Golf Glossary

The complete A to Z guide of golf terms and golf slang you need to know for when you’re out on the golf course.

Golf Glossary


Aim Line

The intended path a golfer plans for their ball to travel towards the target.

All Square (A/S)

A match play term indicating that the score is even between competitors.


Achieving a hole-in-one, where the ball goes directly from the tee into the hole with one stroke.

Approach shot

A stroke aimed to land the ball on the green.


Scoring three strokes under par on a single hole.


The grass surface on the perimeter of the green, also known as the fringe.

Above The hole

A ball positioned on the green’s slope, higher than the hole.


The stance a golfer takes before making a stroke, including the positioning of the feet and club.



A type of iron with a thin, flat, and sharp-edged clubhead, offering precision at the cost of forgiveness. Can also mean a thin putter.

Ball retriever

A telescopic tool to recover balls from water hazards or difficult-to-reach places.

Ball marker

A small flat object used to mark the position of a ball on the green.

Belly putter

A longer putter that the golfer anchors against their stomach for stability during the putt.


A motorised cart used to transport golfers and their equipment around the course.

Back weighting

Adding weight to the club’s grip end to alter balance and potentially improve swing.


A long putter, similar to a belly putter, but often anchored against the chest.

Back Swing

The initial part of the swing where the club is taken back from the ball.


A golfer whose handicap is higher than their actual skill, giving them an unfair advantage in competitions.


The angle between the leading edge and the lowest point of the sole, helping prevent the club from digging into the ground.

Baseball Grip

Holding the club with all ten fingers directly on the grip, without interlocking or overlapping.

Below The Hole

A ball positioned on the green’s slope, lower than the hole.

Balance Point

The exact middle of a golf club, where it can be balanced horizontally on a finger.


A soft, rubber-like material once used for golf ball covers, offering high spin and soft feel.


A shot that travels straight but to the right of the intended target for right-handed players (left for left-handed players).


The curve a ball will make on the green due to the slope.

Bent Shaft

A putter or club shaft that has been intentionally bent to alter its characteristics, often to improve alignment or feel.

Broom Handle Putter

Another term for a very long putter, which may be anchored against the body.


The backward rotation of the ball in flight, which can make it stop quickly or even roll backward upon landing.

Back Nine

The last nine holes of an 18-hole golf course.

Breaking wrists

The unwanted movement of the wrists during a putt or chip, leading to less control.


A vehicle used for transporting players and their equipment, also known as a cart.


The end of the club’s grip.

Bump and Run

A low shot intended to hit the green and roll towards the hole.


The amount of lateral movement a golfer expects and allows for on a putt due to the slope of the green.


A sand-filled hazard that is often strategically placed near the green or along the fairway.

Better ball

A team format where each player plays their own ball, and the lowest score on each hole counts for the team.

Blast Shot

A type of bunker shot where the golfer hits the sand behind the ball forcefully to loft the ball out.


Scoring one stroke under par on a hole.


Scoring one stroke over par on a hole.



The end of the golf club that strikes the ball.

Casual Water

Temporary water accumulation on the course, allowing for a free drop.

Choke Down

Gripping the club lower to shorten its length for more control.

Cross Handed Grip

A putting grip where the lead hand is below the trailing hand.


The flattening of the ball at impact.


To give an opponent a stroke, usually a short putt typically in match play.


Hitting the ground before the ball, resulting in a poor shot.

Chilli Dip

Another term for chunk, hitting the ground before the ball.

Cut, 1st, 2nd

The rough’s two levels of height near the fairway.


A chip shot that lands in the hole.


A short, low-flying shot intended to land on the green.


The hole on the green or its liner.

Closed Stance

Feet aligned to the right of the target for a right-handed player.


The grass bordering the putting green.


The distance a ball flies in the air.


A ball’s brief stop due to backspin before rolling.


A club designed for short chip shots.

Course Handicap

Adjusted strokes given to a player based on course difficulty.

