The Essential Golf Terms Every Beginner Needs to Know

Golf Terms and Meanings for Beginners

Taking an interest in Golfing can be extremely difficult for the beginners sometimes. So many golf terms, so many rules and so many types of the clubs can get your brain confused at the initial stage. There’s no wonder about that.
But, I bet, once you learn the golf language, everything would seem interesting about golf. It is a MUST-DO thing to learn the basic golf terms for beginners even before you get a golf club in your hand. So, you might want to continue with us further.

Yeah, it’s a little annoying and a bit boring as well to learn so many golf terms and meanings for beginners. But, don’t worry, it’s a one-time TIME INVESTMENT for your whole golf career. It’s difficult to decide where to start from and where to finish because if I share the entire golf dictionary with you guys then, I afraid, you forget about Golfing for the rest of your life. So, let’s not make it difficult for you.

I have only shortlisted all the basic golf terminology for beginners. Once these we get these golf terms explained to you, I am pretty much sure that you will start developing an interest for golf with some confidence. Thus, I would request you to have a little patience for this tedious task since you can’t avoid it if you really want to become a golfer.
Let’s not waste our time anymore and spare some for the rest of this terminology list.

For your ease of finding out specific golf terms from the list, I have arranged it alphabetically (#-A-Z). I hope all the way through this golf terminology for beginners you would have a complete idea of playing golf. So, let’s get started.

From A-Z All The Golf Terms and Meanings


19th Hole: The 19th Hole is the clubhouse bar where players gather in after their round to the tally scores. They settle bets here and enjoy their break time, have their snacks and beverages.


Ace: Ace is also known as ‘a hole in one. ’ It is basically an act of hitting the golf ball directly from the tee into the hole with just one stroke.

Albatross: The other name is a Double Eagle. It’s a hole played three strokes under par.

Approach Shot: It’s a shot aiming the ball to land on the green.

Apron: Another name is Fringe. Apron means the grass surface on the perimeter of the green area dividing it from the surrounding fairway.

Automatic Two-putt: It’s kind of a local tournament rule intended to speed up the play. It is not allowed within the golf rules. It happens when a golf tournament declares that once their ball is on the putting surface, players can consider the ball to the holed in no more than two putts. But this rule only applies in a casual golf play when conditions warrant.

Away: It indicates the golfer whose ball reaches the farthest from the hole and the player who is away, has to play first always.


Back Nine: Back Nine are the last nine holes of a golf course with 18 holes. The golf term of playing the back nine is called “heading in.”

Backswing: It’s a swing sequence where the golf club goes backward starting from the ground and reaches to the top of the swing behind the head of the golfer. Backswing takes place just after the takeaway.

Ball-marker: It’s a token used for spotting the position of the golf ball on the green before lifting it.

Ball-washer: It is a device used for cleaning the golf ball. It comes with most of the tee boxes.

Best ball: The best ball is an essential golf terminology for beginners. It defines as a standard to point out the best count of a team consisting of two, three or four team members. Here the score made by the team on each hole is equal as the lowest score obtained by any one of the team members. For example, if the scores of each member of a four-member team are respectively as 5,4,6,5. Then the BEST BALL (team score) is 4, as it is the lowest count.

Birdie: It is a hole played in just one stroke under par.

Bogey: It is a hole played in just one stroke over par.

Break: The tendency of a putted ball rolling towards the left or right of a straight line. This deviation can be a result of many factors or combination of a number of factors including uneven surface, how firmly the putt is struck, grain of the grass, wind, or, in extreme circumstances.

Bump and run: A low-trajectory shot intended to make the ball rolling along the fairway and up onto the green. Bump and Run is like a chip shot, but it is played from a greater distance.

Bunker: It indicates the depression in the bare ground usually covered with sand. It is also called a “sand trap” out of the golf terms. It is deliberated a hazard under the Rules of Golf.


Caddy or Caddie: It indicates the person, who is often paid for carrying a player’s clubs and plays the role of an advisor and the only advisor to the player since they are not permitted to take advice from anyone else rather than their caddy. The players are responsible for their Caddy’s actions.

