Beginner Guide: Golf Terms That Every Player Should Know

Golf is a beloved sport around the world and it has its unique language. To become an expert golfer, you must know all golf terms inside and out. From novice to the experienced player, understanding golf terminology will help you improve your game no matter what level you’re at. 


Essential Terminology Every Golfer Should Know

Ace: Otherwise known as “Hole In One,” it is a challenging golf stroke in which the ball is hit from the tee with one club directly into the hole. Even for experienced players, this feat is difficult to master, so some major tournaments will reward those who can successfully make it.

Address (on the ball): Players can prepare to swing with their chosen club with the ball perched atop the tee. Although on a bunker course, they must remember that using the head of their club is not allowed while digging into either sand or ground.

Advice: Playing golf involves instructions, club selection, information about the sport’s regulations and details such as distances and traps (placement of flags or water hazards). Furthermore, according to golfing rules, players can only advise their teammates and caddies.   

Back Door: A shot that flies to the back of the hole and rolls back into the hole.

Backspin: Another term when talking about backspin is “Bite”. The ball spins back and stops in contact with the court.

Ball Mark: Understood as a ball mark created after a golfer makes a stroke on the Green or fairway or the Green. This term is also known as Pitch Mark.

Banana Ball: Left-to-right banana-shaped ball, also known as Slice (right-handed people).

Best Ball: Play in both hole and stroke play. The competition will be from 2 people or more, and the best score for the person in the group for each hole will be calculated.

Best Shot: Will compete in groups of two or more, each player will hit their ball and then choose the ball with the best position, and then everyone in the team will continue to hit it in this position. This process is repeated until the ball enters the hole and is commonly used in stroke play.

Blast: A shot in the sand that makes the ball and sand fly together, also known as Exploding.

Blind Hole: A hole in which the player cannot see the Green when making his stroke.

Birdie: When a golfer completes the hole in one stroke less than par.

Bogey: When a golfer completes the hole in one stroke more than par.

Chip Shot: A short, low shot near the Green, depending on the distance from the ball to the Green or the hole.

Divot: When making irons, P, W clubs with high inclination often lose a piece of grass when hitting. Then the piece of grass is called Divot.

Dogleg: It is understood that the golf hole is curved to the right or the left.

Double eagle: This is a rare case, when the golfer hits -3 strokes, it will be called a Double eagle.

Draw: The player intentionally creates the ball’s path from right to left, but the ball goes straight to the center line (in this case, only right-handed people).

Dunk: This shot goes straight into a water hazard on a golf course.

Eagle: When a golfer completes the hole in two strokes less than par.

Fat Shot: A shot that occurs when the club hits the back of the ball, this is the cause of the ball being high or low or short.

Flight: A term used to describe a group playing together in a competition. People in the same group are people of equal ability.

Foursome: A competitive group of 4 people

Fried Egg: The ball is in the bunker and is half submerged in the sand.

Follow Through: The swing that follows after the clubface makes contact with the ball.

Fairway: The grass area the golfer aims to hit their ball onto.

Fade: How a golf ball will fly from left to right. 

Flagstick: A pole used to mark the hole’s location on a green.

Firm: The ground condition on which a golfer plays their ball.

Fore: A warning is shouted when a ball is heading toward another golfer. 

Gallery: Spectators of a golf competition

Get Down: Used to describe putting the ball into the hole.

Grain (of Grass): Is a term to indicate the direction of the grass

Gross score: Total score of all strokes excluding handicap points.

Gimme: A term used for when the golfer is given a stroke without needing to play it out.

Green Fee: This is the fee paid by golfers to play the course.

Grip: The way a golfer holds the club.

Ground Under Repair (GUR): Areas of the course that are temporarily out of bounds.

Handicap: This term refers to a certain golfer’s level when playing golf. A golfer’s best handicap is 0. Handicap scores will help organize golf competitions more fair.

Holding Out: The final act is to put the ball into the hole.

Hazard: Any area on the course which will bring a penalty if the ball enters.

Line of Play: The term for the ball path the golfer wants his ball to follow after making the tee.

Line of Putt: The line of ball that the golfer wants the ball to follow after the putter makes contact with the ball.

LPGA: A professional golf association for women.

Medal Play: Called a stroke play with the total score minus the handicap, whoever has fewer strokes will be the winner.

Net Score: This is the difference between the total score (Gross Score) for the handicap (Handicap).

Nassau: A form of wagering which consists of three different bets.

Playing Through: Used to refer to a certain person or group giving way to the next group to play first because of slow play, finding the ball, or taking a break to drink…

Plum Bob: A way of looking at the ball line on the Green like the plumb method

Punch Shot: A shot out of trouble in a water trap or forest.

Par: The number of strokes a skilled golfer should need to hole the ball.

Putt: The shot used to bring the ball into the hole.

Scratch Player: Golfers

Shotgun Start: This is a competition format where groups start simultaneously in many different 

Tees: Usually use a gun or sound device as a signal to start the game.

Tee Box: The designated area where a golfer will hit their first shot.

Teeing Ground: The tee box area from which a player hits their tee shot.

Spike Marker: This is the scratch created on the green surface by the golfer’s spiked shoes

Sudden Death: Two people tied in a hole play will continue to play until someone wins the match ends.

Holing Out: The final act of putting the golf ball into the golfer’s hole.

Honor: The team that wins the first hole is entitled to tee off. The teeing order will be maintained if the hole before both teams is tied.

Hook: Term indicating the direction the golf ball flies from right to left.

Links: Location of golf courses near the beach.

Lie: The surface on which the ball rests.

Mulligan: A stroke that replaces a previous failure but does not incur a stroke penalty.

Pin: Fixed position on the Green and a target for players to locate.

Punch Shot: A chopping ball to escape water traps, sand pits, forests…

Reading The Green: Read the ball’s path and determine the ball’s path to the Green hole.

Rough: The tall grass around the Fairway and Green is also known as an obstacle.

Sand Trap: Also known as a sand trap when playing ball. Another name Bunker also knows it.

Slice: How to hit the ball towards the target, but the ball flies from left to right.

Spike Marker: Scratches on the green surface caused by golf shoe spikes.

Spoon: Term for a wood with a higher incline (3-wood).

Swing: Term for the club’s movement before, during and after the club makes contact with the golf ball.

Thin Shot: This is the term for a stroke that hits the top or top of a golf ball that causes the ball to fly low and short.

Through The Green: You can understand all areas except the tee, green and hole pits in a play called through the Green.

Water Hole: A golfer who hits the ball through a lake, pond, or stream to put the ball into the hole is called a water hole.

Out of Bounds (OB): An area on the course that requires a golfer to take a penalty if their ball enters it.

Up and Down: Term for when a golfer hits the ball on the Green and puts it in the hole.

Yips: A condition that causes involuntary spasms or jitters during a shot.

By knowing all these essential golf terms, you will be well on your way to becoming a better golfer. Whether you are just starting or a seasoned veteran, understanding the terms in golf is essential to succeeding on the greens. With this knowledge, you can hit the links like a pro!

Best of luck, and happy golfing!



  • Alvin Daniel

    Hello everyone, I'm Alvin Daniel. I was born in the Philippines and came to the United States when I was 16 years old. I started playing golf at that age and have loved it ever since. I turned professional when I was 21 and have been working as a golf instructor and guide ever since. My goal is to help everyone know more about this great game of golf. And, hopefully, through my instruction, they can improve their skills and enjoy the game even more.

Leave a Comment