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Above the Hole – In a position on the putting green where you are left with a down hill putt.
Address – The position a golfer takes up prior to hitting the ball. “A golfer addresses the ball, then hits it.”
Albatross – One better than an eagle, this is a score of 3-under par on any one hole. Normally a two made on a par 5.
Alignment – “Alignment” refers to the way a golfer’s body is positioned relative to the “Ball to Target Line” – the feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all be lined up parallel to the “Ball to Target Line“.
All Square – In Match Play competition, “all square” means the match is tied.
Amateur – An amateur golfer does not earn money from their golfing ability, this includes being paid to conduct lessons, earn prize money or endorsements.
Amen Corner – Holes 11, 12 and 13 at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The US Masters.
Approach – Any shot after the tee shot that is played with the intention of hitting the green.
Back Nine – Holes 10 – 18 of an 18-hole golf course.
Back Swing – The backswing is the movement of the golf club, away from the ball after address until the golfer reaches the “top of the backswing”.
Back Tees – The set of tees from which the golf course plays its longest. Often called Championship Tees.
Ball Marker – Normally a small, flat object (similar to a coin) used to mark the position of a golf ball when the ball is lifted on the putting green.
Ball Retriever – Normally a telescopic pole with some kind of basket or grabbing device on the end, used to retrieve a golf ball from water hazards.
Ball to Target Line – An imaginary line drawn from the ball to the player’s intended target. Usually a golfer will stand behind their ball and “draw” this line in their mind as part of their “pre-shot routine“.
Below the Hole – Opposite of above the hole, in a position on the putting green in which you are left with an uphill putt.
Birdie – A score of one less than par on an individual hole.
Blades – blades are a type of iron with a full, smooth back (as opposed to a cavity back) and a thinner top line. Blades are usually forged, not cast like the majority of cavity back clubs. They are generally only used by better players as they are unforgiving but give a softer feel and allow one to more easily work the ball.
Bogey – A score of one over par on an individual hole
Bounce – Measurement in degrees of the angle of the sole of a club. A club with higher bounce means the trailing edge will make contact with the ground before the leading edge
Break – Either the amount of slope on a green or the amount that a particular putt deviates from a straight line, caused by the break on the green.
Buggy – An American term for a golf cart
Bump and Run – A type of chip shot played close to the green with the intention of flying a very small distance and then running the majority of the way to the hole.
Bunker – A hazard that is a hole or depression filled with sand.
Burn – Simply a creek or similar water feature on a golf course. “Burn” is the term used in Scotland for such small streams.
Caddie – A person whose job it is to carry the golf bag of a player.
Casual Water – A temporary accumulation of water on the golf course outside of a water hazard. In other words, a dam, lake or river is not casual water, but a puddle is.
Chip Shot – A shot played from very close to the putting green (within a few metres).
Claret Jug – The name of the Open Championship trophy.
Closed face – Refers to the club face angled to the left (for a right-handed player) relative to the ball to target line at impact (the moment the club face strikes the ball). A Closed face will cause the ball to start off left of the intended target.
Club Face – The club face is the striking surface of a golf club, that part of the club designed to strike the golf ball at impact.
Club Head – The club head is the part of the golf club attached to the end of the shaft.
Compression – A term describing how hard or soft a golf ball is, how easy it is to compress at impact.
Course Management – refers to the golfers decision-making when faced with certain options on the golf course, such as club selection from the tee or whether to lay up on a par 5 or go for the green.
Cup – Commonly used interchangeably as another name for the hole but strictly speaking refers to the plastic or metal lining that is sunk into the hole and is designed to hold the flag.
Cut – “Cut” has several meanings in golf:
1. The “cut” in a tournament is the elimination of, typically, the lower half of a stroke-play field at the midpoint of the tournament.
2. A “cut” is a type of golf shot in which the player induces a fade; a right-handed golfer makes the ball curve left-to-right in flight, while a left-hander creates a right-to-left ball flight.
3. “Cut” can also refer to the positioning of the cup on the green. For example, “the hole is cut on the front-left portion of the green.
Divot – Most shots from the fairway with an iron will scrape off the top of the turf where the ball was resting. “Divot” refers to both the turf that is scraped up, and the scarred area in the fairway where the turf had been.
