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The Golf Glossary


 History Of The Game Of Golf | History Of The Golf Ball | Rules Of The Golf Ball | Science Of The Golf Ball | Golf Glossary

 Golf Ball Construction  | Golf Ball Types | Golf Ball Compression | Golf Ball Dimples | Golf Ball Distance | Golf Ball Spin

 


Welcome to the Knetgolf complimentary Golf Glossary and Dictionary of Golf Terms.

As with any sport, golf comes with its own language, and the beginner golfer will find the following glossary of golf terms particularly useful in learning the lingo of golf, while the seasoned golfer will likely find some words and terms unfamiliar. Test your knowledge and see just how familiar you are with the terms of the game of golf.

A glossary is not an instructional manual. The Golf Dictionary and Glossary of Golf Terms that follow include golf definitions and golf term usages only. If you are looking for instructions on how to play golf, explanations, tips, etc., you may want to try our golf articles or golf tips sections.


| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | W | U | Y |
 

A
Ace:
- A hole-in-one.

Address:
- Your position in relation to the ball as you prepare to strike.

Albatross:
- A score of three under par on a hole.

Alignment:
- How your body is aligned in relation to an imagined ball-to-target line.

All square:
- Term to demote that two competitors in match play is tied.

Anti-shank:
- Club design that attempts to eliminate the possibility of striking the ball with the hosel (the part of the club where the head meets the shaft).

Approach shot:
- One whose target is the green.

Approach putt (or lag putt):
- A putt not directly aimed at the hole, but close enough to make the next putt a certainty.

Attend The Flag:
- To hold and then remove the flag while another player putts from the putting surface, a normal part of golfing etiquette during a round.


B    TOP of Golf Glossary

Back-nine:
- The last nine holes of an 18-hole golf course -- in America, often unflatteringly known as the 'back side'.

Backspin:
- The spin on the ball caused by the loft of the club face. Backspin causes a golf ball to lift and as a result will yield a longer shot, while poor back spin may cause the ball to slice to the right or hook to the left. Learn more about the Back Spin and Golf Ball Distance.

Backswing:
- The first part of the swing, when the club is taken away from the ball to behind the shoulder.
Baffy:
- Sturdy wooden club, now obsolete, similar to the modern 3- or 4-wood. It replaced the earlier 'baffing spoon' and had a lofted face for hitting high trajectory shots from the fairway.

Bail Out:
- Hitting to avoid trouble, for example, going well left to avoid a hazard on the right.

Banana ball:
- A bad slice, so called because the flight of the ball resembles the shape of a banana.

Balata:
- Sap from a tropical tree, used to make covers for golf balls. It's soft, elastic qualities produce a high spin rate and it is favored by tournament players.

Barber:
- A player that talks to the point of annoyance.

Bent grass:
- Type of fine-leafed grass that produces an ideal surface for putting greens. It is, however, difficult to maintain in hot climates.

Best Ball:
- (Also called better ball). The best score on a hole by two of more partners in a best-ball match.

Birdie:
- A score of one under par on a hole.

Blind:
- A shot that, at the time of being struck, is played from such a position that the golfer can't see the spot where he/she wants the ball to land.
 
Block:
- A shot that flies straight but to the right of the target (for a right handed player).

Boron:
- strong metal powder often added during the construction of graphite shafts to provide added strength at the hosel end.

Bogey:
- Originally the expected score in which a good player was reckoned to complete a hole, but now replaced by par. Bogey has come to mean one over par on a hole.

Borrow:
- How much you have to aim right or left when putting to allow for the slope of the green to bring the ball back to the hole.

Brassie:
- A wooden fairway club with a protective brass sole-plate, the equivalent of the modern 2-wood.

Break:
- American term for 'Borrow'.

Bulge driver:
- Designed to reduce the chances of striking the ball on the heel or toe of the club, the Bulge had a convex face. Popular in the late 19th century, it is now obsolete.

Bunker:
- A natural or artificial depression on a fairway or round the green. It is usually half -filled with sand but can be made of earth or grass.

Buried ball/lie:
- When part of the ball is below the surface of the sand in a bunker, or below the level of the ground through the green.
 

C  TOP of Golf Glossary


Caddie:
- A helper who carries a player's bag around the course and may advise on the course or the game.

Carry:
- The distance a golf ball must travel from where it is hit to where it lands on the ground (used particularly when judging the distance over a hazard).

Casual water:
- Water on the course which is not part of the design, such as rain puddles or over-watered areas. If a ball is in such water or, to play it, the player's feet would be, then one can take a free drop. If there is casual water on the green, a ball on the green may be moved to the nearest place equidistant from the hole from which the putt will avoid water.

