Germany's Martin Kaymer plays a shot from the rough
Germany's Martin Kaymer plays a shot from the rough Image Credit: Reuters

Even if you know your way around the golf course, there are many words and phrases that could trip you up, especially when it comes to the technical aspects of golf. Here is a handy guide to keep you on track.


Aiming: Aligning the face of the club to the target.
Alignment: Position of the body in relation to the target.
Angle of approach: The angle which the club head approaches the ball at impact.
Approach: A shot hit towards the green.


Backswing: Taking the club away from the ball and setting it in position at the top of the swing above the head.
Backspin: The spin of the ball produced by contact with the club face.
Balance: The distribution of weight to address the ball and throughout the swing.
Baseball grip: A club grip in which all 10 fingers are placed on the grip of the club.
Birdie: A score of one under par on a hole.
Bladed shot: Occurs when the top half of the ball is struck with the bottom portion of an iron, resulting a low-running shot.
Bobbing: The act of raising and lowering the swing centre throughout a swing.
Bogey: A score of one over par on a hole.
Bomb and gouge: A style of play where a player hits the ball as far as possible with the driver regardless of accuracy and then 'gouging' out of the rough.
Borrow: The amount of break a player allows for during a putt.
Break: The amount a putt will angle to the left or right during a putt due to slope, grain and wind.
Bump and run: A pitch shot near the green in which the ball is hit into a slope to kill speed before rolling towards the hole.
Bunker: A trap - usually containing sand - to add to the challenge on the course.

The caddie is key for the professional player


Caddie: An assistant to the golfer hired to carry clubs and give guidance.
Carry: The distance a ball will fly in the air.
Centre of gravity: Point in the pelvic area where the body’s weight and mass are equally balanced.
Centrifugal force: The force felt in the downswing that pulls the clubhead outward and downward, extending the arms and encouraging a circular motion.Centre of rotation: The axis that the body winds and unwinds around during the swing.
Chicken Wing: A flaw that sees the lead elbow bend at an angle pointed away from the body, usually resulting in a pushed shot.
Chip and run: A shot played around the greens where the ball spends more time on the ground than in the air.
Choke: A term to describe poor play as a result of nervousness.
Chunk: A poor shot caused by hitting the turf well behind the ball.
Closed club face: A stance before hitting the ball where the toe of the club is closer to the ball than the heel, resulting in the ball drifting left.
Closed grip: A strong grip where both hands are turned away from the target.
Closed stance: A stance where the rear foot is pulled back away from the target line.
Closed-to-open: A swing in which the club head is closed on the backswing but then is opened on the downswing.
Coil: The turning of the body during the backswing.
Come over the top: A motion on the downswing that sends the club outside the ideal swing path.
Compression: A measure of the relative hardness of a golf ball ranging from 100 (hardest) to 80 (softest).
Connection: A description of a swing in which all the various body parts produce a solid, fluid motion.
Croquet style: A putting stance popularised by Sam Snead in which the player stands aside the ball, facing the hole, and strikes the ball with a croquet-type stroke.
Cross-handed: A grip in which the left (or lead) hand is placed below the right hand - opposite to traditional grips.
Cuppy lie: When the ball is sitting down slightly in a small depression.
Cut shot: A shot played with a slightly open club face and a swing path that travels out to in, producing additional backspin.


Dead Hands: A shot where the hands remain passive, resulting in a weaker shot.
Deep-faced driver: A driver with a greater height on the face.
Decelerate: Slowing the swing speed in the hitting area.
Divot: The turf a club digs up when it strikes the ball.
Double bogey: A score of two over par on a hole.
Double eagle: A score of three under par on a hole - also known as an 'albatross'.
Dormie: When a match play game sees one player leading by the same number of holes that remain.
Doubles: When a caddie carries two sets of clubs.
Downswing: The motion from the top of the backswing to impact with the ball.
Draw: A shot that moves from right to left for right-handed players.
Driving range: A practice area for hitting balls, usually before a round or just after to iron out any problems with the swing.
Duck hook: A shot that veers from right to left for right-handed players, usually unintentional.


Eagle: A score of two under par on a hole.
Early hit: When a player prematurely releases the cocking of the wrists on the downswing, resulting in a loss of power at impact.
Effective loft: The actual loft at impact as opposed to the physical loft on the club face.
Explosion: A bunker shot played when the ball is buried.

