Glossary of golf terms

Our golf dictionary covers the main terms used in golf. The first step in demystifying the game is to understand the language and terminology that golfers commonly use.



In this team competition format, play is generally in 3 or 4 person teams. Assuming three-person teams: for the first six holes the best score of the three counts towards the team total (each player must contribute at least one score). For the second six holes, the best two scores count. For the last six holes all three scores must be taken. The team with the best points tally or lowest number of strokes wins.
A hole-in-one.
Backspin on the ball, also referred to as "bite" or "zip".
addressing the ball
A player is said to have addressed the ball when the he/she has taken his/her stance and adopted the position from which the backswing is started.
The provision of instructions or help on how to play a shot. In competition only a player's partner or caddy can give advice without penalty.
[See Hollow tining].
air shot
Occurs when a player intends to hit the ball but misses it completely.
British term for a score of three under the par for a hole, e.g. a two scored on a par-5 hole. In the US it is known as a double eagle.
Alfred S. Bourne Trophy
Presented annually to the winner of the US Senior PGA Championship.

See: WPGA Tour Aus

alternate shot
See "foursome".
A golfer who does not receive money for playing the game, i.e. this applies to the vast majority of people who play the game.
Golf club design that attempts to eliminate the possibility of striking the ball with the hosel of the club.
Shot played to the green from the fairway or rough
The short grass surrounding the green, which separates it from the fairway.
A type of side bet in golf, which provides a pre-determined reward to any player who makes a par without having their ball on the fairway during the playing of a hole.
Arnold Palmer Award
Presented each year to the leading money-winner on the US PGA Champions Tour.
Arnold Palmer Cup

This annual competition is played between college/university golfers representing the USA and an International team representing the rest of the world. From its establishment in 1997 as the Palmer Cup, until 2002 it was contested between teams representing the USA and GB&I. From 2003 until 2017, a European team competed against the USA; from 2018 onward an International (RoW) team replaced the European team. Originally played between two eight-man teams, it is now an event played between 12 men and 12 women per team.

Arnold Palmer (drink)

An "Arnold Palmer" is a popular non-alcoholic drink in the United States, which combines iced tea with non-fizzy lemonade. An alcoholic version of the drink, in which vodka is added, is commonly referred to as a "John Daly".

American Society of Golf Course Architects
Asian Tour
In January 2004 the tournament playing professionals of Asia formed a new player representative body named the Asian Tour to ensure control over the development of professional tournament golf in Asia. The Asian Tour's principal role is the sanctioning, management, marketing, technical administration, development and promotion of professional golf tournaments in the region. [Website:].
attend the flag
To hold the flagstick while another player makes a putt towards the hole.
Australasian Tour

See PGA Tour of Australasia.

The away ball is that which lies furthest from the hole when more than one golfer is playing; it is usually played first
back door
Refers to a ball which runs around the lip of the hole before dropping in from the back side of the hole.
back nine
Second set of nine holes on an 18 hole golf course
back spin
Reverse spin applied to a ball, which stops it bouncing forward after it has landed on the green. Also referred to as "bite" or "action".
The part of the golf swing that involves taking the golf club away from the address position and reaching the top of the swing. The backswing is followed by the downswing, when the clubhead is brought back down to strike the ball.
back tee
The teeing ground that creates the greatest length from which a hole is played. Can refer to the mens' back tees (often coloured black, sometimes gold) or womens' back tees (often coloured blue). Also called the "tips."
baffy (club)
A small headed, steeply lofted wooden golf club, which is generally no longer in use. Also known as the Baffing Spoon or approach wood. The modern equivalent is a 4-wood.
balata (ball)
Natural or synthetic compound used to make the cover for top standard golf balls. Its soft, elastic qualities produce a high spin rate and it is favoured by tournament players.
ball in play
The ball is "in play" on any hole when the player starts his or her downswing until such time as the ball is either holed out, lost or hit out of bounds.
ball marker
A small object used to mark the position of the ball on the green before the ball is picked-up.
ball washer
A device in which golf balls can be cleaned, often located alongside each teeing ground.
banana shot
A shot where the ball is hit with significant sidespin, such that it curves through the air in a banana-like manner.
A player who is thought to maintain an artificially high handicap in order to win competitions and bets. Also known as a hustler.
Also known as Woodies or Seves (after Seve Ballesteros). A type of side bet in golf, which provides a pre-determined reward to any player who makes a par on a hole having hit a tree on that hole.
baseball grip
A method of gripping the golf club, in which one hand is placed below the other, without any fingers overlapping or interlocking.
Term sometimes used to describe a sand bunker.
bent grass
A type of fine-leafed grass that produces an ideal surface for putting greens, but one that is not well suited to hot, sub-tropical climates where it needs careful management.
bermuda grass
A type of relatively coarse grass well suited to hot, sub-tropical and tropical climates. Widely used on golf courses in Australia, Africa, India, South America and the southern region of the U.S. Also known as kweek grass (S. Africa), couch grass (Australia, Africa), devil's grass (India) and gramillia (Argentina). Often becomes dormant and turns brown in winters. Grows "horizontally" rather than "vertically" and regarded by many golfers as difficult to play out of.
better ball
Also known as best ball. Usually a match involving four players in teams of two, in which each player plays his/her own ball. The best net score (better ball) of the team is counted against the better ball of the players in the other team. The scoring format can be either Match Play, Strokeplay or Stableford.
Bingo Bango Bongo

This popular competition format rewards players with a point for three things on each hole played: the first player in the group onto the green (Bingo); the closest to the hole once all the balls are on the green (Bango), and the first to hole out (Bongo). At the end of the round the player with the most points wins. During the game the players' respective scores, rather than the points they win, determine who has the honour at the next hole ... this is important on the par-3s, as the golfer with the honour gets the first crack at the Bingo point. This format can be played alongside more conventional stroke play and match play formats.

