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Golf Terms



When a player hits the ball directly from the tee into the hole with one stroke. Also called a “hole in one.”


Stepping up to your golf ball/preparing to swing.

Adjustable Hosel


Capable of being "tuned" to the perfect club loft that complements your swing. Most adjustable drivers, fairway woods and hybrids offer increased/decreased loft options plus some type of draw/fade bias.


\ˈer-ə-ˌsäl, -ˌsȯl\

A player who rarely hits the ball on a consistent line; one who sprays the ball.



Refers to a score made over more than one round of play, or by two or more players playing as partners.


Generally, the direction in which your target lies and the direction you intend for your ball to go.

Air Shot

A shot in which the player addresses the ball, swings, and completely misses the golf ball. An air shot is counted as a stroke. Also known as a “whiff.”


\ˈal-bə-ˌtrȯs, -ˌträs\

A hole played three strokes under par. Also called a “double eagle.”



The position of a player's body relative to the target line of the ball.

Alignment Sticks

Slender sticks that can be placed on the ground (or, in some cases, stuck into the ground) to encourage proper alignment and body position throughout the swing.

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All Square

In match play, a match is all square (tied) when both players or teams have won the same number of holes.

Angle of Approach

The angle at which the clubhead strikes the ball. This affects the trajectory the ball will travel and spin.

Approach Shot

A shot taken with the intention of landing on the green, typically with a low iron or wedge for maximum height, spin and stopping ability.


\ˈā-prən, -pərn\

The grass surface on the perimeter of the green that separates it from the surrounding fairway or rough. The grass is typically shorter than that of the fairway but longer than that of the green.


The golfer who is furthest from the hole. Golf etiquette holds that the player who is away takes the next shot.



Typically refers to the spine—the straight line around which the body rotates on the swing.

Back Nine

Holes 9—18 on a golf course. The back nine is also called “heading in” or playing the “inward nine,” as the back nine traditionally leads players back towards the clubhouse.


A reverse spin that allows the ball to land softly and often roll backwards after it hits the turf.


The first part of the golf swing. The backswing starts with the clubhead immediately behind the ball and ends when the clubhead travels back behind the player's head.


Achieving proper weight distribution throughout the golf swing.

Ball Mark

The indentation made when a golf ball lands on the green. Also known as a “pitch mark.” Golf etiquette holds that players should repair their marks with a divot repair tool (or a tee if a standard tool is not available).

Ball Marker

A token or a small coin used to spot the ball’s position on the green prior to lifting it.

Ball Speed

The speed at which the ball travels after being struck by the club. Achieving a high golf ball speed is a key contributing factor to maximizing distance and carry off the tee. Matching your swing with the correct golf ball compression will result in longer, straighter shots that stay true to their target.

Ball Washer

A device found on many tees for cleaning golf balls.

Banana Ball

A ball-flight trajectory in the shape of a banana that is often the result of a severe slice.

Bare Lie

When the ball lies directly on hard ground without any grass to raise the ball up.

Baseball Grip

A grip in which all 10 fingers are on the club, similar to the way one would grip a baseball bat. Also known as the “ten-finger grip.”

Best Ball

A form of team play using two-, three-, or four-person teams. The team score on each hole is the lowest score obtained by one of the team members. For example, if player A has a 5, player B has a 6, player C has a 4, and player D has a 5, the "best ball" and team score is a 4.



A hole whose green incorporates a deep gulley that effectively splits the putting surface in two. Named after a famous example at La Phare Golf Club in Biarritz, France.


A hole played one stroke under par.



A form of play that allows players to choose on which holes they use their handicap. Players must announce that they intend to use handicap stroke(s) before starting play on a given hole.


A term describing a ball that stops immediately when it hits the green.

Bladed Shot

To hit the ball with the leading edge of the iron, often resulting in a low shot with little to no spin. The terms "skull" and "thin" are used interchangeably with blade.


A bunker shot that sends the ball, and accompanying sand, onto the green.


A shot that does not allow the golfer to see where the ball will land, such as onto an elevated green from below.

Block Shot

A shot played severely to the right.


Either raising or lowering the swing center during the swing.



A hole played one stroke over par.


The amount of break a player accounts for when putting.


Refers to the angle produced between the sole of the club, the leading edge of the face, and the ground (flat surface). The greater the bounce, the more appropriate the club is for a steeper swing (such as greenside chips or bunker shots).

Bounce Back

Scoring a birdie or better on a hole immediately following a bogey or worse.



When the top wrist is bent slightly inward at the top of the golf swing.


Refers to the angles in which the ground is sloped on the green. Being able to read breaks gives you a clear advantage and lower overall scores.

Bump and Run

A low-trajectory shot that is intended to get the ball rolling along the fairway and up onto the green. Similar to a chip shot but played from a greater distance.


A section of the course, usually with high traffic, that is typically filled with sand. In some cases, a bunker will not have sand and instead challenges the player by creating a more difficult lie. Also called a “sand trap.”



A person, often paid, who carries a player's clubs and offers advice. Players are responsible for the actions of their caddies. Players cannot receive advice from anyone other than their caddy or partner.