Dogleg – This term refers to a hole that isn’t straight, usually bending somewhere around the midpoint. A hole that turns to the left would be called a dogleg left.
Dormie – A term in match play describing the state of the game when player is as many holes up as there are holes remaining. This term only applies to matches that will end after a specified number of holes, ie. no extra holes or sudden death.
Double Bogey – A score of two strokes over par on an individual hole.
Downswing – The “Downswing” is the term for that part of the golf swing that occurs between the top of the backswing and impact with the golf ball.
Draw – A flight path of the ball in which the ball curves gently right-to-left for a right-handed player, or left-to-right for a left-handed player.
Drive – A term used to describe a shot played from the tee with a driver or other wood.
Driver – The driver is one of the standard golf clubs carried by most golfers. Among all standard clubs made for golfers, the driver is designed to hit the ball the furthest.
Driving Range – A golf practice facility that is included at most golf courses; driving ranges also commonly operate as standalone businesses away from golf courses. Typically a driving range will consist of a large, open field with teeing ground at one end and various distance indicators or target greens out in the open field.
Duck Hook – The most sever kind of hook, also known as a Snap Hook. The ball starts left of the target and begins hooking severely almost immediately.
Eagle – A score of two strokes below par on any individual hole.
Even Par – A players score that is the same as the par score for the number of holes they have completed to that point.
Fade – Strictly speaking a fade is a shot that starts left of target and then “fades” back to the target. It is however normally used to describe any shot that moves gently from left to right in the air, anything more severe becomes a slice. These directions are for a right-handed players, the reverse is true for left-handed players.
Fairway – Any closely mown area on the golf course but usually describing the area between the tee and green on par 4s and 5s as well as often around the green of par 3s.
Fat Shot – A shot in which the golfer’s club hits the ground before making contact with the ball. This usually results in digging up a lot of turf and a shot that travels far shorter than desired.
First Cut – The “first cut” refers to the grass that is immediately alongside the closely mown fairway. The first cut (or “first cut of rough”) is grown higher than the fairway grass, but not as high as the primary rough.
FlagStick – A flagstick is exactly that: a stick with a flag on it. You see them on putting greens to mark the location of the hole.
Freshy – A colloquial term for a shot that does not make contact with the ball. This still counts as a stroke, as the intention was to hit the ball.
Front Nine – The holes numbered 1-9 on an 18 hole golf course. It can also be used to describe the first nine holes played by a player even if those were actually holes 10-18.
Gimmie – A putt that is so short an opponent gives it to the player as if it had been holed. This should only take place in match play or social games, in any strokeplay event the putt would still need to be holed out.
Glove – Most players wear a glove for added grip and comfort, usually on the left hand for a right-handed player on the right hand for left-handed players.
Golf Professional – Someone who earns money from their knowledge and skill at golf, such as a coach or club manager. Usually accredited with a body such as their local PGA. Not to be confused with a Professional Golfer
Green – The culmination of a golf hole, where the flagstick and hole are located and where a golfer will “putt out” to finish the hole.
Green Fee – The amount of money a club charges to play the golf course. The green fee often varies depending on time of week, time of day and status of the golfer. Weekend rounds usually cost more than weekday rounds.
Greens In Regulation – A statistical category on the pro tours and a popular method for amateurs and recreational players to rate their rounds.
To achieve a green in regulation, your ball must be on the putting surface in the expected number of strokes in relation to par. The par for a hole always includes two putts, so to achieve a GIR on a par-3, you must reach the green with your first shot (on the green in one, two putts for par). On a par-4, you must reach in two shots (on the green in two, two putts for par). On a par-5, you must reach in three shots.
Gross – “Gross,” or “gross score,” refers to the total number of strokes taken during your round of golf, plus any penalty strokes. In other words, your total score without adjustments.
Ground Under Repair (GUR) – Exactly what its name implies: ground that is being repaired by the course superintendent or maintenance crew. Sometimes areas such as flowerbeds will be defined as GUR in order to protect them. Players are entitled to free relief from areas defined as GUR.
Hacker – A very bad player.
Halved – In matchplay a hole is halved if both sides hole out in the same number of strokes.
