Golf Slang and Phrases: Huge List
Banter and trash talk is a fundamental part of most sports and golf is no exception. Here are some suggestions to improve your golfing vocabulary for the next time you are playing with your buddies.
Make sure you know your audience well before using some of these to avoid offense!
If you take 9 strokes on a hole then that’s even worse than a snowman so it’s abominable!
Afraid Of The Dark
When you hit a putt that looked like it was going to go in but refused to drop you might say it was “afraid of the dark”.
You are hitting your ball left then right then left again like an army marching rhythm.
You are furthest from the hole and therefore it is your turn to play. You are “away”.
Back Door Putt
A putt that drops in the back of the hole.
Another name for a caddie.
A big bendy slice. If you are having trouble with a slice then this article on fixing a slice might help.
Big Dog or Big Stick
A nickname for your driver or number one wood. If you can master this club then it will certainly help your game.
A ball with a lot of backspin is said to have “bite”. You might also shout this at your ball instead of “get down” or “take a chair” if your ball looks like it’s going to travel too far.
Racking up a score of 10 on a hole.
Deep rough. Some people might call it spinach. Unless you have the arms of Popeye you are going to struggle if you put your ball here!
Can Or Cup
A shot hit so far offline it has gone where no ball has ever gone before!
Carpet Or Moss
Another name for the green. Loren Roberts was known as “the boss of the moss” due to his prowess on the green.
A putt that stopped just short of the hole. It needed one more revolution
Dew Sweepers Or Dawn Patrol
Golfers who like to play first thing in the morning.
Used to describe a badly maintained golf course.
Holing out a putt – usually a long one.
Another term for a water hazard as in “you are in the drink”.
A badly struck shot that generally doesn’t go very high or very far usually because you hit the ground first.
Another name for a hacker.
Elephant Burial Ground
A green where there are large mounds that leave you with some very awkward putts. This is because they look like they have some elephants buried under there.
If you hit a pop-up drive that goes higher than it does in distance then your buddies might call it an elephant’s ass as it is “high and stinky”.
Another name for a whiff or air shot.
Fat or Chubby
You hit the ground before you connected with the ball which usually means your shot will come up short of the target. Might also be called a chunk. In the USA this might be called a Chili-Dip.
A poorly-struck shot that doesn’t travel far. Same as duff.
One of the things that is more frustrating than three-putting is four-putting! If you are doing this often then I think you need to work on your game a bit more! Don’t worry though even tour pros putt badly occasionally.
If your ball ends up in a bunker partially buried then that would be a fried egg lie. This makes escaping from the bunker a little more difficult. If you need some help with your bunker play then this article might help you.
The plaintive cry of a golfer who can see his ball flying through the back of the green or towards a hazard of some kind.
What you will shout when you realize you are no longer sure your ball will clear the hazard you were intending to carry such as a bunker or stream.
Getting Out Of Jail
Recovering from what seemed like an impossible position.
Probably shortened from “give it to me”. An agreement to concede a short putt. Can often lead to disagreements! The length of a putter grip is often used as a guideline.
An especially hilly golf course that is really only suitable for goats! May also be in poor condition.
The unfortunate partner/wife of a golf obsessive. Not only does she not play golf, she probably dislikes sport in general!
A bad golfer. Someone who hits an awful lot of bad shots. As an added bonus they may also be unaware of the rules and etiquette of the game.
The right to play first from the tee having had the best score on the previous hole.
A lip out where the ball goes around the hole and comes back towards you making almost a horseshoe shape.
I Had The Line!
Yet another putt looked like it was going in but pulled up short.
In The Leather
A ball that is within the length of a grip of the hole. Likely to be conceded in matchplay or a friendly. So-called because grips used to be made from leather before switching to rubber.
In The Zone
One of those rare occasions where you are actually playing well. You almost feel like your game is on automatic pilot. Might also be referred to as “flow state”.
A putt that is difficult to read.
When a putt finishes just short of the cup then “You left it right in the jaws.”
Jungle or Bundu
If you hit your shots into some particularly dense rough or trees then you might be told you are in the jungle or in the bundu.
Putts in the three-to-five-foot range cause some players nightmares since they know they really need to make them.
Knife or Butter Knife
A nickname for the one iron. If you are good enough to use one then more power to you!
Golf balls that have been recovered from lakes or other water hazards. There is a huge industry selling them.
Used to describe a putt that hits the lip and spins away from the hole. You are often left with a longer putt than the one you missed!
Yet another way of describing a shank.
The clubhouse. Where golfers go to commiserate with one another in the bar and restaurant after a round of golf.
When you hit a nice crisp iron shot. Ball first then turf.
Peter Alliss, the esteemed player and commentator used this phrase. It stands for not in the bunker yet. He was referring to a shot where a player (usually a hacker) was trying to chip over a bunker and would usually end up playing his next shot from that bunker!
