Explanation of Popular Golf Terms

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There are numerous golf terms that are used in almost every game that is played, yet often it is virtually impossible for someone who is new to golf or just does not understand golf to understand the terminology. Some of the most popular terms are listed below to ensure that you know exactly what is being said while you are out on the green. Of course, this list is not absolute, but this list will help you get started successfully.

Back Nine – This is the last set of 9 holes that are on the golf course. This is determined by the order that the course is played in. For example, if you start playing on hole 1, the back nine would refer to holes 10-18. However if you started playing on the 10th hole it would actually refer to holes 1-9.

Birdie – This is when a score for a particular hole comes in one stroke below par for the particular hole that is being played. This means if the hole being played is a par -3 then the score must be a 2, if the hole is a par -5 it must be a score of 4.

Bogey – This is a score that comes in a single point over the par. For example, if you are playing a par -3 hole then a score of 4 would be a bogey. In going further, anything that was a par -5 would need a score of 6 to be a bogey. This is just an example and is not restricted to only certain pars.

Eagle – This is when you get the ball in the hole in 3 shots on a par 5 or 2 shots on a par 4. A very good score !

Bunker – This is what is created as a depression in the ground that is generally filled in with sand, which provides a green side hazard that needs to be avoided. While the bunker typically shows up around green side, it is possible for them to be along the fairways or even beside the fairways or in them.

Green – This is what the very end of a hole is call where the flag stick is located. This is where you will putt out the rest of the hole. The shape can vary, however most are either oblong or oval shape.

Handicap – This is an indication of the overall playing ability that a player has. It is generally compiled based upon the last 10 scores that have been played as well as the course rating and the slop ratings that accompany the courses that were played. Generally, someone who has a typical average of 10 over par will have a slightly better handicap. In terms of handicaps, someone with a 2 is better than someone with a 3 or higher handicap.

Hole – This is the exact area where the flag stick resides to mark the exact location of the hole on the green. In addition it is also often referred to as the as the specific hole on a course – for example a golf course typically has 18 holes.

Over par – This is the term used to describe any score that comes over the par for the course or even the individual hole. An example would be a score that was 5 on a hole that was a par -4. This would result in an over par. However, while this can refer to just a specific hole it can also refer to the entire course as a hole as well.

Par – This is considered the expected number of strokes in which it takes to actually sink the ball. To determine the par you should take at least 2 for putts, then add strokes based upon the length of the green. Very long greens will require higher values. A very long green would allow a par of 5 for example, while a short green would only allow a par 3. The par number is generally added both for the individual hole as well as for the entire golf course as well. This allows players to see exactly what they are looking at distance wise before they even begin playing.

Regardless of how much you’ve played golf, you’re probably going to hear some new terminology every time you’re golfing with a new group or working with a new instructor. The way to save face is to simply nod like you know exactly what they’re talking about, even when they’re touting new words. The smart thing to do is ask.

Even a casual golfer knows words like bogey, slice and approach. But did you know that balata is that rubbery substance that covers a golf ball? It is also a soft golf ball that produces tremendous spin. Here are a few terms that may be less well known to some golfers.

A chunk is that boo-boo of hitting the ground behind the ball – way behind the ball. The word came about because the chunk of grass
(the divot) that flies up can sometimes travel a longer distance than the ball. When it’s done on purpose – as from a sand bunker – the
resulting shot is called an explosion. When the ball is really buried in that sand, it’ s known as a fried egg.

A top shot is when you simply hit too high on the ball. One of the most common causes is that you’ve hit several chunks and you’ re trying to compensate. When you hit a top shot, the ball will have little or no loft. If you’ re already in a sand trap, you’ re likely to stay there for another shot. If there’ s one directly in front of you, a top shot will probably net you a fried egg.

A Mulligan is the same as a do over from your childhood days! This is when you aren’t satisfied with your first shot
and you simply pull another ball from your bag and start over. Typically, a Mulligan can only happen when you’ re playing alone or with very forgiving friends because few golfers are going to let an opponent have a free do over. Generally only allowed off the first tee.

Yips is a word used to denote the inability to complete a putt with a slow, steady movement. For various reasons, the golfer instead makes a sudden, jerky swing, usually causing the putt to go wild.

The address is commonly known as that moment that the golfer steps up to the ball. What some don’t realize is that USGA rules say that the address has occurred once the golfer has rested the club behind the ball.

Nassau is a popular way of competing, especially for those who are something less than professional minded. In this game, golfers have one score for the first nine holes they play and a separate score for the back nine, as well as an overall score for the entire round.
That means that golfers have three scores to compare, upping the odds of winning something! The reason its called Nassau is because there is a $5.00 bet on the front, the back and on the overall score.

There are other terms that you should know as well. The grain refers to the way the grass angles, similar to the grain of fabric.
Loft is the angle of the face of the club.
Dormie means that the person with the lower score can’ t hope for anything more than a tie.

Learning the terminology isn’t necessary to playing a good game, but it probably is necessary to enjoying play with friends.I hope this helped you figure out a few things about golf terminology and if you have a question about any or maybe one I have missed put it in the comment section below and I will answer it for you !!

Most of all have fun and hit them straight out there !

Bob Elliott


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