Golf Glossary

 
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ALL
A
Acceleration
A steady increase in speed. This is most often associated with the golfers hands, arms or club.
Address
The golfer setting their body and club up to the ball when preparing to hit a shot. When used in the context of the Rules of Golf, it refers to the point when the golfer has taken their stance and grounded their club (ie, the ball moved after he addressed it, resulting a one-stroke penalty).
Aiming
To align the clubface with the target.
Alignment
The position of the body in relation to the initial target.
Angle of Approach (or Attack)
The relative angle which the clubhead approaches the ball at impact. This wil help determine the distance and trajectory which the golf ball travels.
Approach
A shot hit towards the green or towards the hole.
Axis
A straight line that the upper body rotates around in the course of the golf swing.
B
Backspin
A rotational movement or spin of the ball produced by contact with the clubface. The greater the backspin, the higher the ball will fly and the more it will spin, and therefore stop or even spin backwards on impact with the turf.
Backswing
The motion that involves the club and every element of the body in taking the club away from the ball and setting it in position at the top of the backswing from which the club can be delivered to the ball at impact.
Balance
The proper distribution of weight both at address and throughout the swing.
Balata
A rubber-like substance used as a cover material for golf balls. Pure balata is rarely, if ever, used today. Instead, manufacturers use blends or synthetic material. Many players prefer balata or balata-like covers because it provides a softer feel. And can provide increased spin.
Baseball Grip
A grip in which all ten fingers are placed on the grip of the club.
Birdie
A score of one under par on a hole.
Bladed Shot
Often referred to as a "skulled" shot, it occurs when the top half of the ball is struck with the bottom portion of an iron, resulting a low-running shot.
Block
A golf swing in which the rotation of the forearms is delayed or prevented throughout the hitting area, generally producing a shot that flies to the right of the target.
Bobbing
The act of raising and lowering or lowering and raising the swing center in the course of the golf swing.
Bogey
A score of one over par on a hole.
Borrow
The amount of break a player allows for when hitting a breaking putt.
Bowed
A position of the wrists at the top of the backswing in which the top wrist is bent slightly inward.
Break
An amount the putt will curve to the side because of the slope, grain and wind that affect the movement of the ball.
Bump and Run
A pitch shot around the green in which the player hits the ball into a slope to deaden its speed before settling on the green and rolling towards the hole.
Bunker
A hollow comprised of sand or grass or both that exists as an obstacle and, in some cases, a hazard.
C
Caddie
The person hired to carry golf clubs and provide other assistance.
Calcutta
An auction in which people bid on players or teams in a tournament.
Cambered Sole
A rounding of the sole of the club to reduce drag. A four-way cambered sole is one that is rounded at every edge of a wood.
Carry
The distance a ball will fly in the air, usually to carry a hazard or safely reach a target.
Carryover
When a hole is tied in a match and the bet is carried over to the next hole.
Casting
An uncocking of the wrists prematurely on the downswing, resulting in a loss of power and control. Also known as "hitting from the top."
Cavity-back
A type of iron in which a portion of the back of the clubhead is hollowed out and the weight distributed around the outside edges of the clubhead.
Center of Gravity
That point in the golfers body (in the pelvic area) where the body's weight and mass are equally balanced.
Center of Rotation
The axis or swing center that the body winds and unwinds around during the swing.
Centrifugal Force
The action in a rotating body that tends to move mass away from the center. It is the force you feel in the downswing that pulls the clubhead outward and downward, extending the arms and encouraging to take a circular path.
Chicken Wing
A swing flaw in which the lead elbow bends at an angle pointed away from the body, usually resulting in a blocked or pushed shot.
Chip and Run
A low-running shot played around the greens where the ball spends more time on the ground than in the air.
Choke
A derogatory term describing poor play that results from the golfers nervousness.
Choke Down
The act of gripping down on the shaft of the golf club, which is generally believed to provide greater control.
Chunk
A poor shot caused by hitting the turf well behind the ball, resulting in a fat shot.
Cleek
A fairway wood with the approximate loft of a 4-wood that produces high shots that land softly.
Closed Clubface
The position formed when the toe of the golf club is closer to the ball that the heel, either at address or impact, which causes the clubface to point to the left of the target line. When referred to in a swing it is a position during the swing in which the clubface is angled to the left of the target line or swing plane, generally resulting in shots hit to the left of the target.