Cadet Glove

A golf glove with shorter fingers than a regular glove.



A wager, typically in support of one team to win a tournament. In a Calcutta, golfers bid—auction style—on the team (or golfer) they think will win the tournament.



The curvature of the sole of a golf club from heel to toe and front to back

Carbon Fiber

Super strong and lightweight material; used in golf shoes to provide support while reducing shoe weight.


Drives and iron shots with high carry result in additional yardage. This added distance can be the difference between landing in a water hazard or sand trap and landing safely on the green or fairway.


The four-wheeled electrical or gas-powered vehicle for use in transporting players and their equipment from hole to hole. Also, a hand-pulled (two-wheel) or hand-pushed (three-wheel) cart for carrying a bag of clubs.

Cart Secure

An innovative design element of newer golf bags. Pockets are positioned in a way so that the strap of a riding cart can go through the golf bag, not obstructing or hindering access to pockets.


An uncocking of the wrists on the downswing that results in a loss of power.

Casual Water

Any temporary standing water visible after a player has taken his stance. Snow and ice can also be taken as casual water, as well as water that overflows the banks of existing water hazards.


Any iron whose design characteristic is such that the weight is distributed primarily around the outer edges of the clubhead in order to maximize forgiveness on off-center hits.

Center of Gravity (CG)

The center of gravity varies from club to club. A common misconception is that the CG is always dead-center in the middle of the club. Usually the CG falls higher up on the club's face and closer to the heel. Hitting a golf ball at the precise CG results in the greatest trampoline-like effect, springing the ball forward for maximum distance and carry.

Centrifugal Force


An apparent force that acts outward on a body moving around a center, such as the force on the downswing that pulls the clubhead outward and downward.

Center of Rotation

The “swing center” around which the body winds and unwinds on the swing (i.e. the spine).

Characteristic Time (CT)

The flexibility of the clubhead at the moment of impact with a golf ball, measured in microseconds (μsecs). Whenever a club face offers a "spring-like" or “trampoline-like” effect, it is in direct relation to the club's characteristic time.

Chicken Wing

Occurs when the lead elbow bends at an angle pointed away from the body.

Chili Dipping

A swing that results in the clubhead hitting the ground before the ball, resulting in a large chunk of ground being taken as a divot. Also called a “chunk” or "fat shot.”


A short shot (typically played from very close to and around the green) that is intended to travel through the air over a very short distance and roll the remainder of the way to the hole.

Choke Down

Placing your grip farther down the shaft to increase control.


A swing that results in the clubhead hitting the ground before the ball, resulting in a large chunk of ground being taken as a divot. Also called a "fat shot” or "chili-dipping.”

Closed Grip

Also known as a strong grip, this occurs when both hands are turned away from the target.

Closed Face

When (in relation to the target line) the club face is angled toward the player's body.

Closed Stance

When a player's front foot is set closer to the target line. Used to draw the ball or to prevent a slice.

Closed-to-Open Swing

Occurs when the clubhead is closed during the backswing but opens up during the downswing.


The part of a club that is used to strike the ball.


The surface of the clubhead that is designed to strike the golf ball. Striking the ball with the center of the clubface maximizes distance and accuracy.


A building on a golf course providing facilities for golfers, typically including changing rooms, bar, restaurant, offices for club officials and noticeboards with information about local rules, the conditions of the course, upcoming events, etc.

Cocked Wrists

The hinging motion of the wrists on the backswing; the wrists fully cocked in a clockwise direction at the top of the backswing.

Coefficient of Restitution (COR)

A method of measuring how much energy is lost whenever a club makes impact with a golf ball and is expressed as a value between 0.0 (all energy is lost) and 1.0 (no energy is lost). Golfers should seek out drivers with a high COR rating—the less energy lost at impact, the further your ball will fly. To abide by USGA regulations, drivers must have a COR factor of less than 0.83. The vast majority of drivers naturally fit into this standard.


The manner in which the body turns around the spine on the backswing.


A putt required after the previous putt went past the hole.


To hit the ball at a slightly downward angle.


The measurement for expressing the hardness of a golf ball, normally 90 compression. Harder balls (100 compression) are intended for players with faster swings but may also be useful in windy conditions.



A four-under par shot; for example, a hole-in-one on a par 5. Also be called a “triple eagle.”

Control (Spin)

Minimizing spin off the tee results in a higher golf ball trajectory and longer drives while maximizing spin around the green resulting in shorter putts and lower scores. Multi-piece constructed golf balls offer both of these technologies in a single package.


A method of determining a winner of a competition in the event of a tie. There are several different methods used, but typically the scores in the last nine, last six, last three and final hole are compared in turn until a winner emerges.

Counterbalance Putters

A modern putter with extra weight in both the grip and clubhead. This weighting technique prevents golfers from rotating their hands as they putt for better stability, smoothness and accuracy.

Course Rating

Course rating is a numerical value given to each set of tees at a particular golf course to approximate the number of strokes it should take a scratch golfer to complete the course.


Refers to the outer-most layer of a golf ball. Most covers tend to be made out of durable Surlyn®, urethane or ionomer materials to help prevent scuffs, cuts and other flight-altering damage.


