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Golf Terminology For Beginners

Ace – Common term for a hole in one

Approach (or Approach Shot) – Any shot where the player is intending to hit the green

Albatross (also known as a double eagle) – three under par score on a hole, typically two shots on a par 5 or a hole in one on a par 4


Ball Mark – the indentation that your ball makes when your shot hits the green (you should always repair your ball marks)

Better Ball – a team format of playing where each player plays their own ball through the end of the hole and the best score is recorded for the team

Birdie – 1 under par score on a single hole

Blind Shot – any shot where the player cannot see the intended landing area from the point where the shot is being made

Bogey – 1over par score on a single hole

Break – commonly used when putting to describe the curve that the ball will take when putted towards the hole

Bunker (also known as sand trap) – any area of sand on the golf course that is in play, they can be green side bunkers or fairway bunkers


Caddie (or Caddy) – a person that is designated to carry a players clubs and offer advice on playing shots throughout the round

Chip – a short green side shot that that typically rolls more distance than it is in the air, however, the difference between a green side chip and green side pitch is mostly a matter of opinion

Chunk – when a player hits the ground before hitting the ball, also called hitting it fat

Collar – (also known as the fringe) the area around the green that is typically cut shorter than the rough but longer than the green

Condor (also known as a Triple Eagle) – a score of 4 under par on one hole; these are extremely rare and there have only been a handful officially recorded even in competition

Cup – common term for the hole


Divot – area of the ground that is hit when making a shot, ideally the divot is taken in front of the ball

Dogleg – term used to describe a golf hole with a fairway that curves left or right

Double Bogey – 2 over par score on a single hole

DQ – (short for disqualification) term used in tournament play to identify a player that has been removed from the tournament for a rules infraction

Drain – “drain the putt” is a phrase used to describe when a player holes a putt

Drop – the act of dropping  ball is a spot specified by the rules; can be for a number of reasons and include free drops (no penalty shot) and penalty drops

Drop Area – an area designated by the committee responsible for the rules of a course or tournament where players are to drop the ball hit into specific areas

Duffer – term commonly used to describe a lesser skilled, beginning, or high handicap golfer


Eagle – 2 under par score on a single hole

Embedded Ball – when a golf shot lands on the ground and the impact (usually on soft ground) causes some part of the ball to indent the ground and sit below ground level

Etiquette – typically unwritten rules about to to conduct one’s self when playing a round of golf


Fade – a shot that curves to the right (for a right handed golfer) and the left (for a left handed golfer)

Fairway – an area of shorter cut grass between the tee and the hole; a player typically tries to stay in the fairway in order to make their next shot easier

Fairway Wood – a club that is smaller than a driver but larger than an iron; typically used for longer shots

Fat – hitting the ground before the ball when attempting to make a golf shot

Flag – marker used to identify a golf hole; typically mounted at the top of the flagstick

Flagstick – pole that holds the flag and is typically placed in the hole but removed during putting

Flat Stick – common term for a putter; comes from the fact that putters have very little loft and the face appears flat

Flier – when a golf shot ends up traveling further than anticipated; typically occurs with shorter clubs and can be caused when grass or moisture gets between the club face and the ball, decreasing the spin imparted to the ball

Fluffy – typically refers to a lie in the rough

Follow-through – the part of a golf swing that occurs after contact is made with the golf ball

Foursome – a group of 4 players


GHIN – stands for “Golf Information and Handicap Network” this is a service run by the USGA that manages handicapping

Gimmie – when the ball is close enough to the hole that your playing partners let you pick it up instead of putting it out; not officially recognized in the rules of golf

Green – area of short grass where the hole is located and a player typically putts the ball

Greens Fee – the amount of money a course charges to play a round of golf; you typically have to pay extra if you want a power cart for the round as well

Golf Ball – little round thing that a player tries to hit into the hole


Halve – in match play when two players have the same score for a hole

Handicap – a measurement of a golfers scoring ability derived from their previous scores; commonly used as a way to let players of differing abilities compete against each other on score

Hazard – an area of the course designated from which a player can take a drop with a penalty or, if they are able, play out of with no penalty; typically consists of water but not always

High Side – on a breaking putt, the side of the hole that is uphill

Hole – a 4.25″ diameter round cut in the ground into which a player must attempt to hit their ball

Hole in One – when a player hits the ball into the hole on their first attempt from the teeing ground on any given hole

Hole High – phrase used to describe when a player hits their approach shot the same distance as the hole is; can be left or right of the hole and still considered “hole high”

Honor – a player has “honor” or “honors” when they recorded the lowest score in their group on the previous hole; typically only used in competition…for casual rounds the player that is ready first should tee off first

Hook – a ball that curves left for a right handed golfer, and right for a left handed golfer


(More coming soon)

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