Getting ready to head out on the course for the first time? Want to avoid sounding like the only person who doesn’t know what’s going on? Golf, just like every other sport can sometimes feel like it’s got a language all its own. From commonly used phrases to slang we’ve got a list of the must-know lingo for golf amateurs.
“A” Game: A golfer’s best game. You might hear someone tell another golfer “Bring your A-game”.
Ace: Getting the ball into a hole with one swing or stroke. Also called a hole-in-one.
Airmail: When a golfer hits a ball and it goes way further than the golfer planned.
All Square: When a match is all tied up or even.
Beach: Another word for the sand traps or bunkers.
Birdie: When a golfer completes a hole one under par.
Bogey: When a golfer is one over par on a given hole.
Can: Also called the “cup” on the green.
Carpet: Another term which is used to refer to the Green.
Chipping: A short shot that’s usually made from just off the green. It’s intended to help the golfer get the ball up onto the green.
Cup: The hole on the green.
Dawn Patrol: Golfers who play at the first possible moment or right when a course opens. Often these golfers are playing at sunrise.
Dribbler: A golf shot that only goes forward a few feet.
Deep: When a hole is located at the back of the green.
Divot: A small chunk of turf that is dislodged when a golf club head strikes the ground and takes out a piece of the grass.
Drained: A slang term for when a golfer has gotten their ball into the hole.
Drive: The first shot at each hole. A 1-wood or driver is used for this shot.
Duff: A bad golf shot.
Eagle: A score of two under par for a given hole.
Fairway: The center of a golf hole between the tee box and the green. It’s characterized by short-mown grass.
Fly The Green: When a ball shoots over the green and lands on the other side.
Fore: Shouted when a golf ball is headed toward someone.
First Tee: The place where the first shot of a game takes place.
Gimme: A shot that’s so close only a short putt is needed and the other players agree can count automatically without being played.
Golf Head Covers: These fancy pieces of fabric are used to protect the heads of a golfers’ clubs from damage. There are hundreds of designs and even custom headcovers options available online and from professionals to amateurs they’re gaining in popularity.
Handicap: A numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability. Often used in tournaments and bracket style leagues.
Hook: When a right-handed player strikes the ball and is curves sharply from right to left.
Hot: When a golf shot causes the ball to go much faster than expected (That’s a little hot).
Hacker: An inexperienced golfer.
In The Leather: When a putted ball is close enough to the hole to be accepted by the other players as having gone into the hole.
Jungle: A ball hit into the deepest and rough area on the golf course.
Lip Out: When a golf ball hits the lip of the cup but doesn’t go into the hole.
Lie: While the game is going on it’s the position/location of the golf ball.
Mulligan: Refers to a second shot from the same location, after a bad first shot. More or less a do-over of that particular shot.
Match Play: A particular golf format where the goal is to win individual holes rather than tallying the total strokes from the entire 18-holes.
Nineteenth Hole: The clubhouse bar. Most golfers gather at the 19th hole after a round of play.
Out Of Bounds: The area of the course that is marked and where golfers are not supposed to play. If a golfer hits a shot that lands out of bounds they are to place the ball no closer to the hole than the ball would be if it landed fair, and a penalty of two strokes is applied to that golfers score.
Playing Through: When a group of golfers passes by a group of golfers that is moving more slowly. It’s not uncommon for someone playing a fast round to ask if they can play through.
Scratch: A golfer with a 0 handicap.
Snowman: When a golfer shoots an 8 on any given hole it’s referred to as a snowman.
Sticks: Another term for golf clubs.
The Turn: The halfway point of a golf round.
Watery Grave: The final resting place of a golf ball when it lands in a water trap.
Whiff: A poor golf swing and one that completely misses the ball.
Yips: The inability to make short putts due to lack of a smooth stroke. Could be due to nerves.