The Complete Glossary of Golf Terms
Golf terms can confuse anyone who is not familiar with the game, or even beginners. I wanted to create a complete glossary for all of you so that you actually know what someone is talking about about during a round. I also have included links to articles that can help you learn more about the concept.
Short Sided – If you hit your approach shot on the side of the green where the pin is located. It makes your chip/pitch shot terribly difficult. Always aim for the “fat” side of the green to avoid this!
Fried Egg – Sometimes when your ball lands in the bunker it will get buried. It looks exactly like a fried egg!
Shank – This is the ugliest of all golf terms, and you shouldn’t say it out loud. A shank is when a golfer makes contact with the hosel of the club, and it usually sends the ball directly to the right.
Block – A block is when a golfer hits a shot directly to the right (for a right-handed golfer)
Pull – When a golfer says they pull their shot, they have hit it directly to the left.
Albatross – Another word for double eagle, or when scoring three under on a hole. This only occurs if you were to make a hole in one on a par 4, or hole out on your second shot in a par 5.
Press – If you are playing a betting game with your partners a press refers to making another bet. It is usually for the same amount as the original wager.
Chunk – When a golfer says “I chunked it” that usually means that they made contact behind the golf ball, and their club had dug into the ground too deeply. Also could be referred to as hitting it fat.
Greenie – If you are playing a gambling format like Nassau usually groups will make side bets. A greenie is a side bet usually played on a par 3, and the player who lands the ball closest to the pin (while on the green) wins the greenie.
Green in Regulation – One of the golf terms that you want to be part of your game – a green in regulation is when any part of the golf ball is touching the putting surface and the number of strokes taken is two fewer than par. For example, on a par 4 if you reach the putting surface with your first, or second shot you have hit the green in regulation.
Texas Wedge – A Texas Wedge is another term for using a putter any time you are off the green. Some players will elect to putt from the fairway, rough, or even the bunker sometimes.
Sandbagging – When a golfer claims they have a handicap that is much higher than their actual playing ability. If golfers compete against each other based on handicap this practice is frowned upon because that golfer will get extra strokes that they technically don’t deserve – don’t be a sandbagger, be honest!
Playing it “Up” or “Down” – Playing the ball down means that you have to hit your shot no matter what the lie is. In certain situations golfers are allowed to play the ball “up” meaning they can improve the lie. Sometimes if there is inclement weather such as rain it makes sense to play it up.
Lip Out – When your putt rolls around the edge of the cup causing it to change directions. This is terribly frustrating because that means you almost made the putt!
Slice – This is probably the most popular of golf terms as it relates to a player’s swing. A slice is occurs when a golfer puts excessive curve on the ball. For a right-handed golfer, they have sliced it if the ball is moving excessively from left to right.
Hook – For a right-handed golfer a hook occurs when the ball travels from right to left, but in a much more exaggerated path.
Fade – A fade is a left to right ball flight (for righties), but it is a more controlled than a slice. Sometimes referred to as a cut shot.
Draw – A right to left ball flight (for righties), but more controlled than a hook.
Up and Down – If you have missed a green in regulation, and you are still able to make par. For example, if you hit your approach shot in the rough, and then pitched the ball on the green and made your putt – you have successfully gotten up and down for par.
Birdie – When you score one stroke under par on a whole. Scoring a two on a par 3, or a three on a par 4 would be considered a birdie.
Par – When your score for the hole equals the listed par.
Bogey – Scoring one stroke above par. For example, making a five on a par would would be considered a bogey.
Double Bogey – Scoring two strokes above par. This is the one score in golf you should try to avoid at all costs. Double Bogey is a round killer!
Playing the Tips – When a golfer elects to play the farthest tees available on any golf course. Not recommended for beginners.
Divot – The small piece (sometimes large) of turf that comes out when your club makes contact with the ground. Sometimes you don’t even need to take a divot.
Flyer – When your ball is in the rough, but propped up a bit then you might have a “flyer” lie. This will cause the ball to travel farther than it normally does.
Double Cross – When a golfer intends to hit a fade, or a draw but does the complete opposite. For example, if a golfer wanted to hit a fade and then ends up hooking it. Instead of the ball flying from left to right, it goes from right to left.
Gimme – When your putt is close enough to the hole that it is considered to be made. Sometimes golfers will get a bit too generous with gimmies, and start counting putts 3 feet and beyond to be a gimme.
Mulligan – An unofficial do-over. Many times golfers will be kind to another and elect to award mulligans (usually on the first tee shot) without giving penalty strokes. This is not part of the official rules of golf!
Snowman – Of all the golf terms listed, this is the one you probably never want to be associated with. A snowman is when you score an 8 on a hole.
Worm Burner – When you strike a shot that barely gets off the ground and just rolls.
Ace – Another word for a hole-in-one
Fore – The word you shout as loud as you can when you hit your ball in the direction of another golfer. You need to warn them!
