Learning the Lingo: Golf Slang & Terms

Many sports have their own vocabulary and golf is no exception. Learning golfing terminology can be like learning a foreign language at times.

Here at Golf Drives, we have put together an A-Z list of our favourite and the most commonly used golf phrases and terms, so you can be completely prepared the next time you hit the green.

A-Z Golf Slang and Terminology

A

“A” Game:A golfer’s best game which is executed on a regular basis.
Ace:Hitting the ball into the hole in one swing of the club.
Afraid of The Dark:When the putted ball refuses to fall into the hole.
Airmail:A golf shot which travels a considerably longer distance than planned.
Albatross (aka Double Eagle):This means a score of three strokes under Par, which as you can imagine is very rare.
All square:Tied score in match play.
Army Golf:Like a marching rhythm: Left-right-left, in the game of golf it means hitting the ball out of bounds to the left then to the right the next time.

B

Backhander:When you hit the ball casually with the back-side of the putter to “Hole” a very short putt.
Banana Ball:The ball travels in a ”banana-shaped” curve. A very sharp fade shot known as a “slice”.
Barkies:Hitting the golf ball at trees and obtaining a good score despite it.
Beach:Term used for a sand bunker.
Birdie:A score of one less than par.
Bite:If a ball has lots of backspin it is said to “bite” because it stays close to where it landed or may spin back toward the player. If a ball appears to be going past the hole a player may shout “pray” or a more humorous way can be to shout, “grow teeth!”.
Bogey:A score of one over par.
Bracket:To be prepared for a different situation where you need to hit a certain shot you will need to take additional clubs – one higher and one lower known as a Bracket.
Buzzard (aka Double Bogey):A score of two over par.

C

Cabbage (aka Spinach):If you hit the ball into inescapable thick rough.
Can:Refers to the “Cup” on the Green.
Carpet:Term which refers to the “Green”.
Casual water:A build-up of water on the golf course after heavy rain that is not part of a water hazard. The player can move the ball without penalty.
Cat Box:A sand bunker
Chicken Stick:If faced with a difficult shot, a golfer will choose a play-it-safe club that is within his capabilities to properly complete the shot.
Chili Dip (aka Fat/Chunk shot):Hitting the ground behind the ball before impact with the ball.
Chipping:Short shot usually made from just off the green.
Cuban:Putting action where the ball stops short of dropping into the cup.
Cup:The hole on the green – 4.5-inch diameter, 4-inch-deep.

D

Dance floor:Refers to the green.
Dawn patrol:Golfers who play at sunrise.
Dew Sweepers:Reference to players in a Professional Tournament who have the earliest Tee times (when the dew is still on the course), in the third or fourth round of the tournament.
Dog Track (aka Goat track):When a golf course is in poor condition.
Dribbler (aka Fat Shot):When a shot that only goes forward a few feet.
Duck Hook (aka Snap Hook):A ball that curves right to left on a low trajectory and off target.
Duffer (aka Hacker):An “inexperienced” or mediocre golfer.
Deep:A hole/flagstick that is located on the back of the green.
Divot:The small chunk of turf that is dislodged when a club head strikes the ground as a player hits the ball.
Drained:Slang term for having sunk a putt.
Draw:A golf shot (for a right-handed golfer) where the ball slowly moves right to left.
Drive:The first shot taken at the teeing ground at each hole.
Driver:The longest club with the biggest head, used for tee shots as it’s designed to hit the ball the farthest.
Duff:A bad shot.

E

Eagle:A score of two under par.
Executive course:A golf course that is shorter and has a lower par than regular golf courses suitable for beginner golfers and juniors.

F

Fade (aka Cut Shot):A golf shot (right handed golfer) in which the ball gradually moves left to right.
Fairway:The centre, short-mown portion of a golf hole in between the teeing ground and the green.
First tee:Where a round of golf play begins.
Flyer:Hit from the rough, a ball which goes a lot further than envisioned.
Fly the green:A shot that goes over the green.
Fore:Shouted when the ball is heading towards someone.
Forward tees:The teeing ground located closest to the green.
Flop shot:A golf shot which is hit quite high and short, which upon contact with the Green, rolls very little and stops. The ball is “Flopped” onto the putting surface.
Flub:A terrible shot which causes a loss in scoring.
Foot Wedge:Where the golfer uses his “foot” to push the ball into a better position.
Four-jack:On any given Green taking four putts to get the ball in the hole.
Fried Egg (aka Plugged):Where only the top half of the ball is visible when buried in a Sandtrap.
Frog Hair:Closely mown grass surrounding the Green.

G

Gimme:A shot so close that only a short putt is needed, and the other players agree can count automatically without being played.
Get up:An expression shouted at a ball that looks like it’s going to land short of the target.
Grounding:Setting the heel of the golf club on the ground.

