Here at 3balls, we do a lot more than just sell golf clubs — sometimes we even head out to the course to use those shiny new Titleists, TaylorMades and Pings. People speak a whole different language out there, so we thought we’d write up a quick intro to some basic golf terminology for the next time you’re struggling to translate the native tongue.
Intro to Golf Terminology
Ace. The ultimate successful shot for any golfer — the proverbial “hole in one.” The chances of hitting an ace are dramatically better on a hole with a par 3.
Divot. A clump of turf and dirt that gets chewed off the course by certain types of swings and clubs. It’s common courtesy to fix your divots, else you risk raising the ire of other golfers.
Fairway. Not well-defined in the rules of golf, but golf course superintendents define this area as a section of grass mowed at heights between a half inch and 1 1/4 inch. They’re not always present on par 3s, but are typically part of a par 4 or par 5 hole layout. Drop your ball here whenever possible.
Handicap. A number that seems to determine your worth as a golfer. Rumor has it that it’s used to allow players of different skill levels to play together on a more or less even field.
Mulligan. Equivalent to a “do-over” in a neighborhood game of baseball. You’ve hit the ball in a way that embarrassed your entire foursome, they’re so ashamed of you that they let you try that shot again.
Par. The number of strokes a professional golfer is expected to be able to complete a hole. This is roughly correlated to the length of the hole — shorter holes tend to be par 3s, longer holes par 5.
Rough. That part of the course that’s wild and woody. You don’t want your ball to land here, but if it does prepare to hack your way free.
Scratch Golfer. Scratch golfers are golfers that can play with a handicap of zero on any golf course. They’re mythical beings, like unicorns or the Loch Ness monster.
The Rules of Golf. Don’t be confused, The Rules of Golf does house the rules of golf, but it’s much more than just that. If you don’t own a copy of this book, updated by the USGA once every four years, grab one (or check out the website) before your next golf outing. It outlines accepted etiquette, as well as terms we didn’t cover in this quick intro to golf terminology.
Yips. At best, a nervous tick that makes it hard to putt accurately. At worst, a psychological affliction that will completely ruin your game. In Great Britain, golfers call this the “Twitches.”