A putting (and, occasionally, full-swing) grip in which the hands are placed in positions opposite that of the conventional grip. For right-handed golfers, a cross-handed grip would place the left hand below the right. Also known as the "left-hand low" grip, it has been known to help players combat the yips.


The top of the driver, fairway wood or hybrid club.

Cupped Wrist

A position at the top of the golf swing in which the top hand is hinged outward.

Cuppy Lie

A lie in which the ball sits lower than it normally would, usually due to a depression in the ground.


The reduction in the size of the field during a multiple-round, stroke-play tournament. The cut is usually set so that a fixed number of players, plus anyone tied for that place, or anyone within a certain number of strokes of the lead will participate in the subsequent round(s).

Cut Shot

A shot similar to a fade, a cut curves from left to right (for a right-handed player), but is generally higher in trajectory.

Dead Hands

A swing in which the hands remain relatively still though impact. This technique can be particularly useful on wedge shots.


Slowing the clubhead in the hitting area before contact, resulting in a significant loss of power.

Deep-Faced Driver

A driver where the distance from the sole to the crown is deeper than normal.


Small, circular indentations that cover the outside of a golf ball. Dimples increase aerodynamics for longer distance and better carry. Some manufacturers improve upon the standard round dimple by adding smaller, inner dimples or even making them hexagon shaped to perfectly cover the outside of the ball without any imperfections/irregularities.


(i) The chunk of grass and earth displaced during a stroke. (ii) The indentation on the green caused by the ball on an approach shot. Players should repair these marks with a divot repair tool.


A hole where the fairway is straight for some distance and then bends to the left or right. These holes are so named because they resemble the shape of a dog's leg.



A situation in match play when a player leads by as many holes as there are holes left to play. For example, four up with four holes to play is called "dormie four.”

Double Bogey

A hole played two strokes over par.

Double Cross

Occurs when a player intends to hit a fade and hits a hook or intends to play a draw and hits a slice.

Double Eagle

A hole played three strokes under par. Also called an “albatross.”


A motion involving the body and golf club used to move the club from the top of the swing to the point of impact.


For right-handed golfers, the ball has a slight arc to the left. For a left-handed golfer, the ball has a slight arc to the right. For most right-handed golfers, a draw is a desired ball flight path because it can add additional yards to your drives and iron shots.


The first shot of each hole, made from an area called the teeing ground, usually done with a driver.

Driving Range

A designated area for practicing golf shots; may be a stand-alone facility or part of a golf course. Most stand-alone facilities offer multiple hitting bays, where players hit balls off of a mat. Course ranges are typically used for pre-round practice/warm-up.


Designed to hit the golf ball farther than any other club in the bag, the driver is the lowest lofted club (with the exception of the putter) and typically features the largest clubhead and longest shaft of any club carried on the course. Women’s drivers are typically shorter, lighter and more flexible than men’s drivers.

Duck Hook

A severe low hook that barely gets airborne.


Typically, a shot where very little or no contact is made between the clubface and golf ball.


Short for "durable water repellant," DWR coating makes fabrics water resistant.

Dynamic Balance

The appropriate transfer of weight on the golf swing.


A hole played two strokes under par.

Early Hit

Uncocking the wrists on the downswing, which typically results in a loss of power.

Effective Loft

The actual loft of the club at impact.


A score equal to par.

Executive Course

Traditionally a very short golf course comprised mostly of par 3s and short par 4s.

Explosion Bunker Shot

A bunker shot that sends the ball, and accompanying sand, onto the green. Also known as a "blast.”

European Tour

One of the world's leading professional golf tours, along with the PGA Tour. Based in Europe, but also co-sanctions the major championships and World Golf Championships in the United States, along with many other tournaments in Asia, Africa and Australia.


The width of the swing.


For right-handed golfers, the ball has a slight arc to the right. For left-handed golfers, the ball has a slight arc to the left.


The area of the course between the tee and green that is well maintained, allowing for a good lie for the ball.

Fairway Hit (FH)

A fairway is considered hit if any part of the ball is touching the fairway surface after the tee shot on a par 4 or 5. Percentage of fairways hit is one of many statistics kept by the PGA Tour.

Fairway Markers

Fairway markers indicate the distance from the marker to the center of the green. Some fairway markers give the yardage. Most are color-coded as follows: yellow=250 yards, blue=200 yards, white=150 yards, red=100 yards. These colors are not standardized and may vary based on the specific course layout. Also called “yardage markers.”

Fat Shot

A stroke in which the club makes contact with the turf before the ball, resulting in a poor contact and significant loss of distance. Also called “hitting it fat,” “chunking” or “chili dipping.”


An important attribute in any golf ball—the perfect feel is necessary to ensure long, accurate shots and instill confidence in the player. Softer golf balls (70–80 compression) offer more spin with low irons and wedges, providing greater stopping abilities on the green. Harder golf balls (90+ compression) create less spin off the tee with the driver and long irons, providing further overall distance.


A tall marker, often a metal pole with a flag at the top, used to indicate the position of the hole on a green. Also called the "pin.”



The base of the golf club that sits on the ground and projects backward from the club’s leading edge.