Centre-shafted:
- A putter in which the shaft is joined to the centre of the head.

Chip:
- A lofted shot played from around the green --usually played with a pitching wedge or a sand wedge.

Chip and run:
- A low shot that runs towards the flag played from near the green.

Choke down:
- To hold the club lower on the grip, usually for greater control of the club head on less than full shots.

Cleek:
- (Scottish) Used to describe an iron club roughly the equivalent of a modern 2-iron, although there were variations including short cleeks, long cleeks, driving cleeks and putting cleeks.

Close mown grass:
- All parts of the course where the grass is manicured and cut to a short length, from which to play, such as fairways, aprons and fringes of greens.

Closed club face:
- (The toe of the club is angled towards the feet; one's stance is closed if the front foot is across the target line.

Clubface:
- The area of the club that you use to hit the ball.

Club head:
- The part of the club attached to the lower end of the shaft, and used for striking the ball.

Club head speed:
- Club head speed is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a measure of how fast the club head is traveling at the moment it makes contact with the golf ball. Americans measure club head speed with a 43-inch-long driver and it's expressed in mph.

Club-length:
- The distance from the end of the grip to the club head.

Coefficient of Restitution:
- Coefficient of Restitution is simply a measurement of the clubface's ability to rebound the ball, expressed as a percentage that is determined by a ball's speed off the club head divided by the speed at which it struck the club head. Learn more about Coefficient of Restitution and Golf Ball Compression.

Collar:
- Edge of a sand hazard.

Compression:
- The degree of resilience of a golf ball. When a golf ball is struck by a golf club, it is compressed, deformed and flattened by the force of impact (golf ball compression rating is less with harder core golf balls than softer cored balls). Generally speaking, a harder (low compression golf ball) travels further than a softer or high compression golf ball. This is due to less compression at the point of impact, resulting in more energy transfer from golf club to ball. Learn more about Golf Ball Compression.

Compression rating:
- Although not found as frequently as a few years ago, a number that might appear on a ball is the golf ball's compression rating. A golf balls compression rating is a term that applies to how dense the ball is. In other words, a golf ball's compression rating is a rating of the softness or hardness of the ball. Basically, the lower the compression rating the easier the ball compresses. Learn more about Golf Ball Compression.

Concede:
- To give a match play opponent a putt, hole or match.

Couch grass:
- Grass often regarded as a weed, with long, creeping roots.

Course rating:
- A comparison of various golf courses in terms of difficulty, using various criteria.

Cross bunker:
- Bunker lying across the line of the fairway.

Crosswind:
- A wind blows from right to left or vice versa.

Cup:
- The tubular lining sunk in the hole -- also the hole itself.

Cut:
- A score that eliminates a percentage of the field. In most professional 72-hole (or four round) events the cut comes after 36 holes and usually involves all those more than 10 shots behind the leader being eliminated.

Cut shot:
- A shot that curves from left to right (for a right-handed player) either deliberately or by mistake.


D   TOP of Golf Glossary


Deep stuff:
- Grass left to grow so that off-line shots are made more difficult -- also called 'rough'.

Dimples:
- All golf balls are designed with dimple patterns on the cover to optimize the balls aerodynamics. The dimples can control many different aspects of shots like distance, velocity, spin control, straightness and trajectory. Learn more about Golf Ball Dimple Shape, Alignment and the Dimple Effect.

Divot:
- A chunk of turf removed by the club head when you play a shot, usually on the fairway.

Dog-leg:
- A hole with a fairway that bends sharply. A hazard is often positioned at the angle of the dog-leg to put you off driving across it.

Dormie:
- When a competitor leads by as many holes as there are left to play in match play, so therefore cannot lose (assuming the competition rules do not allow for extra holes to be played in the event of a tie).

Double bogey:
- A score of two over par for a hole.

Double eagle:
- A score of three under par on a hole (also called an Albatross)

Double green:
- Single putting surface shared by two holes, usually coming from opposite directions. They are a relic of the early days of golf when courses were played out and back over the same ground.

Downhill-lie:
- When the right foot is higher than the left at address (for right-handers).

Downswing:
- The part of the golf swing from the top of the backswing to striking the ball.

Drag:
- There are two types of drag behind a sphere when it is airborne, laminar and turbulent. Laminar flow occurs over a non-dimpled golf ball and the air separates very early in front of the ball, resulting in less carry. A turbulent flow will occur with a dimpled golf ball because it causes the air to not split as soon and increases the pressure drag. Pressure drag is the air separated behind the golf ball.