Centre Shafted

A putter with the shaft attached at the head’s centre.


Slang for the putting green.

Closed Face

A clubface angled towards the player’s body at address.

Coefficient of Restitution

A measure of the energy transfer from club to golf ball.

Claggy Lie

A ball lying in wet, sticky ground.

Cut Shot

A shot with a slight fade trajectory.

Club length

The length from a club’s butt to its head.

Club Head Speed

The speed at which the clubhead moves through impact.

Cavity Back

A clubhead design with a hollowed rear for more forgiveness.

Casting The Club

Releasing the wrists too early in the downswing.


The top surface of a clubhead.

Centre of Gravity

The point in a clubhead where it balances.

Cock Wrist

Bending the wrist upwards in preparation for a swing.


A low chip shot that rolls towards the target.


A person who carries a player’s clubs and offers advice.


Also known as a buggy, a vehicle used for transporting players and their equipment.


Fully engaging in a swing or shot without hesitation.


The process of making a clubhead by pouring molten metal into a mold.


Deep Rough

The thickest grass area on a course, challenging to play from.

Double Eagle

Scoring three under par on a hole.


The turf displaced by a swing hitting the ground.

Driving iron

A long iron used for tee shots, offering control and distance.


An indentation on a golf ball that affect its flight.

Dimple Pattern

An array of dimples across the golf ball.

Drive The Green

Hitting the ball onto the green with the tee shot.


A poorly executed shot where the ball barely moves.


The part of the swing moving the club towards the ball.


The club used to hit the ball the farthest, typically on tee shots.

Dead Weight

A putt hit with just enough force to reach the hole.

Deep Face

A taller clubface often found on drivers for more forgiveness.

Double Bogey

Scoring two over par on a hole.


A match play term where the leading score matches the remaining holes.


A shot that curves slightly to the left for a right-handed player.

Double-bend Shaft

A putter shaft that creates a specific angle for better alignment.


A hole that bends left or right, requiring strategic play.



The customary code of polite behaviour on the golf course.

Effective Loft

The actual loft of a club at impact, affecting ball trajectory.

Even Par

Scoring exactly the designated par for the course or hole.


Scoring two under par on a hole.

Explosion Shot

A bunker shot that lifts the ball out with a burst of sand.

Elevated Green

A green situated higher than the surrounding area.



A match where two teams of two compete, alternating shots.


Hitting the ball solidly in the centre of the clubface.


A shot that travels unexpectedly farther, often from the rough.


The part of the clubhead that makes contact with the ball.

First Cut

The area of slightly longer grass bordering the fairway.


A club design that minimizes the effects of mis-hits.


The golfer’s responsiveness to the club during a shot.


The path and behaviour of the ball through the air.

Face Insert

Material inserted into the clubface to affect feel and performance.


The closely mown area between the tee box and the green.


The degree of bend in a shaft under force, affecting shot trajectory.

Face Balanced

A putter design where the face points upwards when balanced.

Face Angle

The direction the clubface is pointing at address, relative to the target.


The pole marking the location of the hole on the green.

Flat Swing

A swing path that is more horizontal than vertical.


A lie where the ball sits up high in the grass.

Flight Control Technology

Adjustable club technology to change loft and lie angles.


A ball that travels further than expected due to reduced spin.

Follow Through

The continuation of the swing after the ball has been struck.


A process of shaping clubheads by hammering metal, enhancing feel.

Flop Shot

A high, soft shot, typically over an obstacle to the green.

Fairway Bunker

A sand trap located on or adjacent to the fairway.


A match format where each player plays their own ball, best score wins.


A decorative piece where the clubhead and shaft meet.

Full swing

A complete golf swing used for maximum distance shots.


Hitting the ground before the ball, resulting in a poor shot.


The bottom part of the clubhead that contacts the ground.

Fried Egg Lie

A ball buried in sand, resembling a fried egg.

Flat Lie

A club angle that is less upright, suited for shorter golfers.