Flat Swing

Refers to a backswing that is more horizontal than normal. Essentially, the lead arm is nearly parallel to the ground on the back swing, which tends to result in hooked shots.


A measurement indicating how much the shaft of a golf club bends during the swing. Clubs are typically offered in an assortment of flexes such as Ladies, Senior/Amateur, Regular, Stiff and Extra Stiff. Flex can greatly influence the accuracy, trajectory and distance of your shots. The faster a golfer swings, the greater the potential for the club to flex, making it more difficult to hit a shot with a square club face. Stiffer clubs help reduce this flexing, making it easier for golfers with faster swing speed to hit pure shots.


A type of lie where the ball is in the rough and grass is likely to become trapped between the ball and the club face at the moment of impact. Flier lies often result in "flier shots,” which have little or no spin (due to the blades of grass blocking the grooves on the club-face) and travel much farther than intended.

Flip Shot

A high but short shot used near the green.


A ball hit from tall grass, such as the rough, that typically results in a slow, short shot.

Flop Shot

Described as having a high launch angle, capable of landing softly and with enough spin to stop in place or roll towards the cup.

Fluffy Lie

A ball sitting atop tall grass.

Follow Through

The final part of a golf swing, after the ball has been hit.


A warning shout given when there is a chance that the ball may hit other players or spectators.

Fore Caddy

One employed by a golfer or group of golfers to walk ahead of the players in order to spot the fall of their shots and find their balls. More commonly used in the days of hand-made feathery balls when the cost of replacing a ball would be greater than the fore caddy's fee. Today in professional tournaments, ball spotters are normally placed at each hole for the same purpose.


A contest between two sides each consisting of two players, where every individual plays his/her own ball throughout. On every hole, the lower of the two partner's scores is matched against the lower of the opposition's scores. The format can be used in both stroke play and match play and is sometimes referred to as “better ball.”


A common reference to any group of four players on the course.

Free Drop

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the shot, rules may allow for a free drop without penalty.


The act of hitting a golf ball that ricochets off a tree back onto the fairway.

Fried Egg

A lie in which the golf ball is almost completely surrounded by sand and resembles a fried egg.



The closely mowed area surrounding the green. The grass in between the green and the fairway.

Front Nine

Holes one through nine on a golf course. Playing the front nine is also called “heading out,” or playing the “outward nine.”

Full-Length Dividers

Club dividers, in golf bags, that run the entire length of the bag. Full-length dividers provide better protection than simple top dividers, because each club is stored in its own compartment.



A ball that has come to rest very close to the hole, leaving only a very short putt to be played. Often, recreational golfers will concede tap-ins to each other to save time. When conceding a gimme putt, players will often use the phrase “that’s good.”

Goldie Bounce

When the ball strikes a tree deep in the rough and bounces out onto the fairway.

Golden Ferret

A shot from a bunker that goes into the hole.

Golf Simulator

An indoor, virtual-reality system that simulates the experience of playing on a real golf course.

Golf Spikes

Located on strategic portions of the outsole to provide traction throughout your swing.


Long-lasting waterproof treatment that keeps feet dry and comfortable by preventing external moisture penetration and allowing the foot's natural moisture to escape.


The direction in which the grass grows, specifically on the green. Depending on the variety of grass used on the green and mowing patterns, grain can significantly influence the speed and movement of a putt.

Grand Slam

An unofficial term that refers to winning all of golf's major championships in the same calendar year. In men’s golf, this consists of The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship—no player has ever accomplished this feat. There is also the men’s career grand slam, which refers to winning each of the aforementioned tournaments at least once during the course of one’s career.


The area of specially prepared grass around the hole, where putts are played.

Green Fee

The charge made for a round of golf by the course management.


A variation of foursomes, where each side consists of two players. Both players in a pair hit a tee shot and then decide which shot is best, picking up the other ball. The players then alternate shots until the hole is completed. The golfer whose tee shot was NOT selected always hits the second shot. So, if Player A's tee shot is selected, the playing order from the tee will be A-B-A-B etc. until the ball is holed out. If player B's tee shot is selected, the playing order will be B-A-B-A etc. The team with the lowest score wins the hole.

Green in Regulation (GIR)

Reaching the green in a designated number of strokes that vary by hole: one for a par 3, two for a par 4 and three for a par 5).


The area where the player grasps the club. The majority of clubs come preinstalled with a standard grip from the manufacturer. Replacement grips are available in a variety of sizes, colors and textures.

Grounding the Club

To place the clubface behind the ball on the ground at address. Grounding the club is prohibited in bunkers or when playing from any marked hazard.

Ground Under Repair (GUR)

Any area of the course that is currently under repair or being redone. These areas are usually clearly marked with signs or stakes.


The crevices on the face of a club that are designed to impart spin on the ball.


A term for an unskilled golfer.


In match play, a hole is halved (or tied) when both players or teams have played the same number of strokes.

Half Shot

A shorter swing with less power that is often used to avoid trouble.


A number assigned to each player based on his ability and used to adjust each player's score to provide equality among the players.