A score of one under par for the hole.
blade (club)
A type of golf club (iron) favoured by some professional and low-handicap golfers. The back of the club is relatively full and smooth, rather than cavity-backed (hollowed out). Blades are usually forged, although they can be cast, and require more accurate contact with the ball to produce the distance and lower flight trajectory preferred by more skilled players. Also known as full backs or muscle backs.
blind shot
A shot in which the player cannot see the intended target for that shot (e.g. over a hill, behind a line of trees or out of a deep bunker).
bogey (format)
see "par / bogey (formats)".
bogey (golfer)
A player whose handicap (typically 16-20) is about the same as the number of holes on a course.
bogey (score)
A score of one over par for a hole
A strong metal powder often added during the construction of graphite shafts to provide added strength at the hosel end
A slope or other irregularity found on a golf course. Usually used in connection with the putting green, when describing the amount a putt will deviate from a straight line due to the slope of the green.
Brabazon Trophy
Presented annually to the winner of the English Men's Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, one of the top national amateur events in the country, although not as old as the English Amateur Championship (which is played on a match play basis and dates back to 1925). "The Brabazon" is organised by the English Golfing Union (EGU) and played annually since 1947, the Brabazon Trophy is open to overseas player. Past winners include: Charl Schwartzel, Peter Hanson, Ignacio Garrido, Peter McEvoy, Ronan Rafferty, Sandy Lyle, Michael Bonallack, Guy Wolstenholme, Ronnie Shade and Ronnie White.
brassie (club)
A type of wooden-headed golf club that was fitted with a brass sole plate, and which is generally no longer in use. The term also applied to various lofted wooden clubs in the 1880s and 1890s. The modern equivalent would be a 2-wood.
A widely used term to describe the amount a putt will deviate from a straight line due to the slope of the green. In Britain and Ireland "borrow" is also used.
A battery or petrol powered golf cart used to transport golfers and their equipment around a golf course.
bulger driver
Designed to reduce the chances of striking the ball on the heel or toe of the club, the bulger had a convex face. Popular in the late nineteenth century, now obsolete
A hollow in the ground, which occurs naturally or is designed into the course, and is usually filled with sand (or other similar material). Also possible to have grass bunkers, which usually contain grass of longer length than the cut of fairway grass.
Byron Nelson Award
Established in 1988, the Byron Nelson Award is presented annually by the PGA TOUR . The winner is the PGA TOUR player who has the lowest average score per round, over a minimum of 50 rounds. (See Tournaments section - by Tournament - US PGA Tour Byron Nelson Award). See also Vardon Trophy, a similar low average award, but made by the PGA of America for a minimum of 60 rounds.
A caddie (also spelt caddy) carries the clubs for a player during a round of golf. The caddie may assist and give advice to the player, but he/she cannot play the ball for the player at any time. Caddie comes from the French "cadet", i.e. a young man, including those who would be available for brief hire as messengers. It is said that Mary Queen of Scots used her sea-faring cadets to carry her golf clubs when she played, and it was in Scotland the word cadet was corrupted to caddie. Alternative names for a caddie include: bagger, bag-toter, looper, lugger or noonan.
A golf club Captain is usually elected by the Club's members (sometimes appointed) for one or more years. While in office the Captain's role is to represent the Club on occasions such as dinners, championships, club events and inter-club events.
Distance between the point from which a ball is played to the point where it lands. When the ball is hit over water or a bunker, it is said to "carry" the hazard.
[See buggy].
cart path
Man-made path lining and connecting the holes of a golf course, on which carts/buggies drive.
casual water
A temporary accumulation of water (from rain or water leakage) that appears when the player takes his/her stance. Relief can be taken from casual water, i.e. the ball can be moved to a place which is not affected by casual water.
cavity-back iron
A cavity-back iron is a type of golf clubs where the back of the clubhead is hollowed out, which creates greater weighting around the perimeter of the club, a larger "sweet-spot" and a more forgiving club for golfers of all levels to use.
Challenge Tour
[See European Challenge Tour].
Champions Tour
Established in 1989, and run by the PGA TOUR, the Champions Tour is the leading US-based tour for senior professional golfers, aged 50 and over. The Champions Tour provides a season-long tour with events played predominantly in the USA. Known as the Seniors PGA Tour until 2002. Most of the tournaments are played over 54 rather than 72 holes. [Website:].
Charles Schwab Cup
Established in 2001, the Charles Schwab Cup is a season-long, points-based competition to determine the Champions Tour's leading player. During the Champions Tour season, points are awarded to top-10 finishers based on the players' winnings (every $1,000 translates into one Ch Schwab Cup point). Double-points are awarded at the five senior Majors and treble at the season-ending Ch Schwab Cup Championship in October. The Ch Schwab Cup Championship is contested by the 30 players who hold the highest number of points prior to the Championship. The Ch Schwab Cup winner is the player with the season's highest points tally at the conclusion of the Championship. A first prize of a £1,000,000 annuity is presented to the Ch Schwab Cup winner (and often donated to charity - a precedent set by the first winner, Allen Doyle).
Low running shot normally played from near the edge of the green towards the hole.
chipping iron
Also known as a chipper, the chipping iron is a relatively straight faced club, used for playing low chip shots from just off the green.
To choke on a shot is generally applied when a player is needing to play an important or difficult shot when under pressure, but instead looses his/her nerve and plays a very poor shot.
[See "duff"].
Claret Jug
The Claret Jug, arguably the most famous and sought after trophy in golf, is presented to the winner of the Open Championship (one of the four Mens' Majors). The trophy was first presented in 1872 and was designed by Mackay Cunningham & Co. of Edinburgh. The earliest Open Championship winners were not presented with the Claret Jug, but with a red Moroccan leather belt. The belt was retained by Young Tom Morris after winning his third consecutive Open in 1870. The Open was not played in 1871. In 1872 it was Young Tom Morris who lifted the Claret Jug for the first time, on the occasion of his fourth straight Open Championship win. (See our Tournaments section > by Tournament > The Open).
cleek (club)
Term of Scottish origin to describe an iron club, roughly equivalent to the modern 2-iron (which itself is seldom used by todays' players). There were variations of this club, including short cleeks, driving cleeks and putting cleeks
[See "spikes"].
closed face
The position of a golf club which is turned slightly inward at impact in an attempt to prevent a slice or hook the ball.
closed stance
The position at address, where the leading foot is nearer to the ball than the back foot, usually adopted to hook the ball or prevent a slice.
club face
The part of the clubhead that makes direct contact with the golf ball.
club head
The end of the golf club that includes the club face and is used for striking the ball.
The building(s) in which a Golf Club's administrative activities are conducted and where players' facilities are found (e.g. changing rooms, restaurant, bar, caddie master, etc.).
[See "spikes"].
The grass edge around a green or bunker.
Golf clubs are often owned by their members, who appoint a Committee from within the membership to run the Club and manage its future. The Committee will usually appoint a full-time Secretary to manage the Club on a day-to-day basis.
competition formats & side bets

See separate entries (alphabetically listed) provide an explanation of the following:
COMPETITION FORMATS: accumulator / alternate shot / better-ball / Bingo, Bango, Bongo / cricket / devil ball / flags / four-ball / four-ball (aggregate) / four-ball (better-ball) / four-ball (Patsome) / foursome / foursome (Canadian) / foursome (Chapman or Pinehurst or American) / foursome (greensome or modified Pinehurst) / foursome (Scotch) / Nassau / nines (or nine-points or 5-3-1) / par (or bogey) / scramble / scramble (Ambrose) / scramble (Florida or Step Aside or Dropout or Mexican Standoff) / scramble (Miami or Delaney) / scramble (Texas) / sixes (or Split-Six) / skins / strings / wolf.
SIDE BETS/ADD ONS: arnies; barkies (or woodies); Portuguese or Spanish caddie; sandies.

A measure of the softness of a golf ball; usually 90 compression, although harder balls (100 compression) are often used in windy conditions.
couch grass
[See bermuda grass].
A course on which the game of golf is played usually comprises 9 or 18 holes. The oldest known course that is still played on is Musselburgh Old Links near Edinburgh in Scotland, where the game has been continuosly played since at least the early 1500s. As of 2008, there were thought to be approximately 35,000 golf courses worldwide, with 50% of them located in the United States.
course furniture
All the paraphernalia needed around the course, such as tee-box markers, signage, waste bins, seats, ball washers, etc.
course ranger
A club official who patrols the golf course ensuring that an adequate pace of play is maintained and that club rules (e.g. regarding dress code, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc) are being observed. Also known as a course marshall or players' assistant.
course rating
The course rating for a par-72 golf course is a number generally between 67 and 77 that is used to measure the average "good score" expected to be made by a scratch golfer on that course. On a par-72 course a rating of 77 indicates the course is particularly tough (which often means long), while a rating of 67 suggests a much easier (and shorter) course.

An excellent scoring format for a game involving three players. Six points are available on each hole: four to the player with the lowest net score, two points for the second lowest net score. Points are shared for equal scores on a hole. Also known as "Split Six" and other colloquial terms.

cross bunker
Bunker lying across the line of the fairway
A commonly used term for the hole in the green into which the ball is putted.
Curtis Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between the best women amateur golfers representing the USA and Europe. The Curtis Cup was originally donated by Margaret Curtis and her sister Harriot in 1932, for the biennial match between the USA and Gt Britain. The sisters were among the best American amateur players of the early 1900s, winning four US Women's Amateur championships between them. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
The qualifying score that needs to be attained to progress to the next stage of a tournament. The cut is usually set so that a fixed number of players, plus anyone tied for that place, or anyone within a certain number of strokes of the lead move on to the subsequent round(s). In a 4-round, 72-hole tournament the cut is usually made after two rounds. On the European Tour for example, the cut rule is typically that the top 65 players plus ties advance to the final two days; players outside the top 65 are said to have "missed the cut" and are eliminated from the competition. Tournaments may have more than one cut.
cut shot
Shot that makes the ball spin in a clockwise direction resulting in a left to right bending flight. It can either be deliberate or a mistake
dance floor
Used by some golfers to describe the putting green. "On the dance floor but a long way from the band!" is sometimes heard for shots that land on the green, but a long way from the pin.
day ticket
The charge levied by some golf clubs that allows a player to use their facilities and play their course throughout a whole day.
Desert Swing
Three back-to-back golf tournaments that are played in the first two months of the European Tour season. The three events are held in the Middle East, and comprise the Abu Dhabu Golf Championship, Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic.
Devil Ball
Also known as Money Ball, Pink Ball, Pink Lady, Yellow Ball and Lone Ranger. There are many variations of this team competition format, played by 3 or 4 person teams. On each hole, one player must play the "devil ball"; his/her score is combined with the one best score from among the other golfers, giving the team score for that hole. The "devil ball" rotates from hole to hole, so that in a four person team each golfer is in the spotlight every fourth hole. (See also "Yellow Ball").
The indentations on the surface of a golf ball that affect the way the ball flies.
Piece of turf removed by the club head when a shot is played.
Hole that changes direction to the left or right, normally in the landing area for the tee shot
Donald Ross Award (ASGCA)
The Donald Ross Award is presented annually by the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), to an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the profession of golf course architecture. First awarded in 1976 to golf architecture pioneer Robert Trent Jones, the honor continues to this day as one of the most prestigious in golf.
Don A. Rossi Award (GCBAA)

The Don A. Rossi Award is presented annually by the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA), in memory of the late Don A. Rossi, former executive director of the National Golf Foundation and executive director of the Golf Course Builders Association of America. The award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the game of golf and its growth and who have inspired others by their example.