Draw:
- A shot with a slight, controlled curve through the air, from right to left for a right-handed player and right to left for a left-handed player.

Drive:
- A shot which is played from the tee, usually with a driver (a 1 wood).

Drive the green:
- When your drive finishes on the putting surface.

Driver:
- The 1 wood, the most powerful club in the set, used for getting maximum distance off the tee.

Drop:
- When a ball must be lifted under penalty or otherwise, the player, standing erect, holds the ball at arm's length and shoulder height and drops it making sure that it does not land any nearer the hole.

Duck Hook:
- shot that curves severely from right to left (for a right-handed player).

 

E   TOP of Golf Glossary


Eagle:
- A score of two under par on a hole.

Etiquette:
- A golfing code of conduct.

Executive course:
- A shorter that normal golf course featuring mainly par three and par four holes.

Extra holes:
- Played when a match finishes even.

 

F   TOP of Golf Glossary


Face:
- The surface of the club head that strikes the ball.

Fade:
- A shot designed the curve slightly in the air, from left to right for a right-handed player and right to left for a left-handed player.

Fairway:
- The cut grass, and proper route, between the tee and green.

Fairway woods:
- 2, 3, 4, 5, and sometimes higher-numbered woods designed to be used when the ball is in play after the tee shot.

Fat shot:
- To hit the ground before the ball.

Feathery:
- An early golf ball made by filling a leather pouch with boiled feathers. It was highly susceptible to damage and began to go out of use in the mid-1880s after the introduction of the cheaper gutty ball. In 1618 a new type of golf ball was created by handcrafting a cowhide sphere stuffed with goose feathers. The Feathery golf balls were manufactured while the leather and feathers were wet. As the leather shrunk while it dried, the feathers expanded to create a hardened, compact ball. The Feathery was then painted and sold, often for more than the price of a golf club. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

Fescue:
- A fine-leafed, deep-rooting species of grass common on seaside links and heath land courses in the British Isles, tolerant to drought conditions and providing an ideal surface for putting greens.

First cut:
- The strip of semi-rough at the edge of the fairway.

Flat swing:
- Backswing in which the club is more horizontal than vertical. This is often regarded as a fault, but many fine players have had flat swings, including Ben Hogan.

Flex:
- The amount of bend in a club shaft.

Flier:
- A shot that travels much too far, usually played from the rough.

Flagstick:
- Also called the pin, flag, or stick, the flagstick marks the hole.

Follow-through:
- The part of the swing beyond impact with the ball.

"Fore!”
- The shouted word by which golfers warn others on the course that they are in danger of being hit by the ball.

Four ball:
- A match play or stroke play game of two players on each side, all four striking their own ball.

Foursome:
- A match play or stroke play game between two sides of two players each, the partners striking the ball alternately.

Free drop:
- A drop where no penalty is incurred, such as that involved in taking relief from unusual ground conditions, such as casual water.

Fringe:
- The collar of slightly longer grass around the close-mown putting surface of the green.

Front nine:
- The first nine holes of an 18-hole course.

Full set:
- The 14 clubs which are allowed for playing a round. A full set usually consists of three or four wooden clubs or metal woods, nine or ten irons and a putter.
 

G   TOP of Golf Glossary


Get legs:
- A term shouted by a golfer when a shot just made is assumed to be short of the intended goal.

Gimmee:
- Baby talk for "give me," a putt of two feet or less that a friendly opponent declares does not have to be holed out.

Golf ball design:
- The business of golf balls is not open ended; the characteristics of golf balls are strictly governed by rules. Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design and Construction.

Golf ball rules:
- With the rapid advancement of golf ball technology, there must be a limit as to how technologically advanced one can make a golf ball. The USGA has set several guidelines regulating the construction and design of golf balls. To be recognized and approved by the USGA, a golf ball must meet the following standards. Learn more about the USGA
Golf Ball Rules and Standards of Design.

Golf ball size:
- According to the USGA Rules of Golf, the diameter of the ball shall not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm). Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design.

Golf ball spin:
- This refers to the ball’s revolutions. Spin is determined by head speed, materials used in the manufacture of the club, club loft, and swing path, as well as materials that go into the manufacture of the ball. The lift created by back spin causes balls to travel along high trajectories, while poorly hit balls tend to spin sideways, which becomes the cause of hooks and slices. Learn more about the Initial Angle of Flight and Golf Ball Distance.

Golf ball structure and construction:
- Golf ball structures break down broadly into two basic categories: wound golf balls, which are the all too familiar conventional golf ball structure we all grew up with, and the solid golf ball which made its appearance in the 1980s. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction.