Carry: The distance of the ball traveling through the air.

Casual water: Any temporary standing water visible once a player has already taken his stance. Snow and ice are also considered as the occasional water, and even the water that overflows the banks of standing water hazards. According to the golf rules, you may take relief from casual water no nearer to the hole.

Chip: It is a short shot (Usually played from very close to and around the green), which is intended to travel through the air over a very short distance and then roll the remainder of the way to hole.

Chunk: It is often called a “Fat Shot” or “Chili-Dipping.” It is actually a swing resulting in the clubhead hitting the ground before the ball. Thus resulting in a large chunk of field is taken as a divot according to the golf terms.

Club: It’s the essential golf terms explained in this golfs terminology for beginners list. A club or a golf club is-

  1. A device used by the golf players to hit a golf ball. According to the golf terms and
    rules, a golfer is allowed to carry up to fourteen golf clubs during one round of golf.
  2. Apart from the golf terms, by the general meaning, it may state as an organized group
    of golfers owning or managing a golf course.
  3. The total of a golf facility, club-house, including course, pro-shop, practice areas, etc.

Clubhead: It’s the tip of a golf club which is used for striking the ball.

club head

Clubface: The ground or surface of the clubhead which is designed to strike the ball. There is a tip for the beginners about using clubface which is that, hitting the ball with the center of the clubface would help to maximize the distance and its accuracy.

Course Rating: In golf terminology, it is a numerical value given to each set of tees at a specific golf course to estimate the number of strokes it is expected to take a scratch golfer to complete the golf course.


Dimples: The round hollows on a golf ball cover which had been scientifically designed to enable the ball to take off a steady flight. Dimples allow a golf ball to stay in the air for a longer flight by reducing drag than it could be possible with a smooth ball.

Divot: Divot also has multiple uses in golf terms and meanings- Divot means the chunk of grass and earth expatriate during a stroke. The depression on the green surface caused by the ball on an approach shot; it is often called more appropriately as a pitch mark or ball mark.

Dogleg: Dogleg states the left or right bend in the fairway.

Double bogey: It means a hole played two strokes over par.

Double eagle: It means a hole played three strokes under par. It is also called an Albatross.

Downswing: It is the opposite of the Backswing. The downswing is the motion of swinging a golf club from the top of the swing overhead to the point of impact.

Draw: Draw is a shot of a right-handed golfer, which curves to left. This shot is often played purposefully by a skilled, right-handed golfer. An overdone draw often becomes a hook.


Eagle: It’s a hole performed in two strokes under par.

Even: Even means having a score equal as of par.


Fade: Again it is for a right-handed golfer. It’s a shot that curves a little to the right, and it is also played intentionally often by the skilled golfers. An overdone fade would seem similar to a slice.

Fairway: Fairway describes the well-maintained area of the course which is exactly between the green and the tee. It will allow a good lie for the golf ball.

Flagstick: Flagstick is a metal pole marker with a flag at its top. It is also called the “pin,” and it is used to spot the position of the hole on the green. To indicate the location of the hole on the green (front, back or middle), they often use an additional smaller flag with the flagstick. Fore: It’s a warning call. It’s given if there is a chance of the ball hitting other players or spectators in a course.

Golf Flagstick

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Fore: It is actually a Scots interjection, It’s used to warn anyone who is standing or moving through the flight of a golf ball.

Fourball: In golf terms and meanings, Fourball is the opening match played on Friday and Saturday mornings of the Ryder Cup. In this match, it takes plays for a contest of two teams, each team consisting of one pair of players where each golfer plays his own ball throughout. On each hole, the lowest score of the two members of a team competes with the lowest score of the other team.

In stroke play, a fourball competition is played between several teams each consisting of 2 players. In this play, for every hole, the lowest scores of the two partners count toward the team’s 18 hole total. This golf term ‘fourball’ is often used informally to describe any group of 4 players on the course.

Foursomes: In a match play, a contest taking place between two sides each having two players, where the partners hit other shots on just one golf ball. The first player tees off and the second player hits the second golf shot. Then again, the first player hid the third shot, and so on until the ball is holed. Moreover, partners alternate their tee shots to let one member of each team to always tee-off on the odd holes and the other member to tee off on the even holes.