The situation in a match play when a player is leading by as many holes as are left to play and therefore cannot be beaten, e.g. The player is "two up with two holes to play," or "five up with five to play." Also spelt dormy.
Dormy House
Overnight accommodation provided by a golf club that is typically within or adjacent to the main Clubhouse.
double bogey
A score of two shots over par for any particular hole.
double eagle
U.S. term for a score of three under the par for a hole, e.g. a two scored on a par-5 hole. In Britain and many other countries this score is known as an albatross.
double green
A single putting surface that is shared by two holes, usually coming from different directions. They are a relic of the early days of golf when courses where played out and back over the same ground.
The amount by which a player trails behind his/her opponent in a match play event. If your opponent has won two more holes than you, you will be "two down" in the match at that point.
downhill lie
A situation where the ball comes to rest on a slope facing downhill. When you take your stance your front foot will be below the level of your back foot.
The part of the golf swing that involves bringing the clubhead back down from the top of the swing to strike the ball. It is preceded by the backswing, which brings the club from the address position to the top of the swing.
Description of the ball's flight path, where it curves gently right-to-left for a right-handed player, or left-to-right for a left-handed player. The opposite of a fade.
The first shot that is hit on a golf hole, which is played from the teeing ground.

The driver is a standard golf club carried by most golfers and is designed to hit the ball the farthest. It is the club with the largest head, the longest shaft (with the exception of long-handle putters) and the least amount of loft (again, excepting putters). It is alo referred to as the No. 1-wood (or 1-metal), and more colloquially as the big timber, big dog or big stick. The driver is the most commonly used club for tee shots on par-4s and par-5s, where the ball is teed up. Generally only low handicap and professional players have the ability to hit the driver from a fairway.

driving iron
A 1 or 2-iron used to give distance from the tee rather than height.
driving range
An area close to the golf course that is set aside for practice. Driving ranges can also be purpose built and multi-tiered to allow golfers to practice away from the golf course.
A drop is the act of bringing a ball back into play after hitting the last shot out of bounds or into a water hazard (penalty drop) or after taking relief in certain circumstances (a free drop). The ball is dropped from an outstretched arm held at shoulder height.
To duff a shot means to hit the ground behind the ball, resulting in a shot that travels much less far than intended. Also known as hitting the ball fat, a chunk or a sclaff.
Dynasty Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between two teams of mens professionals, one representing Asia, the other Japan. Each team comprises 12 players. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
A score of two under par for a hole.
Eisenhower Trophy
[See World Amateur Team Ch'ships].
Espirito Santo Trophy
[See World Amateur Team Ch'ships].
Golf etiquette is based on a set of rules and practices that aim to make golf a safer and more enjoyable game, while minimizing any damage to golf equipment and courses. These practices are not part of the formal rules of golf, but golfers are expected to observe them.
European Challenge Tour
Established in 1987, and run by the PGA European Tour, this is the second-tier mens' tour in Europe for professional golfers. The Challenge Tour provides a stepping-stone and proving ground for aspiring hopefuls to the full PGA European Tour. With a season-long schedule of events mainly in Europe, but also some further afield, the Challenge Tour is a fully established part of the professional golf game in Europe. [Website :].
European Seniors Tour
Established in 1989, and run by the PGA European Tour, this is the leading mens' tour in Europe for professional golfers aged 50 and above. The Seniors Tour provides a season-long tour for professional golfers with events played mainly in Europe and farther afield. [Website :].
European Tour
Established in 1972, the PGA European Tour is the top level mens' tour in Europe for professional golfers. It was created following the appointment of John Jacobs to the post of Tournament Director-General of the PGA in October 1971. The 1972 Spanish Open was effectively the Tour's first event, with 1972 marking the introduction of the first official European Tour Order of Merit. The PGA European Tour also runs the European Seniors Tour and European Challenge Tour. [Website :].
executive course
A 9 or 18-hole short course that is comprised mainly of par-3 holes.
Description of the ball's flight path, where it curves gently left-to-right for a right-handed player, or right-to-left for a left-handed player. The opposite of a draw.
The area of closely mown turf between tee and green, which golfers aim for from the tee on par-4 and par-5 holes. The fairway presents the best surface to play from when not on the teeing ground or green. Fairways are generally bounded by a margin of slightly longer grass known as the "first cut of rough" and beyond that by "rough" (also called primary rough), bunkers and/or water hazards (lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, ditches, etc). Fairways vary enormously in width. A narrow fairway might be just 25 yards (or less) across, while a generously wide fairway may measure 65 yards or more. 35 to 45 yards wide is considered an average width fairway.
fairway bunker
A sand bunker usually found to the side of or occasionally in the middle of the fairway.
fairway wood
A type of golf club known as a wood (or metal) designed to allow the ball to be hit from the fairway, rather than being teed-up, as is usually the case with the driver.
fat shot
[See "duff"].
featherie (ball)
One of the earliest types of golf ball, introduced in 1618. The ball was made by filling a pouch of horse or cow hide with boiled goose feathers. It was highly susceptible to damage and expensive to make, often costing more than a golf club. The featherie began to go out of use in the second half of the 1800s with the introduction of the much cheaper "guttie" ball. Also spelt feathery.
Introduced to the PGA TOUR in 2007, the FedExCup is a season-long competition spanning 37 weeks. Points are accumulated in the opening 33 weeks of the season. The 144 top points scorers then qualify for a 4-tournament playoff series, and the chance to win the FedExCup. At the conclusion of the regular (33-week) season, each player's points total determines his position, or "seed," going into the playoffs. This 4-tournament playoff series culminates with The Tour Championship, where 30 players contest the opportunity to win the FedExCup and collect the single largest individual prize in world sport, $10 million.
A fine-leafed, deep-rooting species of grass common on seaside links and heath land courses in the British Isles, tolerant to drought conditions and providing an ideal surface for putting greens
Also known as a fivesome. The practice of allowing five players to play together in a single flight. This practice is becoming more common in Asia and the USA, but is loathed by most golfers who object to anything that causes unnecessarily slow play.
A stick with a flag to mark the location of the hole on the greens. Also called "Pin"
Flag tournament
Also called Tombstone. In this competition format, each player is given a set number of strokes, based on the par of the course and the player's handicap. To ensure the game is played within the regular round of 18 holes, the strokes received is usually calculated as a factor (say 75%) of the combined total of the par for the course plus handicap. Competitors play the round until such time as their score matches the number of strokes they originally received. At this point, having "expired", they plant their flag. The player who makes it the farthest around the course on his/her allocation of shots wins.
The bottom part of the golf club which rests on the ground as the golfer addresses the ball.
flat swing
Backswing in which the plane is more horizontal than vertical. This is often regarded as a fault, but many fine players have had flat swings, including Ben Hogan
The degree to which a golf club shaft bends during the golf swing. Flex is typically designated by a letter shown on the shaft: L (ladies), A (senior), R (regular), F (firm), S (stiff) and X (extra stiff).
A group of 2, 3 or 4 golfers who share the same tee-off time. Can also be used to describe the trajectory of the ball through the air, as in "low ball flight" or "high ball flight."
Florida scramble
See "scramble (Florida)".
follow through
The final part of the golf swing, which occurs after the ball has been struck to a point (known as the finish) where the golfer and golf club have come to rest.
The word that should be shouted by all golfers who suspect their ball might be in danger of hitting other players or spectators on the golf course.
A forecaddie is a person assigned to an individual golfer or group of golfers to working on their behalf in terms of providing advice about the play of a hole, ball spotting, ball finding, bunker rating, line reading on greens, etc. Unlike a regular caddie however, a forecaddie does not carry anyone's clubs.
formats (playing)

Some of the most common playing formats used in golf competitions (separately defined in this Dictionary) are: better-ball (also known as best ball); four-ball (and its variations); foursome (and its variations); scramble (and its variations); Bingo Bango Bongo; Devil Ball (or Yellow Ball); Flag tournaments; Nines (or Sixes); Strings; Skins, and Wolf.

formats (scoring)

The most important scoring formats used in golf competitions (separately defined in this Dictionary) are: match play and stroke play; stableford and modified stableford, and Par and Bogey.

