Golf Guides

Golf Terms for Beginners – A Definitive Guide for Novice Golfers

So you tag along on a golf match and suddenly you’re inundated with golf lingo. What’s a birdie? Why is someone shouting fore? It can be confusing and frustrating on the part of an aspiring golfer. But fret not, because, in this post, we listed some of the golf terms for beginners that will help you get by on your first day at the course.

From basic terms to deeper golf lingo, we will guide you so you can visit the golf course with more confidence. These are just some of the dozens of terminologies used by golfers. Take note that these terms will vary per state or country.


Golf Terms for Beginners

golf terms for beginners

Golf Clubs

-Club

This is the equipment you use on hitting the ball. It’s composed of a shaft and a clubface that can be made of a variety of materials. Also, golf clubs come in different types and configurations to suit a range of swings and strokes.

-Clubface

The clubface is the part of the club located at the other end of the shaft. It’s the part that gets into contact with the ball and sends it in the air. Like clubs, clubfaces have different textures and materials, depending on the type of material and forgiveness that the golfer wants to achieve.

-Forgiveness

Forgiveness refers to the edge that the club gives the golfer. When a club has higher forgiveness, it has less chance of producing mishits. A club with high forgiveness is called game improvement clubs. It’s widely used by beginners and senior golfers. All types of golf clubs can be made with a certain level of forgiveness.

-Irons

Irons are types of golf clubs that are made of either cast or forged iron. It’s numbered from 3 to 9 and may also include a few wedges. Usually, irons are used to hit shots between 120 to 190 yards. It can be bought as a set or as individual pieces based on your liking.

-Putter

A putter is a club used on the green, the part of the course where the flag or hole is located. Unlike other golf clubs, putters have a flatter edge and smoother surface to produce a smooth ball roll. It’s used on very short distances and only within the green.

-Wedges

Wedges are types of iron clubs with higher lofts. It’s a series of clubs after the 9-iron. It can be a sand wedge, lob wedge, and a gap wedge. These are used for approach shots to the green and chip shots when the ball is stuck on the bunker, the sandy patches within the golf course.

-Woods

Woods are another type of golf club used for long-distance shots. It’s also called a driver (1-wood) for its large clubhead that can drive a ball for as much as 320 yards. Beginners typically used fairway woods as these are easier to hit than a 1-wood type.


Game Basics

-Away

In golf terms for beginners, “You’re away” means that you’re supposed to be hitting. Away pertains to the golfer that’s next to hit. So if someone tells you that “You’re Away”, it means that it’s your turn and you’re not moving.

-Back nine/front nine

The back nine refers to the last nine holes (10-18) of the 18-hole game. In contrast, the front nine is the first nine holes of the game. It’s like the first half-last half idea in basketball. 

-Bank shot

A bank shot is where the golfer uses a steep part of the slope to manipulate the speed or direction of the ball. This is a game-changing skill that requires a lot of practice and dexterity. This is often done on a bunker near the green where the golfer has to salvage his or her game.

-Blind shot

A blind shot is exactly what it is, a hit where you can’t see the landing area where you’re hitting or approaching from. It can be an area on the tee or the green itself. This happens mostly if the ball gets off the course and the golfer has to deal with trees and terrains that block the view.

-Bounce

This is the measurement of how much the bottom part of the clubhead lifts the edge on the lead. The bounce is the part that rests on the ground when hitting the ball. Also, it’s the part that prevents the wedge from digging through the sand during a chip shot.

-Chip

A chip shot is usually done in an area near the green to send the ball to the green and in the nearest possible spot from the hole. It can be done in a bunker or any spot outside of the green.

-Drive

A drive is a long game shot done using a wood or a driver club. It’s a tee shot that aims to cover as much ground as possible during a hole. It’s the very first stroke that a golfer does from a tee box and as a part of a hole within a game.

-Fore

If the golfer or anyone in the game shout “Fore!”, that means that the ball is about to strike a person. It’s a warning for spectators and golfers alike within the course. You must keep this word in mind for your own safety, especially if you’re watching a crowded game.  

-Handicap

The handicap refers to the numerical measurement of how well the golfer is playing in comparison to the other golfers. It’s used to categorize golfers so they can compete with the golfer within their skill level. Low handicap golfers play better while high handicap ones play less efficiently.

-Pitch

A pitch is a short shot, but longer than a chip. It’s an under 60-yard shot done using a type of wedge. The aim is to send the ball with a taller height yet small distance, say from the bunker to the green. It’s a high-spinning shot that requires accuracy.