Golf ball weight:
- According to the USGA Rules of Golf, the weight of the golf ball shall not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 gm). Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design.

Grain:
- The angle at which the grass of a green grows. Putting "against the grain" requires more effort than "with the grain."

Graphite:
- Carbon-based substance that when bonded in layers produces an exceptionally strong buy very light material ideal for golf-club shafts and increasingly also employed in the manufacture of club heads.

Grass bunker:
- Description of a hollow area without sand but is, in fact, a misnomer because a bunker, by definition, contains sand.

Great Triumvirate:
- Name given collectively to three outstanding British professionals who were active before the First World War: James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon.

Green:
- The closely mown, carefully manicured target area in which the hole is cut.

Greens in regulation:
- The number of greens reached in the regulation number of shots.

Greenside:
- Close to the green.

Grip:
- The part of the club you hold, and the way you hold it.

Gross score:
- The number of shots taken to complete the course before deduction of handicap to give the net score.

Ground under repair:
- Area of a course temporarily out of play, from which a ball may be removed for a drop without penalty. A ball outside the area may also be moved if the lie would cause the player to stand on it.

Guttie:
- A ball made from gutta percha. It lost popularity when the wound ball was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.
Gutta Percha (Gutty) Golf Balls: - It wasn't until 1848 that Rev. Dr. Robert Adams began creating golf balls out of Gutta Percha "Gutty". The Gutty golf ball was created from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. It had a rubber-like feel and was formed into ball shapes by heating it up and shaping it while hot. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.
 

H     TOP of Golf Glossary


Hacker:
- A bad player.

Half:
- When opponents make the same score; a match is halved if it ends 'all square'.

Half set:
- Either the odd or even irons, two woods and a putter. A half set of clubs is all a beginning golfer needs to start playing.

Hang time:
- The amount of time a ball spends in the air after a shot, before falling to ground.

Hanging Lie:
- A ball that is on the ground sloping down-wards, ahead of a golfer.

Haskell Ball:
- Name of the first rubber-core ball, which was invented in 1898 by Coburn Haskell.

Handicap:
- A system devised to make play between golfers of different standards an even match. Your handicap is the number of strokes over par you average over four rounds at a golf course. For instance, if your average score is 88 on a par 72 course, you are given a handicap of 16. In stroke play, if you play with a person that has a 2 handicap, you are allowed 14 strokes - the difference between your handicaps - extra strokes, one on each of the most difficult 14 holes. In match play, the longer handicap player would receive 11 shots - three quarters of the difference.

Hazard:
- A bunker, stream, ditch, lake, or ponds are all hazards. Hazards are defined by a course committee.

Heel:
- The part of the club head beneath the end of the shaft.

Hole:
- This can mean the actual hole that you putt into or the entire area between tee and green.

Hole-in-One:
- Hitting the ball into the hole with only one stroke. See also 'Ace'.

Hole Handicap:
- Each score card indicates a handicap number for each hole. The lower the number, the harder the hole is to play. Some courses split odd and even handicap numbers between the front nine and back nine while others handicap all eighteen holes together. For example, the front nine can have handicap numbers 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15 & 17 while the back nine have 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16, & 18. In this case, the number 2 handicap hole isn't necessarily the second hardest hole on the course. It's the first hardest hole for that nine. A lot of golfers prefer to have all eighteen handicapped together but it is up to the course to decide.

Honor:
- To play first off the tee, the privilege of the winner of the preceding hole. The privilege of teeing off first is usually given to the player who recorded the lowest score on the previous hole.

Hook:
- Faulty stoke when the ball curves to the left for right-handed players and right for left-handed players.

Hosel:
- The hollow part of a club head which is attached to the shaft.

I    TOP of Golf Glossary


Initial velocity:
- The initial velocity of the ball shall not exceed the limit specified (test on file), when measured on apparatus approved by USGA. Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design.
Initial angle of flight: - This refers to the angle at which the ball leaves the club head upon impact. Initial angle is determined by the loft of the club, the angle of incidence, the degree of ball deformation, and the friction generated between the club and the ball. Learn more about the Initial Angle of Flight and Golf Ball Distance.

Iron:
- Irons are metal-headed clubs used for most shots between tee and green. Sometimes you can use them from the tee at holes where accuracy is more important than distance. The sand and pitching wedges are also irons.

In play:
- Within the boundaries of the golf course.