A match involving four players in teams of two, in which each player plays his/her own ball throughout the match. Scoring is typically on a match play basis.
four-ball (aggregate)
A version of four-ball in which the aggregate score of the two-player team is counted against the aggregate score of the opposing team. Scoring is typically on a stroke play or stableford basis.
four-ball (better ball)
A version of four-ball in which the best score (better ball) of the two-player team is counted against the better ball of the opposing team.
four-ball (Patsome)
A variation of four-ball, in which only the first six holes are played on a four-ball basis (usually better ball). The second six holes are played on a foursome (greensome) basis, and the final six holes on a foursome (alternate shot) basis.
Also known as "alternate shot", this competition format involves four players in teams of two. Each team plays only one ball by alternate strokes. At the start of play each team decides which player will play the first tee-shot, after which they alternate the tee shot on each hole. Scoring can be on a match play, stroke play or stableford basis.
foursome (Canadian)

A variation on foursome. Each player plays his/her own ball from the tee and also plays his/her second shot. The team then choose the best placed ball to complete the hole on an alternate shot basis (starting with the player whose ball was not selected to complete the hole).

foursome (Chapman or Pinehurst or American)

A variation on foursome (also known as Pinehurst or American foursomes). Each player plays his/her own ball from the tee, then plays his/her partner's ball for the second shot. The team then choose the best placed ball and play that one on an alternate shot basis to complete the hole. Named after Dick Chapman, a leading American amateur player, who developed the system in 1947 and popularised it at his home club, Pinehurst.

foursome (greensome)
A variation on foursome (also known as modified Pinehurst). Each player plays his/her own ball from the tee. The team then choose the best placed ball to complete the hole. The player whose tee-shot was not selected plays the second shot; the players then play alternate shots thereafter.
foursome (Scotch)
A variation on foursome in which the concept of alternate shot is maintained throughout the round. In a Scotch foursome, if player A holes out on the green, then player B plays the following tee shot, and so on.
Francis Ouimet Trophy
The Francis D. Ouimet Memorial trophy is presented annually to the winner of the U.S. Senior Open championship.
free drop
Ball dropped without penalty away from an immovable obstruction, or in other circumstances in accordance with the Rules of Golf
The short grass around the putting green that separates it from the fairway.
front nine
First nine holes on an 18 hole golf course. The second nine holes are known as the back nine
front tee
The teeing ground that creates the shortest length from which a hole is played. Can refer to the mens' front tees (often coloured yellow) or womens' back tees (often coloured red).
full back (irons)
[See "blade"].
Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Gene Sarazen Cup
Presented to the winner of the WGC Championship (sponsored by American Express). (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
get down
To putt the ball into the hole, as in "my opponent got down in two from the bunker."
Goodwill Cup
Presented to the winner of the annual 2-day match between two teams of mens professionals, one representing the Ryder Cup countries (Europe / USA), the other a Rest of World team. Inaugural year - 2006. Each team comprises 8 players. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
Colloquial term for a player who hits the ball prodigious distances, especially with the driver.
graphite (carbon fibre)
Carbon based substance that when bonded in layers produces an exceptionally strong but very light material ideal for golf-club shafts and increasingly also employed in the manufacture of club heads
grass bunker
A hollow in the ground, which occurs naturally or is designed into the course. Bunkers are usually filled with sand but can be left as areas of grass, where the grass in the hollow is of longer length than fairway grass.
Great Triumvirate
Name given collectively to three outstanding British professionals who were active before the First World War: James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon
The area of closely mown grass surrounding the hole, where the ball is struck using the putter. It is separated from the fairway by the "apron", a fringe of grass longer than on the green but shorter than the fairway cut. Originally the term "green" was used for the whole course.
green fee
What you pay to play a round of golf, which can be a visitor's fee, member's guest fee or replay (second round) fee.
Green Jacket
Presented to the winner of The Masters (one of the four Mens' Majors), a tradition that dates back to 1949. This tournament is played annually at Augusta National. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
The person responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a golf course. In the USA usually called the Course Superintendent.

The occupation of maintaining the golf course to a standard prescribed by the Greenkeeping Committee, Captain or owner of a golf club. The work is supervised by a greenkeeper (or greenskeeper or course superintendent) and carried out by the greenkeeper and his/her greenkeeping assistants.