A player with too much wrist movement in their golf swing or putting stroke, causing inconsistent shots or putts.


Very hard—usually bare—ground conditions. Generally, hardpan refers to hard, dry clay, with very little or no grass.


Any bunker or permanent water including any ground marked as part of that water hazard. Special rules apply when playing from a hazard.


The end of a golf club, beneath the hosel.

High Side

The side of the hole on which a putt breaks.


A player known for a very aggressive, powerful swing.

Hole in One

Hitting the ball from the tee into the hole, using only one stroke.


For right-handed golfers, the ball flight path curves severely to the left. For left-handed golfers, the ball flight path curves severely to the right. This swing irregularity is caused by rotating the wrists too quickly during follow through and keeping the clubface closed at impact.


The area of the golf club where the shaft meets and is joined with the clubhead.


A club that combines the distance of a fairway wood with the playability of an iron.


The moment at which the clubface makes contact with the ball.

In Contention

A player within reach of the lead in a tournament.

Inside-to-In Swing

The ideal swing path in which the clubhead begins inside the target line, makes impact, and returns inside the target line.


Innermost layer of the shoe bottom, providing support and comfort.

Interlocking Grip

Grip style in which (for right-handed golfers) the pinky finger of the right hand is hooked around the index finger of the left.


A golf ball cover material similar to urethane but harder, resulting in greater distance with less greenside spin ability that's inherent in urethane covers.


Exceptionally soft golf ball cover material that is also durable and shear resistant. Helps produce speed for greater distance and touch around the green.


A club with a flat-faced solid metal head generally numbered from one to nine to indicate increasing loft.


A putting stroke that is short, quick and often erratic.


The way in which a golf ball bounces upon landing.

Knock Down

A type of shot designed to have a very low trajectory, usually employed to combat strong winds.


(i) A long putt designed to simply get the ball close to the hole. (ii) During the downswing, how far the clubhead "lags" behind the hands prior to release.

Lateral Slide (Shift)

Simultaneously sliding the hips towards the target and shifting weight from trailing side to target side.

Lay Up

When a golfer purposefully hits a shorter shot than he is capable of making, typically to avoid a hazard or put the ball in a more favorable spot to approach the hole.

Lay Off

Occurs when the clubhead points left of the target (for a right-handed golfer) at the top of the backswing.

Level Par

A score of even par.


How the ball is resting on the ground, which may add to the difficulty of the next stroke.

Lie Angle

The lie angle of a golf club refers to the angle, of an upright club, between the hosel and ground. The lie angle of a club can greatly affect the flight and trajectory of a golf ball. A club that is too upright will pull shots to the left of the target while a club that is too flat will push shots to the right of their target.


The path the ball is expected to take following a stroke. It is considered poor etiquette to step on another player’s line.

Local Rule

An addition to the rules of golf applying to abnormal conditions that may be found on a particular golf course.

Lob Shot

A short, high shot intended to land softly.


The angle at which the clubface addresses the golf ball. A lower-lofted club will produce a ball that flies lower, straighter and further while a higher-lofted club produces a shot that is more arc shaped, has greater spin/stopping ability and flies a shorter distance.

Long Irons

In modern terms, “long iron” typically refers to a 2-, 3- or 4-iron. This used to include the 1-iron, but that club has virtually become obsolete.

Looking Up

Pulling your head up early on the swing to watch the flight of the ball, instead of keeping your head down and completing the swing properly; typically results in poor ball striking.


The shape resulting when the backswing and forward swing are on different planes.

Loose Impediment

A small natural item that is not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or stuck to the ball, such as a small stone or leaf. Unless found within a hazard, players are generally permitted to move them away, but if the ball is moved while doing so, there is a one-stroke penalty.

Loosened Grip

When the fingers come apart on the swing.


The “Ladies Professional Golf Association”—a U.S.-based organization that operates the world's most significant women's golf tour.


The most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. For men, there are four major tournaments per year: The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. For women, the major tournaments currently consist of the U.S. Women’s Open, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open, ANA Inspiration and The Evian Championship.

Match Play

A form of golf play where players or teams compete against each other on a hole-by-hole basis. The number of holes won determines the winner.

Medal Play

Style of scoring in which the player with the fewest strokes wins. Most professional tournaments use medal play. Also known as "stroke play.”

Member's Bounce

Any favorable bounce of the golf ball that improves what initially appeared to be an errant shot.

Middle Irons

Typically refers to the 5-, 6- and 7-irons.


Layer of the shoe between the outsole and insole. The midsole primarily functions as a shock absorber.


A shot not hit square on the face.


To incorrectly judge the correct line of a putt.

Moment of Inertia (MOI)


An important attribute in regards to selecting a putter. The higher the Moment of Inertia, the less important hitting your shot directly on the sweet spot becomes. Higher MOI putters help minimize the effects of mishits, reduced distance and control.

Mud Ball

A golf ball that has soil or other debris stuck to it that can affect its flight.



A do-over that a player typically requests after a poor shot. The initial shot does not count as a stroke. The mulligan is used in casual rounds only.



Three separate bets wagered during a single round: the best score on the front nine, back nine and total 18 holes.


