What is Golf terms and their meanings?

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A new Golfer begins her game.

The History of Golf.  Beginning golfers can be intimidated with the history of golf and the terminology.  In this blog we’ll attempt to take the “mystery” out of golfing terms.  You’ll enjoy this.

This is part 3 of 3 blogs explaining golf from it’s very beginnings.

Part 1         Part 2

Golf terms and their basic meanings should be understood before we start on the golf courses.  Let’s consider SOME of these terms for the beginner.

Begin With Desire

So you want to play golf?  All of your friends go to the golf course either during the week or on weekends and have a great time.  But where to start?  First of all you need to let everyone know that you are a total beginner but you have the desire to learn.

It certainly would not hurt to go to a practice driving range area, rent a bucket of golf balls and swing away until you at least are able to hit the ball and make it go straight.

A covered golf driving range is a great place to start

A covered golf driving range is a great place to start

Now, you find yourself on the course and hear all sorts of different terms flying around and you’re totally lost.  Well, hopefully, in this short blog, we’ll help you get a basic understanding of some of these terms.

Don’t Be Intimidated…

Often times golf courses are either 9 or 18 holes.  The term of ‘back nine’ means holes from number 10 through 18.  The ‘front 9’ refers to holes 1 through 9.  Most golfers want a ‘caddie’ to help with their bag of golf clubs.

When you do choose a ‘caddie’, he/she should be familiar with the golf course because you can not receive any advice from anyone other than your ‘caddie’ as to how to make the shot or which club you should use.

Of course though, as a beginner, you can get advice from everyone and use it to your best advantage.  You’ll find that everyone really wants to help you out.  It’s great fun.

History of the caddie comes from Queen Mary    a.k.a.  “Bloody Mary

Since everyone is always desiring to be an ‘ace.’  What that is, is making a hole in one shot which means that with one swing, we hit the ball down to the green where the cup/hole is, and Wah-Lah! it goes in!

Since that is a rare situation,  let’s not worry about that at this time.

“Address” The Ball

First things first.  We need to ‘address’ the ball.  That is, the ‘stance’ we take when placing the club behind the ball we are about to hit.  Be careful here, because if by accident, your club moves the ball, you get a ‘penalty stroke.’

"Addressing" the ball

“Addressing” the ball

As you swing, you may have an ‘air shot’, that is, you totally miss the ball altogether. No penalty there, just try again.

A Successful Drive

This time you do succeed in hitting the ball.  Just be sure that you repair the ‘divot’ you left in the ground.

The divot is that little bit of grass and dirt that you dig up with your club when you strike the ball whenever it is not on the ‘tee’ which is the little stick of wood or plastic that you start with that holds the ball at hole number 1.

Simple Terms Explained

What is it you are trying for?  You want to  ‘par’ , (or better than par)  which refers to the number of hits to your golf ball to get from your starting point to the sinking of the golf ball in the hole/cup that most “good golfers” can accomplish.

It is usually a set number of strokes for each hole.

If you can ‘par’ throughout the entire course, you have a score that is ‘even’ for the course.  On the other hand, if you make it to the hole is less strokes, say, by one stroke or swing, you are an official ‘birdie.’

Most beginners though, fit into the category of a ‘bogey’ or ‘double bogey’, that is, you have used up all of your swings/strokes in the ‘par’ and have even added one or two more on top of them.  Not to worry, we all have to start somewhere.

Expert players have been able to play a hole with an ‘eagle’ or even a ‘double eagle’ which refers to playing a single hole with fewer strokes than ‘par.’  With either 1,2, or 3 strokes less-than it calls for.  Amazing !


As a beginner, remember to call out ‘fore’ if it looks as if your ball may strike someone playing in front of you.  That does happen from time to time, especially if you want to ‘play through’ another group.

Even the best of golfers at times, are not sure where their golf ball will go.  Famed Tiger Woods (also from the Seattle area) has a bad day from time to time.

Bystander bonked on the head accidently by Tiger Woods

Bystander bonked on the head accidently by Tiger Woods

‘Playing through’ refers to your group catching up with and overtaking a slower playing group and asking permission to ‘play through’ them and continue on ahead of their slower moving group.

Always show proper ‘golf-etiquette.’  Do not be a ‘hacker’, that is, someone who does not show proper ‘golf-etiquette’ when on the course.

Proper ‘follow through’ in your swing is a must in order to direct the ball in the proper direction.  Your ‘follow through’ is the final part of your swing after you have hit the ball and how you end up in your stance.  Watch this brief 10 second animated video.

Try and not ‘slice’ the ball when you hit it.   That is, when hit, the ball will travel either far to the left or right from where you are trying to make it go.  Tiger’s ball ‘sliced’ into the crowd.

If it lands in the ‘rough’, that is, in the taller grasses, it can be a challenge to get it back onto the ‘fairway’ which is where you always want your golf ball to be.

On the ‘fairway’, you ‘drive’ the ball, that is, hit it straight, watching it and observing how long the ‘run’ is.  ‘Run’ refers to the distance the ball continues to roll after it has hit the ground.

Beautiful Fairway

Beautiful Fairway

Now, finally on the ‘green’ where you can see the hole/cup, your journey is in sight!

The  ‘green’ is the very short clipped and manicured grass area surrounding the hole/cup where you will ‘putt’ your ball.

This is where you will use your ‘putter’ or that special golf club that will not allow the ball to gain height but will make it stay on the ground and roll towards the hole/cup.

Your first ‘putt’, that is, your striking the ball with your putter, may have to be a ‘lag’ putt.  A ‘lag’ putt is a very long ‘putt’ that is done just so you can get the ball closer to the hole so you can sink the ball.

Hopefully you took advantage of the ‘putting green’ near the clubhouse where you had your practice ‘putts’ well in hand before starting out.

Sinking the ball gives each one of us a great sense of joy of accomplishment.  Many people enjoy the relaxing sport of golf.  It heightens our senses, gives us needed exercise and is most enjoyed with friends, business associates, or just for the heck of it.

See that ball going right into the cup?

See that ball going right into the cup?

These are just a very few of the many terms used by golfers.  Don’t  worry about all of them when you get started.  Other golfers are more than willing to explain the terms as you grow in knowledge and skills of the game/sport.

Watch Out For Hazards On The Course

Yes, like any game played outdoors, there are hazards that can be quite different in each area we choose to play in.

A Frisky fox grabs your golf ball

A Frisky fox grabs your golf ball

Dangerous hazards to watch out for also show up on the course

Dangerous hazards to watch out for also show up on the course

The Vardon Grip

Just one final note.  Be sure and use the ‘vardon grip’ that was created by Harry Vardon back in the early 1900’s.  If you are right handed, it means that you would  interlace your right little finger into your left hand forefinger.  Vice versa if you are left handed.

Vardon grip

Vardon grip

If you have not golfed before, do not hold back.  Just go for it!  You’ll never regret it.

Written by :   Tom McDaniel Share this site

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