See "foursome (greensome)".
The part of the golf club that is held by the golfer. Grips can be made of leather, cord, rubber or commonly a mixture of the three.
Indented lines cut into the face of a golf club that create spin on the golf ball.
gross score
The actual number of shots taken by a player or team, before any handicap allowance is deducted.
grounding the club
The act of placing the clubhead head on the ground when addressing the ball, which comes prior to starting the backswing.
Ground under Repair (GUR)
A part of the golf course where the ground or surface has been temporarily taken out of play. The designated area is usually marked by stakes or a painted line, and relief is taken by the player from this marked area (i.e. the ball is moved and then played from a point outside the marked area).
guttie (ball)
The Gutta Percha ball (or Guttie) was introduced in 1848 by Rev Adam Paterson of St. Andrews. The ball was made of gutta percha, a rubber like substance obtained from the latex of gutta trees which grew in the tropics. The ball was cheap to produce and eventually killed off the handcrafted and more expensive "featherie" ball.
Colloquial term for a poor quality golfer; someone who tends to hack up the ground when playing.
In a Match Play competition, a hole is "halved" if each player scores the same number of strokes (net) at that hole. A match is halved (drawn) when both opponents have won an equal number of holes in the complete match.
The number of strokes a player is given to adjust his/her score to that of the standard scratch score for the course ebing played. The handicap system allows players of different standards to compete against each other on a theoretically equal standing. The system is usually based on the average scores of a player set against the standard score for their home course. When players play in handicap competitions, they receive extra strokes or have strokes deducted, depending on their handicap, which enables the calculation of their net score for that competition.
handicap player
A golfer who has a recognised handicap awarded and maintained by a golf club.
hanging lie
A hanging lie occurs when the ball comes to rest on a sideslope and is below the level of the golfer's feet when the golfer addresses and hits the ball. Some golfers and commentators also use the term for a ball that is on a sideslope above the level of the player's feet.
Harry Pithouse Trophy
Awarded to the European PGA Tour Caddie of the Year (from 2006).
Harry Vardon Trophy
Awared to the European PGA Tour's leading money winner, who heads the Order of Merit at the end of each season. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
haskell (ball)
Name of the first one-piece rubber cored ball, invented in 1898 by Coburn Haskell. It replaced the "guttie" ball and was universally adopted by 1901. The Haskell ball comprised a solid rubber core wrapped in rubber thread encased in a gutta percha sphere. Haskell balls were mass-produced and more affordable than the guttie. When William Taylor first applied the dimple pattern 1905, maximising lift while minimising drag, golf balls took on their modern form. Only in 1972, when Spalding introduced the first two piece ball was the basic Haskell design improved upon.
Havemeyer Trophy
Presented annually to the winner of the United States Amateur Championship. The trophy is named after Theodore Havemeyer (1839–97), an American businessman and first president of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA). He was also co-founder of the Newport Country Club, which in 1895 hosted the first U.S. Amateur and first U.S. Open championships.
A feature on a golf course which makes the playing of a shot from the hazard more difficult. The two principal hazards which occur naturally, or are designed into golf courses, are sand bunkers and water hazards.
Part of the golf club where the club head is attached to the shaft.
A shot from the tee that goes into the hole; also called an "ace."
hole (on the green)
A defining characteristic of golf is putting the ball into a hole in the ground. The 4.25 inch (108 mm) diameter hole, made mandatory by the R&A in 1893 and used throughout the world today, was based on the hole-cutting machine used at Musselburgh Links (The Old Course) and invented by Musselburgh man Robert Gray.
hole out
To put the ball in the hole, which can be done putting from the green, playing an approach from the fairway or making a hole in one from the tee.
hole (tee-to-green)
A golf hole is the general term used to describe the playing area between the teeing-ground and, at the other end of the hole, the putting green. The vast majority of golf courses comprise 18 holes, but 9 and even 12 hole courses are also commonly found.
holiday course
A golf course usually found in popular holiday locations (e.g. seaside resorts) and designed with the full range of players and golfing abilities in mind (e.g. suitable for family golf). Such courses will not usually contain the more penal elements of tougher championship golf courses.
hollow tining
Also know as core aeration, hollow tining is the process of removing small plugs of turf from the green or fairway. This essential maintenance process eases compaction (the squeezing of air out of the soil) and sub-surface thatch (the accumulation of dead grass and roots). The process allows air, water and fertilizer to penetrate to the root zone of the grass. Hollow tining is generally carried out at the start and end of the growing season, and is often followed by "top dressing." An alternative to hollow tining (where small cores are taken) is slit-tining, which simply puts small slits into the ground to relieve compaction and allow aeration.
The player or team "with the honour" tee off first at a hole, having won or taken the least number of strokes on the previous hole.
A golf shot that curves sharply to the left (for a right handed player), caused by the application of counter-clockwise spin to the ball, either deliberately or unintentionally. The opposite of a slice.
Socket on an iron-headed club that serves to connect the iron club head to the shaft.
[See "bandit"].
hybrid (club)
Hybrid clubs are a relatively recent phenomenon, blending the attributes of woods and irons to create golf clubs that are more forgiving to use. Hybrids, also called rescue clubs, are generally used in place of high-numbered woods (e.g. 4 and 5-woods) and low-numbered irons (e.g. 2, 3 or 4 irons). Some club makers produce entire sets of hybrids that replace the full range of normal irons, from 1-iron to pitching wedge.
The point at which the club hits the ball.
in play
When the ball is within the playing area of the course and has been teed-off but before it is putted out. During this time the ball must be played as it lies and not touched, unless specific rules dictate otherwise.
interlocking grip
Method of of gripping the handle of the club in which the little finger of the right hand (for a right handed player) intertwines with the forefinger of the left hand. It is a common way to holf the club, and often favoured by players with small hands or short fingers to maintain a firm grip.
Intl. Federation of PGA Tours
The International Federation of PGA Tours is a forum bringing together the main mens' professional golf tours. There are currently six members : European Tour, US PGA Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour (Southern Africa). These Tours co-sanction the Official World Golf Rankings.
inward nine
The second nine holes of an 18-hole golf course.
iron (club)
A metal headed club (forged or cast), the longest and least lofted of which is a driving iron or 1-iron, the shortest and most lofted being a sand-iron or lob-wedge. Irons are distinct from woods, although most woods are now made with hollow metal heads, rather than solid wooden heads. Irons have flat angled (lofted) faces and shorter shafts than woods. They are designed for approach shots to the green or hitting from various difficult lies. A full set of irons comprises: long irons (numbered 1 to 4), medium irons (5 to 7), and short irons (8, 9 and pitching wedge). Wedges are a special type of iron [see "wedge"].
Jack Nicklaus Award
Established in 1990, and administered by the PGA TOUR, the Jack Nicklaus award goes to the PGA Tour Player of the Year, the result of a ballot among the tour players.
Japan Golf Tour
Established in 1973, the Japan Golf Tour is one of the four richest and most prominent mens' tours for professional golfers. It comprises mainly Japanese players, but also attracts several non-Japanese golfers, especially for some of its bigger tournaments. Events on the Japan Golf Tour count for World Golf Ranking points. [Website :].
Established in 1999, JGTO (Japan Golf Tour Organisation) is the coordinating and governing body for the Japan Golf Tour. It also runs a developmental tour for aspiring players, called the Japan Challenge Tour. [Website :].
jigger (club)
A moderately lofted, shallow-faced, short-shafted iron club that is generally no longer in use. It was used mainly for short approach play to the green and low-running chip shots. With its shallow loft it is sometimes compared to a modern 4-iron, but the jigger was not a club intended for long shots. Also called a "pitching niblick."
Joe Kirkwood Cup
Awarded annually to the winner of the Australian PGA Championship.
John Jacobs Trophy
Awarded annually to the winner of the European Seniors Order of Merit.
Established in 1978, the KLPGA (Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association) is the governing body for womens' professional golf in Korea. It coordinates the KLPGA Tour, one of the leading womens' tours in Asia. [Website :].
kweek grass
[See bermuda grass].