Closed Grip
Generally referred to as a strong grip because both hands are turned away from the target.
Closed Stance
A description of a stance when the golfer's rear foot is pulled back away from the target line.
Closed-to-Open
A swing in which the clubhead is closed on the backswing but then manipulated into an open position on the downswing.
Cocked Wrists
A description of the hinging motion of the wrists during the backswing in which the hands are turned clockwise. Ideally, the wrists are fully cocked at the beginning of the downswing.
Coefficient of Restitution
The relationship of the clubhead speed at impact to the velocity of the ball after it has been struck. This measure is affected by the clubhead and ball material.
Coil
The turning of the golfer's body during the backswing.
Come Over the Top
A motion beginning the downswing that sends the golf club outside the ideal plane (swing path) and delivers the clubhead from outside the target line at impact. This is sometimes known as an outside-to-inside swing.
Compression
A measure of the relative hardness of a golf ball ranging from 100 (hardest) to 80 (softest).
Connection
A description of a golf swing in which all the various body parts work harmoniously to produce a solid, fluid motion.
Conservation of Angular Momentum (COAM)
The law of physics that allows the golfer to produce large amounts of kinetic energy. When the body shifts it's weight and turns towards the target in the forward swing, the mass (arms and club) is pulled away from the center into an extended position by centrifugal force. By temporary resisting that pull as well as the temptation to assist the hit by releasing too early, one maintains the angle formed between the club's shaft and the left arm and conserves the energy until a more advantageous moment. This has been referred to as a "delayed hit," a "late hit," "connection," "lag loading," "the keystone" or COAM, but when performed correctly may simply be called "good timing."
Croquet Style
A putting stance in which the player stands aside the ball, facing the hole, holds the club with a widely-split grip, and strikes the ball with a croquet-type stroke. A similar style, in which the player faced the hole with the ball positioned between the feet, was banned by the United States Golf Association.
Cross-Handed
A golf grip in which the left (or lead) hand is placed below the right hand, in other words, a grip that is the opposite of the traditional grips.
Cupped Wrist
A position in which the left or top hand is hinged outward at the top of the golfer's backswing.
Cuppy Lie
A lie when the golf ball is sitting down slightly, usually in a small depression.
Cut Shot
A shot played with a slightly open clubface and a swing path that travels out to in. The result is a soft fade that produces additional backspin and causes the ball to stop quickly on the green.
D
Dead Hands
A shot in which the hands remain relatively passive in the hitting area, resulting in a shot that flies a shorter distance than it normally would.
Decelerate
A decreasing of the clubhead speed in the hitting area.
Deep-Faced Driver
A driver with greater-than-standard height on its face.
Delayed Hit
A golf term used to describe the Conservation of Angular Momentum.
Divot
The turf displaced when the golf club strikes the ball on a descending path.
Dormie
The point in match play when a player is up in a match by the same number of holes that remain.
Double Bogey
A score of two over par on a hole.
Double Eagle
When a golfer acheves a score of three under par on a hole.
Doubles
When a caddie carries two sets of golf clubs.
Downswing
The swing forward from the top of the backswing.
Draw
A golf shot that flies slightly from right to left for right-handed players.
Driving Range
A term for a practice area and is also known as a golf range, practice range or learning center.
Duck Hook
A shot that flies sharply from right to left for right-handed golfers. It is usually hit unintentionally, since it is difficult to control.
Dynamic Balance
Transferring the focus of weight appropriately during the golf swing while maintaining body control.
E
Eagle
A score of two-under-par on a hole.
Early Hit
When a player prematurely releases the cocking of the wrists on the downswing, resulting in a loss of power at impact. This is also known as "casting from the top."
Effective Loft
The actual loft on a golf club at impact as opposed to the loft built into the club. Effective loft is determined by, among other things, the lie and the position of the hands relative to the ball at impact.
Explosion
A shot played from a sand bunker, usually when the ball has buried or settled down into the sand.
Extension
The width of the golfers swing as measured by the target arm on the backswing and the trail arm on the follow-through.
F
Fade
A shot that flies slightly from left to right.
Fanning
An exaggerated opening of the clubface as the backswing begins.