Inside:
- The area on the player's side of a line drawn from the ball to the target.
Interlocking grip: - Method of gripping the handle of the club in which the little finger of the right hand intertwines with the forefinger of the left hand (for right-handers). It is usually favored by players with small hands or short fingers to maintain a firm grip.


L   TOP of Golf Glossary


LPGA:
- Ladies Professional Golf Association.

Ladies' Day:
- A day on which the course is reserved for lady golfers only.

Laid off:
- When the club points to the left of the target at the top of the backswing (for right-handed players).

Lateral water hazard:
- A ditch, stream, or pond roughly parallel to the line of the hole. A ball picked out may be played from either side, with a one-stroke penalty.

Leader board:
- Board on which the lowest scores are posted.

Lie:
- Where the ball is in relation to the ground it is resting on. The more embedded in the grass or sand the ball is, the worse the lie. Lie also refers to the angle of the sole of the club head to the shaft.

Lift:
- A golf ball's dimples also help with the ball's lift because they can keep the flow 'attached' while the golf ball spins backward. The backspin increases the speed of the upper surface of the golf ball with less friction than the bottom of the golf ball, which decreases in speed due to more friction. The air that passes over the golf ball gets dragged around to the back of the ball, producing its lift.

Links:
- A seaside golf course, typified by sand, turf, and course grass, of the kind where golf was originally played.

Local rules:
- Those dealing with unusual features of a particular golf course.

Loft:
- The angle of the clubface to the ground. The more loft a club has (indicated by how high the number is on the club) the higher the ball goes and the shorter distance it travels.

Lofter:
- Early club with a loft equivalent to a modern 5- or 6- iron and used to strike the ball on a high trajectory. Also called a lofting iron, it superseded the wooden baffy for approach shots to the green.

Long game:
- Shots over about 180 yards (164m) long, played from the tee or on the fairway with woods or low-numbered irons.

Loose impediments:
- Twigs and leaves, not actually growing, and not stuck to the ball, which may be removed from around it without penalty. The ball must not be moved.

Lost ball:
- If after a five-minute search, a ball cannot be found, a competitor is penalized one stroke and plays another ball from the spot where the first one was hit, counting as the third shot.

Low-handicapper:
- A good player.

Lucy Locket:
- Rhyming slang ('socket') expression for a shank, as it refers to the part of the club striking the ball.
 

M   TOP of Golf Glossary


Mark:
- To identify the spot on the green where a player has picked up a ball for cleaning or to clear the way for another player's putt.

Marker:
- The player who keeps another player's score.

Mashie:
- Iron club that made its appearance in the late 1880s. It had loft equivalent to the modern 5-iron. J.H. Taylor was the first acknowledged master of the mashie.


Match play:
- A game between two players or two sides which is determined by the number of holes won or lost.

Medium iron:
- Modern iron club used for approach shots to the green, combining a medium length of flight with considerable accuracy.

Metal wood:
- A size or type of club traditionally made of wood but often nowadays made of metal.

Misclub:
- To use the wrong club for a particular distance.

Miss the cut:
- To be eliminated from an event because your score is too high. See also 'Cut'.

Mixed foursome:
- A team consisting of two men and two women.

Mulligan:
- A second shot permitted without penalty. Usually only one is allowed per round and is limited to tee shots although the number can be agreed upon by players before the round begins.
Multi-layer golf ball construction:
- Multi layer golf balls are multi-layer golf balls in which the core material is wrapped in multiple covers. As a result of the latest advances in technology, manufacturers are now able to flexibly combine materials, degrees of hardness, specific gravity, and so on, in ways that enhance a variety of performance features. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.
 

N   TOP of Golf Glossary


Nassau:
- A bet in which a round of 18 holes is divided into three; front nine, back nine and full 18.

Net score:
- A player's score for a round after the handicap allowance has been deducted.

Nineteenth hole:
- The clubhouse bar.


O  TOP of Golf Glossary


Obstructions:
- Any man-made objects, except objects that define out-of-bounds, or a construction that is ruled to be a part of the course.

Off the pace:
- American expression to describe the number of strokes or the position of a player behind the leader of a tournament; for instance, 'two strokes off the pace.'

Off-centre hit:
- A strike that is not a solid or does not come off the 'sweet spot' of the club (which is usually towards the centre of the clubface) but more towards the toe or heel.

One piece golf ball construction:
- One piece golf balls are golf balls made of a single, high-restitution synthetic rubber. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

One-putt:
- To take only one putt to sink the ball on a green.

Out of bounds:
- A ball is out of bounds if it lands anywhere prohibited for play - Usually beyond the courses boundaries.

