which brings your hands up and closer towards you.


Collar

See fringe


Cup

A description of the hole, including the plastic or metal base and sides often found in holes.


Clubhead

The part of the club that is used to strike the ball. This is connected securely to the shaft of the club.


Chipper

A club designed and used solely for chipping the ball. They are mainly an aid for golfers who struggle while chipping with other clubs.


Chunk

See Fat


Check

Another word for backspin.


Commit

To commit to a shot is maintain your spine angle throughout the shot and not lift your head (and shoulders). It is also used to mean a complete follow-through, especially in a chip or putt. Not committing to a shot often results in topped shots in the full swing and poor distance control and hitting the ball heavy when chipping.


Chip-in

A chip shot which results in the ball being holed.


Cubic Centimetres, CC

The measurement of the volume of a club head, used to determine the size of fairway woods and drivers. The limit for a driver as stipulated by the R&A and the USGA is 460cc.


Component

Any of the parts of the golf club. These include the club head, shaft grip and ferrule.


Chilli dip

See fat


Club length

The length from the sole of the club to the end of the grip butt. Often used when measuring the area in which you can drop or tee a golf ball.


Centre Shafted

A putter which has the connection between the clubhead and the shaft in the centre of the clubhead, as opposed to the heel on all other golf clubs.


Choke Down

Holding the grip of the club lower down (towards the club head) than normal. This has the effect of shortening the club and decreasing distance and increasing control. This is commonly done when a player finds himself in-between clubs.


Centre of Gravity, CG or COG

This is the location in space where the weight of the club head is centred. It may be located either on or off the club head and is often misinterpreted as the sweetspot. A low centre of gravity gives a club a higher trajectory shot than a club with a higher CG, provided the loft is the same.


Chip

This is used to describe a shot that is propelled towards the green and onto the green from a short distance at a low height.


COR, Coefficient of Restitution

This is the efficiency of energy transfer from one object to another. With regard to drivers, this is the efficiency of the clubhead in transferring energy to the ball. Although there are many other factors to consider, a higher COR will allow greater ball speed and greater distance in drivers. The Legal COR limit set by the R&A and USGA which came into effect in early 2008 is 0.83. The COR can range from 0 (where there is no transfer of energy) to 1 (where all energy is transferred). See also Trampoline Effect.


Casting The Club

When the wrists unhinge too early in the downswing resulting in a loss of clubhead speed.


Course handicap

The par for the course, i.e. the score that a scratch golfer would be expected to score. See also Stroke Index


Carpet

This is the nickname given to an area of shorter grass such as the fairway or the green.


Core strength

This relates to the power stored in the muscles of the abdominals and back.


Caddy / Caddie

An attendant that accompanies you around the course, usually with good local course knowledge. Caddies often give advice and are expected to carry and clean your clubs during the round.


Crown

This the top part of the club head on a wood. Some woods like the ERC Fusion series incorporate a lightweight carbon-fibre crown with a titanium club face and sole.


Carry

The distance the ball travels through the air before hitting the ground.


Compression

The process which the ball undergoes when it is hit. The club head deforms the ball, and the rate of the deformation is termed compression or softness.


Casual Water

An area of water that is not a fixed feature of the course which a player may take relief from. It must be visible before or after the player takes his stance to qualify as casual water.


Cut, 1st, 2nd

The first cut is the area of grass adjacent to the fairway and is usually of a constant length (often the called light rough). The second cut lies beyond the first cut and is longer grass (often called the heavy rough).


Cavity back

Irons that have a hollowed out area at the back of the club. This is so that the weight taken out can be redistributed elsewhere. The redistribution of weight then creates a more forgiving club.


Cross Handed Grip

Also known as left hand low, this is a grip of the club which sees the right handed placed higher up the grip than the left (in right handed golfers). This is the opposite of the conventional grips used in golf. Although not exclusively, it is predominantly used in putting by players who wish to eliminate the problem of wrist break or the “yips”.


Cast

The process by which, or having the properties of, a clubhead that is created by pouring molten metal into a cast. This is an easier way to mass-produce golf clubs compared with forging.


Closed stance

A stance that sees the golfer position his feet in such a way that if you were to draw a line from toe to toe, the line would aim to the right of the aimline in front of the golfer (for a right handed player).


Cut shot

A shot which results in a higher trajectory than normal with greater backspin and sidespin to the right (for a right handed player).  It is used to help keep the ball on the green after it lands.


Cart / Buggy

This is a small electric vehicle that is used to transport people around the golf course.


Club Head Speed

The velocity of the club head, usually measured as the top speed reached at impact with the ball.


Claggy Lie

A British term for a muddy or wet lie.


Concede

To acknowledge that you do not have a likely chance of winning the hole or match and allowing your opponent the privilege of not having to complete a putt, hole-out or finish the match. This is most commonly done when the opponent has a very short putt which he is not likely to miss, and is a sporting gesture rather than an admission of defeat.


Closed Face

When the club face is aligned so that its face points to the left of the aimline (for a right handed player).


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D

Duff

To mis-hit a shot, usually hitting it fat.