Another name for the hosel of a golf club; the area where the shaft meets the clubhead.

No Card (NC)

A player is reported as “NC” if he does not turn in a scorecard for the round. Exceptions are made for injuries.

Off-Green Putting

Choosing to putt rather than chip/pitch a ball sitting off the green.


The offset of a club refers to the number of degrees further back the clubface is positioned in relation to the hosel. A club with a greater offset will be rotated further back than a club with a lesser offset.

One-Piece Takeaway

A technique used during the first motion of the backswing in which the hands, wrists and arms move at the same time.

Open Clubface

An open clubface is defined whenever the toe of the club is behind the heel at impact. This typically produces a slice (for right-handed golfers).

Open (Weak) Grip

When the hands are turned counter-clockwise on the club.

Open Stance

When a player pulls his front foot backwards slightly, typically to hit a fade or prevent a hook.

Open-to-Closed Swing

When the clubface opens on the backswing and closes at impact.


A score of -5, or five under par, on a single hole. This can only be achieved by scoring a hole in one on a par 6, making it an extremely rare occurrence.

Outside Agency

In match play: any agency other than either the player's or opponent's side, any caddie of either side, any ball played by either side at the hole being played or any equipment of either side. In stroke play: any agency other than the competitor's side, any caddie of the side, any ball played by the side at the hole being played or any equipment of the side. An outside agency includes a referee, a marker, an observer and a forecaddie. Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.

Outside-to-In Swing

A swing path where the clubhead approaches the ball from outside the target line and travels inside the target line on the follow through.

Out of Bounds

An area where play is prohibited—players must either drop a ball within play or hit a provisional shot.


Outermost layer of the shoe that is in direct contact with the ground. On golf shoes, it features removable spikes and/or spikeless traction fixtures.


Picking too strong a club for the given shot.

Overlapping Grip

For right-handed golfers, placing the pinky finger of the right hand (trailing hand) between the index and middle fingers on the left hand (leading hand). Reverse for left-handed golfers. Also known as the “Vardon grip.”

Over the Top

Occurs when one sends the clubhead towards the ball from outside the target line on the downswing; also known as an “outside-to-in” swing.


The speed of a golf swing or the speed of the greens.

Paddle Grip

A putting grip with a flat surface on which the thumbs come to rest.


The number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to complete a hole.


The route the club takes on a swing or putt.

Penalty Stroke

An additional stroke added to a player’s score because of a rules violation (such as an unplayable lie, lost ball, water hazard, etc.).

Pendulum Stroke

A putting technique in which the clubhead moves along a constant line without deviation.

Perimeter Weighting

A feature of modern putters in which the weight of the putter head is spread out over a larger space, in a more stylized way.

PGA Tour

The organizer of the main male professional golf tours in the United States and North America.


Slang for "flagstick."

Pin High

Refers to a ball on the green that is positioned along an imaginary horizontal line through the hole and across the width of the green.

Pistol Grip

A putter grip that is built up over the left or top hand.


A short shot (typically from within 50 yards) usually played with a higher-lofted club and made using a less than full swing.


A short shot near the green in which the ball carries for a short distance before landing and rolling towards the hole.

Pitch Mark

A divot left by a ball that lands on the green. Players should repair such marks with a divot repair tool.


The body’s rotation around a relatively fixed point.

Play Through

Occurs when a slow-moving group of players allows the golfer(s) behind them to pass.

Plugged Lie

Whenever a golf ball firmly lands in soft dirt/earth—frequently happens in wet conditions. Also known as a "buried lie" or, when in a bunker, a "fried egg."


A method for reading putts in which you position yourself behind the ball and hold the putter vertically behind the ball, which should indicate how the putt will break.


A lie where the ball is on the lip of a lake or other water hazard.

Plus Handicap

A golf handicap less than zero. A “plus” handicap golfer must add his handicap to his score rather than subtract it.


A tee shot that goes straight up in the air, the result of the clubhead hitting under the ball. Also known as a “sky shot.”

Preferred Lies

A local rule allowing golfers, on certain parts of the course, to lift the ball and improve the lie without incurring a penalty.

Pre-Shot Routine

The steps a player takes to prepare for his or her shot, from club selection through the swing. It typically involves taking practice swings and visualizing the intended shot.


When a golfer tries to hit the ball harder than usual. Can also refer to the way a player approaches the game when feeling extra pressure to perform well.


A golfer who plays for financial gain. Can refer to a touring professional or a teaching professional (also called a “club pro”).

Pro Shop

A shop on the grounds of a golf course where golf equipment can be purchased.

Pulled Shot

For a right-handed golfer, a shot that travels straight but left of the intended target.

Punch Shot

A shot played with a very low trajectory, usually to avoid interference from tree branches when a player is hitting from a wooded area. Similar to the knock-down, it can also be used to avoid high winds.

Pushed Shot

For a right-handed golfer, a shot that goes straight but to the right of the intended target.


A shot played on the green, usually with a putter.


A special golf club with a very low loft that makes the ball roll along the green with top-spin.

Quadruple Bogey

A hole played four strokes over par.


The governing body of golf throughout the world, except the United States and Mexico.