Overall distance standard:
- The combined carry and roll of the ball, when tested on apparatus approved by USGA, shall not exceed the distance specified under the conditions set forth in the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls on file with USGA. Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design.

Over club:
- To use a club that hits the ball too far.
 

P    TOP of Golf Glossary


PGA:
- Professional Golfers Association. In Britain, it is effectively the trade union or the representative body of clubs, as opposed to tournament, pros, (who are members of the European, or another Tour).

Par:
- The standard score for a hole, usually based on its length. Holes up to 250 yards (228m) long are par 3's, up to 475 yards (434m) par 4's and any longer than that are par 5's. Course committees are now authorized to vary par when a hole's difficulty warrants not sticking rigidly to the distances laid down.

Parkland course:
- Typically an inland golf course is laid out on rich grassland with little rough.

Penalty:
- In stroke play, a rule infringement usually costs two strokes; in match play, the hole is generally lost.

Penalty stroke:
- An additional stroke or strokes added to a golfer's score for an infringement of the rules.

Pin:
- Informal name for the flagstick in the hole

Pin placement:
- The location of the hole on the green.

Pitch:
- A reasonably high shot onto the green, traveling anything from a few yards to 120 yards (110m). You generally use a 9 iron, a pitching wedge, or a sand wedge.

Pitch mark:
- An indentation on the green made by the ball when it lands.

Pitch shot:
- Generally an approach shot to the green, but longer than a chip.

Pitching wedge:
- A short iron with a large degree of loft, used for pitching high but short shots onto the green.

Play club:
- Old term for a driving club that was in common use up to the latter part of the 19th century, roughly equivalent to the modern driver or 2-wood.

Play-off:
- Where two or more players tie and play extra holes to determine a winner.

Playing through:
- When a slower group invites the group behind them to pass them.

Plugged lie:
- When the ball finishes half buried in the ground.

Plumb bob:
- To line up a putt with one eye closed and with the putter held vertically in front of the face.

Pot bunker:
- A small, steep-sided bunker; typically a characteristic of links courses

Provisional:
- A ball played when it seems likely that the preceding shot is lost or out of bounds. It will count, plus a penalty.

Pull:
- A shot that flies straight to the left of the target (for right handed golfers).

Punch:
- A shot hit lower than usual that is most often played by putting the ball back in the stance and truncating the follow-through.

Push:
- A shot that flies straight to the right of the target (for right handed golfers).

Putt:
- The rolling shot taken on the green, with a putter.
 

R   TOP of Golf Glossary


R and A:
- The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Reading the green:
- Looking at the slope and contours of the green to decide the line and speed of your putt.

Rating (Course and Slope):
- The United States Golf Association sends committees out to member courses in order to evaluate and assign each course a rating and slope. Course and slope ratings are not arbitrary. The USGA assigns the course rating based on a course's level of difficulty for a scratch golfer, and the slope rating based on the measure of difficulty for a non-scratch golfer. The USGA says that a course with a 113 slope rating is one of average playing difficulty. Slope ratings can range between 55 and 155. The highest rating is 149 for the Kiawah Island Ocean Course, a layout which the greatest pros in the world view as nearly impossible to conquer.
In many cases the rating committee will not even play the course. The committee meets with the club pro or general manager to gather information such as total course length, length of the holes into the wind and length of holes downwind. They measure the speed of the greens, the height of the fairways, the height of the rough and the roll on the fairway. They also view and evaluate the tees, the landing areas and greens. Topography, bunkers, out-of-bounds areas, water hazards and presence or absence of trees also come into play when determining the rating and slope. Other factors include target areas, blind shots and holes that force the golfer to lay up. After all variables are accounted for, the numbers are calculated and the course rating and slope are assigned.

Now that you know what a course and slope rating are, you probably want to know what it means to you and your golf game. Well, if you have a 10 handicap and a USGA index of 12.5 and you traveled to another course with a higher rating and slope than your home course, your handicap would be adjusted accordingly based on the difference in course and slope rating of the two courses. There is a consistency problem with this system if your home course happens to be very difficult. Your friend might have a handicap of 10 that was established on an easier course, but if you put your respective indexes into the handicap computer when both visiting another course, both of you will have the same adjusted handicap.

Although the system is imperfect, it is the best one that we have so far. Many have suggested alternative formulas, but so far none has USGA approval. So, for good or bad, those course and slope ratings aren't just handed out willy nilly. Time, effort and calculations have been put into making the playing field as level as possible for all golfers.

Regular:
- A club shaft with normal flex.

Release:
- The point in the downswing where the wrists unlock.

