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Golf's Rich Glossary of Terms

By Jim Kesel

Golf Words or Glossary

The game of golf has been around for more than 250 years and during that time it has accrued a lot to terms to describe the game and the people who play it. If you are new to the game you probably are lost for words or at least golf words. Here is a list terms or a glossary of golf words that will help you learn the great game of golf.

  • Address: The stance you take before you take your swing
  • Air shot or Whiff: A swing at the ball that misses
  • Back Nine: The last 9 holes of an 18 hole course
  • Bunker or Trap: Part of the course which has a waterhole or sand to hinder the ball roll or flight.
  • Birdie: One stroke below Par for the hole you are on
  • Bogey: One stroke over the par for the hole
  • Club Head: Part of the golf club that strikes the ball
  • Divot: Turf or sod that is cut up when the ball is struck by the club.
  • Dog-leg: A hole that has a fairway that sharply turns on the way to the green.
  • Drive: The act of hitting the ball with a driver or wood.
  • Driver: Type of club also known as a wood that is used to drive the ball off the tee or grass down the fairway.
  • Eagle: Two strokes under par for a hole.
  • Flag: A flag on a pole that marks the hole on the green.
  • Fore: A warning that is shouted by a player to warn other players that the ball is coming their way.
  • Front 9: The first 9 holes on an 18 hole golf course.
  • Golf Swing: The act of swinging and hitting the ball with the golf club.
  • Handicap: A numerical average or measure of playing ability. It allows less skilled players to deduct strokes when playing better players. It levels the playing field for all players. High Handicapped players are less skilled.
  • Hook: A stroke which curves the ball to the left of the target, if made by a right handed player, and to the right if made by a left handed player.
  • Iron: A set of clubs with iron faces that have different angles to their club faces. They have numbers ranging from 2 to 9 to designate the angle and use.
  • Loft: The angle of the club head, measured with respect to the shaft.
  • Match Play: A type of competition in which each hole is a separate contest. (See "Stroke play") The lowest number of strokes on a given hole wins that hole.
  • Net Score: Gross score minus your handicap.
  • Par: The number of strokes a hole is designed to be completed in, based on its length. Also describes the number of strokes in which the course should be played.
  • Pitching Wedge: An iron with a steep face for popping the ball up on to the green.
  • Putter: A flat sided club used when on the green to accurately place the ball in the cup or hole.
  • Sand Wedge: A club with a steep face, used to hit or lift the ball out of a sand trap or high grass.
  • Slice: A ball that curves to the right of target when hit by a right handed player and to the left of a left handed player.
  • Stroke Play: Competition Play based on the total number of strokes taken over the entire 18 holes of play.
  • Tee: Small wood or plastic stick used to raise the ball above the ground when driving off the tee.
  • Wood: A large club that is made of wood or metal used to drive the ball off the tee or for long distances on the fairway.
There are many more terms that are associated with great game of golf. As you play the game you will enjoy the richness that they add to the enjoyment of the game.

James Kesel, MS, is the publisher of the Good Golf Swing website. Providing information on golf swing tips, putting tips, golf training aids, golf instruction and the latest and best golf ebooks.

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