Golf Terminology for Beginners

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If you’ve landed on this page I’m guessing you are a novice golfer or you’re thinking about taking up the game.  The sport has grown immensely over the last 50 years or so and is a fun sociable way to get out and exercise.

If your new to the sport this guide to golf terminology for beginners is a must have for all newbies to the game. The aim of the game which is played on a large open course and generally consists of 18 holes, is to complete the entire course in as few shots as possible.

While the sport is fun, beginners might have a hard time understanding the slang and using the correct terminology. This guide will get you on your way to have a golfing vocabulary. Using these terms will not only help you understand the game, but it could also help you mingle with the pros. In this article, you will learn the basic terminology used in golf.

Golf Terminology: 31 Terms Every New Player Needs To Know

Much like with any sport, golf also has its own terminology that helps the players understand the game a little better. Most of this terminology is fluently used by golfers and while you might not understand it yet, you will find out how much better the game is once you do. Here is a selection of the most common terms used by the average golfer:

  1. Handicap: The handicap is the first thing you will need to know when you start the game. It simply refers to the average shots the player plays more than the course total (over par). This is also the rating system used in golf.
  2. Clubs: The clubs are the sticks or tools used for playing the game. They vary in sizes and have different purposes.
  3. Par: Par is the number of shots that is should take the user to complete a hole. Holes are generally divided into par 3, 4, and 5.
  4. Birdie: Birdie is the term used to describe a completed hole that is one shot under par. For example, completing a 4 shot hole in 3 shots will give you a birdie.
  5. Eagle: Eagle is used to describe a complete hole that is 2 shots under par. Once again, it will be considered an eagle if you complete a par 5 in just 3 shots.
  6. Bogey: Bogey is the opposite of a birdie and this referred to completing a hole in one shot more than par. A double bogey and triple bogey is also used for completing the hole in 2 o3 shots more than par respectively.
  7. Ace: An ace is a term that is used to describe a player making a hole in one. This is commonly seen on par 3 holes.
  8. Caddie: The caddie is the person you see carrying the clubs of the pros. This person can often be turned to for advice and has some general knowledge about the game.
  9. Tee: Once you start a course, you will use a tee. The tee is the wooden peg that is used to tee-off the ball from the starting point of the course. The tee can only be used for starting the course from the tee box.
  10. Fairway: A golf course is generally divided into 3 sections. The fairway is the nice stroke of short-cut grass before you reach the green. Players should always try to land on the fairway when teeing off as it makes reaching the green much easier.
  11. Rough: The rough is the taller grass that the player should void that is around the fairway and the green. It can be quite tricky to get out of the rough if you are inexperienced.
  12. Green: The green is the area surrounding the hole. This is the spot that you will aim for when you are approaching the cup (hole).
  13. Drive: The first shot a player takes from the tee is considered the drive. The club that is most commonly used for this is also referred to as the driver.
  14. Putt: Once you land on the green, you will need to putt the ball into the hole. It is most commonly referred to as the stroke taken by the player when on the green.
  15. Fringe: The fringe is the thin stroke of grass that generally separates the green from the rough. Often times landing here can still be good if you are an advanced player.
  16. Boundaries: These general markers are used to indicate the ends of the course. Any shot outside the boundary is considered “out of bounds”.
  17. Fore: These are the warnings that are sent by the players to the fans if they are afraid that a shot might hit another person on the course.
  18. Hacker: If you are a beginner, you might hear this term sometimes. It is a slang word used to refer to a player who not very good.
  19. Slice: A shot that takes an extreme path from left to right (for a right-handed player)
  20. Hook: A shot that takes an extreme path from right to left (right-handed player)
  21. Hosel: Part of a golf club that connects the shaft and head together
  22. Shank: A bad shot that is usually hit from the hosel of the club and takes an extreme trajectory right.
  23. Cavity Back: Irons that are usually used by mid to high handicap golfers. They are generally more forgiving
  24. Blades: Irons that are used by low handicappers and professionals.
  25. Rangefinder: A device that measures distances on the course and assists the player with accuracy.
  26. Whiff: When a player misses the ball on a shot. Sometimes referred to as an air shot
  27. Short Game: Referred to the shots around the green, chipping and putting.
  28. Approach: This refers to the shot a player takes from the fairway to the green.
  29. Over-clubbing: Over-clubbing refers to using a club that will hit the ball further than necessary. One example of this may be using a driver on a short par 3 course.
  30. Sandtrap: The sand trap is one of the easiest words as it is used to describe the sand bunkers that are spread out over the course. These should be avoided at all costs.
  31. Clubhouse: The clubhouse is also referred to as the 19th hole by many players and it is the spot that players head to after the game for some refreshments.

Final Thoughts:

Golf is one of the top sports that you can play today. The sport is easy enough to understand once you get the hang of language, although playing can be a different ball game entirely. This terminology should help you fit in with your golfing friends and join the conversations about golf.

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