(The golf terminology, “Foursomes” defines the afternoon matches played on the Friday and Saturday of the Ryder Cup). In the strokeplay, a foursome competition happens between several teams each consisting of two players. In this golf match, the partners play alternate shots until the SINGLE ball gets holed. The golf term ‘foursome’ is often erroneously used to define any group of 4 players on this course.

Front Nine: Front Nine are the holes 1 through 9 on a golf course.


Gimme: This golf terminology explained to a putt that the other golfers agree can count spontaneously without genuinely being played (under the implicit supposition that the putt would not have been missed). “Gimmes” is avoidable golf term. Because it is not allowed by the rules in a stroke play, but they are often applied in casual matches.

Though in match play, either player may officially acknowledge a stroke, a hole, or the whole match at any time, and this may not be declined or withdrawn. A player in a match play will usually acknowledge a tap-in or other short putt by his or her rival.

Golf club: Same as “Club” the golf term explained before.

Lie Angle In Golf Clubs

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Green: The area or surface of specially prepared grass around the hole, where the putts are played.


Handicap: This golf terminology defines a number which is assigned to each player as per his ability. It is used to adjust each player’s score to set equality among the players. In clear golf terms for beginners, this number is given based on the slope of a course, and it is subtracted from the player’s gross score providing him a net score of par.

Hazard: Hazard is stated as any bunker or permanent water or any ground marked as part of that water hazard. In golf matches, special rules apply when golfers have to play from a hazard.

Hole: A frequently used golf term which means a circular hole in the surface which is also named as “the cup,” usually of 4.25 inches in diameter.

Hole in One: It’s an act of getting the golf ball directly from the tee into the hole with just one stroke.


Iron: This golf term refers to a golf club with a flat-faced stable metal clubhead generally numbered from 1 to 9 representative of increasing loft.


Knock-down: It’s a type of shot to have a very low trajectory to combat the strong winds.


Lie: This term has two uses in golf terms and meanings- How the golf ball is resting on the ground, whether it may cause any difficulty to the next stroke. The angle creates between the center of the shaft and the sole of the clubhead.

Line: It refers to the path the golf ball is expected to take the following a stroke.

Links: It is a type of golf course, generally along a stretch of coastline.

Loft: Loft is the angle created between the club’s shaft and the clubface.


Mulligan: Mulligan is a do-over, or replay of the shot without counting it as a stroke and also without considering any penalties that might apply. It is not any legal golf terms and rules. It’s forbidden in official tournaments, but local tournaments often practice it.


Out-of-bounds: The area labeled as being outside of the boundaries of the golf course. O.B areas are generally indicated by white posts. When a shot lands “O.B.,” the golfer “loses stroke and distance,” which means that he/she must hit another shot from the actual spot and is evaluated as a one-stroke penalty.


Par: The term “par” is an abbreviation for “professional average result.” Actually, it’s a standard score for a hole (defined by its length) or for a course (sum of all the holes’ pars).

Pitch: A short shot from within 50 yards intended to create a flight toward the hole (target) with greater accuracy than a full iron shot. Usually, a higher lofted club is used for this shot.

Pitch mark: It’s a divot created when a ball lands. Players must repair their pitch mark.
Play Through: Permission granted by a slow-moving team to a faster-moving team to pass them on the golf course.

Punch shot: A shot with a very low trajectory, usually meant to avoid interference from tree branches when a golfer is hitting from the woods.

Putt: A shot played with a putter on the green.

Putter: An exclusive golf club with a very low loft.


Rough: The grass that margins the fairway, generally taller and coarser than the fairway.


Sand wedge: A lofted golf club designed for playing out of a bunker especially.

Scramble: According to the golf rules, when a player misses the green, but still makes par or better on a hole. Scrambling percentage is a standard statistics kept by the PGA Tour. Also a 2 or 4 man format, similar to Best Ball. Here each player strikes a shot and the best shot is counted, and then all players play from that nominated position.

Scratch golfer: A golfer whose handicap counts zero.