-Shank

This is a mishit when the ball strikes the hosel (the part connecting the clubhead to the shaft) instead of the clubface. This sends the ball extremely sideways. Golfers can be plagued with this error, dubbed as El Hosel. Some golfers joke that it happens when male golfers have trouble with women.

-Slice

This is another mishit when the ball moves extremely from left to right. For left-handed golfers, it would be right to left. This is a common flaw of high handicappers and beginners. Practice and training can fix this error.

-Sweet spot

The sweet spot refers to the area on the clubface that provides the best distance and accuracy. Forgiving clubs have the largest sweet spot, that’s why it’s ideal for beginners, seniors, and high handicappers. The term sweet spot is also used on baseball to describe the part of the bat that produces the best strike.

-Swing

A swing in golf is the full process of hitting a ball. The golfer starts in a hitting position, performs a backswing, hit the ball, and then finishes with a follow-through. Golf swings can be done in a variety of techniques and styles.

-Up and down

An up and down is when a golfer sinks the ball to the hole using two shots around the green. It’s usually one chip/pitch, followed by a putt.


Scoring

-Hole-in-one

When it comes to scoring, a hole-in-one refers to a shot that goes straight from the tee box to the hole. This is a rarity, but not impossible. It’s also called an Ace by some golfers. Professional golfer Norman Manley has the most record of hole-in-ones during his career: 59.

-Albatross

Also known as Double Eagle, an Albatross is a hole play that’s 3 shots under par. For a par 4 hole, it would be a hole-in-one. For a par 5 hole, it would be two shots from the tee to the hole: a drive and possibly a putt.

-Eagle

Eagle is the second best thing with Albatross. It’s a score that’s 2 shots under par. If you’re playing on a par 3 hole, you need a hole-in-one to have an Eagle. For a par 4, it would be two shots and three shots for par 5 holes. This is more prevalent than an Albatross.

-Birdie

A birdie is a score that’s one under par. It means that the golfer has finished the hole with one unused shot. For a par 3 hole, that means finishing the hole in two shots. It would be 3 shots in par 4 holes and 4 shots for par 5 holes.

-Par

In scoring golf terms for beginners, par means that the golfer finished the hole using the exact number of strokes allowed. For example, if a golfer plays a par 3 hole, he would finish it with 3 strokes. Par also pertains to the pre-determined and pre-set number of strokes playable within a hole.

-Bogey

A bogey is a score that happens when a golfer exceeds one stroke in finishing the hole. It’s one more than par, in golfer’s lingo. For example, if a golfer plays on a par 5 hole, he would get a bogey score if he finishes it with 6 strokes. It’s not a good score, but much better than double or even triple bogey.

-Double bogey

Double bogey is 2 more than par or when the golfer finishes the hole with two extra strokes. So for a par 5 hole, a double bogey will happen if the golfer hits 7 strokes to finish the hole.

-Triple bogey

This is probably the worst score in golf. A triple bogey means that the golfer has to use three extra strokes to finish a hole. For example, a golfer playing at a par 5 hole would be scored a triple bogey if he finishes the hole using 8 strokes.


The Golf Course

-Casual water

In golf terms for beginners, casual water refers to the water that has accumulated on some parts of the golf course and is not part of the pre-designed water hazards. It’s usually due to rainfall, pipe leaks, or flooding. When the ball lands on casual water, the golfer is allowed to move the ball without being penalized.

-Bunker

Bunkers are the cavity filled with sand, which surrounds the golf course. It’s part of the terrain hazards that make the game more interesting and challenging. Take note that you’re only allowed to ground your club on waste bunkers and not on the fairway or green-side bunkers. Grounding a club means allowing the club to touch the ground.

-Fairway

The fairway is the area between the tee box and the green with shorter grass and fine terrain. In this area, the ball can roll nicely and the golfer can easily take shots. It’s usually the aim of golfers during high-par holes.

-Green

The green is the area on which the hole is located. This is covered with special grass that’s much shorter than what you can find in the fairway. This is the area where the golfers putt the ball and aim to sink it to the hole.

-Hazard

Hazards are components of the golf course intended to make the game more challenging. These are permanent bodies of water, sand bunkers, and very tall layers of grass. There are special rules and regulations when playing on these hazards. Usually, golfers aren’t allowed to move the ball within the hazards. If they do so, they will be given an equivalent penalty.

-Rough

This is the coarse, thick, and tall grass located at the side of the fairways. This serves as the border of the fairway and best avoided since it’s difficult to get a ball out of it. This is also somewhat a hazard.


Final words

These golf terms for beginners are just some of the important references you have to remember. It will make your first games easier, not to mention it will give you confidence. The key here is asking. A pro golfer will not mind telling you what a word in golf lingo means.

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