The distance between the center of the swing arc (the target or front shoulder) and the hands at the grip.

Raised Swing Center

Lifting the head on the golf swing, typically referred to as “looking up.”


A measuring device typically used to determine your distance from the hole.


A person who patrols the course, making sure all rules are followed, play is kept to a reasonable speed and to assist with other difficulties (faulty cart, injury, etc.).


To putt with a short, firm stroke.

Reading the Green/Putt

Judging how the ball will break on a putt.

Ready Golf

A method of golf which speeds up the progress of play—instead of playing based on honor, golfers play based on whoever is ready/at their shot and prepared to hit.


To hit a good shot from a difficult location (rough, bunker, etc.).



A hole that with a green which slopes downward and away from the point of entrance.


The point in the downswing at which the wrists uncock, which should occur when the clubhead returns squarely to the ball. Also, the forward motion of a ball played onto a green after the braking effects of backspin have ceased.

Rescue Club

Another name for a hybrid.

Reverse Bounce Back

Scoring a bogey or worse on a hole immediately following a birdie or better.

Reverse Weight Shift

Shifting your weight forward on the backswing instead of to the back leg, which typically results in a poor swing lacking power.


Longer, denser grass that borders the fairway. This grass is more difficult to hit from and should be avoided.

Rub of the Green

Occurs when the ball is deflected or stopped by a third party/object.


The distance a ball travels after it lands.


A golfer that carries a higher official handicap than his skills dictate.

Sand Save

Occurs when a player manages to save par after landing in a greenside bunker.

Sand Trap

A deep depression filled with sand, also referred to as a “bunker.”

Sand Wedge

A lofted club that is particularly useful when playing out of bunker.


A score of par or better on a hole that included a bunker shot.

Scoring Clubs

The driver, wedge and putter.


Style of play in in which each member of a foursome hits a shot, and the group then decides which of the shots has the best playability. This pattern begins with the tee shot and continues until the hole is completed.

Scratch Golfer

A player with a handicap of zero.


When any body part and/or the club move at a different pace from the rest of the swing.


The process of addressing the golf ball.


A main component of any golf club. Typically made from steel or graphite and available in a variety of flexes (Ladies, Senior/Amateur, Regular, Stiff or Extra Stiff) depending on swing speed.


An erratic shot in which the golf ball is struck by the hosel of the club, typically shooting the ball off to the right.


Intentionally curving a shot to fit a particular situation on the course.


A severe hook, so named because it resembles the shape of a shrimp.

Short Game

Shots that take place on or near the green. Putting, chipping, pitching and greenside bunker play are all aspects of the short game.

Short Irons

The 8-iron, 9-iron and pitching wedge.

Short Side

The side of the green on which the hole is cut.


A position in the golf swing when the clubface is closed relative to the target line.


Telling the ball to drop softly and not roll after landing.


A type of match play in which each hole has a set value (usually in money or points).


To hit the ball with the leading edge of an iron, often resulting in a low shot with little to no spin. The terms "blade" and "thin" are used interchangeably with skull.


A high, short shot that occurs when the clubhead strikes the underside of the ball.


For right-handed golfers, the ball flight path curves severely to the right. This swing irregularity is caused by the golfer placing the head in front of the golf ball, too weak/too strong of a grip on the club, poor ball position, the golfer shifting their body mid-swing or having an open clubface at impact.

Slope Rating

A number, from 55 to 155, used to determine the level of difficulty of a golf course.

Snap Hook

For a right-handed golfer, a severe hook that usually goes directly left as well as curving from right to left.


A score of eight on a hole, as the numeral “8” resembles the body of a snowman.


The bottom of the club that rests against the ground.


The pace of a putt.

Splash Shot

A shot played out of a bunker from a good lie in which the club “splashes” through the sand on the swing.


A once-popular nickname for the 3-wood.


Another term used to describe the process of marking the ball on the green so it can be lifted.

Spot Putting

Rather than aiming directly for the hole, spot putting involves focusing on a spot about six inches in front of the ball.


To hit the ball in seemingly random directions.

Square Face

For optimal distance, a straight flight path and maximum consistency, the clubface should be square when striking the golf ball.


The way in which one positions the feet at address.


Making an effort to control the ball’s flight, which typically results in a loss of power.


A device used to measure the speed of putting greens.


A club with very little loft.

Stroke Play

A form of competition based on the total number of strokes taken, either in a single round or over the course of several rounds. Also known as “medal play.”

Strong Grip

A counter-clockwise grip.


To block another golfer’s putting path to the hole with one's own ball.

Sunday Bag

A small and lightweight golf bag. In the past caddies were not available on Sundays, leaving the golfer to carry his own equipment.


Extremely durable, synthetic and one of the main materials used to make golf ball covers.


An exaggerated lateral movement during the swing that typically results in a poor shot.

Sweet Spot

The location on the clubface where the optimal ball-striking results are achieved.

Swing Arc

The path the clubhead takes throughout the golf swing.


A player whose swing is contingent upon timing and rhythm rather than pure power.

Swing Plane

The path the club shaft follows on the swing.


The measurement of the head-weight feel of the club.