Ladies American Tour
[See LPGA].
Ladies Asian Tour
[See LAGT].
Ladies Australian Tour
[See ALPG Tour].
Ladies European Tour
[See LET].
Ladies Japan Tour
[See LPGA of Japan].
Ladies Korean Tour
[See KLPGA].
lag putt
A putt where the golfer tries to ensure the ball finishes close to the hole, without worrying too much whether it goes in or not. The objective is to get down from his/her current position in no more than two putts.
Established in 2005, the LAGT (Ladies Asian Golf Tour), coordinates a growing number of womens' professional golf tournaments in Asia. It operates separately from the Japan, Korea and Australia womens' tours. The LAGT's first and only event in 2005 was the Phuket Thailand Ladies Masters. Events in 2006 and 2007 saw the tour expand to India, Malaysia and China. [Website:].
A term used by some golf commentators to mean striking the ball with great force and creating prodigious distance.
lateral water hazard
A lateral water hazard typically runs parallel with the hole and is usually marked by red stakes. This type of hazard, as distinct from a normal water hazard, occurs when it is difficult to take relief by dropping a ball behind the hazard. As such, there are more options available for taking relief from a lateral water hazard.
Legends Tour
The legends Tour is an official tour of the US LPGA, which coordinates professional golf for US-based women golfers aged 45 and above. [Website:].
Established in 1979, the LET (Ladies European Tour) is the coordinating body for the leading womens' professional golf tour in Europe. In 1978 the WPGA (Women's Professional Golf Association) was formed as a division of the PGA (UK & Ireland). A womens' professional tour was established the following year. In 1988 the tour members decided to become independent from the PGA, and created the WPGET (Women Professional Golfers' European Tour). In 1998 the Tour changed its name to European LPGA and then in July 2000 to LET (Ladies European Tour). Most players on the tour are European, with the largest non-European contingent coming from Australia. [Website:].
Lexus Cup
Presented to the winner of the annual 3-day match between two teams of women professionals, one representing Asia, the other an International team (non-Asian). Inaugural year - 2005. Each team comprises 12 players. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
LGU (GB & Ireland)
Founded in 1893, the LGU is the governing body for ladies' amateur golf in Great Britain and Ireland. [Website :].
The position of the ball after the completion of a shot when the ball comes to rest. The lie can vary from good to bad, depending on how far the ball has settled down in the grass or, in the case of a bunker, in the sand. One of golf's fundamental rules is "play the ball as it lies", unless another rule gives you "relief" from where the ball is lying.
The direction in which a player intends to hit the ball.
The original golf "links" were courses that occupied land close to the sea. The land in question was usually characterised by sand dunes and undulating terrain, such land being unfit for building development or agricultural. Links land is usually low-lying, with the sand dunes supporting fine, salt-resistant grasses. The word "links" probably derives from the fact that the land in question provides a link between the coastal foreshore and agricultural land that is set further back from the sea. Many would say the only true golf links are those built on this type of coastal duneland. However, "links-style" courses are found in abundance both in non-duneland coastal regions and inland.
The edge of the golf hole.
A ball that hits and runs round a section of the rim of a hole, but does not fall into the hole.
lob shot
A high trajectory shot played over a short distance, usually with a lob wedge. Sometimes called a pop-up shot.
local rules
Additional rules applying to a specific golf course, over and above the accepted R&A and USGA rules of golf. Local rules are generally determined by a committee within the respective Golf Club.
The angle of slope of the club face away from the vertical. The loft increases with the number of the iron (e.g. 1-iron has the least loft) giving a higher flight trajectory and less distance.
lofter (club)
Early club with a loft equivalent to a modern five or 6 iron and used to strike the ball on a high trajectory. Also called a lofting iron, it superseded the wooden baffy for approach shots to the green.
An iron club for hitting long-range shots; the term is usually applied to 1, 2, 3 and 4-irons. Other types of irons include: mid-irons (numbered 5 to 7) and short-irons (8, 9 and pitching wedge). Long-irons have the least amount of loft of the irons and are often regarded as the most difficult irons to use. Many golfers nowadays prefer to use hybrid clubs rather than long-irons.
loose impediments
Natural objects on the ground that are not fixed into place or attached (e.g. stones, twigs, leaves, etc). Providing you do not cause your ball to move, you can remove loose impediments unless they are in a hazard.
lost ball
A ball that cannot be found after it has been hit.
Louise Suggs Award
Established in 1962, the Louise Suggs Award, is presented to the (US) LPGA Rookie of the Year. The winner is the highest-placed, first-season Tour player, determined using a points system that reflects performance in tournaments during the full Tour season.
Established in 1950, the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) is more than just the governing body for the top-level womens' US-based professional golf tour. The organization has grown to become a non-profit organization involved in every facet of golf. The LPGA Tour and the Teaching & Club Professional membership is the backbone of the LPGA, while the Association also devotes considerable time to its charitable activities, tournaments, junior and women's programs, and The LPGA Foundation. [Website:].
LPGA of Japan
The LPGA of Japan is the governing body for womens' professional golf in Japan. It coordinates the LPGA of Japan Tour, one of the leading womens' tours in Asia. [Website:].
LPGA Player of the Year
Established in 1966, the LPGA Player of the Year is awarded annually by the (US) LPGA. The winner is the highest-placed LPGA tour player determined by a points system, based on top-10 finishes during the tour season (with double-points for Majors and the season-ending ADT Championship).
LPGA Playoffs
Established in 2006, the (US) LPGA Playoffs is a year-long competitive structure that includes a "regular season" that splits the LPGA schedule into two halves. 15 players from each half qualify for the season-ending ADT Championship, determined by a performance-based points system in each half of the season. Two additional "wild card" players make up the 32-player field for the ADT Championship. The starting line-up for the ADT Championship / LPGA Playoffs is cut to 16 players after two rounds, then to 8 after round three, for a final round shootout for the Playoff's first prize of $1,000,000, the biggest prize in women's golf. The LPGA Playoffs 2006 were the first-ever playoff system for professional golf.
A term used to refer to a putter with a mallett shaped head.
Mark McCormack Trophy
Presented to the winner of the World Match Play Championship, played annually at the Wentworth Club, England. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
A person who conducts crowd control duties at large tournaments.
mashie (club)
Long and mid-irons were originally called mashies and like today's irons they were metal headed clubs with differing amounts of loft. A traditional set of mashies would comprise: mid-mashie (equivalent to today's 3-iron); mashie iron (4-iron); spade mashie (6-iron); mashie niblick (7-iron).
Masters Trophy
The Masters Trophy, presented to the winner of The Masters major championship, was introduced in 1961 and depicts the Augusta National clubhouse. The trophy was made in England and consists of over 900 separate pieces of silver. The trophy rests on a pedestal, on which a band of silver is engraved with the name of the winners and runners-up. In 1993, a sterling silver replica of the trophy was first awarded to the champion (Bernhard Langer), together with the Gold Medal.
match play
One of the two fundamental forms of competition in golf (the other is stroke play). In match play the number of holes won or lost rather than the number of strokes taken determines the winner. The result of a match is usually expressed as the difference in the number of holes won between the opponents, when this has exceeded the number of holes remaining. A winning score of 3 and 2 means the winner had won three more holes than his/her opponent with only 2 holes left to play. To win "by 2" means the winner was one hole up after 17 holes and then won the 18th. The highest possible score in an 18-hole match is 10 and 8.
medal play
Medal play is nowadays used as another term for stroke play, where the score is kept by counting a players' strokes and totalling them. Many golf clubs organise a "medal competition" for their members on a regular (e.g. monthly) basis; the golfer with the lowest number of net strokes (after handicap has been deducted) receiving the prize of a small medal.
Mens American Tour
Mens Asian Tour
[See Asian Tour].
Mens Australasian Tour
[See PGA Tour of Australasia].
Mens European Tour
[See European Tour].
Mens Japan Tour
[See Japan Golf Tour].
Mens Southern Africa Tour
[See Sunshine Tour].
metal-wood (club)
