The Golf ABC
Do you know 'Golf speak'? This is not just a very useful manual for beginner golfers. It is actually a legitimate question and one you might hear on a golf course. After all, golfers do indeed have their own language. Consider then: • is this elitist behaviour or a hint of the esoteric?
Thanks to the sport's British origins a lot of anglicisms have been implemented, and like fencing a lot of French has always been spoken too. For this reason translations into German are rarely expedient. But what do golfers mean when they talk about a flight? We have compiled a few terms here:
A: Tee-off to AS
The tee-off is the place where the hole you are about to play begins. The first hit is also known as a tee-off. Mostly done from a tee, a little pin made from wood or plastic. This is stuck into the ground and the ball is then positioned on it (teed-off).
An albatros is 3 strikes under par.
"Ball reaction" is, of course, not about having a chat with the ball. It is about the position the player takes in front of their ball. "As" is another word for hole-in-one. This means that the ball goes into the hole immediately upon being struck. This is mostly only possible on 3 or 4 par holes.
B: Backspin to Bunker
... is the backspin of a ball. This prevents an uncontrolled roll-out of the ball on the green.
Bag is your golf bag which contains all the clubs and accessories (e.g. balls, tees, pitching fork etc). Your bag is carried with you for the duration of the game.
At least 42.67 mm in diameter and maximum 45.93 g in weight.
Golf balls are retrieved when they are hit into a water obstacle. Players need at least one ball retriever.
A ball marker is required to make out the ball on the green. Either a coin or a "button" from your golf glove can be used.
A player achieves a birder when they play a hole with 1-under par.
One stroke over par at a hole. There is also a double bogey (two over par) and a triple bogey (three over par).
A bunker is not a form of protection for waywardly struck balls, rather it is an obstacle on a fairway. Mostly filled with sand, it is to make play more difficult, especially if the ball lands in it.
An advisor who carries the clubs in the bag. In America caddie is written with a 'y' instead of an 'ie'.
D: Divot to Follow-through
A clod of grass that has been struck out. Etiquette is to put this piece back and firmly tread it down.
A dogleg is a fairwat that is set up in the shape of a dog's leg. In most instances the fairway veers left or right. From the curve there are generally views to the green.
The stroke where a driver club is used is known as the drive.
Also known as 1-wood. The longest club is used for long shots.
Beginners and pros alike can practice here and it can be used for training and warming up.
The section of the swing after the moment of impact.
E: Eagle to Etiquette
Two strokes under par 4 and par 5. On a par 3 hole the term 'As' or 'Hole in one' is more common.
Kudos decides who tees-off first. On the 1st tee it is mainly the player with the lowest handicap who tees off. The person who has the lowest score on the last hole is the one who gets the kudos.
Irons are all clubs that have ridged metal heads. The clubs are numbered from 1 - 9. Irons are different due to the length of their shafts, and the loft (slant of the hitting surface). Iron 1 has the broadest trajectory, the 9 iron is used for shorter shots. Other irons include the pitching wedge (PW) for approach shots and the sand wedge (SW) for bunker shots.
Etiquette is the term for rules of conduct on the golf course that are to be followed. There are 3 different types:
1. Safety and consideration
2. Course privilege
3. Keeping the course in good condition.
F: Flag to fore!
Also called a pin, flag or pole. The flag shows exact location of the hole from quite a distance away.
Fairway is the term for the course section between the tee-off are and the green. The grass is short, enabling easy play.
A round of golf consists of a maximum of 4 players (a flight). The term applies to smaller groups too.
Fore! When you hear 'Fore' on a golf course you should head for cover. This call means that a player has hit their ball and there is a risk that it might hit other players.
G: Green fees to Green
The fee payable by golfers who are not part of a club to play or use a course.
The Greenkeeper tends the golf course. Ensuring the tee-off area, fairway and the green is well kept.
An area of short cut grass at the end of the fairway. The hole which contains the flag where the ball is to be putted is on a green.
H: Handicap to hole-in-one
Handicap denote a golfer's playing skill level. If a player needs two shots more than a par per hole, then they have a handicap of 36 (18 x 2).
Hole is the English term for (golf-)hole. In 'Golfer speak' the entire fairway is also described as a hole.
I: Identification to Interlocking Grip
The identification of a ball is permitted in accordance with Rule 12, however the player has to give the counter the option of observing the procedure. The ball location has to be marked. The ball then has to be lifted, and only cleaned enough to enable identification.
