The Most Common Golf Terms Every Golfer Should Know

Silhouette of a golfer swinging in the sunset
This golfer swinging while the sun is setting should use the golf term "fore" if others are playing in the dark

    If you’re just starting to pick up the game of golf, there are some golf terms you need to familiarize yourself with in order to understand the game better, have more fun, and even ensure the safety of others. At first, that last reason may sound ridiculous but it's an important fact to remember when you are learning the game because people can get seriously hurt if we don’t use some of the golf terms we’ll be covering. Here is some basic golf terminology every golfer should know.

Fore!

    The first, and arguably the most important, golf term can save other golfers from getting hurt. “Fore!” From beginners to professionals, everyone will have to use this term at some point in the game. The term “fore!” is used to warn other players of the dangers of an errant golf shot. The way we use this term will tell other players how serious of a threat our golf shot is. “Fore!” should be yelled out loud for all to hear. The louder it is, tells other golfers how close that ball will be to them. It's not always enough for this golf term be mentioned by itself. There are times when we need to add modifiers to it to let golfers know in which direction the ball is heading. As you can imagine, a golf course is an immense piece of land with sometimes hundreds of players at a time.

To help specify on the golf course use the following modifiers with “fore”: 

  • Fore-left – This lets everyone on the left side of the player know that the ball is coming in their direction
  • Fore-right – This lets everyone on the right side of the player know to keep an eye out for incoming golf ball
  • Fore-on-the-tee – This lets the golfers on the nearest tee know that there is a screaming golf ball coming in their way
  • Fore-on-the-green – This Tells the players on the nearest green to duck for cover before hitting a putt
No matter your level of play, I can assure you that this term will be used at some point.


Golf Scoring Terms

    When it comes to marking you scores, there are names used to signify your score in relation to par, the least number of strokes it should take an expert golfer to finish a hole. Knowing these golf scoring terms will not only help you sound like a golfer but will also help you keep score more easily in your head, if you ever forget to bring a scorecard with you on the course.

Here are the most commonly used golf scoring terms:

  • Par – A “par” is the least number of strokes it should take an expert golfer to finish a hole. The most common par rating for golf holes are par-3, par-4, and par-5
  • Hole in One – In golf, a “hole in one” (also called an “ace”) is when a golfer completes a golf hole with a single stroke.
  • Eagle – An eagle in golf is the score a golfer records after completing a golf hole with 2 fewer strokes than required for a par.
  • Birdie – One of the more popular terms on this list, a birdie in golf means a golfer completed the hole with one fewer stroke than the par required for that hole.
  • Bogey – A bogey in golf means that you’ve completed the hole with one more stroke than is required to record a par.
  • Double Bogey – A double bogey is when a player completes a hole with two more strokes than required for a par.
  • Triple Bogey – A triple bogey is recording three more strokes that is required for par.
  • Quadruple Bogey – A quadruple bogey means that you’ve completed a hole with four more strokes than required to make a par.
  • Snowman – In golf, we use the term snowman whenever we record an eight on the scorecard. It’s self-explanatory but it gets the name because it resembles the body of a snowman (a circle on top of a circle).
Keep these scoring terms in mind and you’ll be on your way to keeping score in your head like a pro.

Terms for the Types of Golfers

There are two general classifications of players that are most commonly used:
The scratch golfer is the term used for a player that is an considered an expert of the game. This player will score around even par on their round.

The “bogey golfer” is the player that will likely finish the round with a bogey on every hole.

Playing Terms

While playing golf, you’ll often hear these terms depending on the situations described below.
  • Mulligan – Mulligan, on the golf course, is the term used for a re-do or replay of a shot, with no penalty. Depending on the time of day, this term can be used interchangeably with “breakfast ball,” which means that players are allowed a free replay on the first hole of the round.
  • Hit it thin – When a player hits a shot that is caught on the bottom of the club face, it is considered hit thin. This type of shot comes off the club face lower than expected and will often go further than intended
  • Hit it fat – When a player says, “I hit that one fat,” it means that the player hit behind the ball, catching the turf before the ball. When this happens, the ball tends to go shorter than intended. In some cases, the ball will go a few feet instead of yards.
  • Shank – In golf, a shank is when a player hits a golf ball with the hosel of the club. The ball is then sent flying sideways out of control. A call for “fore!” can often follow a shank.

Using the Golf Words We Learned

    No matter your level of experience, you can’t play the game of golf without hearing or using some, if not all, of these terms. Remember to be courteous to your fellow players and shout "fore!" whenever the ball goes in a direction where people may be playing. Doing so will help ensure everyone is safe and has a good time on the golf course. What are some of the terms you use on the course that I didn’t mention? Drop a line in the comments section and I’ll be sure to include it in my next update. 



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