Fat Shot
A description of a shot when the clubhead strikes the turf behind the ball, resulting in poor contact and a shot that comes up well short of the target.
Flange
A portion of the sole of a club such as a sand wedge or putter.
Flat Swing
A swing that is more horizontal and less vertical in plane than is typical.
Flier
A shot from the rough or in wet conditions that reduces the amount of backspin on the ball, causing it to fly lower and farther than it might under normal conditions.
Flip Shot
A shot, usually played with a wedge, that involves a wristy swing designed to hit the ball a short distance but with a lot of height.
Floater
A golf ball struck from the deep grass that comes out slowly and travels a shorter distance because of the heavy cushioning effect of the grass between the ball and the clubface.
Flop Shot
Similar to a flip shot except that it involves a long, slower swing.
Fluffy Lie
A lie in which the golf ball rests atop the longish grass. This can be a tricky lie because the tendency is to swing the clubhead under the ball, reducing the distance it carries.
Fly
The distance the golf ball carries or a shot that carries over the intended target.
Follow-through
That part of the swing that occurs after the ball has been struck. (His powerful follow-through was the result of his long backswing.)
Footwork
The coordinated action of the lower body during the golf swing. (Tom Watson has some of the best footwork of any player in history).
Forward Press
A slight movement of the hands and arms (and occasionally the legs) that initiate the golf swing.
Forward Swing
The downward motion of the hands, arms and golf club from the top of the backswing to impact. Another terms for downswing.
Fried Egg
The slang term for a buried lie in the sand.
G
Golf Range
A facility where people can practice their full golf swings and, in some cases, their short games.
Grain
The direction which the blades of grass grow, which is of primary importance on the greens (particularly Bermuda grass greens) as this can affect how much and in which direction a golf putt breaks.
Grand Slam
The Modern (or Professional) Grand Slam describes winning the four professional Major Championships -- the PGA Championship, the Masters and the United States and British Opens - in a calendar year. The Career Grand Slam describes winning each of these events once in a career. No one has ever won the Modern Grand Slam. The PGA of America's Grand Slam of Golf is a late-season event that features the winners of that year's four Professional Major championships.
Greenkeeper
An older, outdated term for a golf course superintendent.
Grip
The placing and positioning of the hands on the club. The various types include the Vardon or overlapping, the interlocking and the 10-finger or baseball grip. (The Vardon grip is the most popular grip today). There is also the reverse-overlapping grip, in which the index finger of the left or top hand overlaps the smallest finger of the right or bottom hand. This is primarily used in putting, although some players use this grip when chipping the ball.
Grip (Equipment)
That part of the golf club where the hands are placed.
Groove
A description of a golf swing that consistently follows the same path, time after time.
Groove (equipment)
The horizontal scoring lines on the face of the club that help impart spin on the ball.
Ground
When referred to in the Rules of Golf, it means the point when the club touches the ground (or water) prior to playing the shot. It is against the Rules of Golf to ground your club in a hazard.
Group Lesson
A teaching session in which several pupils work with one or more golf professionals. This type of lesson is particularly effective for beginners, especially juniors.
H
Half Shot
A shot played with an abbreviated golf swing and reduced swing speed. This golf shot is often played when trying to keep the golf ball out of a strong wind.
Heel
The part of the golf clubhead nearest the hosel.
Heel and Toe Weighted
A golf club design where weight is distributed towards the heel and toe of a club, usually an iron, to reduce the effect of mis-hits.
High Side
The side of the hole that a golf putt breaks from.
Hitter
A player who favors a forceful, aggressive style of golf swing.
Hooding
The act of placing the hands ahead of the golf ball, both at address and impact, which tends to reduce the effective loft of the golf club.
Hook
A golf shot that curves sharply from right to left for right-handed players.
Hosel
The part of the golf club connecting the shaft to the clubhead.
I
Impact
The moment in the swing when the golf club strikes the ball.
Inside-to-In
A description of the golf swing path that, all things being equal, will produce the greatest percentage of solid, straight and on-target shots. It refers to a path in which the clubhead travels from inside the target line, to impact, and then back inside the target line.
Inside-to-Out
A golf swing path in which the clubhead approaches the ball from inside the target line and, after contact, continues to the outside of the target line before turning back to the inside of the target line.