Downswing

The part of the golf swing that starts when the golfer changes the direction of the club and starts to swing the club toward the ball. It occurs between the backswing and impact with the ball.


Double Eagle

See Albatross


Dormie

During match play this is a situation where one player (or team) is leading by the same number of holes remaining. So if they are one up with one hole left to play then the match is dormie.


Dimple, Dimple Pattern

Each golf ball has a series of indentations on the surface of the ball. These dimples allow the ball to travel more aerodynamically (and further) than if the ball was smooth. Dimple patterns are a way to maximise the aerodynamic properties of the golf ball.


Double Bogey

A score of two over the par for the hole.


Drive the green

To hit the ball onto the green in one shot. This is usually reserved for par 4 or 5 holes although is sometimes used on long par 3 holes.


Dead Weight

Hitting a ball dead is to hit a shot that leaves the next putt a certainty.


Driving iron

Another name for the 1 or 2 iron, often one with a larger more forgiving head than usual.


Deep face

A club face that is relatively high from top to bottom. This is the opposite of a shallow face or low profile.


Double-bend shaft

This is a type of shaft used with some putters to allow for different amounts of offset and for visual purposes. For example some allow a clearer view of the golf ball at address giving a better view for alignment.


Dogleg

A hole that has a significant turn in the fairway (left or right).


Divot

The turf or grass that is removed from the ground during a golf shot, or the hole that is left behind. This is a normal occurrence on the fairway or in the rough (or if using an iron from the tee). Etiquette suggests that you should retrieve the displaced turf and cover the hole as best as you can, or in some cases placing sand in the hole to assist re-growth.


Deep rough

Any grass which is long enough to significantly affect the striking of the ball.


Driver

The longest golf club. It is usually 43 to 45 ½ inches long and has a loft that varies from 7 degrees to 14 degrees (sometimes higher especially in ladies clubs). The head size is generally between 300cc and 460cc although they used to be considerably smaller. The primary material used by top drivers is titanium, although steel is often used and other materials like aluminium and graphite/carbon fibre are also occasionally used.


Draw

A slight and controlled spin to the left (for a right handed player). This results in a slightly lower shot with less backspin and more roll than a fade or straight shot.


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E

Eagle

A score of two under the par for the hole. Therefore it is a score of 3 on a par 5, or 2 on a par 4.


Elevated green

A green which is higher up than the area around it.


Etiquette

This refers to the behaviour you are expected to show while you play golf as well as around the golf club. This can be hard to learn without first-hand experience as etiquette often follows unwritten guidelines rather than rules. Much of the guidelines are based in common sense and consideration for other players, such as not distracting other players, realising who has right of way, looking out for the safety of others and keeping a good pace of play.


Effective loft

The loft of the golf club at impact. By opening up the face of the club, the ball can be hit on a higher than normal trajectory, thereby it has a higher effective loft. The kick point of the shaft can also change the loft at impact.


Elastomer

A synthetic material that is sometimes used in clubs, golf balls, grips and putter face inserts.


Explosion shot

See Splash shot


Even Par

A score equal to the par of the course.


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F

Flex

Used in the describing of shafts to denote the flexibility or bendy-ness. These are usually listed as: Junior, Senior (A or M), Ladies (L), Regular (R), Stiff (S), Extra Stiff (XS).


Fat

Hitting the ball fat means that instead of hitting the ball first and then the ground, you hit the ground and then the ball. This slows down the club significantly and as a result the shot usually ends up well short of where you desired it.


Flyer

See flier


Flatstick

A slang term for the putter.


Frequency matching

A club fitting term used for the measuring and standardising of shaft frequency throughout your clubs. Shafts vibrate during the swing and it is thought that frequency matching improves the feel and performance of your set of clubs.


Flag, Flagstick

This refers to the flag (and the shaft that holds the flag) that is found on the green of a golf hole. In some cases it is used to mean the hole in general.


Face Balanced

A feature in some putters that allows the putter to be more stable. When balancing the putter shaft on your hand and allowing the shaft to rotate freely, the club face of a face balanced putter will face straight up. This is very useful for straight back – straight through putting strokes.


Foursome

Also known as “alternate shot”, this is a form of competition play where two teams of two players compete against each other. Each team shares a golf ball and alternates the player that hits the ball after each shot.


Flight

The movement of the ball through the air.


Forgiving

A quality in a club that makes poor golf shots less damaging to your potential to score well when compared with other clubs.


Face Insert

In putters this is a harder or softer material used in the striking area of a putter than used for the rest of the club. Inserts can now also be found on wedges, where the grooves can be replaced.


Fluff

See fat


Fairway Bunker

A bunker that lies next to, or on the fairway. They are placed to make the course more difficult and are seen as hazards and penalise any misdirected tee shots


Fade

A slight and controlled spin to the right (for a right hand player). This gives a slightly higher, shorter and softer landing shot than a straight or draw shot.


Fourball

A match where four players compete with two players on each side. Each player hits his own ball.


Fairway

The area of a golf hole which is well trimmed and therefore easier to hit golf shots from than other parts of the golf course. It is found between the tee box and the green.