A shot that gently curves to the right for a right-handed golfer.


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

Front Nine

The first nine holes of an 18-hole golf course.


Slang term for a putter.


Greenside bunker

A sand trap located near the green, challenging precision in short game shots.


A team format where both players tee off, then select the best ball to play alternately.

Ground the Club

Touching the clubhead to the ground before taking a swing, not permitted in hazards.


A protective covering worn on one hand to improve grip on the club.

Golf Club

A tool designed for striking the golf ball, consisting of a shaft, grip, and head.


A lightweight material used in shaft construction, offering flexibility and speed.


A putt close enough to the hole that it’s assumed to be made without playing.


A dense, thorny bush commonly found on links courses, difficult to play from.

Green in Regulation (GIR)

Reaching the green in two strokes under par, indicating effective approach play.

Gear Effect

The spin imparted on a ball due to off-centre hits, affecting direction and flight.


An individual responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a golf course.

Green Fee

The charge for playing a round of golf at a course.

Green Jacket

The iconic prize awarded to the Masters Tournament winner at Augusta National.

Ground Under Repair

Areas under maintenance where play is prohibited or altered.

Gross Score

The total number of strokes taken during a round without handicap adjustments.


The closely mown area surrounding the hole, designed for putting.


The lines etched into a club’s face to impart spin on the ball.

Grass Bunker

A depression filled with grass rather than sand, offering a different challenge.


The direction in which grass grows on the green, affecting putt speed and direction.


A side bet awarded for landing closest to the pin on par threes.


Hole High

A ball that stops even with the hole, regardless of distance away.

High Side

The uphill side of the hole on a sloped green.


A club combining features of woods and irons for versatility.


The part of the clubhead closest to the shaft.

Hanging Lie

When the ball lies on a slope, making contact challenging.

Heel-toe Weighting

Distribution of weight in the clubhead to increase stability and forgiveness.


A shot that curves sharply to the left for a right-handed player.

Half set

A reduced set of clubs, typically for beginners or casual play.


The part of the clubhead that connects to the shaft.


The target in golf, also refers to each playing area on the course.

Hickory Shaft

A traditional shaft material, now mostly replaced by steel and graphite.


Closing the clubface to decrease loft and alter ball flight.


A rough, unskilled swing at the ball.


Hitting the ground before the ball, causing a loss of distance.


To tie a hole in match play.

Hang time

The duration a ball remains in the air after being struck.


Successfully putting the ball into the cup.


A compacted, hard area of ground, offering little to no cushion for the ball.

Hole Out

Completing a hole by getting the ball into the cup.


Any bunker or water body that presents an obstacle on the course.

Hole In One

Striking the ball directly from the tee into the hole with one shot.

Hold The Green

A shot that remains on the green after landing.


The right to tee off first, typically determined by the best score on the previous hole.


A numerical measure of a golfer’s potential ability, used to level the playing field.


A protective cover for a golf club’s head.



The moment the clubhead makes contact with the ball.


A piece of material set into the clubface to alter feel and performance.


Clubs with metal heads designed for a variety of shots, numbered 1 through 9.

Intended Line

The path a player aims to have their ball travel.

Investment Casting

A process for creating precise and complex metal clubheads.

Interlocking Grip

A grip where the pinkie of one hand interlocks with the index finger of the other.

Inside Path

A swing path where the club moves inwardly at impact, often causing a slice.


Kick Point

The area of the shaft that bends the most during a swing, affecting trajectory.

Kill The Ball

Hitting the ball with maximum force.

Knock Down Shot

A controlled shot designed to fly lower and shorter.



The angle of the clubface, determining the trajectory and distance of a shot.

Leading Edge

The forward edge of the clubface that first contacts the ball.

Long Irons

Irons with lower lofts and longer distances, typically 1-4.

Lag Putt

A long putt aimed more for proximity to the hole than for making it.

Launch Angle

The initial angle at which the ball leaves the clubface.

Low Side

The downhill side of the hole on a sloped green.

