Feeling lost amid chatter on “birdies,” “double bogies,” and “chip shots?” Fear not. Our guide to golf lingo will have you talking like a pro in no time.
Golf lingo may seem intimidating, but we’ve broken down the terms, slang, and zingers for you. Here, you’ll learn some common — and not so common — terms so you can get some respect on the green. From parts of a golf course to equipment to rules and terms of play, we’ve got your back. We’ve even thrown in some playful language so you can josh around with your foursome.
1) Golf Course Starter Lingo
This guide to Golf Course Starter Lingo will let you know where you are on the golf course, and how to refer to different parts of your surroundings.
Apron: The shorter grass directly in front of the green.
Back tees: The tees farthest from the hole.
Beach: A sand bunker in golf lingo.
Bunker: A kind of hazard containing sand.
Cup: The four-inch-deep, 4.5-inch diameter hole on the green.
Executive course: In golf lingo, a course that is shorter and has a lower par than regular golf courses.
Fairway: The center portion of a golf hole, between the teeing ground and the green.
Fringe: The grass surrounding the green.
Green: The golf course, in golf lingo.
Hole: Consists of the cup (where the ball goes in), the teeing ground, the fairway, and any hazards.
Lie: The position or location of the golf ball while in play.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!”
Lip: The edge of the hole.
OB: Out of bounds. An out-of-bounds shot is sometimes called an “Alec Guinness,” you know, like “OB” Wan Kenobi. OB areas are often marked with white stakes.
Pin: The flagstick standing inside the cup on the green. Also known as “the stick” in golf lingo.
Sand bunker or sand trap: A concave, sand-filled obstacle bordered with a ridge.
Tee: The stand used to support the ball when it is first hit.
Teeing ground: Where the tee is placed and play begins.
2) Golf Lingo for Holes In One or More
Golf lingo for holes covers types of strokes, how they’re scored, and what we call them. Do a lot of these look unfamiliar? Don’t worry, it’s par for the course.
Par: A predetermined number of strokes that a scratch (zero-handicap) golfer should need to complete a hole, a round, or a tournament.
Birdie: In golf lingo, this means a score of one less than par.
Bogey: A score of one over par.
Double bogey: A score of two over par.
Eagle: A score of two under par.
Albatross: A score of three under par. Sometimes also called a “double eagle” in golf lingo.
Ace: A hole-in-one.
3) Taking Your Shot: Different Strokes for Different Folks
Golf lingo has different words for different kinds of shots, from the technique used to hit the ball, to the direction the ball takes, to the success of the shot, and more.
Bracket: In golf lingo, this means taking three clubs to make a shot: the one you believe you need to make the shot, one higher, and one lower.
Chip Shot: A short, low shot that “chips” the ball into the air.
Watch: Patrick Fannon from Blue Rock Golf Course offer tips on better chip shots.
Cut shot or Fade: A golf shot in which the ball gradually moves left to right.
Draw: In golf lingo, a shot in which the ball gradually moves right to left.
Drive: The first shot taken at the teeing ground at each hole.
Duff: A bad shot.
Flyer: A ball, usually hit from the rough, that goes much farther than intended.
Hot: In golf lingo, a shot that goes faster or farther than intended.
Putt: Hitting the ball so that it rolls on the green.
Slice: A ball hit such that it curves sharply from left to right (when hit by a right-handed player.)
4) Equipment Golf Lingo: Know Your Gear
A very important subset of golf lingo is the words for golfing equipment.
Divot repair tool: A tool used to repair ball marks (divots) on the green.
Driver: The longest club — and the one with the biggest head.
Loft: The angle of the club face.
Pull cart: Used by golfers not driving a golf cart.
Putter: A club used to make slow, short-distance shots.
Sticks: Your clubs in golf lingo.
CJGA Managing Director John Lawrence and his students talk about golf rules.
5) Rules of Play: Golf Lingo for Manners and Etiquette
Every sport has its formal and informal rules. Learning this subset of golf lingo can help you fit in as a well-mannered golfer.
Away: The player whose ball is farthest away from the hole typically hits first.
Best ball: In tournaments, this refers to a rule that uses a foursome’s best score as the team score.
Etiquette: Golfing manners.
Fore! : A warning shouted when the ball is heading toward a person.
Handicap: A numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability.
Honors: The player who had the best score on the previous hole, or sometimes the player whose ball is furthest away from the hole has “honors,” or the right to tee off first.
Match play: In golf lingo, this is a kind of play, in which the goal is to win individual holes rather than tallying the total of all of the strokes.
“They say golf is like life, but don’t believe them. Golf is more complicated than that.” — Gardner Dickinson
Modified scramble: A kind of play in which the players select the best shot off the tee, move all balls to that spot, and play individual stroke play for the rest of the hole.
Mulligan: In golf lingo, this is a “do-over” shot taken without counting the stroke toward the score.
Playing through: When a slower group of golfers allows a faster group to pass them.
Ready golf: Players hit when ready (instead of taking turns) in order to speed up the game.
Scramble: In golf lingo, this is a kind of play in which each player of a foursome hits, then the group selects the best shot.
Stroke play: A scoring system that involves counting the total number of strokes taken on each hole during a given round. The winner is the player who has taken the fewest strokes.
6) More Golf Lingo for On and Off the Course
Use this golf lingo off-course (or on) when you want to relive memorable moments of your game, or just give your golfing buddies a hard time.
19th hole: In golf lingo, this is the best hole of all! It’s the clubhouse or a nearby bar or restaurant where people gather after the game.
Afraid of the Dark: A ball that just doesn’t want to go into the hole.
Nice Putt, Alliss: Frequently misheard as “Alice” and mistaken for a Honeymooners reference, this actually refers to former golf announcer Peter Alliss, who was said to be terrible at putting.
Amelia Earheart: A shot that looks great taking off, but then you just can’t find the ball.
Barkie: A shot that makes par on a hole after hitting a tree. Also called a “woody.”
Captain Kirk: Your shot went where no ball has gone before. “Great shot, Captain Kirk!”
Lumberjack: A golfer who keeps hitting the ball into the trees.
Mouth Wedge: as in, “You need to put your mouth wedge back in the bag.” In golf lingo, this means, “put a sock in it.”
Sandbagger: In golf lingo, someone who cheats by pretending to be a worse player than they are. Don’t be that guy.
Every sport has its own vocabulary. Knowing your golf lingo will help you fit in on the green.