Welcome to the ultimate golfing glossary, where we cover everything from A to Z in the world of golf. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting your golf journey, understanding these golf terms will help you navigate the greens and fairways with ease.


Above the hole: Refers to a ball on any sloping green positioned so that the next putt is downhill.

Ace: A hole-in-one, which is holing the ball in one shot from the tee.

Address: The golfer's stance and positioning when setting up to hit the ball.

Aggregate: A score made over more than one round of play, or by two or more players playing as partners.

Albatross: Scoring three strokes under par on a single hole.

Amateur: A golfer who doesn't play golf for financial gain and is not a professional. Amateurs can now win money up to a value of £500.

Approach: A shot played with the intent to reach the green, usually from the fairway or rough.

Artisan: A class of membership of a golf club with restricted rights at a low cost which historically offered reduced membership to the working classes. Artisans traditionally would work part time on the maintenance of the golf course for limited playing rights at a reduced cost or free of charge.

Away: The golfer whose ball is furthest from the green, and who therefore plays first.


Back Nine: Holes 10 through 18 on a golf course.

Backspin: Spin of the ball that causes it to stop quickly or even move backward upon landing.

Ball Marker: A small object (often a coin) used to mark the position of a ball on the green.

Ball Speed: The velocity of the golf ball measured right after impact. It’s usually measured in miles per hour (mph).

Better Ball: Best score on a hole by partners in a best-ball match.

Birdie: Scoring one stroke under par on a hole.

Bogey: When a golfer takes 1 stroke over par for a particular hole.

Bump and run: A low trajectory shot from off the green, designed to get the ball onto the putting surface and rolling as quickly as possible.

Bunker: A sand filled area on a golf course, designed to be a hazard. Also known as a sand trap.


Caddy: A person who carries a golfer's bag and provides advice and assistance.

Carry: The distance the golf ball travels through the air before landing.

Cart Path Only: A rule on the golf course that requires golfers to keep their golf carts on designated paths to protect the turf.

Casual Water: Temporary water accumulation on the course from which players can take relief.

Chip: A short, low trajectory shot played around the green.

Closed face: When the clubface is angled aligned to the left of the intended target toward the player's body, i.e., angled left for right-handed players.

Clubface: The front part of a golf club used to strike the ball.

Clubhead Speed: The clubhead's velocity at impact of the ball. It’s most commonly measured using miles per hour (mph).

Compression: The deformation of the ball when it's hit.

Courtesy of the course: The waiver of the green fee. Sometimes extended to visiting golfers playing in official competitions, visiting professional golfers and staff of other golf clubs.

Cut: The reduction in the size of the field during a multiple round stroke play tournament, usually set so that a fixed number of players will participate in the subsequent round(s).


Divot: A piece of turf displaced when a golfer strikes the ball.

Dogleg: A hole that features a sharp turn or bend in the fairway.

Double Bogey: Scoring two strokes over par on a hole.

Downswing: The part of the golf swing that brings the club down from the top of the backswing to impact.

Draw: A right to left ball flight (for right-handed players), more controlled than a hook.

Drive: A long shot typically made from the tee box.

Driver: The longest club in the bag, and therefore the one with which you expect to hit the ball furthest.

Driving Range: A facility or area where golfers can practice their golf swing. It can also be a recreational activity.

Drop: When the ball is lost, or there is an unplayable lie, a ball is dropped from knee height onto the course.

Duff: A horrible shot. Typically, this is a shot where very little, or no contact is made between the clubface and golf-ball.


Eagle: Scoring two strokes under par on a hole.

Elevation Change: The difference in height between the tee and the green on a golf hole.

Etiquette: A code of behaviour and manners to which all golfers are expected to adhere.


Fade: A controlled shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed player).

Fairway: The well-manicured area between the tee and the green.

Fairway Wood: A type of golf club designed for hitting long shots from the fairway.

Follow-through: The final part of the golf swing, after the ball has been struck.

Fore: A warning shout to alert others of an errant shot.

Four-Ball: Group of two pairs of golfers recording the better ball score of each pair based on gross or net scores. Also refers to the number of players in a group.

Foursome: Group of two pairs of golfers playing shots alternately with the same ball. The partners drive at alternate holes, so one will drive the even numbers and one the odd numbers.

Flight Time: How long the ball flies in the air.

Flop: A wedge shot played around the green where you open the face of the club up completely and try to hit the ball very high in the air so that it lands softly on the green.

Free drop: When a player is entitled to make a drop without a penalty stroke.

Fringe: The area directly surrounding the green. The grass on the fringe is cut higher than the green and is more difficult to putt from.

Front Nine: The first 9 holes on an 18-hole course.


Gilligan: The opposite of a Mulligan. When gilligans are agreed in a match, your opponent has the right to ask you to play a shot again – typically a good drive or a long putt holed.

Gimme: An informal agreement among players to concede a short putt as if it were made.

Grain: Direction in which blades of grass grow and influence the speed and roll of the ball on the putting green.

Green: The area around the hole, where the grass is closely mown and the target for each hole.

Green Fee: The charge made for a round of golf by the course management.