Fade is tough to control
Fade and draw are tough to control


Fade: A shot that veers slightly from left to right.
Fanning: An opening of the club face as the backswing begins.
Fat shot: When the club head strikes the grass behind the ball, resulting in poor contact.
Flange: The thick part on the sole of a sand wedge or putter.
Flat swing: A swing that is more horizontal and less vertical than normal.
Flier: A shot from rough or in wet conditions that reduces backspin with low trajectory and a skidding, further distance.
Flip shot: Usually played with a wedge, that involves a wristy swing to hit the ball with a lot of height over a short distance.
Floater: A ball struck from deep rough that comes out slowly due to cushioning between the ball and the club face.
Flop shot: Similar to a flip shot with a long, slower swing.
Fluffy lie: When the ball rests on top of longish grass, leading to a risky shot where a player may swing the club head under the ball
Fly: The distance the ball carries.
Follow-through: The 'remainder' of a player's swing after the ball has been struck.
Footwork: The action of the lower body during the swing.
Forward swing: The downward motion of hands, arms and club from the top of the backswing
Fried egg: The slang term for a ball buried in the sand.


Gimmie: A putt that counts as holed counts as made without being played and can be picked up, normally only used in match play — known as a conceded putt.
Grand Slam: The winning the four professional Major Championships - the PGA Championship, the Masters, US Open and Open Championship - in a calendar year. The Career Grand Slam is when a player wins each one over the course of their career.
Grain: The direction which the blades of grass grow, which is crucial on the greens as this can affect how much and in which direction a putt breaks.
Greenkeeper: A term for the course superintendent.
Grip: The rubber area at the top of a club where the hands are placed.
Grip (2): The placing and positioning of the hands on the club.
Groove: The horizontal scoring lines on the face of the club that help spin.
Groove (2): A swing that consistently follows the same path every time.
Ground: The point when the club touches the ground prior to playing a shot - it is illegal to do this in bunkers.


Half shot: A shot played with a shortened swing and reduced swing speed. 
Heel: The part of the club head nearest the shaft.
Heel and toe: A club design where weight is distributed towards the heel and toe of a club, usually an iron, to reduce the effect of mis-hits. 
High side: The side of the hole that a putt breaks from. 
Hooding: The act of placing the hands ahead of the ball, both at address and impact, which tends to reduce the loft of the club.
Hook: A shot that veers sharply from right to left for right-handed players.


Impact: The moment when the club strikes the ball.
Intended line of flight: The planned direction path of a ball.


Kinesiology: The scientific study of movement and the movement of equipment in sport.


Lag: A shot (usually a pitch, chip or putt) intentionally left short.
Lateral slide: The movement in the forward swing in which the hips begin to rotate while weight begins to shift from the trail side to the target side.
Level-par: A term describing a score of even par.
Lie: The position of the ball when it has come to rest.
Lights-out: A term describing remaining holes when a round is curtailed due to weather or bad light.
Line: The intended path of the ball, usually referred to in the context of putting.
Line of Flight: The actual path of the ball.
Links: The term for a course built on land reclaimed from the ocean.
Lob shot: A short, high shot designed to land softly.
Loft: The degree of angle on the club face, with the least loft on a putter and most on a sand wedge.
Long irons: The 1-4 irons - for distance.
Looking up: The act of lifting your head to follow the flight of the ball before completing your swing, which can hamper the shot.
Loosened grip: When a player opens his fingers and loses control of the club.

Some handy golfing terms
Some handy golfing terms Image Credit: Seyyed Llata/Gulf News


Middle or Mid-irons: The 5-7 irons.
Mulligan: The custom of hitting a second ball - without penalty - on a hole, usually the first tee.


Nassau: A style of competition where points are awarded for winning the front nine, back nine and overall 18. 


Off-green putting: When a player chooses to putt from off the green rather than chip.
Open club face: When the heel of the club head is leading the toe, causing the face to point to the side of the target.
Open grip: When the hands are turned counter-clockwise on the club.
Open stance: When the left or lead foot is pulled back farther from the target line than the rear or right foot.
Open-to-closed: The movement of the club face when a player fans it open on the backswing and then closes it at impact.
Overclub: To pick the wrong club (a lower one), causing the ball to overshoot the intended distance.