Shamble: This golf term defines a format, similar to “scramble”-the golf term explained a while ago. Here every player hits from the tee, and the best shot is selected, and then each player holes-out from the chosen tee-shot.

Short game: Short game refers to many golf shots that end up on or near the green. For example: putting, pitching, chipping, and greenside bunker play.

Slice: The golf term “slice” means a poor shot that curves sharply from left to right of a right-handed golfer. A slice with a lesser degree is termed as a FADE or a CUT in golf terminology. It is usually intentional.
Slope Rating: Slope Rating refers to a number according to the golf terms and meanings, This number is labeled from 55 to 155 indicating the level of difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer. For better understanding the golf terminology for beginners, in an “average” golf course, the slope rating is usually 113.

Snowman: This one is an exciting golf term for its naming. Snowman means to score an eight on a hole. It’s interesting because since the eight (8) looks similar to the body of a snowman, so it is named that way.

Stableford: Stableford is a points-based scoring system. The total number of strokes taken on each hole comparative to par interprets into a set number of points. Here the winner is supposed to be the player who accumulates the highest set number of points.


Tap-in: A golf ball that has come to rest very near to the hole, leaving just a very short putt to be played. Often entertaining golfers will “concede” tap-ins to each other only intending to speed up the pace of the play.

Tee: Tee refers to a small peg in golf terms and meanings. It’s generally made of wood or plastic. The tee is placed in the ground upon which the golf ball would be placed before the first stroke on a hole. This golf term can also refer to the teeing ground.

Teeing Ground: The “teeing ground” refers to one set of tees. Most golf courses have at least three sets of tees; some courses have even more than twice that many. However, the areas where the tee markers are placed are generally called as the “tee boxes.”

Tips: The championship tees on a course are usually known as “the tips.”

Topped: It defines a wayward shot where the clubhead strikes on top of the ball, resulting the ball to roll or bounce rather than create a flight.


Unplayable: A golfer can announce his ball unplayable at any time in a play (other than at a tee), and also he can drop the golf ball either within two club-lengths, or may be further from the hole in line with the hole and its current position, or also where the golfer played his last shot. A penalty of one stroke is applied in this case. A golf ball declared unplayable within a hazard has to be dropped within that particular hazard.

Up and down: This golf terminology describes the situation where a golfer holes the ball in two strokes initial from off the green. In this play, the first stroke, usually a pitch, a chip or a bunker shot, resulting in the ball going ‘up’ onto the green, and the following putt gets the ball ‘down’ into the hole. A disparity is called “up and in” here.


Wedge: It’s a type of golf club; a subset of iron intended for short-range strokes.

Whiff: Whiff is the attempt to strike the ball where the golfer fails to make any contact with the ball. A whiff is also counted as a stroke always.

Golf Wedge

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Wood: Again it’s a type of golf club where the head usually is bulbous in shape excluding the flatter clubface. This type of club is named that way because the head was formerly made of wood, though almost all of them are now metal.


For every golfer at any level, it is a must-do to learn the golf terms and meanings. Most golfers learn the terms throughout the golf lessons. But I would strongly recommend for the beginners to learn the golf terms and meanings before even you acquire a golf lesson.

Once you learned the basic golf terms for beginners, it would be effortless to understand the lessons instantly. I know it can make you feel that it would kill some time, but I would say that this little time killing task would save a lot of time ahead.

Though I have not enlisted the whole golf dictionary here, you can find all the necessary golf terminology for beginners in this one article. I am aware of the fact that, golf terms and meanings might seem extremely difficult for beginners. So, I have tried to keep it short for you. But, you must not worry about that. Because once you start your golfing lessons after going through this terminology list, you would find all these terms quite more natural.

Emily Clark
Written by Emily Clark

Emily, a passionate golf enthusiast and tech expert, always likes to stay up to day with the latest update in the golf simulation technology. From high-fidelity graphics to advanced ball tracking and swing analysis, Emily shares her thoughts with golf lovers. Whether you're a seasoned pro looking to sharpen your skills or a beginner looking for a fun and interactive way to learn the game, her valuable insights on golf drills, equipment and training aids will help you improve the game.

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