Fried Egg Lie, Plugged

When a ball is hit into a bunker it sometimes creates a pattern on the surface of the bunker which resembles a fried egg. The ball stays where it lands and is only partly visible.


Flight Control Technology, FCT

A proprietary term used by TaylorMade-Adidas Golf. This system allows the removal of the shaft of the golf club on the R9 range of golf clubs. By doing this, the user can change the position of the shaft in relation to the club head. This allows for eight positions to choose from, including a neutral bias (lie angle is 1 degree flat), draw bias (face is 2 degrees closed), fade bias (face is 2 degrees open) and neutral upright (lie angle is 1 degree upright). The remaining four positions offer intermediate trajectories with the head angle 1 degree open or closed. Changing the shaft position in this way allows the user to change the shape of the golf shot from effectively a hook to a slice, to anything in between.


Flier

This happens when a ball is hit and travels much further than expected or wanted. This is because something has become trapped between the ball and clubface during impact (usually grass). A flier lie is a situation where you could reasonably expect a flier to occur based on the assumption that the contact with the ball will be compromised.


First cut

See cut


Flat Lie

A flat lie is one where the angle between the sole of the club and the shaft is less than normal. A club which is designed for a shorter player typically has a “flatter” lie angle while a taller player suits a more upright lie angle.


Flat swing

A swing which travels on a plane that is more horizontal than normal. This is the opposite of an upright swing.


Face angle

Often used in golf instruction, this term describes the orientation of the club face in relation to the aim line. The face angle can be square, open or closed (shut).


Flush

Generally this means that something fits well or was done perfectly. More specifically it can mean when a ball is struck from the sweetspot of the club resulting in a pleasant sensation in the hands during impact.


Flop shot

Usually used by more advanced players, this shot is used to hit the ball on a very high trajectory. Using a sand wedge or lob wedge the face of the club is opened to increase the effective loft. The result is a high shot that only travels 40 yards or less and lands very softly on the green, often staying where it lands with very little roll.


Feel,

This is a general term usually used to describe the sensation in the hands when striking the ball with a golf club.


Front Nine

The first nine holes of an 18 hole golf course, also known as the outward nine.


Ferrule

A ferrule is a small plastic ring that is a purely cosmetic attachment used to cover the join between the club head and shaft.


Follow Through

This describes the part of the golf swing after impact with the ball.


Fore

A golfer will shout FORE to warn another golfer of his presence. It is also shouted when a ball is hit towards another golfer or to an area which the person striking the ball cannot determine if there is anyone there.


Full swing

Generally used to describe the most common swing in golf. It has a full backswing and through-swing and is used for most iron and wood shots. Other swings are used for flop shots, chips, pitches and putting.


Face,

The surface of the club that is used for striking the ball. With irons, putters and wedges, the face is flat. In woods the face is often not flat and has a bulge and roll.


Flange

The part of a golf club head that extends from the leading edge at the sole of the club to the back of the club.


Forged, Forging

A manufacturing process whereby heated metal is pressed into shape rather than cast into moulds. This process is thought to create golf clubs with better feel than by casting.


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G

Green Jacket

This is the prestigious jacket that is awarded yearly to the champion of the US Masters Golf tournament held in Augusta Florida. It is presented to the champion by the champion of the previous year.


Golf Club

Any of the various types of club used to strike the golf ball during a round of golf. Players are restricted to the use of a maximum of 14 clubs during competitions. A conventional set may include a driver, 3 wood, 5 wood, 3 iron to 9 iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge and a putter. Modern club sets now can also include hybrids, rescues, chippers and other specialist clubs.


Graphite

A composite material that is particularly strong for its weight. It is used for the shafts of nearly all drivers, most fairway woods and many irons.


Green fee

The money that is paid so that you can play on a golf course.


Green,

The area on a golf hole that has the shortest grass. This is the putting surface and is where the hole is located that the golfer tries to hit the ball into.


Ground the Club

To let the club touch the ground. When you are in a hazard such as a bunker you are not allowed to ground the club under penalty of losing 2 strokes in stroke play or the loss of the hole in match play.


Gear effect

This happens in clubs where the curvature of the club face is convex from heel to toe (known as bulge). As the club strikes the ball it is constantly rotating around its centre of gravity, with the toe of the club travelling faster than the heel. When a ball is hit on the toe of the club by a right handed player, the ball spins to the left because of the club’s rotation about its centre of gravity. To counteract this spin the face is convex which starts the ball on a trajectory further to the right while the spin stays the same. Therefore the ball ends up straighter than it would have done with a straight-faced club. The same rules apply but in the opposite direction for an impact toward the heel of the club.


Grass bunker

Despite the name this is not considered a hazard, rather it is just area on the course that resembles a bunker due to its appearance and is grassy rather than filled with sand.


Greenkeeper

The person who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the golf course.