Intended Line of Flight
The direction a golfer plans for his golf ball to begin after impact.
Iron Byron
A testing device modeled after Byron Nelson's golf swing. It is used to test golf clubs and golf balls.
K
Kinesiology
The scientific study of man's movement and the movements of implements or equipment that he might use in exercise, sport or other forms of physical activity.
Kinetic Energy
The form of energy associatedwith the speed of an object. Its equation is: KE3D1/2mv2(squared); or kinetic energy3D ? mass x velocity squared.
L
Lag
A golf shot, usually a pitch, chip or putt, designed to finish short of the target.
Lateral Slide or Shift
A movement early in the forward golf swing in which the hips begin to slide to the target and rotate while, at the same time, weight begins to shift from the trail side to the target side. The timing of this motion is crucial to a proper golf swing.
Lay Off
When the golf swing plane flattens out at the top of the back swing, it causes the club to point to the side of the target and the face to close.
Learning Center
A complete practice and instruction facility, which may or may not be on the site of a golf course.
Level-Par
A term describing a golf score of even par.
Lever System
The skeletal system is composed of numerous bones which, in mechanical terms, act as levers. The two primary levers in the golf swing are: 1) the target arm, comprised of the radius and ulna of the lower arm and the humerus in the upper arm, and 2) the club when the target wrist becomes cocked.
Lie
As it relates to the golf ball, the position of the golf ball when it has come to rest. As it relates to the golf club, it is the angle of the sole of the golf club relative to the shaft. As it relates to the golfer, it is the act of telling an untruth about the golfers game or score.
Lights-Out
A slang term describing an outstanding round or stretch of holes.
Line
The intended path of the golf ball, usually referred to in the context of putting.
Line of Flight
The actually path of the golf ball.
Links
The term for a course built on linksland, which is land reclaimed from the ocean. It is not just another term for a golf course.
Lob Shot
A short, high shot, usually played with a wedge, designed to land softly.
Loft
The degree of angle on the clubface, with the least loft on a putter and the most on a sand wedge. (Tom Kite popularized the sand wedge with 60-degrees of loft.) It also describes the act of hitting a shot. (Kite lofted his approach over the pond).
Long Irons
The 1-4 irons.
Looking Up
The act of prematurely lifting your head to follow the flight of the ball, which also raises the swing center and can result in erratic ballstriking.
Loop
The shape of the swing when the backswing and forward swing are in different planes. Loop also refers to a round of golf. Loop is also a device used for examining jewellery.
Loosened Grip
Any time a golfer opens his fingers and loses control of the club. When this happens at the top of the backswing, it is often referred to as "playing the flute."
M
Mechanics
The mechanics of a golf swing or putting stroke.
Middle or Mid-irons
The 5-7 irons.
Mulligan
The custom of hitting a second ball, without penalty on a hole, usually the 1st tee.
N
Nassau
A competition in which points are awarded for winning the front nine, back nine and overall 18.
O
Off-Green
Putting When a golfer elects to putt from off the green rather than chip.
Offset
A measure of the distance between the leading edge of the hosel and the leading edge of the clubface.
One-Piece Takeaway
Sometimes called the "modern" takeaway, it describes the beginning of the backswing when the hands, arms and wrists move away from the ball, maintaining the same relationship they had at address.
Open Clubface
When, either at address or during the swing, the heel of the clubhead is leading the toe, causing the clubface to point to the side of the target.
Open Grip
Also referred to as a weak grip, it is when the hands are turned counter-clockwise on the golf club.
Open Stance
When the left or lead foot is pulled back farther from the target line than the rear or right foot. This stance generally helps promote a left-to-right golf ball flight.
Open-to-Closed
A description of the movement of the clubface when a player fans it open on the backswing and then closes it at impact.
Outside-to-In
A description of a golf swing path when the clubhead approaches the golf ball from outside the target line and then continues to the inside of that line following impact.
Overclub
To pick the wrong golf club, usually for an approach shot, causing the golf ball to go over the green.
P
Pace
The speed of the golf swing or the speed of the greens.
Paddle Grip
A putting grip with a flat surface where the thumbs rest.
Par
The score an accomplished golfer is expected to make on a hole, either a three, four or five.