Dogleg – A golf-course architecture term. This refers to a hole that has a straight fairway, and then it curves to the right, or the left.
Duck Hook – When you hit a low hook shot that doesn’t travel very far.
Rangefinder – A device that measure the distance to the hole using lasers.
Coming Over the Top – A term that is used by the golf instructional world all of the time. We are still not sure what it means.
Flop Shot – A wedge shot played around the green where you open the face of the club up completely, and try to hit the ball very high in the air so that it lands softly on the green.
Pitch Mark – A small indent that your ball makes on the green when it lands. You need to repair them!
What golf terms did we miss? Add your favorites in the comments section!
Anjela Gomez says
Pls see spelling defined for “birdie and “bogey”. Love this website
Don Bersano says
Lynda Salings says
If an albatross is a double eagle, what’s an eagle?
Just an eagle!
CINDY ARNDT says
2 under par, albatross is 3 under.
Two under par
Virginia Little says
Watching commentary preceding this round of The Masters. They reviewed stats like average driver, putts sunk etc. They had an acronym I’ve never seen..it was GIT or maybe GIP? Any clue?
Enjoyed your summary of terms, mostly common, but some not! Impress me now by answering what no pro or fanatic golfer could!
Eric Moorehead says
GIR – Greens in Regulation. Refers to number of times you reached the green with two shots remaining to par. So on a par 5, if you reach (and stay) on the green in three shots that’s “in regulation”. Par 4 GIR means reaching in two. Par 3 GIR means your tee shot lands (and stays) on the green.
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You left out bisque, which can mean “one or more strokes off a golf score“. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bisque, definition 2 c.
MARY ELLEN says
Perhaps they said “YIPS,” meaning nervous or slightly shaky? Just a thought.
Lori Anderson says
These are golf terms for the beginner or anyone not familiar with golf? That would be me, and I have no idea what your definitions mean.
Example: on your very first term (“short sided”), you use “approach shot” (what kind of “shot”? don’t you just hit a ball??); “side of the green” (I thought they were sorta round); “where the pin is” (isn’t there just a hole?); “chip/pitch shot” (hunh?); aim for the “fat” side (??).
Term #2 (“fried egg”): what’s a “bunker”?
Term #3 (“shank”): “contact with the hosel of the club”?? what on earth? how does one “contact” a “hosel”? and what IS a “hosel”, anyway?
The definition of “par” is it’s when you have “par”? Ok, NOW I get it. Shoulda just said that in the beginning! Par means “par”! —By the way, the “stifle” of a horse is, like, um, like the stifle part of the horse.
Let’s keep going:
A “flop shot” is a “wedge shot” (which is a … what?) played “around the green” (what say, again? “around” “a” “green”? isn’t all the grass green? how do you play “around” it?) where you “open the face of the club up” (are you kidding? “open”?? the “face”??? of a CLUB???)?
And, when someone asks what an “eagle” is, the answer is likely not “an eagle”.
Jon as a dad: “here, kid, make a nice clean incision with your scalpel, 2cm proximal to the lesion, don’t knick the capsule, try to de-bulk, and close up using double layer suturing, with Monocryl, maybe about #6-0”.
Kid: what’s Monocryl?
Jon: ?? … it’s … Monocryl!
Kid: Ha ha! Oh, OK!
thank you for the feedback, Lori
If you don’t know what the face of the club is ,or a bunker , a GREEN, you don’t need to be on this website, just a thought though.
Chopping Wood. When you hit a ball directly into a tree or branches and it redirects the ball.
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Carol Hall says
Please define, Pod Play for me. thanks, Carol
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Coretta Auman says
What is check-up
What does it mean to lay up?
Robert George Soto says
have you heard the term “on on two”
Joseph Matthew passaglia says
What is a Do-Over Shot?
When you hit it directly into the trees you used a tree-wood club
What are the Golf Outing playing formats e.g.
Steve F says
Lamp post shooting a nine and a moose shooting a ten
William V Jones says
when someone tells you that putt was nutted what does it mean and where did it come from
What were “double match” and its format in the early days of golf (around 1860）？ thanks！
My husband yells “stiff it!” What does that mean?
Over-the-top refers to a very common swing flaw that produces a slice. Picture a large hoop at a roughly 45-60 degree angle to the ground. The bottom of the hoop sits on the golf ball, and the hoop is angled so that it is in line with your golf club, arm, etc. when you are preparing to swing. Most players (and instructors) try to swing “on-plane”, meaning that when you take the club back, it follows along the path of that hoop, and when you swing back towards the ball, it is also roughly along the hoop path. (There is a little variation here but that is the general idea). An over-the-top swing happens when a player does not swing along the hoop line (called the swing plane) but rather, when swinging towards the ball, the club gets outside of the swing plane and comes across the ball at impact (for a right-handed player, this means a right-to-left swing path which can cause a slice). It’s called over-the-top because when the swing is viewed in the context of the swing plane, the swing path back to the ball goes over the top and outside of the original plane.