H

Handicap:A numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability.
Honours:The right to tee off first based on having the best score on the last hole or being furthest away from the hole.
Hook:When a right-handed player strikes the ball such that it curves sharply from right to left.
Hot:A shot that goes faster than intended.
Hacker:An “inexperienced” or mediocre golfer.
Hand Wedge:Where the golfer uses his “hand” to nudge the ball into a better lie.

I

Iffy lie:A ball that is in an unfortunate lie and dubious whether the ball can be struck well for a good golf shot.
In the Leather:A putted ball close enough to the hole to be accepted by the other players.

J

Juicy lie:Offers a nice clean hit. A juicy lie indicates the ball is sitting on top of grass as if it is mounted on a short Tee.
Jungle:A ball hit into the deepest and rough area on the golf course.

K

Kick:A golfer who asks for a good kick is hoping for the ball to bounce in a good position.
Knee-knocker:A nervous reaction when a golfer has a short putt (3 to 4 feet) remaining for the next Putt.

L

Lay up:When trying to reach the Green could be a risky shot and it is a lot safer to hit a drive or fairway shot short of the Green.
Lip out:You have “lipped out” when your ball hits the lip but doesn’t go in the hole.
Loop:Refers to one 18-Hole circuit around the Golf Course.
Lumberjack:When a golfer hits a ball into a wooded area numerous times during a round and continues to hit the trees trying to get out of the woods.
Lie:While in play the Lie is the position/location of the golf ball.
Loft:The degree/angle of the face of the club.

M

Mickey Mouse course:Refers to a course with many short holes and bad maintenance.
Mulligan:Referring to a second shot from the Tee, after a bad first shot.
Match play:A golf format where the goal is to win individual holes rather than tallying the total of all the strokes.
Modified scramble (aka Shamble/ Texas Scramble):Tournament format where golfers select the best shot off the tee, move all balls to that spot, and play individual stroke play for the rest of the hole.

N

Nineteenth (19th) hole:The Clubhouse Bar.
Nip it:A Clean hit which tends to lessen the amount of backspin.
Nuked:When you gain a greater distance than your average or typical distance.

O

Out of Bounds (OB):The area of the course is often marked by white stakes which should be avoided where play is not allowed.

P

Pin (aka The Stick):The flagstick on the green standing inside the cup.
Playing through:When a group of golfers pass by another group of slower playing golfers.
Provisional ball:A second ball that is played if the first ball is or may be lost or out of bounds.
Putting:The golf stroke used to roll the ball on the green.

Q

Quick:Rushing your swing or trying to hit too hard.

R

Rainmaker:A golf shot with a very high trajectory.
Ready golf:To speed up or maintain the pace of play players will hit when ready.
Rough:The long grass bordering the fairway.

S

Scratch:A golfer with Zero handicap.
Snowman:Reference to scoring an 8 on a hole.
Skull:A stroke made above the equator of the ball which is mis-hit, resulting in a line-drive trajectory.
Sticks:The plural “sticks” means golf clubs not to be confused with flagstick.
Stroke play:A golf format in which the objective is to finish the game using the fewest total shots.

T

Tap in:A short, easy to make Putt.
Tester:Tends to test a golfer. It is where a Putt is too far away for a “Gimmie”, but short enough a good putting golfer can hole it.
The Tips (aka Championship Tees/Back Tees):The farthest teeing ground from the green, usually defined by blue, black or gold tee markers.
Thin (aka Skinny):A shot strike near the centre of the ball, characteristically causing a low flight.
The turn:The halfway point in a round of golf.

U

Up and down:Only taking two strokes to get the golf ball into the hole when your ball is resting around the green.
U-turn:A Putt that rolls almost all the way around the edge of the “Cup” before actually coming out and around without falling in.

V

Valleys:Relatively flat areas with sharp undulations between mounds on a green.
Victory lap:The circle a Putt makes around the rim of the Cup before going in.
Velcro:Is the speed of the Putting Green on a golf course.

W

Worm burner:A golf shot (not a putt) in which the ball never gets but a few feet off the ground.
Watery Grave:A final resting place for your “Miss-Hit” shot over a water hazard.
Whiff:A poor golf swing with a complete miss of the ball.

Y

Yips:Due to nervousness and lack of a smooth putting stroke, Yips is the inability to make short putts.
Yank:When a Putt is pulled sharply to the left.

Z

Zone:You’re said to be “in the zone” if you are playing well.

Gearing up for your next golfing trip

Now that you’ve learned the lingo, you’ll be all set for your next round of golf. If you’re heading off on holiday, why not arrive in style with one of our golf transfers? We can help you book your travel from the airport straight to your golf resort or 18-hole course, wherever you are. It’s convenient and hassle-free, so you can focus on your game (and your golf slang)! Simply fill out our transfer form to get an instant quote.

Looking for even more golf tips?

If you’re still looking for your next golfing holiday, check out our top five golf courses in the Algarve, Portugal and our guide to taking your golf clubs abroad. Our blog is full of resources designed to help you out on your next golfing trip.

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