Gimme

This is a putt that has an opponent has conceded to you in a matchplay situation. Usually very short putts are conceded as a sporting gesture and as recognition that the player would have holed the putt. There are no rules about gimmies as to what is an acceptable length to give or refuse, however sportsmanship and general politeness should be exercised. It is considered rude to request a Gimme, but it is also considered petty to refuse a putt that is so short the other player cannot miss. It is completely up to the discretion of the opponent however, and he is perfectly entitled to never give a Gimme.


Greensome

A form of matchplay similar to a foursome, where each player from each team hits a tee shot. Each team then chooses the tee shot they prefer, and continue playing the hole in alternation.


Grooves,

The horizontal depressions on the face of a golf club. They provide grip when striking the ball which is essential for creating backspin and lift. There are two main types in irons and wedges, called V and U (square) grooves.


Gross Score

The score you get for the hole or round before you take away any handicap you may have.


Greenside bunker

A bunker located adjacent to the green.


Ground Under Repair, GUR

An area of the course that the course committee has marked out as ground under repair. Although it has to be stated by the course committee to be so, it usually means that the ball is not meant to be played from this area to poor condition.


Greenies

This is a wager whereby the player that hits the ball closest to the hole in regulation (see GIR) wins the bet.


GIR, Green in Regulation

See green in regulation


Gorse

This shrub is found across the UK and parts of Europe. It is particularly spiny and difficult to play golf shots from.


Glove

A golf glove is used by most but not all golfers, and predominantly on the opposite hand to their strong hand. A right handed golfer will use a glove on the left hand and a left handed player on their right hand. Some players use gloves on both hands but this is very rare. The left hand is gloved (for the right handed player) because the majority of the grip pressure used to hold the club is applied by three fingers on the left hand, and so more grip is needed there.


Green in Regulation, GIR

To hit the ball onto the green within a specified number of shots. The GIR changes depending on the par of the hole. For a par 3 it is 1, for a par 4 it is 2 and for a par 5 it is 3. It is used as a statistic to show the accuracy of a golfer’s approach shots.


Grain

This is the direction that grass grows. It is mostly considered when trying to read putts on the green as it can have a significant effect on the roll of the ball and the distance travelled. The grain can vary from green to green and even within a green. Grain can have a much more noticeable effect on the ball with some grasses like Bermuda grass.


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H

Hold the green

To hit a shot that lands on the green and which also remains on the green.


Handicap

A scoring system that takes into account the ability of the golfer before they are awarded a score. It is used so that golfers of different abilities can compete together. The higher a handicap is, the worse the golfer is (generally speaking!). A golfer who plays off a handicap of 0 is called a scratch golfer. It is possible for very good golfers to have a plus handicap where they add their handicap to the score rather than taking it away.


Hood, Hooding

It usually means intentionally closing the club face to reduce the loft of the club.


Hang time

The amount of time that the ball stays in the air before landing.


Heavy

Hitting the ball heavy means that the instead of hitting the ball first and then the ground, you hit the ground and then the ball. This slows down the club significantly and as a result the shot usually ends up well short of where you desired it.


Hole

Either the hole in the ground on the green that you aim to place the ball; or the name for each of the 18 playing areas that make up a (standard) golf course. The former is usually 4 ¼ inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep. The latter is marked by boundaries to determine the playing area of that hole.


High side

See above the hole


Hole high

To hit the ball the exact distance required, but not necessarily with the accuracy needed.


High modulus graphite

A type of graphite that is very stiff.


Hole in one

To hit the ball into the hole with the first stroke of the ball of any given hole.


Halve, a hole, a match

When a hole or match is tied in matchplay golf.


Hole out

To continue playing the hole until the ball enters the hole.


Heel

The part of the club head that is closest to the hosel (the point where the club attaches to the shaft), as opposed to the toe.


Hybrid

Known by many different names such as rescue, utility, safety and trouble clubs, they are versatile and suited to play from many situations. They can be played from the rough, fairway and tee and are also used for chipping by some golfers. They are now replacing the long irons in many players’ sets of clubs as they are more forgiving and give a higher ball flight.


Half set

A set of golf clubs that has fewer that the normal number of 14 clubs. Often used by beginners, it is a cheap way to start playing golf


Hack

To swing wildly at the ball, or to make a poor attempt to hit the ball.


Hook

A shot that spins sharply to the left (for a right handed player).


Hosel

The part of the golf club that accommodates the shaft or is attached to the shaft. Putters can have varied types of hosel design.


Hickory, shaft

These wooden shafts used to be the commonplace in golf clubs before steel shafts were introduced. Some putters, although very rarely, still use hickory shafts


Hardpan

A bare lie which is very hard and has no grass.


Headcover

A cover used to ensure that the club is not damaged when being moved around.


Holed

When a shot is hit directly into the hole it is said to be holed.


Honour

Having the privilege of teeing off first. This is usually decided by a coin toss for the first hole. Whichever player (or team) gets the lowest score for a hole has the honour for the next hole. Where a hole is halved, the team with the lowest score on the previous hole retains the honour.


Hazard

A bunker or water hazard on the golf course. They are used to increase the difficulty of the golf course and change how golfers manage their way around it.


Hanging lie

When the ball lies below the level of the golfer’s feet at address.