The first movement of the club that begins the backswing.


Also called a “gimme,” a tap-in is a ball that has come to rest very close to the hole, leaving only a very short putt to be played. Often, recreational golfers will "concede" tap-ins to each other to save time.

Target Line

An imaginary line that runs behind and through the ball to its intended target.


A small peg, usually made of wood or plastic, upon which the golf ball may be placed prior to the first stroke on a hole. May also refer to the “teeing ground.”

Teeing Ground

The designated area from which players tee off on each hole. While “teeing ground” is the term used in official rule books, this area is commonly referred to as the “tee box,” or simply the “tee.”

Tee Markers

Colored indicators that point out the respective tees for ladies, seniors, men and pro players. The colors typically indicate the following: Black or Gold: Used for pro-level or high-level amateur tournaments. Many public courses will not have these tee markers. Blue: Typically used during local or club championship play. Skilled players also often choose to play from the blues. White: Used by most recreational golfers. Red: Indicates the women’s tee. Skilled female players may choose to play from the whites. Green: Junior/beginner tee. Gold or Yellow: Senior tee.


The speed of the swing from first movement, through the ball strike, to the follow through.

Tending the Flag

The act of removing the flagstick and holding it against the back of the hole so other players can see the hole from their lie.

Ten-Finger Grip

Grip style in which all ten fingers are on the club. Also known as the “baseball grip.”

Texas Wedge

Using a putter to play a ball from well off the green as an alternative to chipping and pitching.

Thin Shot

To hit the ball with the leading edge of an iron, often resulting in a low shot with little to no spin. The terms "blade" and "skull" are used interchangeably with thin.

Three-Quarter Shot

Using a shorter backswing and slower arm speed.


When putting, the imaginary line the ball will follow to and through the hole. It is considered poor etiquette to step on another player’s through-line.


A rise or level area on a tee or green.


The sequence of motions during the golf swing.


The tees that are farthest back on the course, typically the championship tees. When using these tees, players will often say they are “playing from the tips.”


The rounded front end of a golf club.

Topped Shot

An errant shot where the clubhead strikes the top half of the ball, causing the ball to roll or bounce rather than fly.


A player’s sense of feel on shots, especially putts.


Short for thermoplastic polyurethane; abrasion resistant, strong and flexible. It's often used as a soling material on golf shoes.


The height and angle at which a ball travels on a shot.


The part of the golf swing in which you go from the backswing to the downswing.

Tree Shot

A shot that hits a tree’s leaves, branches and/or trunk and results in a negative situation, i.e., going out of bounds, into a hazard or leaving the ball much shorter than anticipated.


A unique blend of materials built to maximize ball speed and promote lower driver spin for longer, straighter shots.

Triple Bogey

A hole played three strokes over par.


Releasing and straightening the wrists on the downswing.


A player can declare his ball unplayable at any time except when the ball is in a water hazard. The player must accept a one-stroke penalty and then play the ball as close as possible to the original spot, directly behind the ball at as far back a distance as the player wishes, or within two club lengths of the original spot but no closer to the hole.

Up and Down

Occurs when a player holes the ball in two strokes starting from off the green, typically a pitch, chip or bunker shot to get “up” on the green followed by a successful putt to get “down” into the hole.


The top portion of the shoe that covers the entirety of the foot. In golf shoes, uppers are often made of natural or synthetic leather.


An abnormally steep swing plane that can be used intentionally in certain situations.


Softer than Surlyn® and offers greater feel and control over the ball. A synthetic material usually found on multi-layer golf balls that provide high-spin performance and greater durability.

Vardon Grip

For right-handed golfers, placing the pinky finger of the right hand (trailing hand) between the index and middle fingers on the left hand (leading hand). It is named for Harry Vardon, one of the most successful golfers of the early 20th century.

Variable Face Thickness (VFT)

Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids that have a thick/thin construction for increased clubhead speed and more forgiveness on off-center hits.


Another term for shaking the clubhead when addressing the golf ball. This motion helps golfers steady themselves and relax their grip.

Water Hazard

Any body of water (river, creek, lake and in some cases ocean) or a ditch/rut (that may not even contain water). These areas are usually marked with yellow posts or ground markings representing an out-of-bounds area. These out-of-bounds areas usually offer a designated drop area where players can place their shot.

Weak Grip

Occurs when the hands on the grip are turned to the left (for a right-handed golfer).


A type of golf club; a subset of iron designed for short-range strokes.


Addressing your golf ball, swinging but missing or only making partial contact.

Winter Green

Typically an area of fairway used as a temporary putting green to prevent damage to the normal green during inclement winter weather.


Leading a tournament after every round.


A long club with a large head used to hit the ball across long distances. These clubs were originally made of wood but are almost exclusively made of metal today.

Worm Burner

A very low, hard shot that barely gets above the ground.

Yardage Marker

Indicate the distance to the center of the green. Some markers give the yardage. Most are color-coded as follows: yellow=250 yards, blue=200 yards, white=150 yards, red=100 yards. These colors are not standardized and may vary based on the specific course layout. Also called “fairway markers.”


A tendency to twitch during the swing.


A ball hit high and hard.