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Golf Terms for Beginners – Understanding Golf Lingo and Terms for Dummies

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The game of golf is an exciting sport that anyone can play. To get the most enjoyment out of it, you should have a basic understanding of the golf terms and lingo that players use. Understanding this golf terminology will help you understand the game better, and it can also be helpful for conversation with other golfers. This blog post will explain some common golf terms for beginners, so you are better prepared to enjoy the game of golf!

Good Scoring Golf Terms for Beginners

What is a par?

We will start with the par because this is the most important and common golf terms for beginners to understand. For example, each hole on the course is assigned either a par 3,4 or 5. If you sink your ball into the hole in the exact number of strokes the hole is assigned for, then it’s called “making par.” Find out more: What does E mean in golf?

Ace

The term “ace” is a golf term rarely used in golf to describe a Hole-In-One, and it means that the player has sunk their ball into the cup on one try. A Hole-In-One is an incredible feat for any golfer!

Albatross (-3)

The albatross is another very rare golf term. It refers to sinking a ball three strokes under par on a particular hole. It usually occurs when sinking the ball after 2 shots on a par 5.

Eagle (-2)

This is the golf term used when players sink their ball in two shots less than par. For example, if you sink your ball on a par 4 with only 2 shots, it is considered an eagle.

Birdie (-1)

A birdie occurs when a golfer sinks their ball in the hole with one more stroke than the par for that particular hole.  So, if the hole is considered a par four and you sink your ball in three strokes, it would be considered a birdie.

 

Bad Scoring Golf Terms for Beginners

Bogey (+1)

When you hear the golf term bogey, that’s when your golf shot goes in the hole in one stroke above the number that is assigned to that hole. So, for example, if you are on a par 4 and your golf ball lands in the cup after 5 swings of your club, then it’s called a bogey because you scored +1 above what was required by the par 4 hole. 

Double Bogey (+2)

This golf term is more common for beginner golfers and devastating for professional golfers.  When you score a double bogey on your hole, it means that the golf ball went in after two shots over par for that hole. (Ex. Scoring a 5 on a par 3, 6 on a par 4, or 7 on a par 5)

Triple Bogey (+3)

You want to stay away from this score or any score higher than this. This golf term is considered to be very bad! When you score a triple bogey on a single hole, it indicates that you scored three strokes above what the par was supposed to be.

Double Par (+4)

This golf term is very rare. When you hear that someone scored a double par on their hole, it means they shot four strokes over the number of shots required to complete the particular hole. To keep up the pace of play – most beginner golfers will pick up and write this number down on their scorecard.

 

Physical Golf Course Terms for Beginners

It is a golfer’s responsibility to take care of the golf course. For each of the terms below, there are ways that you can contribute to keeping a golf course in great condition.

fairway rough and green examples of golf terms for beginners
Picture shows Fairway, Rough, and Green example

Fairway

The fairway is one of the most important things to hit when competing to shoot your best round. This golf term refers to the well-manicured section of grass that leads up to the green on a hole. It would be best if you aimed here from your tee shot. If you hit the fairway, it should provide the golfer with the easiest and most controllable shot into the green.

Rough

The rough, not surprisingly, is the area of taller grass surrounding the fairway meant to penalize a golfer. This is a difficult place to hit your ball due to the nature of the high grass. You cannot get as much spin on your shot, and it is way more difficult to strike the golf ball. 

Green

The green is the putting surface that contains the flagstick with the hole. It is what you’re aiming for when playing golf. The greens are usually well-manicured and provide an opportunity for some challenging putts. Learn more on the question: What is a GIR in golf? 

Bunker

A bunker is a sand area on the golf course that provides an obstacle for players to avoid and adds difficulty to the course. The bunker will be located around some of the more challenging holes and provide a challenge when you’re aiming for your next shot or trying to hit out of it.

Hazzard

A hazard is anything on the golf course that may cause you problems. This can be a bunker, water hazard, out-of-bounds, or even trees. It’s important to be aware of these while playing and make sure you’re taking them into account when making your shots. To learn more about the rules on assessing penalty strokes, visit our golf penalty rules guide here!

