Quick Guide to Golf Lingo

Golf has seen tremendous growth in the last year with the surge of individuals picking up the game again for the first time or the first time in a while. For many, it’s been one of the only ways to safely get outside and get some exercise.

It’s led to many searching for golf club sets that meet their unique needs, whether that is as a beginner, someone out of practice, or an experienced golfer that wants an upgrade. We’ve talked about the pros and cons of buying used golf clubs versus buying new. While used golf clubs can be cheaper, they’re a wild card in terms of quality, which is why we recommend vetting golf club sets by their customer reviews and their guarantee.

In addition to the picking up golf club sets, you’ll have to pick up some of the lingo. Golfers may seem like they have a language of their own, but our quick cheat sheet to common golf terms will help you sound like a pro regardless of your experience level.


  • Par: This is target score for every hole and it changes from hole to hole. On a par 4, your goal is to finish at or under 4 strokes.
  • Birdie: A score 1 less than the par.
  • Eagle. A score 2 less than par.
  • Albatross: A score 3 less than par.
  • Bogey: A score 1 over par.
  • Double Bogey: A score 2 over par.
  • Triple Bogey: A score 3 over par.
  • Quadruple, Quintuple, etc.…Bogey: Yep, they keep going! A Quintuple Bogey would be a 9 on a par 4.
  • Ace / Hole-in-One: This would typically occur on a par 3 – in this case, an Ace is also an Eagle.

Parts of the Course

  • Tee Box: This is where you start each hole. Courses will have several different color tee boxes that can be used based on skill level.
  • Fairway: Short grass where you want to hit your drives.
  • Rough: Higher grass if you miss the fairway and more challenging to play from.
  • Green: Short, well-manicured grass that is located around the hole. This is where you use your putter.
  • Bunker (aka Sand Trap): Areas of sand around the green off the fairway. Try to avoid these!
  • Hazard: Lakes, creeks, and swamps, oh my! These typically cause you to lose a golf ball (in official golf rules, these are now called penalty areas).
  • Out of Bounds: This is the edge of the golf course marked by white stakes. If you go beyond the white stakes you cannot play from there and you receive a penalty.

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Golf Course Layout for Beginners

Playing the Game

  • Drive: Your first shot on each hole. Typically, you will use your Driver to hit the drive, but you can use other clubs as well (especially on par 3s).
  • Approach: Your shot to the green from either the fairway or the rough, typically with an iron.
  • Chip: A shot used when you are close to the green. Using a wedge, you bump your ball on to the putting surface.
  • Putt: Once you are on the green you use this short stroke with your putter to finish the hole.
  • FORE: You scream FORE if you hit a shot that is heading towards another player – a warning for them to watch out, for obvious reasons.

Additional Golf Lingo

As you play the game, you will learn what feels like endless slang terms, but here are some of our favorites. Say ‘em out loud. Seriously, it’s fun.

  • Duffer: A slang term for a bad golfer.
  • Wormburner: When you hit the top of the ball and it just runs along the ground.
  • Sandbagger: A golfer that is better than they claim to be, typically to get an advantage in the match or a side bet.
  • Snowman: A slang term for when you score an 8.
  • Gimmie: A putt that is so short you don’t have to putt it – it is conceded.
  • Mulligan: You “re-do” a bad shot for no penalty – called “taking a mulligan.”
  • Breakfast Ball: A slang term for a Mulligan on the first hole.
  • Flop Shot: When you open the face of your wedge, make a big swing, and the ball goes very high and comes down soft (a tough shot to master).
  • Fried Egg: When your ball plugs in a sand trap and you can only see the top half of the ball, hence it looks like a fried egg.
  • Foot Wedge: You kick your ball to improve your lie (obviously, against the rules).

You will definitely learn more, but this should be enough to get you started on your golf journey. This, and one of our golf club sets.

You might also like: