A Guide to the Language of Golf

A Guide to the Language of Golf

When it comes to playing golf, it seems the sport has a language of its own! Whether you’re an experienced golfer or just starting out it’s important to know a few of the most commonly used terms.


The Course

There are many elements of the golf course. Each section has its own name.


Tee Box

The starting point of every hole. A tee, a small peg made from wood or plastic is used to elevate the golf ball.



A long stretch of neatly maintained grass that runs between the tee box and the green. The fairway is considered the ideal landing area for shots off the tee. Fairways are always included on holes with a par-3 or par-4.



The smooth grassy area at the end of a fairway prepared for putting and positioning the hole. The grass is cut short enough to allow the ball to roll easily when a golfer is putting.



The closely mowed area between the green and the fairway. The grass is usually cut at a height that is shorter than the green yet taller than the fairway but still allows for the ball to roll across the surface.



Taller and coarser grass that borders the fairway. This area can also include plants and other vegetation that has overgrown. It’s advisable to try to keep your ball out of the rough while playing golf.



Anything on a golf course that could interfere with a player’s game and be hazardous to their score. Hazards includes bunkers, lakes, creeks, ocean or waste area. If your club touches any of these surfaces prior to playing your shot then a one stroke penalty applies.



A concave area of the golf course that contains sand. If your ball lands in a bunker, a one stroke penalty will apply if you club makes contact with the surface prior to playing your shot. A bunker is considered a hazard.



A slang term for sand bunker.



A patch of grass and earth displaced by a stroke.

Casual Water

A pool of water that is not part of the course and usually occurs after heavy rain. Snow, ice and the overflow of existing water hazards are also considered casual water.



Game Play

There are many terms used during a game of golf that refer to golf strokes.


Golf Swing

The movement a player makes with their body and club to hit the ball. Each player has their own unique swing. Most golfers find it can take a lot of time to perfect their own golf swing.



The first stroke a golfer takes from the tee box is called a drive. The club with the biggest head is called the driver and is designed to hit the ball the furthest distance from the tee.



A shot taken from the fairway to the green intended to finish as close to the flag on the green as possible. Most professional golfers believe that this shot can make a difference to your golf game.



Any shot taken on the green using a putter. The aim is to strike the ball gently, so it rolls along the green and into the hole.


Bank Shot

A shot where a steep slope is used to manipulate the direction or speed of the ball. The shot is used to get the ball to the fairway or green.


Chip Shot

A short shot intended to travel through the air over a very short distance and roll the remainder of the way to the hole.



A short, high arc shot. The intention of this shot is for the ball to land on the green without rolling across it.


Over Clubbing

Using a golf club that will hit the ball further than necessary. This technique may be used in windy conditions where the ball may not travel as far due to the resistance of the wind. By over clubbing, you can compensate for some of that distance that may be lost.



This refers to the ball that lies furthest from the cup when two or more golfers are playing. The player with the ball furthest away generally hits first.



A numerical measure of a golfer’s potential that is used to enable players of varying abilities to compete against each other. A handicap is calculated based on a golfer’s previous performances and the number is added or subtracted from your score at the end of the round. Most professional golfers will have a handicap.


Caddy / Caddie

A person employed to carry a player’s clubs and offers advice on aspects of the game such as distance and club choice. All professional golfers will use a caddy during tournaments.


The Turn

The halfway point in a round of golf. It’s named the turn as it indicates the point at which you ‘turn’ to go home.


Front Nine

Holes 1 – 9 on the golf course.


Back Nine

Holes 10 – 18 on a golf course.


Explosion Shot

A technique used by golfers to hit a ball out of a sand trap. It’s called an explosion shot as it sends the ball and sand towards the green.



A bad shot. This is generally a shot where very little or no contact is made between the club and the ball.



Used only when playing casually, a mulligan is a ‘do-over’ shot that replaces a poor shot. It is taken without counting the stroke towards the score. This shot is common during casual golf games and is not permitted during tournaments.



A warning shouted when the ball is heading towards a person.




A score in golf is determined by the number of shots it takes to complete the course.



A par is standard score for a hole determined by its length. Each hole on a golf course has a set amount of shots it should take to complete the hole. Every hole on the golf course is rated as par-3, par-4 and par-5. If it takes four shots to complete a hole that is classified as a par-4 then you have scored a par. The course par is the sum of the pars of each hole.



If a hole is completed with one shot less than the par, then you have scored a birdie.



When a hole is completed with two shots less than the par then an eagle has been scored.


Double Eagle or Albatross

A double eagle or an albatross is very rare but is achieved by scoring three under par.



Where a hole is completed one shot over par, you have scored a bogey.


Double Bogey

Two shots over par is a double bogey.


Triple Bogey

Requiring an extra three shots over par results in a triple bogey.



Commonly known and referred to as a hole-in-one, an ace is achieved by completing a hole in one shot.


Perfect Round

A perfect round is where a birdie or better is scored on all 18 holes of a round of golf. Needless to say, it’s not easy to achieve!


While it seems like there is a lot to know when it comes to speaking the language of golf, with time and experience you will master the terminology and start speaking like a professional golfer!