Path
The direction the golf club travels during the swing or the putting stroke. This is best observed from an overhead view.
Pendulum
Stroke In putting, a stroke that moves the clubhead back and forth on a constant line, without deviation.
Pinch Shot
A golf shot played around the green in which a player strikes the golf ball with a crisp, clean descending blow.
Pistol Grip
A grip, usually on a putter, that is built up under the left or top hand.
Pitch-and-Run
A shot from around the green, usually with a middle or short iron, where the golf ball carries in the air for a short distance before running towards the hole.
Pivot
The rotation of the golfer's body around a relatively fixed point, usually the spine.
Plugged Lie
The condition when the golf ball comes to rest in its own pitch mark, usually in a bunker or soft turf.
Plumb-bob
A method many golfers use to help them determine the amount a putt will break. It involves positioning yourself behind the golf ball and holding the putter vertically so it covers the golf ball. In theory, the shaft of the putter will indicate the amount the golf ball will break. It does not, however, measure the speed of the green, which is an important element is reading a putt.
Pre-Shot Routine
The actions a golfer takes from the time he selects a golf club until he begins the swing.
Press
To try and hit the ball harder than usual. This also describes an extra effort to play well. In betting terms, it's an additional bet made after a player falls behind in a match.
Private Lesson
Generally speaking, when a golf professional gives a lesson to a single pupil.
Pronation
An inward rotation of the hands towards the body's centerline when standing in a palms-facing-forward position.
Pulled Hook
A golf shot that begins to the side of the target line and continues to curve even further away.
Pulled Shot
A relatively straight shot that begins to the side of the target and doesn't curve back.
Pulled Slice
A golf shot that starts well to the side of the target but curves back to the target.
Punch Shot
A low-flying golf shot played with an abbreviated backswing and finish. The key to the shot is having the hands slightly ahead of the clubhead at impact, which reduces the effective loft of the golf club.
Pushed Hook
A golf shot that begins to the side of the target but curves back to the target.
Pushed Shot
A golf shot that starts to the side of the target and never curves back.
Pushed Slice
A golf shot that starts to the side of the target and curves further away.
R
Radius
The distance between the center of the swing arc (the target or forward shoulder) and the hands on the grip.
Raised Swing Center
Elevating the central area in the body (somewhere between the top of the spine and the center of the neck) around which rotation takes place. What the novice frequently refers to as "looking up" and results in a swing that is too high.
Rap
To hit a putt with a short, firm stroke.
Reading the Green (or Putt)
The entire process involved in judging the break and path of a putt.
Recover
To successfully hit a golf shot from a poor location.
Release
The act of freely returning the clubhead squarely to the ball at impact, producing a powerful shot.
Reverse Weight Shift
A golf swing flaw in which the weight moves forward on the backswing instead of to the back leg.
Rhythm
The coordination of movement during the golf swing or putting stroke.
Road Hole
The par-4 17th hole at the Old Course at St. Andrews, one of the most famous and difficult holes in the world.
Round Robin
A tournament format in which golfers or golf teams play a variety of other teams, the winner being the golfer or team that accumulates the highest number of points.
S
Scoring Clubs
The driver, putter and sand wedge.
Scramble
To recover from trouble or a popular form of team play in which the team members pick the golf ball in the best position and everyone plays from that spot.
Semiprivate Lesson
An instruction format where a limited number of pupils work with a golf professional.
Separation
When any of the various body parts and/or the golf club move either faster or slower that the other elements of the swing.
Setup
The process of addressing the golf ball, so that the golf club and body are properly aimed and aligned.
Shank
When the golf ball is struck on the hosel of the club, usually sending it shooting off to the right.
Shape
To curve a shot to fit the situation. The word is also used to describe the flight of the golf ball.
Short Game
Those shots played on and around the green, including putting, chipping and pitching, and bunker shots.
Short Irons
The 8 and 9 irons and the pitching wedge. The sand wedge is considered a scoring or specialty golf club.
Shut
A position in the golf swing when the clubface is closed relative to the target line.
Sky
A high, short shot caused by the clubhead striking the underside of the golf ball. Also known as a "pop-up."
Slice
A golf ball that curves from left to right to a greater degree than a fade.
Smothered Hook
A low, right to left golf shot that dives quickly to the ground. The cause is an extremely closed clubface.
