Getting a Grip on Golf Terminology

Getting a Grip on Golf Terminology

Regardless of how much you’ve played golf, you’re probably going to hear some new terminology every time you’re golfing with a new group or working with a new instructor. The way to save face is to simply nod like you know exactly what they’re talking about, even when they’re touting new words. The smart thing to do is ask.

Even a casual golfer knows words like bogey, slice and approach. But did you know that balata is that rubbery substance that covers a golf ball? Here are a few terms that may be less well known to some golfers.

A chunk is that boo-boo of hitting the ground behind the ball – way behind the ball. The word came about because the chunk of grass (the divot) that flies up can sometimes travel a longer distance than the ball. When it’s done on purpose – as from a sand bunker – the resulting shot is called an explosion. When the ball is really buried in that sand, it’s known as a fried egg.

A top shot is when you simply hit too high on the ball. One of the most common causes is that you’ve hit several chunks and you’re trying to compensate. When you hit a top shot, the ball will have little or no loft. If you’re already in a sand trap, you’re likely to stay there for another shot. If there’s one directly in front of you, a top shot will probably net you a fried egg.

A Mulligan is the same as a “do over” from your childhood days! This is when you aren’t satisfied with your first shot and you simply pull another ball from your bag and start over. Typically, a Mulligan can only happen when you’re playing alone or with very forgiving friends because few golfers are going to let an opponent have a free “do over.”

Yips is a word used to denote the inability to complete a putt with a slow, steady movement. For various reasons, the golfer instead makes a sudden, jerky swing, usually causing the putt to go wild.

The address is commonly known as that moment that the golfer steps up to the ball. What some don’t realize is that rules say that the address has occurred once the golfer has rested the club behind the ball.

Nassau is a popular way of competing, especially for those who are something less than professional minded. In this game, golfers have one score for the first nine holes they play and a separate score for the back nine, as well as an overall score for the entire round. That means that golfers have three scores to compare, upping the odds of winning something!

There are other terms that you should know as well. The grain refers to the way the grass angles, similar to the grain of fabric. Loft is the angle of the face of the club. Dormie means that the person with the lower score can’t hope for anything more than a tie.

Learning the terminology isn’t necessary to playing a good game, but it probably is necessary to enjoying play with friends.