Most common Lingo and Golf Terms for Beginners

FORE

This is one of the first golf terms you need to know as a golfer. You cannot always control your golf shot. If you hit the ball and it is headed toward any person, it is your responsibility to yell this as loud as possible so that they can hear it. This golf term is pronounced “For.”

Gimme

A gimme is golf lingo used to give someone a putt that is within a range the putt easily be made. Its stroke will normally count as going into the hole without being played. Most of the time, if the putt is inside your putter grip (when you put your putting blade in the hole to measure), that is considered a gimme putt, and the golfer does not have to putt it.

**This is a relative rule and should be established before the round begins if playing competitively; this is not allowed in the PGA rulebook**

Mulligan

A mulligan is a golf term that refers to giving yourself an extra shot from the same spot if you do not like your original shot. Normally beginners play that a mulligan can be used only once per 9 holes and once per round as your golfing skills progress. The mulligan rules need to be established before the round begins.  The mulligan is normally taken off the tee but can be taken on any shot if agreed upon.

**This is a relative rule and should be established before the round begins if playing competitively; this is not allowed in the PGA rulebook**

Golf Terms for Beginners for different shots

Chip Shot

This golf term describes a type of golf shot played from close to the green. This golf shot aims to get the ball up in the air and onto the green as quickly as possible, without rolling too far away after landing. This can be a difficult golf shot for beginners, but it becomes much easier with practice.

Drive

This golf term refers to a golf shot played from the tee box. It should be a long, high-flying shot to get you as close to the green as possible or to set yourself up for the next best shot.

Approach Shot

This is a golf shot that occurs after the drive. This will be played off the fairway, normally around 100-150 yards, to get you as close to the green as possible for your next shot (hopefully involving putting).

Putt

This is a golf term that refers to your final shot as you’re aiming for the hole. Putting is by far one of the most difficult aspects of golf. It takes the most effort, with incredible precision and accuracy being the top priority.

Swing golf terms for beginners

Duff/Top

A duff is a golf term that refers to hitting the grass in front of the golf ball, resulting in a poor golf shot. This can be because of poor swing mechanics, bad timing, or just being rushed into your shot and not taking enough time to think about it first.

A top is a golf term that refers to hitting the golf ball too high, resulting in rolling or bouncing across the ground not very far in front of you. This can also be caused by incorrect swing mechanics, trying to hit the ball too hard, or just not being focused with your shots.

Slice/Fade

This golf term describes a type of shot that curves away from you as it travels through the air but at uncontrollable angles. This is normally caused by an incorrect swing path and can be frustrating for golfers. Beginner golfers normally always slice the ball when they first start out golfing.

This golf term describes a type of shot that curves away from you but is as controlled as possible. This is normally done on purpose, and you set up for this specific shot.

If you have trouble slicing the golf ball, try our best golf ball for slicers here. 

Hook/Draw

This golf term describes a type of shot that curves towards you as it travels through the air but at uncontrollable angles. This is normally caused by an incorrect swing path and can be frustrating for golfers. Beginner golfers normally always hook the ball when they first start out golfing.

This golf term describes a shot that curves towards you but is as controlled as possible. This is normally done on purpose, and you set up for this specific shot.

Learn more about draw vs fade in golf here.

Advanced golf terms for beginners

FIR

FIR is considered fairway in regulation. When you hit the fairway from the tee, you are considered to have hit the fairway in regulation. Learn more about what is a FIR in golf here. 

GIR

GIR is short for Green in Regulation. This is hitting the green with giving yourself a chance for a birdie putt. Learn more about what is a GIR in golf here.

Handicap

A golf handicap is a number between 0-28 that describes a golfer’s average ability.  This number is determined by the golfer’s best 10 scores over a period of time (normally one year). A handicap allows players of all abilities to compete against each other on an even playing field. You can learn more about how to calculate your golf handicaps here!

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

If you’re planning on playing a round of golf for the first time, it’s important to know some common terms and golf lingo. The golf sport has been around in one form or another for centuries, and many words have developed over this period which can be confusing if you don’t know what they mean.

Learning these golf terms before your first round will make you sound like an expert and not confuse the other players on the course with your lack of knowledge. I hope the golf terms above were informational and help you improve your golf communication skills.

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