The term metal wood reflects the fact that the longest and most powerful clubs, which were previously made of wood (usually persimmon), are now in fact made from a variety of compound metals (e.g. steel, titanium, carbon fiber or scandium). Like the original woods, they generally have a large head and a long shaft to generate maximum club speed. The term "woods" is still applied to these metal clubs to differentiate them from irons, to indicate their intended use on the golf course and to carry forward their historical name.
mid iron
An iron club for hitting mid-range shots, usually applied to the 5, 6 and 7-irons. Other types of irons include: long-irons (numbered 1 to 4) and short irons (8, 9 and pitching wedge).
mid mashie
[See "mashie"].
mixed foursome
Foursome in which each team is made up of one male and one female player.
modified stableford
Modified stableford competitions use variations on the basic stableford scoring system (where par is worth 2 pts, birdie 3 pts, bogie 1 pt and double-bogie 0 pts). Such modified systems often give 0 pts for par, minus points for scores over par and plus points for scores under par. "Denver" and "Murphy" are two examples of competition formats that use modified stableford systems.
Although not recognised in the rules of golf, a mulligan is sometimes agreed in social golf games, whereby an unsatisfactory first tee-shot can be replayed. In some circles, if the second shot (the "Mulligan") is worse than the first shot a player can shout "Finnegan" and have a third shot. If the third is still no better the player can claim a fourth (a "Branagan") and finally, if necessary, a fifth (a "Flanergan"). In some social or charity competitions, a mulligan can be claimed on one tee-shot on the front nine and another on the back-nine, while in some charity events mulligans are sold to raise money for the charity. Also known as a mullie, lunch ball or Sunday ball.
A golf course owned and run by the local authority (municipality), which is open to the public on a pay&play basis.
muscle back (irons)
[See "blade"].
A game between two players or teams where one point is scored for the outcome of the front-nine holes, one point for the back-nine and one point for the overall 18 holes.
Nationwide Tour
Established in 1990, the Nationwide Tour is run by the PGA TOUR as the second-tier tour for US-based professional golfers. It provides a high-quality, season long proving ground and stepping-stone for potential US PGA TOUR players. The tournaments are staged in mostly medium sized markets, with some events held outside the USA. [website:].
net score
A player's score after the deduction of his/her handicap from the gross score.
Like today's short-irons, niblicks were made for shorter approach shots and pitching to the green. They were metal-headed and included: mashie niblick (equivalent to 7-iron); pitching niblick (8-iron) and niblick (9-iron).
Also known as "Nine-points" or "5-3-1". A scoring system used when three golfers play together, which is based on splitting nine points per hole amongst the three players. Typically the lowest score for the hole attracts 5 pts, next-lowest 3 pts, and highest score 1 pt. Ties are resolved by dividing the points proportionately among the players: a tie for first is worth 4 pts each, a tie for second is worth 2 pts each, and a three way tie gives 3 pts each. A variation of Nines is the slightly easier to calculate Sixes (also known as Split Six), based on distributing six points per hole.
Nineteenth hole
The clubhouse bar, much visited after the completion of a round of golf.
[See Out of Bounds].
Someone who ensures that a golf match or round is played in accordance with the Rule of Golf.
Anything that is man-made on the golf course that obstructs play. An obstruction is "movable" if it can be moved without reasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an "immovable" obstruction.
off the pace
American expression to describe the number of strokes or the position of a player behind the leader of a tournament; for example: "two strokes off the pace."
Oldest GC in (01) Scotland
1754 - Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews, Scotland.
Oldest GC in (02) England
1766 - Royal Blackheath, London, England
Oldest GC in (03) India
1829 - Royal Calcutta, India.
Oldest GC in (04) France
1856 - Pau GC, France.
Oldest GC in (05) Pakistan
1857 - Lahore Gymkhana Club, Pakistan.
Oldest GC in (06) Jamaica
1868 - Manchester Club, Jamaica.
Oldest GC in (07) New Zealand
1871 - Otago GC, Dunedin
Oldest GC in (08) Indonesia
1872 - Jakarta GC, Indonesia.
Oldest GC in (09) Canada
1873 - Royal Montreal, Canada
Oldest GC in (10) Sri Lanka
1879 - Royal Colombo, Sri Lanka
Oldest GC in (11) Ireland
1881 - Royal Belfast, N. Ireland
Oldest GC in (12) Italy
1885 - Roma GC, Italy.
Oldest GC in (13) South Africa
1885 - Royal Cape, Cape Town, South Africa.
Oldest GC in (14) Kenya
1885 - Nairobi GC, Kenya.
Oldest GC in (15) Wales
1888 - Tenby GC, South Wales.
Oldest GC in (16) Belgium
1888 - Royal Antwerp, Belgium.
Oldest GC in (17) USA
1888 - St Andrews GC, New York, USA.
Oldest GC in (18) Malaysia
1888 - Perak Taiping, Malaysia.
Oldest GC in (19) China
1889 - Royal Hong Kong, China.
Oldest GC in (20) Argentina
1889 - Lomas GC, Buenes Aires, Argentina.
Oldest GC in (21) Portugal
1890 - Oporto GC, Portugal.
Oldest GC in (22) Thailand
1890 - Royal Bangkok, Thailand
Oldest GC in (23) Australia
1891 - Royal Melbourne, Australia.
Oldest GC in (24) Spain
1891 - Las Palmas GC, Gran Canaria, Spain.
Oldest GC in (25) Switzerland
1891 - Samedan GC, St Moritz, Switzerland.
Oldest GC in (26) Germany
1893 - Wiesbadener GC, Wiesbaden, Germany.
Oldest GC in (27) Netherlands
1893 - Haagsche GC, Den Haag, Netherlands.
Oldest GC in (28) Turkey
1895 - Istanbul GC, Turkey.
Oldest GC in (29) Zimbabwe
1896 - Bulawayo GC, Zimbabwe.
Oldest GC in (30) Mexico
1897 - Puebla GC, Mexico.
Oldest GC in (31) Denmark
1898 - Kopenhamns GK, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Oldest GC in (32) Brazil
1901 - Sao Paolo GC, Brazil.
Oldest GC in (33) Austria
1901 - Vienna GC, Austria.
Oldest GC in (34) Sweden
1902 - Goteborgs GK, Sweden.
Oldest GC in (35) Zambia
1902 - Chiapata GC, Zambia.
Oldest GC in (36) Japan
1903 - Kobe GC, Japan.
Oldest GC in (37) Czech Republic
1904 - Karlovy Vary GC, Czech Republic.
Oldest GC in (38) Norway
1924 - Oslo GC, Norway.
Oldest GC in (39) Finland
1929 - Helsingfors GK, Finland.
Oldest GC in (40) Iceland
1934 - Reykjavik GK, Iceland.
Oldest GC in (41) China, excl Hong Kong
1984 - Chung Shan Hot Spring GC, Guangdong.
Oldest GC in (42) Russia
1988 - Tumba GC, Moscow, Russia.
Old Tom Morris Award (GCSAA)
First presented in 1983, and now presented annually by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The award goes to an individual who the Association feels has given a lifetime of commitment to the game of golf, and crucially, has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. The recipient, one per year, is determined by the GCSAA Board of Directors.
open stance
A position taken at address when the golfer's front foot is placed further away from the ball than the back foot. This stance is usually associated with attempts to fade or slice the ball.
Order of Merit
Many of the world's leading golf Tours run a season-long player ranking (Order of Merit) based on the highest to lowest money-winners on the Tour. At the end of the season the player who has won the most prize-money (including money from other qualifying events) is declared the Order of Merit winner. These rankings are also referred to as Leading Money Winner lists (as in the main US tours). Some Orders of Merit were previously determined on a points system, with points given for tournament placings during the season; nowadays most are based on prize-money.
Out of Bounds (OB)
Out of Bounds (often abbreviated to O.B. or OOB) is ground not deemed to be part of the course, normally (but not always) lying outside the course boundaries. OB is usually defined by white stakes or a white line on the ground. A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds; the white line itself, and anything beyond the inside line of the stakes, is out of bounds. Play is prohibited from ground that is out of bounds (although a player may stand out of bounds to play a ball that is in bounds). Any objects defining out of bounds, e.g. walls, stakes, fences, railings, etc, are not obstructions and are deemed to be fixed; this means they cannot be moved (unless a local rule states otherwise). The stroke that sent the ball out of bounds is counted on the player's score and a one shot penalty is also added. The next shot must be played from where the original shot, which sent the ball out of bounds, was played from. [See also "Stroke and Distance"].
outside agency
Any object or person who is not a player or caddie in a particular match, or the ball or equipment of those players. An outside agencies include: referees, markers, observers, forecaddies or spectators. Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.
outward nine
The first nine holes of an 18-hole golf course.
Error caused by selecting a club that sends the ball farther than the intended distance.
over par
A player's score in a stroke play event where he/she has taken more shots than the par for that hole or course. "One-over" at a par-4 hole means the player has taken five shots, and therefore recorded a bogie. Two-over at a hole is a double-bogie; three-over is a triple-bogie. A player who finishes a round on an 18-hole par-72 golf course with a score of six-over, will have gone round the course in 78 strokes.
pace of play
The speed at which a round of golf progresses and is completed. Most club's want to see a 4-ball group complete an 18-hole round in less than 4.5 hours, but notoriously some of these rounds take more than 6 hours to complete. Pace of play is an issue that most golfers pay attention to, while a minority of golfers unfortunately seem oblivious to it.
Pam Barton Salver