Relief:
- When a golfer is allowed to lift the ball and then drop it in another area under the Rules of Golf.

Rough:
- Grass left to grow so that off-line shots are made more difficult -- also called 'deep stuff'.

Rub of the green:
- When a ball in motion is stopped or deflected by an outside agency; there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.

Rubber-core golf ball:
- The golf ball invented by Coburn Haskell in 1898 that revolutionized the game at the turn of the century. Also known as the Haskell ball, it was composed of a solid rubber center around which was wound many yards of elastic thread under tension. It was then covered in gutta percha. The rubber-core ball superseded the guttie. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

Run:
- The roll of the ball after landing.
 

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Sand trap:
- Alternate name for a bunker.

Sand wedge:
- Also called a sand iron, the shortest, most lofted iron used for playing out of bunkers and for very short pitch shots.

Scoop:
- Horse-drawn vehicle that was used to move earth in the early days of golf-course construction.

Scramble:
- Team competition in which all players play from the site of their team's best drive, best second shot, and so on.

Scratch player:
- A golfer with a handicap of zero.

Shaft:
- The length of the club down to the club head.

Shank:
- Area of an iron's club head at the hosel; hence a shot hit by the clubface at this point, which flies off to the right (right-handed player).

Spherical symmetry of the golf ball:
- The ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball. In other words, a golf ball must fly in the same manner, with the same flight characteristics, in all orientations. Learn more about the USGA Rules of Golf Ball Design.

Short game:
- Chipping, pitching, bunker play and putting on the green and around it up to a distance of 100 yards (90m) away.

Short iron:
- Lofted iron club used for short approaches to the green or for lofting over obstacles or hazards.

Side hill lie:
- When the ball lies above or below your feet.

Sink:
- To hole a putt.

Skins:
- A betting game where the lowest score on a hole wins the pot; if the hole is tied; the money carries over to the next hole.

Skulling:
- Hitting a chip or pitch shot too hard and sending the ball past the green.

Sky:
- A ball that flies off the top of the club face and travels very high and short.

Slice:
- A shot that curves sharply from left to right (for a right-handed player).

Slope Rating:
- The United States Golf Association sends committees out to member courses in order to evaluate and assign each course a rating and slope. Course and slope ratings are not arbitrary. The USGA assigns the course rating based on a course's level of difficulty for a scratch golfer, and the slope rating based on the measure of difficulty for a non-scratch golfer. The USGA says that a course with a 113 slope rating is one of average playing difficulty. Slope ratings can range between 55 and 155. The highest rating is 149 for the Kiawah Island Ocean Course, a layout which the greatest pros in the world view as nearly impossible to conquer.
In many cases the rating committee will not even play the course. The committee meets with the club pro or general manager to gather information such as total course length, length of the holes into the wind and length of holes downwind. They measure the speed of the greens, the height of the fairways, the height of the rough and the roll on the fairway. They also view and evaluate the tees, the landing areas and greens. Topography, bunkers, out-of-bounds areas, water hazards and presence or absence of trees also come into play when determining the rating and slope. Other factors include target areas, blind shots and holes that force the golfer to lay up. After all variables are accounted for, the numbers are calculated and the course rating and slope are assigned.

Now that you know what a course and slope rating are, you probably want to know what it means to you and your golf game. Well, if you have a 10 handicap and a USGA index of 12.5 and you traveled to another course with a higher rating and slope than your home course, your handicap would be adjusted accordingly based on the difference in course and slope rating of the two courses. There is a consistency problem with this system if your home course happens to be very difficult. Your friend might have a handicap of 10 that was established on an easier course, but if you put your respective indexes into the handicap computer when both visiting another course, both of you will have the same adjusted handicap.

Although the system is imperfect, it is the best one that we have so far. Many have suggested alternative formulas, but so far none has USGA approval. So, for good or bad, those course and slope ratings aren't just handed out willy nilly. Time, effort and calculations have been put into making the playing field as level as possible for all golfers.

Soft spikes:
- Increasingly popular alternative to metal cleats in golf shoes, as they are claimed to do less damage to the course, especially on greens, and be more comfortable to wear.

Spin rate:
- A golf ball's spin rate refers to the speed it spins on an axis while in flight, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). Spin rate off a driver generally ranges between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm, while the average, cleanly struck wedge shot spins at about 10,000 rpm. Learn more about Spin Rate and Golf Ball Distance.

Spoon:
- The traditional name for a lofted wood, the equivalent of the modern 3- wood.

Square:
- When the clubface is placed at right angles to the imaginary ball-to-target line.

