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What Are The Most Common Golf Terms?

Did you see that eagle at the Par 5 after he hooked his drive into the woods? 

If you didn’t understand a word of this, you are reading the right article. 

Golf terms can be confusing and might intimidate you. But it’s not as complicated as you might think. Many of these terms will come to you naturally once you pick up the sport, but why not get a head start? 

We have compiled the most commonly used golf terms so you can finally let your golf buddies know how you sliced your approach shot into the bunker and still made birdie!

Scoring

When playing golf, you can decide to let your friends know your score by telling them the number it took you to finish a hole or using an acronym that describes to people what your score was. 

This might sound odd, but a score alone doesn’t give enough information to judge if you played well or not. 

First, you need to understand the principle of Par. Par is a term used to describe the score of an excellent golfer or any given hole. 

In the past, it was the score a professional golfer was expected to play. Now, pros are actually likely to play better than the par rating of any hole!

A full round of golf consists of playing 18 holes. These holes are of different lengths and marked with a particular number after the word Par. For example; Par 3, Par, 4 & Par 5. 

On a Par 3, an excellent player would score no more than 3 shots. You get the point. 

So what if you scored 4 on a Par 3 hole? That’s called a bogey! Use this table for reference:

Difference to ParTerm usedExplanation
-3AlbatrossThree shots under par
-2EagleTwo shots under par
-1BirdyOne-shot under par
Even parParThe same number of shots as the par ranking
+1BogeyOne-shot over par
+2Double-BogeyTwo shots over par
+3 Triple BogeyThree shots over par

This goes without saying, but if you hole out with your first shot, you’ve made a hole-in-one! Congrats! Most golfers never make a hole in one in their entire career as a golfer!

Explaining a shot

When you hit a golf ball, there are several ball flights you can aim for; high, low, turning left, turning right, straight-left, straight-right, etc. 

What shot you hit, depends on your technique but also what golf club you use! For example, the more forgiving your driver, the easier it will be to produce the desired high launching ball flight. 

Draw

This is a golf shot that starts right of your target (as a right-handed golfer) and slowly turns to the left. 

This is achieved by spin. Like in tennis, for example, the golf club hits the ball at an angle and produces sidespin. The more sidespin, the more it turns. 

Fade

Same as a draw, but in the other direction. 

Slice

This is the extreme form of a fade. You’ll most likely miss your target unless you aimed severely to the left of your target. 

A slice takes serious distance of your shot, and many beginners have a hard time adjusting their technique to make their ball flight straighter

Hook

Similar to a slice, but in the opposite direction. 

On the golf course

It’s handy to know the names of typical golf course elements, so you can refer to them when talking to your golf buddy. Here the most common ones. 

Bunker/Hazard/Sand-Trap

Almost all golf courses have sand hazards placed around their holes. You differentiate between a fairway bunker (the sand is usually firmer) and a greenside bunker (fluffier sand). 

You’ll need a different technique to get out of bunkers compared to a shot from the fairway. You’ll also be using specialized clubs for that. A beginner golf set should include at least one club designed to get you out of bunkers. 

Tee-Box

This is where you’ll start off any hole. The tee box is marked with tee-markers, which tell you precisely which area you need to tee off the ball. 

Fairway

This is the area between the tee-box and the actual cup of the hole. They vary in diameter and are surrounded by longer, thicker grass on both sides. 

Sometimes, you’ll also find either a lake or long bunker on either side of the fairway. A good player will try to keep his ball within the perimeter of the fairway because the grass is cut shorter, and it’s easier to hit your ball from it/ 

Green

After hitting your tee shot, your second shot from the fairway (or rough or bunker), you are usually on the green. 

This is where you’ll be using your putter to put the ball into the cup. After all, that’s the whole purpose of playing golf. Get the ball in the cup in as few strokes as possible. 

What to do next? 

Congrats, you know the lingo. All that’s left to do is getting clubs, take some lessons, and make your way to the golf course. 

Golf is a sport you can start at any time and play for the rest of your life. It’s a challenging but rewarding hobby and, most importantly, a lot of fun to play!

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