Links Course

A coastal golf course, often with undulating terrain and few trees.


The rim of the hole or the edge of a bunker.


A high, short shot designed to land softly on the green.

Lay Up

Choosing to hit a shorter shot to avoid hazards.

Lie Angle

The angle between the shaft and the ground when the club is in a proper stance.

Line Up

The act of aligning oneself and the club towards the target.

Lake Ball

A used ball recovered from water hazards, often sold cheaply.


The intended path of the ball towards the target.

Long Game

Shots played from the tee and fairway, typically requiring longer distances.


The upward force on the ball caused by its spin and speed.

Lip Out

When a ball rims the cup but does not drop in.

Low Profile

A clubhead design with a lower centre of gravity to facilitate easier ball lifting.

Laid Off

A swing position where the club is pointed left of the target at the top of the backswing.

Low Handicapper

A skilled golfer with a low handicap.

Lob Wedge

A high-lofted wedge used for short, high shots.

Long Putter

A putter longer than standard, often used to stabilize the stroke.


A shot that unintentionally veers off to the right.



Incorrectly judging the slope or speed of a green.

Missing The Cut

Failing to qualify for the latter rounds of a tournament.

Mid Putter

A putter of intermediate length between standard and long putters.

Municipal Course

A public golf course owned by a local government.

Mid Iron

Irons that offer a balance between distance and control, typically 5-7.


A putter with a larger, often square or rounded, head.


Irons with a full back, preferred by skilled players for their feel and control.


Movable Weight Technology, allowing golfers to adjust the clubhead’s weight distribution.


A scoring system where players compete to win individual holes.

Make The Cut

Qualifying for the final rounds of a tournament.

Mashie Niblick

A historical term for a 7-iron.


Choosing an incorrect club for a shot.

Mid Mashie

An old term for a 3-iron.


The most prestigious annual golf tournaments. Four in the mens game and five in the womens game.

Moment Of Inertia

The clubhead’s resistance to twisting upon impact with the ball.

Metal Wood

A wood-type club made with a metal head, offering durability and distance.


Another go at a shot, not counted in official play.


A historical term for a 5-iron.


A precision manufacturing process for creating flat, consistent surfaces on clubfaces.

Mashie Iron

An old term for a 4-iron.


Nineteenth Hole

Slang for the clubhouse or bar where golfers relax after a round.


The narrow part of the clubhead connecting to the hosel.

Never Up, Never In

A putt that doesn’t reach the hole has no chance of going in.

Net Score

A player’s score after handicap adjustments.


An old term for a 9-iron or wedge.


Off-centre Hit

A strike where the ball contacts the clubface away from the sweet spot, often affecting accuracy and distance.

Open Face

A clubface angle that points right of the target at impact for right-handed players, promoting a fade or slice.


Clubs with larger than standard heads, designed to increase forgiveness on mis-hits.

Overlapping Grip

A grip style where the little finger of the trailing hand overlaps the index finger of the lead hand.

Open Stance

A body alignment where the feet are positioned left of the target line for right-handed players, facilitating a fade.

Out of Bounds (OB)

Areas designated as outside the field of play, from which recovery incurs a penalty.

Out To In

A swing path that moves outside to across the line, resulting in a slice or a pull shot.


The clubhead position where the leading edge aligns forward of the shaft’s centre, rare in modern clubs.


The design feature where the clubhead’s leading edge is set back from the hosel, aiding in hitting the ball higher.



A shot that starts right of the target without curving, for right-handed players.

Pot Bunker

A small, deep bunker requiring precise shots to escape.

Preferred Lie

A temporary local rule allowing players to improve their lie without penalty under certain conditions.


A shot that starts left of the target and flies straight, for right-handed players.


When a ball finishes up in it’s own pitchmark.


The flagstick which marks the location of the hole on the green.


The designated number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to complete a hole.

Punch Shot

A low trajectory shot designed to minimize the effect of wind or to navigate under obstacles.