The second nine holes on an eighteen hole course are known as 'in-nine' - in contrast to 'out-nine', which are the first nine holes. The designation comes from so-called links courses (particularly on the coast), where the ninth hole is the farthest hole from the club house.
So, you play out first, then in again - 'out' and 'in'.
'In' also applies to a ball that is within the course limits.
A sort of lock is created between the forefinger and the middle finger of your left hand and the little finger on your right hand.
J: Area of young cultivated trees
Area of young cultivated trees: An area of freshly planted trees on the golf course that is discernible by a heaped up earth mound, or from supporting pegs. Mostly with blue signposts and there is a freedrop obstacle so they are not damaged.
K: Shorter grip
The club is gripped further down.
L: Hole - Longest Drive
The target for all golfers - exactly 10.8 cm in diameter. The entire course is often called a hole by golfers (also look at Hole).
This is the longest club with a driver.
The four big events are known as "Major tournaments": the "Masters" in Augusta/Georgia - as well as the US Open, the British Open and the American PGA Championship, which is held on different courses every year.
N: Nineteenth hole
Nineteenth hole (19th hole)
A casual and jokey term for the club house or the club house bar.
Golf clubs (woods, irons and putters) with an extra large head are known as oversize clubs. They are particularly suitable for beginners.
P: Par to Putting Green
The term Par comes from the Latin pari (equal) and tells the golfer how many shots they need in an ideal situation. There are three official strike types for a hole: 1. Par 3 2. Par 4 3. Par 5
See Flag too.
A course 'licence', also known as a handicap is required to be able to play on a golf course. Theory-based (Golf and Etiquette rules) and practical knowledge is required. A handicap is issued by golf instructors.
Most golf courses have generally applicable golf rules as well as their own course rules paying heed to specific elements in the course. Course rules are often shown on a board.
Term for a professional player of golf instructor.
A shot on the green to the hole is known as a putt. A putter is used for this.
A putter is a special golf club which is only used on the green. Using the putter you try to play the ball into the hole with as few shots as possible.
On the putting green various holes are organised in varying distances and locations for practice sessions.
Q: Quail to Quit
This is mostly an incorrect hit (jokingly termed 'hare killer“), where the ball is not hit high, rather is very flat, i.e. almost horizontal to the ground. Used purposefully though, this shot can be used an effective shot in a strong head wind.
Deceleration of the head of the club from the moment of the hit is known as 'Quit'.
R: Rabbit to Rough
In golf speak a beginner is known as a rabbit. They still do not have a handicap.
The rough is the tended and for the most part natural area of the golf course. Proceeding along the fairway, it is made up of grass, bushes or trees.
S: Sand Wedge to Slice
A Sand Wedge is a specific club used to play the ball, predominantly to get out of sand bunkers.
Score is the strike result on a hole and the sum of all shots on all fairways at the end of the round.
A miss hit. The ball flies towards the left edge of the course, then turns sharply right.
T: Tee to Trolley
A small wood or plastic peg on which the ball is positioned to tee-off. Tee is also used as a synonym for the tee-off area.
Nothing to do with 5 o-clock tea, even if the sport does hail from England. Tee-off time is what is meant here, the time when the player starts their round from their 1st shot.
Trolley / Trollies
The golf trollies, also known as caddie carts are used to transport the player's golf bags to the course.
U: Unplayable ball
Any ball can be declared by the player straight away as being unplayable according to golf rules, except at water obstacles and can be re-played upon addition of a penalty stroke according to the rules. This loophole for players enables a certain amount of tactics to come into play.
Number of holes that a player is in front at the match play.
V: Vardon grip to Forecaddie
In this often used grip, the little finger on the right hand is positioned on the forefinger of the left hand.
According to the rules, a ball is lost when it cannot be found within five minutes. In golfing logic there are situations when it is actually better that a ball is not found despite intense searching; however for the most part luckily enough, many other balls are found, just not your own. Four ball:
Two players each play a ball, and the better score is the one that counts.
A fore caddie is someone who goes ahead of the game, locating the position of the balls for the players. They are not part of the game.
W: Water hazard
Depending on the position, a water obstacle is marked yellow or red. Inside the marked area, the club cannot touch hazard before the swing. There is little chance of getting the ball out and under golf rules there is then a penalty stroke.
X: X-Out balls
X balls are those that have an X over the name of the brand. In terms of quality these balls are no worse than other balls, but are just discarded by a company because they may have an error in their colour or because it is cheaper to sell off x-balls because of over-production. X-out balls can be used in competition as long as the 'List of Conforming Golf Balls' is not used.
Measure of distance in English speaking areas:
1 Yard = 0.9144 metres.