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Golf Terms

Knowing common golf terms is expected on the golf course, but there are likely a few you haven't heard of (and some will give you a chuckle). Review this list to see them all and let me know if there are any that I've missed!
Golf Terms

There are many terms in golf that are niche to our sport. Understanding these golf terms is critical and expected when having conversations with your playing partners, a teacher and when watching golf on TV. But they can also be funny, as you may be aware of military golf (left, right, left, right) and other terms you may not have heard of such as chunky soup and friend egg. Below is full list of terms, check them out!

Scoring Golf Terms

Par – Refers to the number of strokes a golfer is expected to need to complete a golf hole when the ball goes into the hole (Par 3, 4 and 5s)

Birdie – Score on a hole one less than Par

Eagle – Score on a hole two under than Par

Ace – Scoring a one on a hole – Hole in one 

Albatross – Score on a hole that’s three under Par (harder than making an Ace)

Bogey – Score on a hole one over than Par

Double Bogey – Score on a hole two over than Par

Triple/Quadruple Bogey – Score on a hole three/four over than Par

Double Par – Score on a hole that doubled the Par on that hole. Can always say you played an extra hole that round.

Handicap – A numeric index given to a golfer calculated by how many under/over than Par on an 18 hole average

On-Course Terms

Fairway – Attended area for golfers to hit their ball onto defined by shorter-maintained grass

Rough – Area all around the fairway that has longer grass and designed for golfers to have a more difficult time hitting their golf ball out of

Bunker – Sand pit hazard made for a golfer to hit their golf ball out of sand than grass

  • Fairway Bunker – located more in the middle of the hole and around the fairway
  • Greenside Bunker – located more closer to the green

Fringe / Collar – The grass that trims the putting green that is longer than the putting green grass but shorter than the rough.  Usually the same height as the fairway.

Penalty Area – An area defined by red or yellow stakes or lines that are bodies of water or other terrain that should penalize you for hitting your golf ball into

Tee / Tee Box – An area where to start the hole from.  Tee Markers are placed on the tee to designate exactly where to play.  There are many tees to play from depending on your ability

Casual Water  – An area where water accumulated to where you can see that is not supposed to be there by design. Usually caused by rain or over watering from sprinklers

Playing Terms

Fore! – Yelling this word can warn other golfers that a golf ball is heading their way

You’re out – Identifying that you are farther away from the hole so you will be next to play

Honors – Teeing off first and in an order from having the lowest/lower score from the previous hole 

Divot –  A grass and dirt pelt made from hitting a golf ball 

Ball Mark – An indentation on a putting green made from a golf ball 

90 degrees – A golf course rule that encourages how you drive your golf cart from the cart path to the fairway at an angle to minimize cart traffic on the grass 

Pace of Play – A strict rule of playing golf is done within a certain time frame to play 9 or 18 holes.  A general rule is to keep pace in the same position with the group ahead of you.  Generally – 9 holes: approximate 2 hrs and 15 minutes.  18 holes: 4 hrs and 30 minutes 

Making the Turn – Halfway point after 9 holes 

Yardage Markers – Marking the course to show yardages from that point to the middle of the green.  There could be stakes or numbers labeled on the sprinkler heads.

Ball Trajectory Terms 

(Described for right hander)

Draw – Minimal ball spin to the left which creates small movement from right to left. Ideal if the ball started just right of your target

Hook – Increased ball spin to the left which creates more movement from right to left.  Usually a shot that will go away from your target unless played on purpose

Fade – Minimal ball spin to the right which creates small movement from left to right.  Ideal if the ball started just left of your target

Slice – Very high ball spin to the right which creates a lot of movement from left to right. Ball can start off anywhere but will spin right with a flight shaped like a banana 

Punch –  A shot that needs to stay low usually to avoid tree limbs or to stay under heavy winds.  A less lofted club is used with an abrupt, shortened swing. 

Apex – The highest point where the ball elevates in each shot 

Funny Golf Slang

Military Golf – When you hit your golf balls generally left, then hitting it right, and back and forth.  Some golfers rank themselves Captain or General.

Breakfast Ball – When you unofficially can hit another ball in place of a bad shot.  Usually off the tee on the first hole (similar to mulligan).  They say it’s the best meal of the day.

Skull – When you unintentionally make direct contact at the center of the  golf ball with the leading edge of the clubface. A result of this can be heard from the player screaming because of the super-sonic velocity of the golf ball that puts other golfers or land walking mammals in harm’s way.

PBFU – Post Birdie “F” Up. When you make a birdie on a hole, then think you’re the best golfer in the group but being over-confident last no more than a hole as you shoot a very high score the hole following.  I personally have a tee shirt with this (add pic) 

Chunky Soup – When a player hits the ground behind the ball a deep divot is made that it may have a good chance to go further than the golf ball.

Three Jack -When you three-putt a green.  

Three Jack City – The name of the course where multiple three-jacks occurred

Double Cross – Probably the worst thing that can happen when making good contact with the golf ball.  It’s when you plan to hit a certain ball flight let’s say a fade so you adjust your aim and alignment.  However, you produce a hook so not only are you aimed in the wrong spot, your miss is magnified as your ball is moving further away from your intended area. 

Fried Egg – It’s when you approach your golf ball in the bunker and then look up to the Golf Gods while shaking your head. Your golf ball is plugged into the sand mirroring a perfect sunny side down egg.

Swing Oil – An alcoholic liquid that is consumed before or during a round of golf to make a golfer’s swing better by not giving a “F.”  Not to be confused with CBD Oil. 

Laying Sod – See Chunky Soup

Hosel Rocket – The most cringe-worthy golf shot ever made. When the hosel of the clubhead makes full contact with the golf ball instead of anywhere on the clubface.  The result is terrifying and may lead to bad thoughts, profuse sweating, and certain fetal positions until your round is over.

Scratch Golfer – A golfer that usually shoots an 18-hole round of golf around even par.  Well-respected and less than 1% of all golfers can claim this level so you better be able to back your game. 

Inside the Leather – This can mean so many things but the boring definition is that a putt is given if a golf ball is within a standard putter grip length of the hole.

Hitting a Flyer –  Usually occurs when putting on the best swing of the day when the ball is in the rough or collar. The grass comes in between the ball and the clubface so it puts less backspin on the ball which will come out faster, farther and more forward roll.  

Duck Hook – A shot that resembles a hook but turns faster, earlier and loses altitude quicker because of an excess amount of spin the wrong way. Impressive shot if you think about it as it can quickly duck towards golfers who will have no time to duck unless they are ducks.

On the Dance Floor – When your ball finally lands on the green. Should have been called “On the Sigh Floor”  

Yips – The act of putting when the golf hole seems to be moving during your stroke. Usually results in the worst putting scenario where your multiple misses per hole are left, right, too far or too short. 

Wormburner – A shot similar to a skull but not hit as hard and much lower to the ground putting any worms above ground in clear danger of getting rolled over by a screaming golf ball.

Banana ball – A ball hit that has a flight similar to a shape of a banana.  See Slice.

Gimme – When the ball is close to the hole and is presumed that a golfer can make it in the hole so the ball is picked up.  A shortened golf term that is an acronym for “Give me that “F-in” putt or I’ll lose my “sh*t”

Lockjaw – A cramp occurring in the jaw area the exact time an opponent(s) golf ball is within gimme range but is not given. 

Inadvertent Golf Actions

Talking to yourself in the Third Person  

Second Guy is the Scratch Golfer 

Punishing your golf club by hitting the ground with it

Taking a divot in the green because it shook when you missed your putt

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V Tongwarin

V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.