Heel-toe, weighting

When weight is strategically placed at the heel and toe rather than the centre of the club head. It increases the MOI of a golf club and so reduces energy lost due to twisting and creates a more forgiving club.


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I

Impact

The moment in time where the club makes contact with the ball


Investment casting

See cast


Inside Path, Out to In

In golf instruction, inside refers to the position of the clubhead in relation to a neutral swing plane. If it is inside, the clubface is on a steeper trajectory than a outside line. If your ball is inside your opponents then you are nearer to the hole than he/she is.


Irons

A type of golf club that ranges from the 1 iron to the 9 iron. Each iron has a different loft angle and length. The one iron has the smallest degree of loft and the longest shaft, while the 9 iron has the shortest length and the highest loft. They are designed this way to provide a set of clubs that cover a wide range of distances.


Intended line

See aimline


Interlocking Grip

A commonly used way to grip the club. For a right handed player the club is gripped in the conventional manner (right hand lower down the club) with the small finger of the right hand interlocked between the index and fore finger of the left hand. See also Vardon Grip


Insert

A material which is placed inside the clubface which has differing characteristics to the material the club is made of. Most commonly seen in putters it is usually done to create a softer feel at impact.


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K

Kick point

The point on the golf shaft where it bends the most. It is mid, low or high depending on its location. A low kick point is located closest to the clubhead and creates a higher launch angle. A high kick point creates a lower launch angle.


Knock Down Shot

See Punch shot


Kil the Ball

To hit the golf ball very hard or to make a very aggressive swing.


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L

Lob,

To hit a high shot.


Laid off

At the top of the backswing, a club is said to be laid off if the shaft points to the left of the target (for a right handed golfer).


Links Course

A course that is located close to the sea. They often a characterised as having windy conditions, hard and fast greens and narrow fairways.


Lob wedge

A golf club with more loft than the sand wedge, with a loft ranging from 58-62 degrees.


Line,

Usually used to describe the path the ball takes from its current position to the hole. This need not be a straight line, and for putts it seldom is.


Long irons

Any of the 1, 2 or 3 irons. They are notoriously hard to hit due to the small clubface, low loft and long club length.


Lip out

This happens when the ball looks like it is going to enter the hole but rolls around the edge of the hole instead, changing direction at the same time.


Loft,

The angle of the club-face in relation to a line drawn vertically from the base of the club.


Low handicapper

A golfer with a handicap in single figures, i.e. less than 10.


Line up

To determine the slope or break of the green to decide which way to hit the ball.


Lag Putt

When a golfer wishes to get as close to the hole as possible but does not necessarily aim to hole the putt, he lags the putt. Often used on long putts, the priority of lag putting is to leave the ball in a position where you have a good chance to hole the next putt.


Launch angle

The angle in degrees of the ball’s trajectory after it leaves the clubface, in relation to the ground. This is often used comparatively to describe a high, mid or low launch angle.


Long putter

A putter that has an extra long shaft and is designed to be held at the butt of the club with the left hand (for a right handed player) and lower down with the right hand. Used mostly by people who struggle with the yips. It ranges from 45 inches or longer, so that the butt is used as a pivot point on the chest or near the chin


Lay up

When a tactical decision is made to play a shot short of the green. If you have the opportunity to play the ball onto the green but decide not to because of the risk factor involved, you have laid up.


Leading edge

The front part of the bottom of the face of the club. The part of the golf club that enters the ground first.


Lift,

A mechanical term for the force acting upwards on the ball.


Leak,

Similar to a fade or slice, when the ball leaks it moves away from the target to the right (for a right handed golfer).


Low profile

A club that has a comparatively short clubhead height from the sole to the crown in comparison with its length from heel to toe. This usually means a lower centre of gravity that makes it easier to hit the ball on a high trajectory.


Lie angle

The angle of the shaft in comparison to the sole of the club


Lake ball

Balls that are often, but not always, salvaged from lakes to be sold again. In fact many “lake” balls are simply balls that have been lost in the rough or out of bounds. Lake ball sets often include x-out balls.


Long game

The collection of shots that are used from outside approximately 180 yards (for the average male golfer).


Lip,

The edge of the hole that you try to get the ball into.


Low Side

See below the hole


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M

Mashie

An old type of golf club that would be the equivalent of a 5, 6 or 7 iron.


Mulligan

This is a shot that does not count towards your score. If you hit a shot that you are not happy with you can choose to give yourself a mulligan and retake the shot. They are not covered by the rules of golf and are only permissible in casual play.


Mashie niblick

An old style of golf club that was the equivalent of a 7 iron.


Mid iron

Any of the irons from 4-6.


Matchplay

A competition between two players (or teams) where they attempt to win each hole. The winner is the person / team with the most points at the end rather than the team with the lowest total score (as in stroke play).


Make the Cut

See cut


Mid mashie

The old equivalent of a three iron.


Maraging steel

A very hard type of steel, harder than most normal types of steel used in golf clubs like 17-4 steel.


MWT

A proprietary term used by TaylorMade-Adidas Golf. It is a system which allows a number of head weights to be moved and interchanged in a driver or fairway wood. By doing this, the weighting in the head can be shifted towards the heel of the club to promote a draw, toward the toe to promote a fade. By using the central weight port(s), the trajectory of the shot can also be influenced.


Mallet

A putter head shape characterised by a large size and particularly wide from the striking surface to the rear of the club.


Marker,

See tee, ball marker or yardage marker.


Moveable Weight Technology

A proprietary term used by TaylorMade-Adidas Golf. It is a system which allows a number of head weights to be moved and interchanged in a driver or fairway wood. By doing this, the weighting in the head can be shifted towards the heel of the club to promote a draw, toward the toe to promote a fade. By using the central weight port(s), the trajectory of the shot can also be influenced.


Moment of inertia

The resistance to twisting around a particular axis. If there is less twisting, there is less energy lost there.


Municipal course

A course that is owned and maintained by the local government.


Metal wood

As woods were traditionally made of wood, this term was used to describe the new form of wood that used a clubhead constructed of metal. This term is out-dated as most clubs made are now made of metal.


MOI

The resistance to twisting around a particular axis. If there is less twisting, there is less energy lost there.


Muscleback, Blade

An iron that has weight strategically placed behind the centre of gravity. Used by advanced golfers, this type of club is supposed to allow superior feel and workability of the ball however it is also less forgiving.


Mashie iron

A golf club with less loft than a mashie. This equates to a 4 iron.


Missing The Cut

When a player does not reach the required score to proceed on to the next round of the tournament. This is usually after 36 holes in a 72 hole competition


Mid putter

See belly putter


Milled

A manufacturing process that is used accurately cut metal. In putters this is done to ensure a very flat club face.


Masters

In most cases this refers to the USPGA golf competition held at the Augusta National Golf Club in Florida each year. It is often seen as the top American golf competition. It can also mean the golf tour that is used by older golfers.


Majors

Any of one of the four main men’s competitions on the golf tours.  These include the Masters at Augusta National in Florida, the USPGA Championship, the US Open and the Open Championship (the British Open).


Mis-club

To choose the wrong club for a shot. This mostly refers to judging distance poorly.


Misread

Using poor judgement in reading effect the wind, the slope or hardness of a surface, or the effect of the grass on the club-ball contact.


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N

Niblick

An old term for a nine iron or pitching wedge.


Nineteenth hole

This is the name given to the bar or restaurant in the club house.


Net Score

The score a player gets after subtracting his handicap from his gross score.


Nassau

A system of betting which owes its name to the caribbean island of Nassau. With wagers settled beforehand, the players compete to see who gets the best front nine, back nine and total score, with a point being awarded for each.


Never up, never in

A well known and often repeated phrase in golf meaning that a putt can never be successful if it doesn’t reach the hole.


Neck

See hosel


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O

Open face

Opposite of closed face


Out of Bounds, OB

An area that is designated as outside the zone of play for that hole.


Onset

The distance that a club’s leading edge is ahead of the centre of the shaft / hosel when in the address position.


Open stance

Opposite of closed stance


Offset

The distance that a club’s leading edge is behind the centre of the shaft / hosel when in the address position.


Off centre hit

When the golf ball is struck by the club away from the CG / sweetspot.


Overlapping grip

Developed by Henry Vardon, it is a very popular golf grip where the left hand is high and the right below it. The little finger of the right hand is placed on top of the hollow between the fore and index fingers of the left hand. This is very similar to the interlocking grip.


Oversize

Refers to any club that is of greater than normal size. These are often seen as game improvement clubs.


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P

Punch Shot

This is a golf shot that is played back in the stance and is struck low in an attempt to keep the ball below the wind or any obstacle that may be in the way.


Perimeter Weighting

The strategic placing of weight away from the sweetspot to create a more forgiving club


Pin high

Landing the ball on the green level with the pin


Putter

The club used for putting the ball.  It is usually the shortest (35 inches) and heaviest club in the bag, with the lowest loft (approx 2-4 degrees).


Pre-shot routine

This is the set of movements you make prior to hitting the golf ball. There are many different theories of which movements are beneficial to performance like the waggle, knee bends, looking at the target twice or even just hitting the ball with no delay. The major benefit of a pre shot routine is that it allows you to perform a familiar set of movements in every situation and lets you concentrate better.


Preferred Lie

Play in which a golfer may move his ball to the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole. When playing under winter rules, a player may replace their ball on the fairway within 6 inches of where it came to rest, not nearer the hole.


Pot bunker

A small, deep bunker as found on many British courses. They are notoriously difficult to escape.


Pull,

A shot that travels straight and to the left of the target (for a right handed player).


Putt, Putting

The hitting of the golf ball on or near the green using the putter. Putting takes up approximately 40% of all shots during a round of golf.


Pin

Another name for the flag / flagstick


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).


Plumb bob

A method used to divine the slope of a green in order to read the break better. A putter is held lightly from the grip vertically in front of the golfer (letting gravity move the club), who then uses the shaft of the putter to determine the angle the green lies at.


