Golf Terms & Definitions

By Matt Crownover
To fully understand the game, you need to understand the terms and rules of play.
To fully understand the game, you need to understand the terms and rules of play.

One of the very first things you need to do when learning about the game of golf is to learn about its terms. If you don't have a lot of experience with golf, the terms that golfers use might go over your head. It might even sound like a different language. Study up so that the next time you're out on the course, you'll understand everything.

Equipment

Golfers have a wide variety of golf equipment. A driver is the longest club in the bag and has a much bigger club head than the rest of your clubs. It's designed to hit the ball the farthest, but is the hardest to control. It's considered a wood. Other woods in your bag may include a 3-wood, 5-wood or 7-wood. They have similar designs to your driver, but can be hit off the ground as well as from a tee. Irons got their name because they were originally made of iron, not wood. But nowadays they are made of steel, iron or graphite. These clubs are designed to hit the ball at various distances. For example, a 3-iron is designed to hit the ball farther than a 9-iron. Wedges are irons that have open club faces and are designed for shorter shots. Putters are used to hit the ball into the hole.

Golf Shots

There are many different shots that golfers hit, whether it be on purpose or accidental. A draw is a shot sends the ball from right to left. It ideally will start right of the target and then move back to the left. It is much more subtle than a hook, which is when the ball moves drastically from right to left. A fade is the exact opposite of a draw. It moves from left to right. Again, it's more subtle than a slice, which drastically moves from left to right. Other, less-commonly used shots include a flop, which is a shot used to hit the ball high into the air and onto the green, and a punch, which is a shot used to hit the ball lower to the ground, usually for the purpose of decreasing the affect of the wind.

Scoring

There are terms that relate directly to golf when it comes to scoring. Par means the number of shots that golf courses determine it should take to hole the ball. For example, a par-4 means it should take four shots to hit your ball into the hole. Golf courses feature holes that are par-3s, par-4s and par-5s. Birdie is the term for shooting one stroke below par. If it takes your three shots to hole your ball on a par-4, that's considered a birdie. An eagle is two shots below par. A bogey means it took you one extra shot to hole your ball. A double bogey is two extra shots and a triple bogey is three extra shots.

Golf Course

Golf courses have a variety of terms to describe different playing conditions. A fairway is where you are supposed to hit your ball from the tee. It is typically the shortest-cut grass on the course beside the green. The green is the portion of grass where the hole is located. The rough is considered the outer portion of the fairways and greens where the grass isn't cut as short. It is more difficult to hit your ball far and accurate from the rough.

General

Other things you might hear somebody say on the course include "I chunked it," or "just lay up." Laying up means to hit your ball shorter than you regularly would to position yourself better for you next shot. Sometimes you are forced to lay up because you can't hit your ball far enough to carry over a hazard, such as a lake or sand trap. To "chunk it" means that you hit more of the ground than you should, which means you didn't make good contact with the ball and it won't be hit as far.

References

About the Author

Matt Crownover is the sports editor at the Lebanon Express in Lebanon, Ore. He primarily covers high school athletics and maintains the paper's online blog. Matt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash.

Photo Credits

  • Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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