A shot that is hit as well as you can that will go miles!
On The Beach
You won’t need a bucket and spade but you’ll probably need a sand wedge to escape from the bunker you just landed in.
On The Screws
Or out of the screws. Refers back to a time when woods were actually made of wood! There would also be a plastic insert in the face of the club that was held in place by screws. So when you hit one middle you would say I got that out of the screws!
You see those white posts unfortunately you are on the wrong side of them so that’s a stroke and distance penalty for being out of bounds! Some people might use the term out-of-town.
If you manage to get your ball roughly level with the pin. Some would use a stricter version which means it would have to be within the length of the flagstick!
If you hit a shot that goes directly towards the flag then you have hit a pin-seeker.
Pitch and Putt
Some people might use this to describe a course that is short and relatively easy.
When a faster-moving group is called through by a slower-moving group.
Duck hook. It’s going low and left, left, left!
The opposite of honor golf. If it’s safe for you to play and you are ready then play. Some courses ask players to play this way in order to speed things up.
What you need to do when you hit one out of bounds or into some other impossible position.
The ball bounced left into a bunker instead of right onto a green. The ball that lipped out when it looked certain to go in. Anytime the rub of the green doesn’t go your way then you’ll consider yourself robbed.
A hook is a shot that moves from right to left (for right-handers). A rope hook is one that does so excessively.
The distance you can go before reaching a hazard eg there’s a 220-yard run out.
A miss-hit shot where the hosel of the club connects with the golf ball generally causes it to fly off at a 45° angle to the intended target. Sometimes players can develop a nasty habit of shanking almost every shot which causes them to give up the game.
Some golfers don’t even like to use the word shank in the same way that actors refer to Macbeth as the Scottish play.
Where you’d like to be after you have played your shot. Usually referring to the fairway.
Another name for your putter. It was traditionally the shortest club in the bag, at least until broom handle putters came along!
Hitting on or above the equator of the ball so that it just runs along the ground. Not generally an option you should be taking.
Hitting the ball with the top of the club. Usually done with a driver! Watch out for sky marks on clubs you buy from eBay!
When you score an 8 on a hole as it looks a bit like a snowman.
A sarcastic comment where one player follows another into trouble. Maybe into the trees or a water hazard.
Take A Chair
For those golfers that like to talk to their ball (who doesn’t) another phrase you can use to plead with your ball to stop when you think it’s going to go too far.
A short putt that anyone should be able to hole.
That awkward length of putt that you really expect to hole but isn’t short enough for a gimme.
Using your putter from off the green. Players who struggle with chipping will do this. Can also be a useful shot on links courses.
You managed to hit the ball low on the clubface. This will result in a shot that doesn’t fly very high and will have less spin on landing.
Where fairway grass is mown really short this would be a tight lie. Links courses in particular tend to have their fairways mown down really short when compared with most parkland courses. Tends to favor better ball strikers.
Not money for the caddy! The very back tees. Might be blue, black or gold. You will need your big dog!
The Dance Floor
The green. If you hit the green but aren’t particularly close to the hole then a playing partner might say “you’re on the dance floor but a long way from the band!”.
Another name for a three-putt. There are few things in golf more frustrating than three-putting.
Another name for a shank.
You hit above the equator of the ball or even right on top if you really make a mess! The ball might run some way along the ground or even worse!
The same as a wall of death where the ball runs around the rim of the hole before dropping in.
Some golfers waive the clubhead back and forth in an effort to relieve tension or as a trigger to start their backswing.
Wall Of Death
Your ball goes around the cup before (hopefully) dropping in.
The lake, pond, stream or river that your ball has just ended up in!
Players that don’t get the chance to play very often, usually only on weekends.
If you swing at the ball and completely miss then this is called a whiff. Also known as an air-shot.
Another term for preferred lies. When weather conditions make the golf course conditions less palatable then the committee will introduce preferred lies. This allows you to move your ball up to 6 inches on the fairway. In many countries, these rules may run from 1 Oct to 31 March as there is little grass growth and maintenance must be reduced to prevent damage to the course.
You Da Man
Generally shouted by attention seekers at professional golf tournaments (primarily in the United States of America). The shout occurs almost instantaneously with a shot being struck. More recently “mashed potato” has become a popular replacement.
Yom The Bloke
A translation of “you da man” into the Black Country dialect of the Midlands in the United Kingdom.
Can be career-ending for professional golfers. The yips is a nervous condition where the player tends to twitch when trying to putt, causing the ball to go anywhere but the hole. Sometimes they may also struggle to start their backstroke due to worrying about the consequences of making a stroke.
Bernhard Langer is one of the most famous sufferers of the yips. He has tried many different putting strokes in an effort to remain competitive.
Golf Slang And Phrases: Summary
So there you have it, a long list of new lingo for you to digest. There are also plenty more golfing terms in the golf glossary if you are new to golf.