Handicap – “Handicap” refers to a numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability. The lower a golfer’s handicap, the better the golfer is. A 2 handicapper is better than a 10 handicapper who is better than a 20 handicapper.
Handicaps are meant to represent a golfer’s potential rather than simply be an average of a golfer’s scores. For example, someone who averages 20-over-par likely won’t have a handicap of 20; his handicap will likely be several strokes lower than 20 because of the way handicaps are calculated.
Hook – “Hook” describes a trajectory or ball flight in which the golf ball curves severely from right to left in the air(Reverse those directions for left-handed golfers.) A hook is the opposite of the slice.
Hosel – The part of the club head that attaches to the shaft.
Hybrid – A club that combines the features of woods with those of irons, often used to replace the long irons, sometimes referred to as rescue clubs.
Interlock – The Interlocking Grip literally locks the hands together by intertwining the little finger of the bottom hand with the index finger of the top hand. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods both use the interlocking grip.
Irons – For most players, the majority of clubs in a set will be irons, a standard set of irons will be 3 iron to Pitching Wedge although it is becoming more common for the long irons (3 & 4) to be replaced with hybrid clubs.
Lag – A long putt which, because of its length, the putter does not expect to make but hopes to get close to the cup, usually leaving it a bit short. A good lag putt positions the golfer to have a simple and easily makeable follow-up putt.
Lateral Water Hazard – This is a type of water hazard. They are differentiated from regular water hazards as it is either impossible or impractical to drop a ball while keeping the point of entry between you and the hole as is required when proceeding under the water hazard rule.
Lay up – “Lay up” is a term describing a shot which is played shorter than ones maximum possible distance in order to strategically position the ball or avoid a hazard etc.
Lie – The description of the position in which the ball rests.
Line of Putt – The path a golfer expects his ball to travel after it’s been putted, and a reasonable amount of space on either side of the intended path. Line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.
Links – “links” is a specific type of golf course and what The Open Championship is always played on.
A traditional links course will have many – perhaps all – of the following features:
• The course is built along the seaside;
• The soil is sandy and drains easily;
• The course is laid out naturally, so that unusual bumps and slopes in the fairways and greens remain, rather than being smoothed over;
• The rough features natural seaside grasses;
• Bunkers are numerous, very small and very deep (to keep the seaside breezes from blowing the sand away)
• Fairways are rarely (if ever) watered and play firm and fast;
• Links courses usually have few if any trees;
• The course routes out and back. The No. 1 hole begins at the clubhouse and the front nine plays straight out so that No. 9 is farthest hole from the clubhouse; the direction turns back in at No. 10 and the course ends with No. 18 back at the clubhouse.
Lip – The edge of either the hole or a bunker.
Local Rules – Every golf course will have a set of local rules posted on their notice board or scorecard to cover any exceptional circumstances which are not covered by the rules of golf.
Loft – A measurement, in degrees, of the angle of the club face. A club with more loft will give a higher shorter shot than a club with less loft.
Loose Impediments – Items such as leaves and twigs which may be removed if they interfere with your stroke.
Match Play – In this format one side plays against another and the score is determined by number of holes won, the side with the better score on a particular hole wins that hole.
Movable Obstructions – An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an immovable obstruction.
Mulligan – A stroke that is replayed without penalty, usually in practice rounds or sometimes these are sold at charity golf days to raise money.
Nearest Point of Relief – The nearest point of relief is the reference point for taking relief from certain situations occurring under the rules of golf, such as GUR or Obstructions. It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies that is not nearer the hole than where the ball lay and avoids interference by the condition from which relief is being sought.
Nearest the Pin – Mostly used in corporate or charity day’s and club competitions, on one or all par 3’s there will be a ‘Nearest the Pin’ competition, whereby the player wins by getting the tee shot closet to the hole.
Net Score – The “net score” is a player’s “gross score” minus his handicap at the end of a round. If used with reference to an individual hole the “net score” is the “gross score” on that hole minus a player’s handicap strokes for that particular hole. Ie. a one handicapped golfer who gets a five on the stroke one hole has a “net score” of four, on all other holes his “net score” and “gross score” will be the same as he receives no other “handicap strokes”
Obstructions – An obstruction is anything artificial you may find on the golf course, except objects defining Out of Bounds or anything declared by the committee to be something other than an obstruction.