Par

Each hole on a golf course has a designated score that is used to represent its difficulty. Pars range from 3 to 5 normally, although some courses have par 6 holes. A par of three means that the golfer is meant to hit the ball from tee to the hole in 3 strokes. The sum of the pars for all the holes totals the par for the course, which is usually around 70. The golfer gets his or her handicap based on the score they consistently average in relation to par.


Progressive offset

Clubs that have increasing offset with the increase in club length. This is to make the longer irons easier to hit.


Push,

When the ball is struck and the ball travels to the right of the intended target on a trajectory with no side spin (for a right handed player).


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Q

Quitting on the ball

Decelerating the club through impact. It is a common fault in beginners.


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R

Rake

This is used to clear footprints from the bunker. Etiquette suggests that the rake be left away from the line of play for the hole, and outside the bunker.


Reading the green

This is thinking about the best way to get the ball into the hole from its current location. This is an art rather than exact science and can take into account countless variables. Some of these variables are the slope, grass length, distance to the hole, wetness of the ground, wind speed and grass grain.


R & A

Traditionally the home of golf is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Until recently it was also the seat of the governing body for golf. The governing body is now simply the R&A.


Run,

Similar to roll in the sense that it is the distance travelled after the ball has landed.


Roll,

Used to describe the quality of the ball’s movement after being struck by the putter. A “good” roll is often one with top spin that keeps the ball on the desired line. A poor roll is one that has the ball skidding or bobbling along the surface of the green. It can also be used to mean the distance in a golf shot that is covered after the ball has hit the ground.


Range ball

A cheap two piece ball manufactured for use on driving ranges. They are sometimes altered to limit the distance they can travel and therefore not travel out from the driving range.


Rescue

See hybrid


Recovery

A shot played from a difficult situation.


Release

When a chip or pitch is made there is often a distinctive pattern to the movement of the ball. The ball usually bounces, checks, and then releases. The check part is where the ball slows down due to back spin and the release is where the ball continues to roll after this spin.


Reverse overlap

The most commonly used putting grip. For the right handed player, the putter is held along the palm in the left hand, with the right hand overlapping the left hand but leaving the left forefinger to overlap the right hands fingers.


Rhythm

See tempo


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S

Sand save

It most commonly means to get the ball into the hole within two shots of being in a bunker, although it can also mean to par on a hole where you have been in the bunker at any point.


Soft tipped

This is sometimes used to describe a shaft with a low kick point.


Stepless shaft

A golf shaft which doesn’t have the steps seen in most other steel shafts. Instead there is a smooth transition from the diameter at one end of the shaft to the other.


Swing weight

This is the measurement of a club’s balance. Represented by a letter and a number, club makers can find a balance that suits you and apply it to all the clubs in your set.


Swing speed

The speed at which the head of the golf club travels. The average male swing speed is around 90mph, while the average professional swings between around 115 and 125mph


Sand Wedge

Designed by Gene Sarazen, this is a high lofted club that was initially designed to help golfers hit from the sand found in bunkers. The deep bounce on the club allows it to travel at the right depth through the sand to take a consistent amount of sand. Sand wedges are now a general term for any club with a loft from 54-58 degrees. They can be used in many situations, not only the sand.


Scratch, Scratch Golfer

Having a handicap of 0 or better.


Stroke,

An attempt to play / hit the ball. This is regardless of whether the ball is actually struck or not


Strong, loft

A club that has a lower loft than normal. For example a strong three wood would have a loft of 13 degrees instead of the more standard 15 degrees.


Spring effect

See trampoline effect


Surlyn

A durable material which is used as for the outer shell of a golf ball.


Stymie

To hit your ball into a position where another golfer cannot hit his putt directly toward the hole without hitting your ball. The current rules state that the ball must be marked and moved if it is in the way, however players would have had to play around the ball before this rule was brought in.


Stimpmeter

A device used to measure the speed of a putting surface.


Stroke index, SI

The difficulty rating for the hole. Each course ranks its holes in the order from which is the most difficult (SI = 1) to easiest (SI = 18).


Swing plane

The direction the golf club travels and its orientation in space throughout the golf swing.


Shank

This shot happens when the ball strikes the hosel of the club.


Short game

The range of shots played from approx. 100 yards or closer to the green.


Stroke play

This is the standard method of calculating your score for the round. Each stroke you take is tallied and makes up your final score.


Sole,

The base or bottom of the club when it is in the playing position.


Spikes

The studs or cleats placed on the bottom of golf shoes that allow the golfer to maintain his normal swing without slipping.


Sand iron

See sand wedge


Shotgun start

To start your round partway around the course. For example if you started at the 5th hole you would continue on with the round as normal and finish on the 4th.


Slice

A shot that spins or veers away to the right (for a right handed player) very severely. This results in a loss on distance and is one of the most common faults in golf.


Stepped shaft

A shaft with distinctive steps in diameter along the length of the shaft, gradually increasing in size.


Spin rate

A measurement of spin that is imparted on the ball given in revolutions per minute (RPM).


Shot making

The ability to manipulate or control the flight and direction the ball travels in.


Spike mark

The hole or mark left in the green as a result of wearing spiked shoes.