Pace: The speed of the golf swing.
Paddle grip: A putting grip with a flat surface on the front for the thumbs.
Par: The score a player is expected to make on a hole.
Path: The direction a club travels during swing or putting stroke.
Pendulum stroke: A putting stroke that moves the club head back and forth on a constant line.
Pistol grip: A grip, usually on a putter, that is built up under the left or top hand.
Pitch-and-run: A shot from around the green, usually with a middle or short iron, where the ball carries for a short distance before running towards the hole.
Pivot: The rotation of the body around a fixed point, usually the spine.
Plumb-bob: A method to help players determine the amount a putt will break by holding the putter vertically behind the ball, with the shaft indicating the amount of break.
Plugged lie: When a ball rests in its own pitch mark, usually in soggy fairways or a bunker.
Press: To force a shot and attempt to hit the ball harder than usual.
Press (2): An additional one-hole in-match competition to allow a player to make up a deficit after a match play game has already been lost.
Pre-shot routine: The actions a player takes before beginning his/her swing.
Pulled hook: A shot that begins off target and drifts further away.
Pulled shot: A straight shot that begins off target and remains straight.
Pulled slice: A shot that begins off target but curves back.
Punch shot: A low-flying shot played with a short backswing and little follow-through.
Pushed hook: Like the pulled slice, a shot that begins off target but curves back.
Pushed shot: A shot that starts off target and stays straight.
Pushed slice: A shot that starts off target and drifts further away.

The famous Road Hole at St Andrews
The famous Road Hole at St Andrews Image Credit: Seyyed Llata/Gulf News


Radius: The distance between the centre of the swing arc and hands.
Raised swing centre: Elevating the central area in the body around which rotation takes place.
Rap: To punch at a putt with a short, firm stroke.
Reading the green: The entire, sometimes lengthy process involved in analysing the break and path of a putt.
Recover: Getting a ball back on course after a wayward stroke.
Release: Returning the club head squarely to the ball at impact, producing a powerful shot.
Reverse weight shift: A flaw in which the weight moves forward on the back swing instead of to the back leg.
Road Hole: The most famous hole in golf, the par-4 17th hole at the Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland.
Round robin: A competition format in which players or teams all play each other to find a winner.
Rough: The area of overgrown grass and flora such as heather and reeds just off the fairway.


Scoring clubs: The driver, putter and sand wedge - vital to getting the ball in the hole.
Scramble: To recover and save a hole after being in trouble.
Separation: When any of the moving elements in a swing becomes faster or slower than all the others, resulting in a poor shot.
Set-up: Addressing the ball, so that the club and body are properly aimed and aligned.
Shank: When the ball is struck on the heel of the club.
Shape: To force the ball into a curved shot to fit the situation, usually to avoid an obstacle.
Short game: Shots played in and around the green, including putting, chipping, pitching and bunker shots.
Short irons: The 8 and 9 irons and pitching wedge.
Shut: Opposite of and open club face, when it is closed relative to the target line.
Sky: A poor shot which goes high and short, caused by the club head striking the underside of the ball. Also known as a 'pop-up'.
Slice: Shot that curves from left to right more so than a fade.
Smothered hook: A low, right-to-left shot that dives quickly to the groundcaused by an extremely closed clubface.
Sole: The bottom of a club.
Splash shot: Played from a good lie in the bunker, throwing the ball into the air. (He splashed the ball out of the bunker, landing the ball within a foot of the hole).
Spotting: Marking the ball on the green so it can be lifted.
Spot putting: Using an intermediate target on the green (such as an old pitch mark) as a means of aiming a putt.
Square: Perfect contact between club face and ball.
Stance: The position of the feet at address.
Steer: Forcing the flight path of a ball, resulting in a loss of distance.
Straight-faced: A club with little loft, such as a driving iron.
Stinger: A low, powerful tee shot.
Stroke play: Competition play based on the collective number of strokes taken, either over one round or several.
Swaying: An exaggerated lateral movement of the body during swing, resulting in inconsistent shotmaking.
Sweet spot: The perfect point on the club face for contact with the ball.
Swinger: A player whose swing is based on timing and rhythm.

The target line
The target line Image Credit: Seyyed Llata/Gulf News


Take away: The movement of the club at the start of the backswing.
Target line: An imaginary, visualized line from the ball to target.
Tee box: The area where players start a hole.
Tempo: The speed of the swing.
Three-quarter shot: A shot played with a shortened backswing and less speed.
Tier: A rise or level on a tee or green.
Toed shot: A shot hit off the toe (front) of the club.
Topped Shot: A low, bouncing shot when the bottom of the club hits the top half of the ball.
Touch: A player’s vibe and feel around the greens.
Track: Following the ball's journey after it has left the club face.
Trajectory: The height and angle of the ball.
Transition: The change from the back swing to the forward swing.


Upright: A steep swing plane.


Visualization: A mental imaging of a swing or shot.


Weak grip: A term describing a grip where the hands are turned to the left for a right-handed player.
Whiff: A complete miss of the ball.


Yips: Nervousness or loss of concentration that leads to a game falling apart.

Reproduced with thanks to the PGA of America