Green in Regulation: The number of strokes to arrive on the putting surface with your ball, this should equate to two shots below the par for any given hole.

Greenside: The area immediately surrounding the green.

Green Speed: A numerical value that represents how fast the ball will roll on the green. More commonly measured using a stimp meter 

Grip: The way a golfer holds the club.

Gross score: The total number of actual strokes played within a round, before handicap is taken into account.

Grounding the club: Setting the clubhead on the ground behind the ball in preparation for making a stroke. Not allowed in bunkers.

Ground under Repair (GUR): If an area of the course is under maintenance and your ball lands there, you can remove your ball without penalty. Normally identified by blue stakes or a line.


Handicap: A numerical measure of a golfer's playing ability used to adjust scores for fair competition.

Half Shot: Reduced swing when taking a shot. Used for shorter shots, or when extra control is required.

Hazard: Now referred to as a penalty area. Any obstacle on the course, including bunkers and water.

Heel: The area of the clubface from the sweet spot to the hosel. Shots with the heel frequently result in errant shots and almost always result in less distance.

Hook: For a right-handed golfer a hook occurs when the ball travels from right to left, but in a much more exaggerated path.

Hole out: To finish a hole by getting the ball in the cup or hole.

Hole-in-one: The holy grail of the game as it involves holing out from the tee.

Hosel: The portion of a clubhead that the shaft fits into. This connection between the clubhead and shaft is secured with epoxy. New technology especially on metal woods involves securing with a twist in application of the golf shaft.

Hybrid: Increasingly popular type of golf club which, in essence, have the clubhead qualities of a wood, and the shaft length of an iron. Also known as ‘Utility’ clubs.


Impact Point: Where the clubface makes contact with the ball.

Iron: A type of golf club with a metal head, typically used for approach shots.

In the Leather: A putt that's conceded because it's so short that it would be virtually impossible to miss.


Jab: A putting stroke that is short, quick, and often erratic.

Jigger: An old-style golf club with a short shaft, used for low shots around the green.


Knockdown: A controlled, low trajectory shot designed to deal with windy conditions.


Lag Putt: A long, deliberate putt aimed at getting the ball close to the hole but not necessarily sinking it.

Launch Angle: The vertical angle of the ball’s ascent right after impact. Launch angle, ball speed, and ball spin are the factors that determine carry distance and total distance.

Launch Monitor: Measures ball and club data that can be used to analyse your swing and custom fit golf equipment.

Lay up: A shot designed not to reach the green; so as to remain short of a penalty area or bunker, for example, short of the putting surface.

Lie: How the ball is resting on the ground, which may add to the difficulty of the next stroke.

Links: A type of golf course near the coast with open, sandy terrain.

Lip: Edge of the hole.

Lob: High, arcing shot.

Loft: The angle of the clubface in relation to the shaft.


Majors: The four pre-eminent men’s golf tournaments – the Masters, US Open, US PGA Championship, and The Open.
The five pre-eminent women’s golf tournaments – The Chevron Championship, Women's PGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open, The Evian Championship, and The Women's Open.

Medal Play: Another term for stroke play, where the total number of strokes is counted.

Marker: A person who keeps the score in a match, either as a spectator accompanying the players, or one’s opponent.

Match Play: Competition scored by the number of holes won or lost. The opposite of ‘stroke’ or ‘medal’ play. In this format, matches often do not go the full 18 holes.

Mulligan: An informal term for a do-over shot, not allowed in official play.


Nearest the pin: Competition within a competition where a prize is awarded to the golfer who gets their ball closest to the cup on a designated hole or holes.

Net score: Score after the handicap strokes have been deducted from the gross score.

Nineteenth Hole: A slang term for the clubhouse bar or pub, where golfers often gather after a round.

No return: A player does not hand in a scorecard at the end of a competition or records no score on one or more holes and is therefore excluded from the competition.


Order of Play: Determines which golfer should hit their shot next. The player furthest away from the hole is supposed to go first, though they can ask another player to go first if they’re not ready.

Out of Bounds (OB): Areas on the course where play is not allowed.

Over Par: Scoring more strokes than the designated par for a hole or round.

Over-club: Using a club that is expected to hit the ball too far.


Par: The expected number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to complete a hole or round.

Penalty: Extra stroke(s) added to a player’s score for violation of the rules or lost ball.

PGA: The Professional Golfers' Association.

Pin: Another name for the flagstick.

Pitch: Typically played with a high lofted club, is a golf shot intended to go a relatively short distance with a ball flight that travels steeply upwards and then steeply back downwards.

Pitch and Putt: A type of golf course characterized by short holes where players mainly use irons or wedges.

Pitch Mark: A small indent that your ball makes on the green when it lands. You should always repair them before moving on.

Play Through: When a group of slower golfers or those searching for a ball allow others to pass them. It is good etiquette to allow faster players to ‘play through’.

Plugged: Refers to a ball that is wholly or partially embedded in the ground or sand.

Plus handicap: A golfer whose handicap is better than scratch, so he has to add or ‘plus’ strokes to his gross score after a round, rather than subtracting them.

