17 Fascinating Words and Phrases from Golf Terminology

Golf Terminology

At one time or another, every golfer is challenged by the vast number of strange golf terms.

Perhaps it is the ancient roots of the game in Scotland, or maybe golfers just like to use interesting words — the result is a sport rich in colorful vocabulary.

Let’s look at some of the remarkable words in golf terminology and their meanings.

Albatross To many people, an albatross is a white seabird found in the northern regions of the Pacific Ocean. For golfers, an albatross is when a player finishes a hole three strokes under par.

It is also commonly known as a “double eagle.” As you can imagine, it is a very rare achievement, and cause for celebration if you can pull it off.

Angle of Approach If you are a fan of flying, you may be familiar with approach angle, the angle at which a plane comes into the landing zone.

Similarly, in golf terminology the “angle of approach” is the angle a clubhead approaches the ball relative to the ground during the swing.

Golfers will vary the angle of approach depending course conditions and lie of their ball.

They create different angles by moving the ball position up or back in the stance, utilizing different swing shapes and other skilled techniques.

Blades A “blade” clubhead has a thin, knife-like shape.

For many decades, almost all golf clubs utilized this design.

With advances in technology and engineering creativity, club manufacturers began to offer larger clubheads with bigger sweet spots.

Bigger club heads gave weekend golfers more forgiveness on off-center hits.

These “game improvement” clubs soon dominated club sales.

However, many professionals still prefer “blades” because they offer superior feel and playability, allowing them to easily spin the ball the required amount for the shot they are trying to execute.

Casual Water What do golfers mean when they talk about “casual water?”

Does that mean that some water is “formal,” like you might drink at a wedding reception?

Casual water is simply a term used to describe a temporary puddle or other gathering of water on the course.

Casual water can include snow, ice and water that may have over flown the banks of a pond or creek.

In contrast, a lake is not casual water. Dew and frost are also not classified as casual water.

One criteria of casual water is that it must be able to be identified by the golfer before or immediately after they have taken their stance.

Casual water does not include ground that is wet or muddy.

However, if a golfer thinks the ground is relatively dry, but water seeps up around their feet as they take their stance, that is considered casual water.

These distinctions are important because the rules allow relief if the player determines their ball is sitting in casual water.

Double Cross A double cross is something you might see in the latest a bank heist movie.

In golf terminology, it refers to a shot when a golfer is trying to hit a fade and they end up hitting a hook or vice versa.

In the case of a fade, usually a right-handed player aligns their feet to the left of the target line in order to encourage the ball to start left and move back to the right.

However, in the case of a double cross, the ball does not move right and instead continues farther left.

Flop Shot In soccer, players have been known to flop dramatically on the ground in an overtly dramatic ploy to pull a penalty against their opponent.

In golf, a flop shot describes a short shot that goes very high and comes down almost vertically on the green very softly.

This trajectory allows golfers to shoot over obstacles like bunkers, mounds, trouble areas and other obstacles. However, it is a shot that requires practice and precision.

A player must make a big, long swing while maintaining a consistent spine angle.

The clubhead slides under the ball while the bounce on the bottom of the sole prevents it from digging in.

It is often employed by professionals like Phil Mickelson, who is well-known as one of the best flop shot players in the PGA.

Fore-Caddy Some golf clubs use for a fore-caddy to help golfers find their ball and keep playing moving.

A fore-caddy walks along the edge of the fairway in front of a foursome, keeping an eye on each shot to help players locate the position of their balls.

In earlier decades, golf balls were very expensive, and it was a major benefit to have someone’s eyes out in the fairway to prevent losing any of the balls.

It was not uncommon for a single golf ball to cost more than the fee paid for the fore-caddy.

Greensome Many casual golfers are familiar with the term foursome, referring to four players in a single golf group.

A greensome is similar, but consists of two players — each player hits a shot from every tee box.

Between the two golfers, they determine which of the shots has a better position.

They pick up the other ball and alternate shots from there on out on the hole.

Handicap Golf is unique in that it has a built-in system to help level out the skill level of different players.

Every golfer can record and maintain a handicap index.

For example, one golfer might be a 15 handicap, and a more skilled player might be a three handicap.

Looking at it on a very simplified basis, the handicap number is subtracted from the score that a golfer shoots on a specific round.

In our example, each player compares their “net score” to see who has the better result.

Handicaps are used often in tournament play.

Interlocking Grip There are several common ways to hold a golf club.

If you look at old pictures from golfers in the early 1900s, you’ll find many of them held the club in a baseball-style grip, often with the hands a few inches apart from each other.

Over time, players found it was more beneficial to move the hands together on the shaft.

Eventually, the interlocking grip developed where the little finger of one hand is interlocked with the index finger of the other hand, creating a very secure anchor.

Another variation is called the Vardon grip where the little finger of the trailing hand overlaps the ring finger and index finger of the other hand.

Knockdown Shot In very strong winds, it is difficult to keep a golf ball online when it is hit high in the air.

The wind blows it way offline.

A knockdown shot is specifically designed to keep the trajectory low, allowing the golfer to create a piercing shot that drives through the wind.

Moving Day Professional golf tournaments are usually four days in length.

After two days, the number of players is cut.

Players who don’t make the cut often will drive to the next tournament rather than hang around the current competition.

Nicknamed “moving day,” they use the time to work on their swing and iron out kinks before the next challenge.

Outside Agent “Outside Agent” is not the latest Tom Cruise thriller.

It refers to any agent that is not specifically an element of the match in play.

Outside agents include golf fans, observers, referees and fore-caddies.

However, outside agents do not include natural elements like water or wind.

Plugged Lie You may hear a golfer say their ball is “plugged.”

They are not referring to the bad hair transplant of their competitor.

A “plugged lie” is when a golf ball is half-buried in sand, mud or soft ground.

It is most commonly used when the ball is plugged in a bunker.

In certain parts of the country, they call it a “buried lie.”

You may even hear it referred to as a “fried egg.”

Reverse Bounce Back A “bounce back” is when a player shoots poorly on one hole and then achieves a much better number on the next hole.

A “reverse bounce back” is the exact opposite.

It refers to a situation where a golfer shoots a great score on one hole, and then immediately shoots a terrible score on the very next hole.

Up and Down In golf, “up and down” is when a player is able to get the ball in the hole in only two strokes from off the green.

Players that are very good with up-and-down shots are usually skilled golfers with great short games and superior putting ability.

Whiff When a golfer whiffs the ball, it means they have taken a full swing at it without making contact.

Not only is it embarrassing, the rules state a stroke must be counted.

Checkout more golf vocabulary and see what you know.

These are just a few of the fascinating words and phrases in golf terminology that have developed in the sport over the years.

When you are ready to develop your golf career to make a vocation out of your love of the game, give us a call at (888) 355-4465.