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Golf Glossary

What did they mean by that!?!

Some common terms in the game of golf.

Albatross – When a score for a hole is three strokes under par e.g. 2 strokes are made for a par 5 and as you can imagine is quite an achievement.

Balata – A type of rubber used in golf ball manufacture resulting in a soft ball which generates plenty of spin that stops well on the green. Usually it creates balls with plenty of control but usually reduces the distance they fly. Therefore they are usually used by players with a low handicap where control is more important than distance. Newer technology in golf balls has been overcome this tradeoff in the balata ball and even Titleist has stopped production of balata balls.

Birdie – When a hole is played in one stroke under par, e.g. 2 strokes for a par 3

Bogie – A hole that is played one stroke over par, e.g. 4 strokes for a par 3. Can be prefixed with double, triple or quadruple for 2 , 3 or 4 strokes over par. Any more and we usually call it a wipe (unless we are in a stroke match where every stroke is counted).

Bunker – Also called sand trap and is a sand filled area of the course designed as a hazard around the green or fairway.

Cup – Is usually used interchangeably for the hole in the green but refers to the lining used inside the hole.

Divot – This refers to the grass and dirt removed on hitting the ball and the resulting hole that is left. Most better players take divots after the point of contact with the ball. It indicates they are correctly hitting down onto the ball where the bottom of the swing is after the contact with the ball.

Draw – Flight of the ball that is curving gently to the left for a right handed player (vice versa for a left handed player). This is usually the preferred ball flight of better players as it results in more distance though the air and increased run on the fairway.

Drop – When the ball comes to rest in a water hazard or in an unplayable position, a drop may be made. Depending on the situation the drop is made one or two club lengths from the balls position or the boundary of the hazard and a one or two stroke penalty is added to your score. There are many rules about dropping so check with your playing companions to get clarification of what to do.

Eagle – This is where two strokes less than par is made in a hole, e.g. 3 strokes for a par 5.

Fade – Flight of the ball that is curving gently to the right for a right handed player (vice versa for a left handed player). This is usually the ball flight of the high handicapper and can sometimes result in a slice. Better players may use the fade to position the ball and allow it to stop quickly with little run.

Fairway – The closely mown section of a hole that is between the tee area and the green. It is bounded by the rough that is not closely mown or not mown at all.

Golf – A game created to frustrate even the best.

Handicap – This is a measure of your playing ability and is used to allow people of different standards play and compete together. The handicap is taken off your score to give your a net score that can be compared to anyone’s net score. A complex method is used to calculate the handicap from your competition rounds and is recalculated and can be adjusted each round you do not play to your handicap. There are maximum handicaps set at usually 45 for women and 27 for men although you may play to it initially.

Hazard – A sand trap or water in the form of a pond or stream that is around the fairway to create obstacles in the playing of the hole. May be initially seen as a nuisance but as you get better you see them more as a challenge to avoid. Water hazard boundaries are usually marked by red stakes.

Heel – The side of the club head that is close to the shaft. Hitting towards the heel tends to result in a weaker shot. The more common result when hitting towards the heel is the shanked shot (see below).

Hole – The hole is from the tee to the green where there is the hole cut in the green. The hole is rated as the number of shots to be taken in regulation e.g. par 3 or par 5. The hole cut in the green is a standard 108 mm (4 1/4 “) in diameter. The hole can be placed (cut) on the green at various places to make change the difficulty of putts on the green.

Hole In One – The very rare case when there is only one stroke from the tee ends in the hole. See the Hole In One Hall of Fame for members in the community that have achieved this great feat.

Hook – The ball flight that is severely curving to the left for a right handed player (vice versa for a left handed player).

Hosel – This is the part of the club where the shaft is attached to the club head. In irons hitting a ball on the hosel will result in a shanked shot. Woods usually have a face that covers the hosel lessening the chance of the shank.

Iron – Golf clubs with a flat blade shaped head. They have increasing levels of loft (angle of the face) typically from 3 iron though to 9 iron, pitching wedge and sand wedge. The long irons e.g. 3 iron are typically for medium distances, decreasing to the sand wedge for short distances and bunker shots.

Out of Bounds – In some cases out of bounds area are marked by white stakes with black tops on the boundaries of a hole. The ball is not to be played from any out of bounds area. The ball is to be played from where it was previously played into the out of bounds area. In many cases it is better to play a second (provisional) ball when you expect a ball has gone out of bounds.

Par – The regulation number of shots specified for a hole e.g. par 3 is designed for a person with a handicap of zero (scratch) to take 3 strokes to complete.

Shank – This is a shot that flies nearly directly right caused by hitting the hosel of the club and not the face.

Slice – The opposite to the hook where the ball flight that is severely curving to the right for a right handed player (vice versa for a left handed player).

Stableford – Is a competition where you count points for each hole for strokes based on your handicap. E.g. if you have a handicap that gives you 2 strokes for a par 3 hole for this hole if you make take 5 strokes, your handicap par you get 2 points. The points then are added or subtracted depending on if you are over or under your handicap par e.g. where you handicap par is 5 strokes, 3 strokes would score 4 points or 6 strokes would score 1 point.

Stroke – An intentional hit at the golf ball whether it makes contact with the ball or not. Practice swings are allowed and not counted as you are not intending to hit the ball with this swing.

Tee – Area where the ball is initially hit from on each hole. The tee is also the accessory used to hold the ball off the ground in the teeing area. Tee markers indicate where on the tee you may hit from and there position may vary to add difficulty to playing the hole.

Toe – The far end of the club head, whether iron or wood, furthest from the shaft. Usually hitting on the toe results in less distance and tends to fly right for a right handed player.

Wood – A golf club that was traditionally made of wood but now usually made of metal. The ‘metal’ woods have a hollow head that allows it to have large size for its weight. They are typically longer than the irons but with the lighter head weight are easier to swing and hit further that the irons.

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