Practice swing: Rehearsing the stroke about to be made.

Provisional Ball: If your ball may be lost, but not out of bounds/in a penalty area, you can play a ‘Provisional Ball’ that can be used if you can’t find your first shot.

Putt: A stroke from the green or fringe in which the ball does not leave the ground.


Q-School: The qualifying tournament on several major professional tours, such as the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, or LPGA Tour.

Qualifying Round: A round of golf used to determine eligibility for a tournament or match play. It is also referred to as a round of golf that will count towards your future handicap.

Quadruple Bogey: Scoring four strokes over par on a single hole.


Range: Practice area (also called the Driving Range).

Rangefinder: A device that measure the distance to the hole using a laser measuring device.

Recovery: Shot played back into a good position from an unfavourable one.

Relief: Permission to lift and drop the ball without incurring a penalty.

Roll Distance: How far the ball rolls or bounces after hitting the ground for the first time.

Rough: The longer grass on the sides of the fairway, making shots more challenging.


Sand Wedge: A high-lofted club primarily used for getting out of bunkers.

Scratch Golfer: A golfer who plays at or better than par.

Shaft: The tube connected to the clubhead at one end, with a grip on the other end. Golf club shafts come in various material, weight, and flex options to fit every golfer's unique needs.

Short Game: Shots that take place on or near the green. Putting, chipping, pitching, and green-side bunker play are all aspects of the short game.

Shotgun Start: When multiple groups of golfers start their rounds on different holes simultaneously.

Slice: Occurs when a golfer puts an excessive curve on the ball from left to right (for a right-handed golfer).

Slope Rating: A number, from 55 to 155, used to determine the level of difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer. An "average" course has a slope rating of 113.

Sole: The bottom portion of the clubhead that rests on the ground when addressing your golf ball.

Spin Rate: A measure of the revolutions per minute (rpm) of the golf ball.

Stableford: A system where you convert the number of strokes you have taken to points. It allows golfers of all handicaps to compete on level terms.

Stance: The position of a golfer's feet and body when addressing the ball.

Stroke: Any forward club swing/putt where a golfer is trying to hit the ball.

Stroke Index: A system by which each hole on a course is given a rating as to its difficulty. Typically, stroke index 1 would be the most difficult hole, and stroke index 18 the easiest.

Stroke Play: Style of scoring in which the player with the fewest strokes wins. Most professional tournaments are stroke play.

Sweet spot: Elusive part of the centre of the clubface where optimal ball-striking is rumoured to occur.

Swing: The means of moving the golf club in an arc and returning it to the ball.


Tap in: A very short putt which may require less skill.

Tee: The starting point for each hole, often elevated.

Texas Wedge: Using a putter from off the green, often when the fringe or fairway is closely mown.

Texas Scramble: A tournament format where each member of a team hits a tee shot on each hole, the best shot is chosen and then each player plays from that position, always playing the best shot position until completion of the hole

Texas Shamble: A tournament format where each member of a team hits a tee shot on each hole, the best tee shot on the hole is selected, each team member then completes the hole with their own ball from that chosen location.

Toe: The area of the clubface from the sweet spot to the end of the clubface (the end opposite of the hosel). Shots with the toe frequently result in errant shots and almost always result in less distance.

Topped: An errant shot where the club-head strikes on top of the ball, causing the ball to roll or bounce rather than fly.

Total Distance: How far the ball travels, including both the carry and roll distances.

Triple Bogey: When a golfer takes 3 strokes over par for a particular hole.

Turkey: Three consecutive birdies during one round of golf.


Unplayable lie: When it is impossible to play a shot because of ground conditions or an obstruction. The player may drop the drop the ball in a better position, in accordance with the rules, under penalty.

Up and Down: When you have missed a green in regulation, and you are still able to make par.

Upright Lie: A club's lie angle where the toe points more upright than standard.


Vardon Grip: A common golf grip style where the little finger of the lower hand overlaps the index finger of the upper hand.


Water Hazard: A penalty area with water that comes into play and is often marked with yellow or red stakes.

Waggle: A small, rhythmic movement of the clubhead just before the swing to relieve tension.

Wood: Any golf club with a characteristically large club head. These include the driver (1 wood) and the fairway woods (2 wood -15 wood and above). More commonly referred to as Metal Wood.

Winter Greens: Putting greens used in the winter months to preserve the quality of the summer greens.

Worm Burner: A low shot that stays close to the ground, often resulting in less distance and control.


X-Out: Golf balls with minor cosmetic imperfections, sold at a discount.

X-Stiff: A designation for an extra-stiff shaft in a golf club, often preferred by powerful players.


Yardage: The distance between the player’s ball and the target he is aiming for.

Yellow Stakes: Markers indicating a penalty area on the course.


Zone Putting: A method of breaking the putting green into zones to aid in reading and making putts.

Zero Putt: Sinking the ball with the first putt, making par for the hole without additional strokes on the green.

Now that you've explored our expanded golfing glossary, you're well-equipped to immerse yourself in the world of golf with confidence and a deeper understanding of its terminology. Happy golfing!