Sole
When referring to equipment, it is the bottom of a golf club. When referring to the golf swing, it is the point when the sole of the golf club touches the ground at address.
Sole-Weighted
A design, usually for fairway woods, that incorporates additional weight along the sole of the golf club. This makes it easier to get the golf ball into the air and is also effective from the rough.
Splash Shot
A golf shot played from a good lie in the bunker. The golf club "splashes" through the sand, throwing the golf ball into the air.
Spoon
A term for a 3-wood that is seldom used today.
Spot
Another term for marking the golf ball on the green so it might be lifted.
Spot Putting
Using an intermediate target such as a discolored blade of grass or an old ball mark as a means of aiming a golf putt.
Square
A term frequently used in golf. It can be used to describe a stance or the clubface or to describe contact with the ball. It can also refer to the status of a match.
Stance
The position of the golfer's feet at address.
Steer
An attempt to guide the flight of the golf ball that usually results in a loss of distance.
Straight-Faced
The description of a golf club with very little loft, such as a driving iron, or a driver that lacks the standard bulge and roll.
Stroke Play
Also known as medal play, it is a form of competition based on the cumulative number of strokes taken, either over one round or several.
Strong Grip
A terms used to describe a grip in which the hands are turned counter-clockwise on the grip. It does not connote a stronger-than-normal grip pressure.
Supination
An outward rotation of the hands (thumbs turning out) away from the body's centerline when standing in a palms-facing-the-body position. In the golf swing it is the right-hand rotation motion on the backswing and the left's on the forward swing.
Swaying
An exaggerated lateral movement of the body on either the backswing, forward swing, or both, which results in inconsistent shotmaking.
Sweet Spot
The point on the golf clubface where, if it is struck with an object, the clubface will not torque or twist to either side.
Swing Arc
The entire path the golf clubhead makes in the course of a swing. It is a combination of the swing's width and length.
Swing Center
A point, usually near the base of the neck and the top of the spine, around which the arms and upper body rotate during the swing.
Swing Plane
An imaginary surface that describes the path and angle of the golf club during the swing.
Swinger
A golfer whose swing is based on timing and rhythm, as opposed to a "hitter," whose swing is based on sheer power.
Swingweight
A measure of the effective weight of a golf club.
Swingweight Scale
A device for measuring swingweight.
T
Takeaway
The movement of the golf club at the start of the backswing.
Target Line
An imaginary line drawn behind and through the golf ball to the point a golfer is aiming. If the golfer is planning to curve the ball, this point is the initial not the ultimate, target.
Tee Box
The area where golfers tee to start a hole.
Tempo
The speed of the swing.
Texas Wedge
A golf shot played with a putter from well off the green. It is a good shot for golfers who lack confidence in their chipping and pitching, or in extremely windy conditions.
Three-Quarter Shot
A golf shot played with a shortened backswing and lessened arm speed.
Tier
A rise or level in a green or tee.
Timing
The sequence of motions within the golf swing.
Toed Shot
Any golf shot hit off the toe of the club.
Topped Shot
A low, bouncing golf shot caused by the bottom of the golf club striking the top half of the golf ball.
Touch
A golfer's sense of feel, generally around the greens.
Trajectory
The height and angle the golf ball travels when struck.
Transition
The change of direction in the golf swing, from the backswing to the forward swing.
U
Uncock
The release of straightening of the wrists during the downswing.
Upright
A steeper-than-normal swing plane. Upright also refers to a club's lie in which the shaft is placed at a steeper-than-standard angle.
V
Vector
A quantity or measure related to force that has both magnitude and direction. An important factor in determining the distance and direction a golf ball travels.
Visualization
A mental image of a swing or shot or even an entire round of golf.
W
Waggle
A motion or several motions designed to keep a golfer relaxed at address and help establish a smooth pace in the takeaway and swing.
Weak Grip
A term describing a grip where the hands are turned to the left for a right-handed golfer.
Whiff
A complete miss. Also known as an "air ball."
Y
Yips
A condition, generally believed to be psychological, which causes a golfer to lose control of his hands and golf club. In Great Britain, the condition is referred to as the "Twitchies." This generally occurs when putting or in the short game, but it can also afflict people when hitting a tee shot.
 
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Modified 04/03/2005