Open – An “open” golf tournament is one in which participation is not limited only to golfers who have been invited or only to those who have gained entry through some pre-set list of qualifications.
Open Face – “Open face” describes a club face which is angled to the right of the ball to target line. An open face will cause the ball to start out to the right of the ball to target line.
Order of Play – The order in which players in a group are to play their shots. On the first tee this is determined by the draw in tournament play or by lot in social play. Thereafter the person with the lower score on the previous hole would go ahead of the person with the higher score. During play of a hole the person furthest from the hole should go first.
Out of Bounds – Those areas beyond the boundaries of the course or any part of the course so marked by the committee. Play is prohibited from out of bounds.
Over Par – Any score, whether on an individual hole or for a completed round, that is above the given par for that hole or round.
Par – A number assigned to an individual hole and to the full collection of holes on a course that represents the expected number of strokes it should take a to play each hole.
Par 3 Course – A course that consists of nothing but par-3 holes.
Pin – Another name for the flagstick.
Pin High – “Pin High” is a term that describes an approach shot which comes to rest equidistant with the hole. Ie. was not too long or too short.
Pitch Shot – A pitch or “pitch shot” is a longer than a chip shot but shorter than a full shot, often played with a very lofted club and an abbreviated swing. Normally from around 30-60 metres from the green
Pitch Mark – The indentation or depression that a golf ball makes in the putting surface when it lands on the green. Pitch marks must be repaired in the correct way with a pitch mark repairer to avoid long-term damage to the green.
Pre-Shot Routine – This is the routine a player goes through prior to playing a shot, it includes aiming, taking up ones stance and getting comfortable. A Pre-Shot Routine helps a golfer to get consistently take correct aim and build a repeating swing by removing other variables.
Preferred Lies – “Preferred lies” (also known as “placing”) is a condition that exists by local rule only and under which golfers are, on certain parts of a golf course (normally closely mown areas), allowed to improve their lies without penalty.
Professional Golfer – Someone who plays golf for a living. Not to be confused with a Golf Professional.
Pro Shop – The location at a golf course, where green fees are paid and where golf merchandise is sold.
Provisional Ball – A second ball played by a golfer who believes his first ball may be lost (but not in a water hazard) or out of bounds. If his first ball is then found the provisional ball must be picked up and the shots played with it do not count. If the original ball is not found then the provisional ball becomes the ball in play under penalty of one stroke plus any shots played with the original ball.
Pull – “Pull” describes a ball flight or putt in which the golf ball starts to the left (for a right-handed golfer) of the ball to target line and continues traveling left in a straight line, ending up well left of the target. The opposite of a pull is a push. A pull is distinguished from a hook by the fact that a hook curves to the left (for a right hander), while a pull flies on a straight path to the left.
Punch Shot – A type of golf shot designed to fly lower than normal. It is hit with the ball played farther back in the stance and a shorter follow-through. The player often chokes down on the club used. Punch shots are frequently used in windy conditions.
Push – “Push” describes a ball flight or putt in which the golf balls starts out right (for a right-handed golfer) of the target line, and continues traveling right on a straight line, ending up well right of the target. A push is the opposite of a pull. A push is distinguished from a slice by the fact that a slice curves to the right (for a righthander) while a push travels on a straight path to the right.
Putt – You “Putt” the ball when your ball finds the putting surface (Green).
Range Ball – A golf ball specifically manufactured for use on a driving range, or used balls that are in use at a driving range.
Ringer – A player who scores significantly better than their allotted handicap, often winning a competition in the process.
Rough – The areas outside of fairways that generally features higher, thicker grass or naturally growing (unkept and un-mowed) vegetation. Rough is designed to punish players who miss the fairways.
Round – A completed 18 holes of golf.
Sand Trap – An American term for a Bunker.
Scratch Golfer – A golfer with a 0 handicap
Shank – A shank is a mis-hit that is so bad the golfer strikes the ball with the hosel of the club and not the club face. The result of a shank is shot which shoots off to the right.
Shotgun Start – A common way to start a golf day in which all groups start at the same designated time but from different holes. The advantage of this type of start is that all players finish at the same time so nobody has to wait too long before the prize giving can start.
