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Say What?! 15 Terms to Expand your Golf Vocabulary and Knowledge - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

One of the great things about our golf game and the English language is that both are constantly evolving. New shots, new tricks, new highs, and new lows are just some of the ways we see our golf game change over the years. Luckily enough, new slang words are always being invented in order to better describe our game. Below are some of the old favorites on the green, and some new ones you might not have heard of before.


1. That moment when you strike the ground before making contact with the ball? It’s called a “sclaff”. Coincidentally, it’s also the strangled noise I make when I hit a water hazard.

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It’s usually followed by an awful lot of yelling.
(original image found here)

2. The term “birdie” was coined in 1899 by an American named Ab Smith, who, when thrilled with his performance on the green, called it a “bird of a shot” when he scored -1 in a game against his brother and friend. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean narrowly avoiding hitting birds with the ball. 

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Something to aim for. 
(original image found here)

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Something to avoid aiming for.
(original image found here)

3. There are things we want to avoid in life, and the drama associated with the word “catbox” is one of them. On the course, the catbox refers to a sand bunker – a dirty situation you want to stay out of. Outside the course, hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband forgot the change the litter box again – a dirty situation you definitely want to stay out of.

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Cat scoop not pictured.
(original image found here)

4. Another golfing term associated with the unpleasant effects of a sand bunker is the “fried egg lie”. This delicious-sounding phrase refers to a golf ball that has become half-buried in the sand, creating a circular pattern around the ball which gives it the appearance of a yolk in the middle of a fried egg. Even breakfast enthusiasts can’t find the sunny side in that situation. 

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Did you want sausage or bacon with that?
(original image found here)

5. While there are plenty of little birdies flitting around the green, there’s a larger bird you should be on the lookout for. Pulling an “eagle” is the impressive act of scoring two under par. Impressive and intimidating.

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Talons not included.
(original image found here)

6. My game tends to be slightly more adventurous in that I regularly perform a “Star Trek” – a wayward shot that boldly goes where no ball has gone before. 

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I’m considered a redshirt on the course.
(original image found here)

7. Another bird-themed piece of golf lingo is the absolutely insane “Albatross” also known as a “double eagle”. Not surprisingly, it means scoring three under par. Unlike some salty old mariners, you sure wouldn’t mind having that accomplishment around your neck.

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Big bird, big occasion. 
(original image found here)

8. The rarest of all bird-themed golf phrases is the elusive “mighty condor” – a highly unlikely hole-in-one on a par-five. This bird is so endangered it has only been verified four times in the history of golf.

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Unfortunately, condors are severely endangered off the green as well. Learn more about them, 
and what you can do to help, here.
(original image found here)

9. A cat meows, a bird goes tweet, and a golfer “barkies”. This particular bit of slang refers to making par on a hole after hitting a tree on the same hole. But what’s the phrase when your ball is stuck up a tree? Game over?

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But what does the fox say?
(original image found here)

10. When I started out, one of the only shot I could do was the “wormburner” (in fact, it’s still one of the only shots I can do…). This term is applied to shots in which the golf ball barely gets off the ground and rips along the grass. Luckily, my love of the game outweighs my talent, so I’ll be back on the green shortly (after a pre-emptive apology to all the little invertebrates out there).

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But seriously, I am so, so sorry.
(original image found here)

11. I make a mean coleslaw in the kitchen, but on the green, I find myself knee-deep in “cabbage” more than I’d like. This particular term refers to rough that is deep and thick. Not surprisingly, that particular type of shredding is one I’d rather avoid. 

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Step One: find the ball.
Step Two: Mow the grass around the ball using your slice.
Step Three: Throw your club in a fit of rage.
(original image found here)

12. We’re all clumsy sometimes. Sometimes this leads to bumps and bruises, and other times it leads to us frantically yelling at our partner “I’m bleeding everywhere!”’’ Clumsiness on the course can also lead to us frantically yelling to “stop the bleeding”, albeit in a much less traumatic way. This phrase refers to the need to end a bad stretch of play, where a person is hitting bad shots and is “bleeding” strokes. Luckily, bleeding on the course usually doesn’t end in a hospital visit and stitches. 

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I’m not just bleeding, I’m hemorrhaging.
(original image found here)

13. When a person first hears the words “frog hair” on the green, it might incite a little confusion. Luckily, this term just refers to the fringe, the closely mowed grass that surrounds a putting green, and not a hairy amphibian.

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The stuff of nightmares.
(original image found here)

14. While you might assume someone who is an “army golfer” to be a regimented, dedicated, and brave individual, it’s really just another term for a “duffer”, someone whose game of golf leaves something to be desired. For an army golfer, their tee shots tend to “left, left, left, right, left”. It’s a lot less commendable. 

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Unless it literally is an army golfer, in which case he’s probably going to beat you.
(image originally found here)

15. The hangman is generally someone you want to avoid being partnered with. Someone who regularly achieves a “hangman” is also someone you don’t want to be partnered with. This term refers to the killer score of 9 on a single hole. Yikes.

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If this is what waits for you at the 18th hole, maybe it’s time to gracefully retire.
(original image found here)


What about you? Do you have any golf themed slang or lingo that you use regularly? Let us know in the comments below!

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