Top Golf Terms Explained

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With its array of rules and equipment, golf can be an intimidating sport to get into. But, perhaps the most challenging barrier is understanding the language of golf. Due to this, many people find themselves as an outsider when playing with experienced veterans. They want to experience golf culture but are too afraid to ask questions for fear of ridicule or sounding dumb.

Golf is a beautiful sport that almost anyone can play. But, if you’re thinking about playing, below are some of the critical terminology that will come in handy before your first game.

The course

These are the grounds for golfing. It comprises all the holes and their associated tee boxes, fairways, greens and hazards.


A hole has two meanings: It may refer to the actual hole on the green, and a hole may refer to a unit of the course, i.e. hole 1 to the last hole being played over the whole course.

Tee Box

Also called the teeing area and teeing ground, this is an area where you place your tee and ball and start each hole. It has a definite shape and size measured using tee markers. Your ball must remain inside the tee box, otherwise, you have to face a stroke penalty.


This is the area where the hole is positioned. It is characterized as having shorter smooth grass for putting strokes.


The area between the green and the tee box is the fairway. It is the largest area per whole and is characterized as having short grass but not shorter than that of the green. Hazards can be found inside the fairway and rough on its borders. The objective here is to play a stroke such that the ball lands inside the fairway, avoiding the hazards and the rough.


This is an area of tall grass outside the boundaries of the fairway. It may become challenging to land an accurate stroke in this tall grass while golfing.


These are obstacles in the hole. These include natural hazards, such as rivers or lakes and man-made hazards like bunkers. If your ball falls in one of these obstacles, it may become extremely challenging to play a stroke from within them. A player may have to sustain a stroke-penalty if a stroke can not be played from the hazard.


As mentioned above, it is a hazard. It is a concave depression on the hole filled with sand. It may put a player at a disadvantage if the ball goes inside a bunker. The position of the ball and the sand pose a challenging stroke to be played. Golfers typically use a particular club called a sand wedge to make this stroke.

Casual Water

Casual water or temporary water is an accumulation of water that is not part of a pre-designed hazard. It may present itself after heavy rains. Golfers are given free relief if their ball lies in casual water.


The objective of golf is to play all the holes in the least amount of strokes. Each hole has a par number associated with it. This determines the baseline for the number of strokes required for each course’s hole if a pro golfer played them. A course’s score is the cumulative total of the number of strokes gone above, below, or at par on each hole.


It’s determined using a complex formula that considers the number of rounds you played and the difficulty of the course and determines your average score against the par of the course. You can apply this handicap with anyone you meet. Say your handicap is 5, and you compete with a person with a handicap of 10. It means that you are more likely to finish the course 5 shots under your friends. But, in reality, the handicap is subtracted from the actual score at the end of each course, making the golfing fair and social for players with varying abilities.


Every hole played in golf has an associated par with it. This is the number of expected strokes required to land a ball in the hole. A score of -1 indicates a golfer completed the hole with 1 stroke remaining to reach par, a score of +1 indicates that a golfer went 1 stroke above the predetermined par, and a score of 0 indicates that a golfer took as many strokes as the par for the hole.


When a golfer completes a hole with 1 stroke remaining to reach par, giving a score of -1 on the scorecard.


When a golfer completes a hole with 2 strokes remaining to reach par, giving a score of -2 on the scorecard.

Double Eagle OR Albatross

When a golfer completes a hole with 3 strokes remaining to reach par, giving a score of -3 on the scorecard.


When a golfer completes a hole with 1 stroke over par, giving a score of +1 on the scorecard.

Double Bogey

When a golfer completes a hole with 2 strokes over par, giving a score of +2 on the scorecard.

Triple Bogey

When a golfer completes a hole with 3 strokes over par, giving a score of +3 on the scorecard.


When a golfer completes a hole in 1 stroke, making the shot from the tee-box to the hole.



A golf tee is small wooden equipment used to support and elevate the ball inside the tee box when it is about to be played.


A warning meaning, “Look out!” when a ball is heading towards an unsuspecting person near the hole.


A putt is a golf stroke made on the green when the ball is close to the hole. The stroke is made using a putter club and requires precision to roll the ball into the hole gently.


To attend the flagpole is to remove and hold the flagpole while another player makes their putt. The flagpole is called a pin. The player whose ball is closest to the pin has the responsibility to remove and keep it secure such that it does not interfere with another player’s putting.


Also known as tee-shot, this term describes the first stroke a golfer makes on every hole. Usually, this kind of stroke is made using woods, a golf club used for launching the ball at great distances.


This is the name for a stroke taken from the fairway to land the ball on the green. Whether it reaches the green or not is a different matter.

Over clubbing

It happens when a golfer uses a club that causes the ball to cover an extra distance than intended. Many factors contribute to over clubbing while golfing, such as the hole’s position, where the ball is shot from, and wind speed.


It refers to the golfer whose ball is furthest away from the hole on the green. An away player gets to putt first.

Best ball

This is a play format in which golfers are divided into teams of 2, 3, or 4. Teams play against each other, and every golfer plays with their own ball, but the best performing member’s score is recorded for each hole per team. The team with the lowest score wins.

The turn

It is an expression in golfing terminology used to denote the halfway point of a course. Golfers use this as a reference point during the game to take a break, revise strategies and resume playing after “making the turn.”

Explosion shot

Also known as a blast, this stroke is taken from a bunker when the ball gets trapped there. It usually leaves a trail of sand when the club hits the ball and sand, hence its name.


Duffing, or to duff the ball, is an informal term for making a horrible shot. The term duffer, however, is reserved for golfers who are mediocre of novice at golfing.


Like duffer, it is also an informal term used to denote poor golfing players. However, it has negative connotations associated with it, and players should abstain from using this term.


It is a putt shot that all players agree on as unmissable. All players may decide for the shot to count for a golfer without it being played.


If a golfer gets or takes a mulligan, they’re retaking a shot from the same place if the previous shot they took was poorly made. A mulligan is only allowed during informal play, and the do-over does not result in a shot-penalty.

You will come across many terms not mentioned in this list while playing. However, the above should help you get started. The game is about making new friendships, discussing strategies, and exploring tricky situations so don’t let your lack of knowledge discourage you from asking questions. It is also a good idea to brush up on golf etiquette, like having one player inside the tee-box at a time, making no delays while playing, establishing rules on gimmies and mulligans beforehand, and keeping your cool at all times. You’ll find that golfing is a healthy outdoor activity that helps you relax and makes you burn a surprising amount of calories.

By |2021-01-27T22:16:12-06:00January 25th, 2021|0 Comments

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