Snipe:
- A sharply hooked ball that dives quickly.

Stableford:
- A popular system of scoring by points for holes completed: par = 2 points, 1 under par = 3 points, 2 under par = 4 points, 1 over par = 1 point.

Stance:
- The position of your feet just before playing a shot.

Standard scratch score (SSS):
- The score expected of a scratch player on any given course.

Stroke:
- A shot in golf.

Stroke and distance:
- The penalty of one stroke and the return to the site of the shot before, when a ball is unplayable.

Stroke index:
- The numbers on a scorecard indicates the order of the holes at which a handicap player receives strokes.

Stroke play:
- A competition in which a player's total strokes for a round are recorded to be compared with the scores of other competitors. 'Stroke play', the correct term, is often referred to as 'medal play'.

Swing weight:
- The weight and balance of a club. All the clubs in your set should be the same swing weight.

 

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Tagged it:
- Used to refer to a good golf shot. Usually a tee or fairway shot that is long and on target.

Takeaway:
- The start of the backswing.

Tee:
- The area of a hole from which you play the first shot.

Tee peg:
- You can put the ball on this device for your first shot to help raise the ball off the ground. It is then much easier to attain height.

Tempo:
- The timing and rhythm of your swing, which should be even and smooth throughout.

Thin:
- A long, low shot hit by mistake with the leading edge of the club (blade).

Three off the tee:
- If a ball is lost, out of bounds, or unplayable from the tee shot, the player is penalized one stroke and tees off again - the third shot.

Three piece golf ball construction:
- 3-piece golf balls (aka Multi-Layer Balls) are usually made of a large synthetic core, a thin mantel and a coat. For optimized weight centering some manufacturers use Tungsten-weights in the centre of the synthetic core. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

Tiger:
- Someone who is playing unusually well.

Top:
- A shot mistakenly hit with the bottom edge of the club, so that the ball is embedded in the ground before popping up, and in most cases traveling only a short distance.

Trap:
- A sand bunker.

Through the green:
- The whole of the golf course except hazards, and the teeing area and putting green of the hole being played.

Through swing:
- The part of the golf swing during which the ball is actually hit.

Top:
- Hitting the ball above its center, causing it to roll or hop along the ground.

Trajectory:
- The flight of the ball.

Triple bogey:
- A score of three over par on a hole.

Two piece golf ball construction:
- Two piece golf balls are dual-structure golf balls in which a high-restitution core is wrapped in a cover. This configuration enables the energy at impact to be transferred efficiently to the ball in flight. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

 


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USGA:
- United States Golf Association.

USPGA:
- United States Professional Golfers' Association.

Under club:
- To use at least one club less than you should for a particular distance.

Unplayable:
- A player may choose to deem a ball unplayable, taking a penalty stroke and dropping the ball no nearer the hole. A ball that is unplayable in a bunker must be dropped in the bunker or stroke and distance taken.

Uphill lie:
- When a ball is positioned on ground sloping up ahead of the player.

Up and down:
- To get the ball into the hole in two strokes from somewhere off the green.

 

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Waggle:
- A player's loosening-up movements at address.

Water hazard:
- A pond, lake or stream, the margins of which are usually defined by red yellow stakes or lines. See also 'Lateral water hazard'.

Wedge:
- clubs with an extremely lofted face (pitching and sand irons).

Whiff:
- A complete miss of the ball on a swing -- also called a fan.

Wood:
- A club normally used for distance shots. It can be made of wood, metal, or graphite.

Wooden golf balls:
- With the game of golf harboring its roots on the East Coast of Scotland, the first golf balls were made of wood. Few details are available, but these rather inefficient wooden golf balls were most likely made of hardwoods such as Beech or Box root. Wooden clubs were also often used in conjunction with these balls, which would have made the game of golf a somewhat jarring experience. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.

Wound golf ball construction:
- Wound golf ball construction is when golf balls have rubber thread wound around one of two kinds of cores: a liquid center, where the core is liquid-filled; or a solid center, in which the core is made of synthetic rubber. This is then wrapped in either a balata, surlyn or another cover whereas Balata covers are seldom made nowadays. The answer to golf ball construction is no longer simple. Most golf ball manufacturers today use different types of materials in the core and even the cover of their balls. Learn more about Golf Ball Construction and Golf Ball Types.
 

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Yardage (distance) chart:
- A plan of the holes on a course shows the distance from one point to another. It can be printed by the course or prepared by the golfer or his caddie.

Yips:
- A condition where the played is so anxious about his putting that he can't swing his putter back, and the stroke becomes a jerky jab at the ball.