Learning the Lingo: Golf Slang

Many sports have its 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 golfing terms and slang:

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.