Signature Hole – The term “signature hole” is nothing more than a marketing term, although it’s now been adopted by golf media and fans. The “signature hole” at a golf course is the one hole that the course has decided is most aesthetically pleasing, photogenic or most epitomises the character of the course.
Sky Shot – A mis-hit in which the teed ball contacts the driver (or other club) on its crown or just at the very top of its face as a result of the clubhead slipping underneath the teed ball. A ball that has been skyed travels high in the air but not very far.
Slice – A type of shot in which the ball curves in the shape of a banana – starting out to the left of the target and then bending dramatically back to the right of the target (for a right-handed golfer; reverse for left-handed golfers). A slice is rarely played intentionally, and is the most common miss hit of amateur golfers.
Snap Hook – Term for a very severe hook. A snap hook starts curving hard from right to left (for a right-handed player) almost as soon as it leaves the clubface.
Spikes – What a player has underneath their golf shoe to prevent slipping during a shot. Spikes could be metal or moulded plastic (soft spikes). Some golf courses only allow soft spikes to preserve the course.
Stance – The setting of the feet just prior to making a stroke. A stance is not the same as “being at address.” At address, a player has set his feet and grounded the club (unless in a hazard, where grounding is not permitted). Stance refers only to the setting of the feet before the strokes.
Stimpmeter – A device used to measure the speed of greens. It’s very low-tech, essentially just a small metal ramp that is angled down to a flat part of a putting green. A golf ball is released down the ramp. How far the ball rolls determines the “stimp” or stimp rating of the green, which is a measurement of green speed. The farther the ball rolls, the faster the greens.
The Stimpmeter was invented by a fellow named Eddie Stimpson, but it wasn’t until the USGA adopted and modified the device in 1978 that it was accepted as a universal method for measuring green speed.
Stroke – Any swing which is completed with the intent to strike the ball, putting it into play. A swing that is voluntarily stopped prior to making contact with the ball is not a stroke. A swing that is completed with the intention of hitting the ball, but in which the ball is not struck, counts as a stroke.
Stroke is also used to describe which holes a player receives his handicap strokes on, see “Stroke Rating” below.
Stroke Rating – Also known as Stroke Index (SI), the Stroke Rating system is simply a rating of the holes on a golf course in order from hardest (stroke 1) to easiest (stroke 18). It is used to determine on which holes a player receives the benefit of their handicap strokes. E.g. a player with a handicap of 11 will only “stroke” or “get a shot” on the holes rated as stroke 1 to stroke 11. This means his “net score” will be one shot lower than his “gross score” on those holes, on all the others his gross and net will be identical.
Takeway – The “takeaway” is the initial movement of the golf club away from the golf ball in the golf swing; the start of the backswing.
Tee Time – The pre-arranged, specified time for you or your group to begin your round. Tee times are allotted throughout the day, usually in increments of 7-10 minutes depending on the expected pace of play.
Thin – A shot in which the clubhead strikes the ball too high (near its midpoint or slightly lower), often resulting in a low, sometimes slicing shot that can travel a long distance.
Through the Green – This is the whole area of the course except the teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played and all hazards on the course.
Tight Lie – Any lie in which your ball is sitting on bare dirt, very short grass or similar position in which there is very little grass beneath the ball and a hard underlying surface.
Topped Shot – A topped shot – often just called a “top” – is one in which the golfer very nearly swings over the ball, with impact between club and ball occurring near the crown of the golf ball. How severe the top is determines how far the ball will go, with more severe tops (nearly missing the ball completely) sending the ball only few yards forward.
TPC – “TPC” stands for “Tournament Players Club.” Golf courses with a TPC designation are owned by the PGA Tour.
Up and Down – To get the ball into the hole in two strokes when starting from off the green or in a green side hazard. Say your second shot on a par-4 is just short of the green. If you make par, you’ve made an up-and-down.
Water Hazard – A pond, lake, river, stream, sea, bay, ocean or any other open water on the course, including ditches and drainage ditches.
Yips – A nervous affliction that can affect ones chipping or putting. A person with the yips cannot make a smooth stroke and the hands physically tremble through the impact zone causing any number of mishits.