Sink a putt

The same as holing a putt.


Shaft,

Often referred to as the engine of the club, the shaft is the part of the golf club that lies between the club head and the grip. Shafts are available in a number of different flexes to suit different swing speed. These include senior (A, M), ladies (L), regular (R), stiff (S) and extra stiff (XS).


Sweet Spot

An ambiguous term, but it is generally used to describe the area on the clubface that offers both the best distance and nicest “feel” upon impact with the ball.


Square grooves

Also known as U grooves, these are found on the clubfaces of irons and wedges and assist in creating greater backspin than other legal types of grooves such as V grooves.


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T

Travel cover

A covering used to protect golf bags during transit. They come in a hard or soft variety; the former being heavier but providing better protection.


Tungsten

A dense metal used for strategic weighting in golf clubs. Tungsten inserts are used in many putters and other clubs to increase the MOI.


Texas wedge

Putting which is performed off the green, or the name for the putter when not used on the green.


Top line

The top part of an iron when viewed from above in the address position.


Toe,

The part of the club head furthest from the shaft / hosel.


Titanium

A somewhat expensive metal with a very high strength to weight ratio, which makes it the top choice for driver materials.


Toed in

See closed face


Tight lie

A lie where the ball lies very close to the ground, often where there is no grass at all. These lies offer very little margin for error. See also Hardpan


Thin

When the ball is struck along the equator of the ball (or higher) rather than the bottom half of the ball. This results in a low shot that often bounces along the ground at high speed.


Tee,

This is one of two things in golf. It is either: The area of well trimmed turf that is used as the location for the start of a hole on the golf course. The area you place your ball on it is determined by two markers of the same colour. Typically the colours are used by the following golfers: White =Men’s competition tee, Yellow = Men’s tee, Red = Ladies tee, The plastic or wooden object that is pushed into the ground and on which the ball balances. The ball is then struck from this tee, but only on the first shot of each hole.


Trajectory

The path the ball takes through the air


Through swing

See follow through


Tempo

The speed and rhythm that a person swings their club.


Tap in

A very short putt which requires very little skill.


Top, the ball

When the ball is mis-hit and struck along its equator or on top of the ball (rather than the lower half of the ball), this results in a very low shot, often one that travels a very short distance.


Trap

This is another words for bunker. See bunker


Tending the pin

This is holding the flagstick at another golfer’s request. If a golfer cannot judge the distance of a putt and is on the green, he may have someone tend the pin / flag by the hole.


Touch,

The ability to judge the distance a ball will travel.


Tiger line

To hit a shot straight for the green, often on a par four, and also often over an obstacle. It is an homage to Tiger Woods


Trampoline effect

This is an attribute of many of the recent titanium drivers. As the drivers hits the ball, the face of the club deflects into the club head, thereby allowing the golf ball to retain its shape better. This results in a greater efficiency of energy transfer (COR) from club to ball and therefore more distance.


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U

U grooves

See square grooves


Under Club, Under Clubbing

Choosing the wrong club for the shot, which has resulted in hitting the ball short of the target.


Utility Club

See hybrid


Underspin

See back spin


Upright lie

See flat lie


Up and down

To hole the ball in two strokes from any position


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V

Vardon grip, Vardon Overlapping

See overlapping grip


VFT

See variable face thickness


V grooves

Grooves found in irons and wedges that have a V-shaped cross-section. These offer less spin than U-grooves (square grooves).


Variable Face Thickness, VFT

A feature of Callaway titanium drivers, although many other companies harness the same technology under other names. It is the use of titanium in the face of the club to allow greater face deflection in the centre of the club.


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W

Waggle

A move of the club from side to side before starting the backswing. Some people believe that it helps to reduce tension in the arms and shoulders and can lead to better distance.


Whippy

Used to describe a very flexible shaft


Wood,

Any golf club with a characteristically large club head. These include the driver (1 wood) and the fairway woods (2 wood -15 wood and above). This term originates from a time where the woods club heads were made from one type of wood or another.


Wedge,

Generally any of the clubs with a higher loft than a 9 iron. These include the popular pitching wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge, as well as the less used gap / approach wedge and high lob wedge.


Whiff

To miss the ball altogether when making a golf swing.


Winter greens

Putting greens used in the winter months to preserve the quality of the summer greens.


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X

X-out balls

When manufacturers perform quality control checks on their golf balls, some inevitably fail the checks. The balls with only minor defects are then sold at discount to be used as practice or lake balls. An X-out ball can usually be identified by a row of x’s over the manufacturers logo or name.


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Y

Yardage marker

These are coloured posts or discs on the fairway which denote specific distances to the centre of the green. Although the distances may vary course to course and hole to hole, most courses use the standard of a black and white striped stake to indicate 150 yards to the centre of the green.


Yips

Yips are the bane of many golfers and affect predominantly the older golfer but have been known to blight careers of famous professionals, like Bernhard Langer. It is debated where they are physiological or psychological but the result is that when putting the golfer has an involuntary jerk which often leads to poorly struck putts, putts where they do not follow through and poorly directed putts.


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