Pin High

A ball that stops at the same distance as the hole but may be off to the side.

Progressive Offset

Clubs designed with increasing offset in longer irons to aid in launch and control.

Provisional Ball

A second ball played if there is uncertainty whether the first may be lost or out of bounds.

Pre-shot Routine

A consistent set of actions performed before every shot to enhance focus and consistency.


A club with a flat face used primarily on the green to roll the ball into the hole.

Perimeter Weighting

Distribution of weight around the clubhead’s perimeter to increase forgiveness on off-centre hits.


The action of using a putter to roll the ball towards the hole on the green.


Quitting On The Ball

Decelerating the club before impact, often resulting in a poor shot.


Reading The Green

Analysing the contours, slope, and grain of the green to predict the ball’s path.


The distance a ball travels after landing, especially in reference to approach shots and drives.


The action of the ball moving along the ground after landing, particularly in putting.

Reverse Overlap

A common putting grip where the index finger of the lead hand overlaps the fingers of the trailing hand.


A hybrid club designed to combine the best features of woods and irons for difficult lies.

Range Ball

Balls used on the driving range, often marked and constructed differently from standard balls.


A tool used to smooth the sand in bunkers after play.

R & A

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, one of the governing bodies of golf.


A shot from a challenging position that returns play to a more favourable situation.


The point in the swing where the hands and clubhead pass the body, crucial for power and direction.


The tempo and timing of a golf swing, contributing to consistency and power.


Stepless Shaft

A golf shaft design without the traditional steps, offering a smooth profile.

Sweet Spot

The optimal point on a clubface for contact with the ball, providing the best feel and distance.

Shotgun Start

A tournament start method where groups begin simultaneously from different holes.


The act of swinging the club to hit the ball, counting towards the score.

Square Grooves

Clubface grooves designed to impart more spin on the ball, now regulated in competition.


A tool used to measure the speed of a green, indicating how fast putts will roll.

Swing Speed

The velocity of the clubhead at the moment of impact with the ball.

Sink A Putt

To successfully roll the ball into the hole with a putter.

Short Game

Golf shots played on or near the green, including putting, chipping, and pitching.

Scratch Golfer

A golfer with a handicap of zero, able to play to the course’s par.

Spike Mark

Indentations made on the green by golf shoes, which can affect the roll of the ball.

Sand Iron

Another term for a sand wedge, designed for escaping from bunkers.

Spin Rate

The rate at which the ball rotates after being struck, affecting its flight and roll.


The long, tapered tube which connects the clubhead to the grip.


A shot that curves dramatically to the right for right-handed players, often due to an open clubface at impact.

Stepped Shaft

A shaft that features visible steps or tiers, common in steel shafts.

Stroke Play

A scoring format where the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of golf.

Spring Effect

The flexing and rebounding of a clubface at impact, enhancing ball speed.

Strong Loft

A club with less loft than traditionally associated with its number, promoting longer distances.


A mis-hit where the ball strikes the hosel of the club, veering sharply to the side.

Sand Save

Successfully scoring par or better after playing from a bunker.

Shot Making

The skill of executing various types of golf shots as required by the situation.


An outdated rule where a ball obstructed the line of putt for another player without penalty relief.


Protrusions on the sole of a golf shoe, providing traction.

Swing Weight

A measure of how the weight of the club feels during a swing, affecting control and feel.

Stroke Index

A ranking of holes by difficulty from 1 to 18, used in handicap adjustment.


The bottom part of a club that rests on the ground at address.

Sand Wedge

A club designed specifically for playing out of sand bunkers, typically with a loft between 54 and 58 degrees.

Swing Plane

The path that the clubhead travels upon during the swing.


A durable material used in the cover of golf balls, known for its resistance to cuts and abrasions.

Soft Tipped

Describes a shaft that flexes more at the tip, aiding in higher ball flights.


Top The Ball

To strike the upper half of the ball with the club, resulting in a low, often unintended shot.

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