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A Golf Newbie? A Rundown of Basic Golf Terminologies

Once you decide to learn something new, you prepare yourself for rigorous lessons and training. In golf, this would entail spending countless hours of trying to determine the right strokes and strategy to smoothly navigate a ball on a golf course. You may discover that you are a natural-born golfer and be a proficient player in no time. Still, since golf has a long history, the sport itself has terms and rules that may sound strange or incomprehensible to non-golfers. It seems as though golf has developed its own exclusive lingo. Without basic knowledge of modern golf terminology, it may be difficult to make it through a game.

So apart from tough golf courses, golf terminologies that may sound like jargon are another thing that can bewilder someone who is new in golf. To be able to quickly understand and converse naturally using golf lingo is one indication that you are experienced playing golf. Although fluency in golf lingo is something that one acquires after months or years of being a golfer, beginners can avoid feeling lost in a golf conversation with a bit of research. To guide you through the vernacular of golf,  the following are some of the golf terms and their meanings.

Golf Terminology


Usually referred to as a hole-in-one, it means a player successfully shoots the golf ball into the hole in one stroke. Depositing a golf ball from the tee to the actual hole normally takes more than one stroke, so this is a rare event usually achieved only by expert golfers.

Approach shot

This term refers to any shot that is directed to the putting green area. Among golf enthusiasts, it is common to simply use the term approach.


The number of strokes that the player is expected to make before shooting the ball in the hole. A hole can be classified as par-3, par-4 or par-5 and the classification is usually based on the length from the tee spot to the hole. In this case, par-3 means the player is expected to shoot the ball in three strokes. An 18-hole course would typically require a par-72 based on a par-4 scoring.


A term for scoring in a golf game which means one under par. Based on the above definition of par, a birdie means knocking up the golf ball with less stroke than what is required. A birdie is therefore a good score in golf.


Another scoring term in golf which denotes one-over par. In this case the player hits more strokes than what is required so golfers who want to win avoid a bogey.

Explosion shot

Refers to a golf stroke when the ball is on a sandy trap. This is usually made on a bunker, thus it is also referred to as a “bunker shot.”


Someone who displays poor knowledge and skills in golf is called a hacker. This term also refers to someone who is unable to show proper decorum and ethics in playing golf.


A numerical score identifying a player’s potential skills in playing golf. A player with a low handicap score has better skills than someone with a high handicap score. In a game between a master golfer (low handicap) and a beginner (higher handicap), the score of the latter may be adjusted for a fair game.


A golf swing that resulted in  a mistake as the club failed to hit the intended target. When players stroke the ball, they expect the clubface to hit the ball. When shank happens, other parts of the club (e.g hosel) hits the ball instead of the clubface.

Tee shot

When inside the tee area, the first stroke that a player makes is called the tee shot. It is also commonly referred to as the drive.

Golf terminology is another thing that sets golf  apart from other sports. The creative way of using words to denote something unique to a certain field makes golf even more interesting. The list of basic golf terms above is definitely incomplete. As you continue immersing yourself in this sport, you will come across many other words that specifically refers to golf.  Isn’t it exciting to learn that as you learn how to play golf, you are also enhancing your vocabulary with essential golf terms?

Written by The Pinnacle Golf Team

With over 25 years of experience working directly with courses and players all over the United States, Pinnacle Golf Vacations is the place where convenience, price, and expertise comes together to deliver the ultimate golf vacation. Give us a call, we’ll take it from there.

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