The Pam Barton Memorial Salver is presented annually to the winner of the Womens Amateur Championship (formerly known as the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship). Pam Barton was an English Amateur golfer and prolific winner of top amateur championships in the 1930s. In 1936 she held both the British and U.S. amateur titles. She was killed in a plane crash at RAF Detling, in 1943, aged 26.

Par / Bogey (formats)
In a "Par" competition (formerly known as "Bogey"), each player competes on a match play basis against the course. The player attempts to beat, or at least equal, the par for each hole, i.e. the number a shots a scratch golfer should take at that hole. (Originally this was expressed as the "bogey" for the hole, i.e. the number of shots a good player should take; bogey was later reinterpreted to mean one-over-par). In a Par competition the player "halves" the hole with a score of par, "wins" the hole with birdie or better, and "loses" with bogey or worse. The winner is the player with the best win-loss differential.
par (score)
The par of a hole is based on its length, and is expressed as the number of strokes a low-handicap golfer would expect to take to reach the green in normal conditions, plus two more stokes for putting out on the green. The par of a course is the cumulative total of the pars for each of the holes on that course.
Playing partners are golfers who play together in the same flight, as members of the same team in a match.
Patricia Bridges Bowl
Presented annually to the winner of the Women's Australian Open.
See "foursome (patsome)".
penalty stroke
A penalty stroke is added to a player's score for certain rule infringements, as well as for taking relief after hitting into a hazard or taking a penalty drop from an unplayable lie. Under some rules a two stroke penalty is imposed (e.g. playing the wrong ball, not putting the ball back when the rules require it to be put back, asking your opponent for advice on how to play a shot, etc). In Match Play, rather than the addition of penalty strokes, the infringement of rules will often result in the player losing the hole. The breach of certain rules can also attract the penalty of disqualification from the competition.
PGA European Tour
See European Tour.
PGA (GB & Ireland)
Established in 1901, the PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) represents the interests of club and teaching professionals in Great Britain and Ireland. As the first such Association, it is officially "the PGA", but PGA (GB & Ireland) is useful to differentiate it from the many other PGAs that were subsequently established around the world. Within the PGA, a separate Tournament Division was created in 1971, which launched the European Tour in 1972. In 1984 the PGA European Tour became an independent organisation. The Association, based at The Belfry, includes among its present activities, the training and examination of assistant professionals, continuing education of its members, the organisation of golf tournaments for its members and coordination of the Ryder Cup (together with the PGA of America). [Website:].
PGA of America
Established in 1916, the Professional Golfers' Association of America is the representative body for club and teaching professionals in the US. The association coordinates approximately 40 tournaments a year, including some top level competitions : US PGA Championship (a mens' Major), US Snr PGA Championship (a seniors' Major), the PGA Grand Slam of Golf (for the winners of the four Majors) and the Ryder Cup Matches (in cooperation with the PGA European Tour). The PGA TOUR, which operates the main US professional golf tours, separated from the PGA of America in 1968. The LPGA is a separate organisation for women professional golfers. [ Website:].
PGA Player of the Year
Established in 1948, this award is made by the PGA of America. Since 1982 the winner has been determined using a points system based on tournament wins, money list position and scoring average. There is a separate PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, called the Jack Nicklaus Award, which is made by the PGA TOUR. It is usually the case that the same player wins both awards in the same season.
The top level US-based mens' tour for professional golfers, and the world's richest golf tour. The "formal" beginning of the PGA TOUR came in late 1968, when the "Tournament Players Division" split from the PGA of America and hired Joseph Dey as its first commissioner. However, a US-based "tour" can be traced back to the 1930's, when coast-to-coast tournaments provided plenty of playing opportunities for US-based professional golfers. The modern-day PGA TOUR also runs the Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour. [Website:].
PGA TOUR (Champions Tour)
See Champions Tour
PGA TOUR Fall Series
Following the completion of the PGA TOUR's FedExCup playoffs, a Fall Series of seven tournaments is played to finalize the following year's eligibility for playing on the Tour. With 30 of the 125 available places going to the FedExCup top 30 players, the Fall Series sorts out the remaining 95 places based on final season earnings.
See FedExCup.
PGA TOUR (Nationwide Tour)
See Nationwide Tour
PGA Tour of Australasia
The PGA Tour of Australasia is the sanctioning organisation for top level professional tournament golf in Australasia. The Tour encompasses tournament golf in Australia, New Zealand and into Asia. [Website:].
The flagstick on the green marking where the hole is located.
pin high
A ball that stops level with the pin is said to be "pin high". It could be a ball on the green, in a greenside bunker or even off the green, but in relation to where it was hit, the ball stops level with the pin.
Lofted shot to a green with little run at the end of its flight. A pitch and run shot is a less lofted shot that allows the ball to run on after it has pitched on the green.
pitch mark
An indentation on the green made by the ball landing on that spot. It is the responsibility of the golfer creating the pitch mark, to repair it with a pitch-mark repairer.
play club
The name given to a driving club in common use up to late 1800s; equivalent to a driver or 2-wood.
playing handicap
The adjusted handicap given to a player for a specific competition on a specific course. It is calculated by adjusting the player's official handicap by the relevant course or slope rating.
plugged ball
A ball which lands and remains embedded in its own pitch mark.
Portuguese caddie
A competition format where players are allowed to move their ball by kicking it without penalty. The number of "free kicks" allowed for each player is usually determined by handicap. (With apologies to the good people of this wonderful country).
How a player stands and sets up to make a stroke.
pot bunker
Small, round and deep bunker commonly found on traditional British links course, and now deployed on many golf courses around the world.
A power fade is a low, driving, left-to-right curving tee shot that is intentionally played, and has been made popular by modern players, not least Tiger Woods.
preferred lie
A "temporary preferred lie" local rule can be instigated allowing the movement of a ball by up to six inches from specific areas of the course, e.g. on fairways during winter play.
Presidents Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between two teams of mens professionals representing the USA and the Internationals. The Internationals comprise the best non-US and non-European professionals. Each team comprises 12 players. (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
A tournament in which professional players are partnered by amateur players.
Pro Shop
A shop at a golf club, often run by the Club Professional, in which golf equipment and clothing is sold.
provisional ball
A second ball that is played provisionally, when it is thought that the first ball played may have been hit out of bounds or is lost (outside of a water hazard). When it is confirmed the first ball is lost or out of bounds, the provisional ball becomes the ball in play.
pull cart
[See "trolley"].
push (shot)
A shot that is "blocked" out to the right (for a right handed player); not the same as a fade or slice, which are the result of applying sidespin to the ball.
A shot which is played on the green or from just off the green with a putter.
The flat-faced club designed for use on the putting green.
Qualifying school where would-be tour professionals compete for the chance to join one of the world's leading golf tours.
quitting (on the ball)
Quitting on the ball is a common mistake that involves slowing your swing down before hitting the ball. As opposed to slowing the swing down, the vast majority of golf shots require the clubhead to be accelerated into the ball at impact.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Among its main functions is the organisation of The Open Championship, British Amateur Championship and several other top level competitions in the UK. It is also the governing body for the Rules of Golf, which are applied throughout the world (except in the USA and Mexico, where similar rules drawn up by the USGA are applied). [website:].
Race to Dubai
In 2009 the European Tour's season-long Order of Merit was replaced by The Race to Dubai. Within the new format players are awarded Race to Dubai points according to their performance in all events on the Tour, including Majors and WGC events. At the end of the tour's 47-tournament season, the top 60 players compete in the final grand event, the World Tour Championship in Dubai. The event carries a first prize of €1,333,330 and a 5-year European Tour Card exemption for the winner. At the conclusion of the World Tour Championship, the tour's leading money-winner is declared the Race to Dubai champion, receiving the iconic Harry Vardon Trophy, plus a 7-year European Tour Card exemption. The champion also receives a US$1,250,000 bonus from the Race to Dubai's $5 million bonus pool. The 14 other leading players in the Race to Dubai rankings also receive graduated bonuses from the pool.
[See "course ranger"].
recovery shot
A "defensive" rather than an "attacking" shot played from rough or a difficult lie, which is intended to get the ball back in play.
An official who interprets and gives rulings on the Rules of Golf during the play of a competition.
rescue club
[See "hybrid"].
resort course
A golf course usually found as part of a golf resort hotel. The course is often designed with the full range of players and golfing abilities in mind, and will often (though not always) lack the more penal elements of tougher golf courses.
revetted bunker
A sand bunker where the front wall is built by laying sods of turf one on top of another, which creates distinctive horizontal lines in the bunker face. The term is related to "revetment", i.e. a barricade or retaining wall of earth or sand bags.
[See "lip-out].
Rivermead Cup

Between 1920 and 1935 the Rivermead Challenge Cup was presented to the winner of the Canadian Open Championship. The Cup was originally commissioned by Rivermead GC, where the 1920 championship was held. After the introduction of the Seagram Gold Cup in 1936, the Rivermead Cup became the trophy awarded to the lowest scoring Canadian professional in the Canadian Open.

Robert Cox Cup
Since 1896, presented annually to the winner of the United States Women's Amateur Championship. The trophy was donated by Robert Cox of Edinburgh, Scotland, a member of the United Kingdom Parliament and a golf course designer. It is the only USGA trophy donated by someone from outside the USA, and remains the oldest surviving trophy awarded for a USGA championship.
A newcomer to a professional golf tour who is playing his/her first full season on the tour. There have been many seasoned players who are called "rookies" as they join a tour for the first time, not least players joining the senior tours.
Beyond the closely mown grass of the fairway lies a margin of slightly longer grass known as the "first cut of rough." Beyond that lies the primary rough, usually just called rough. Rough takes many forms and includes, but is not limited to: tall fescues, heather, bushes, wetland areas, desert, bushveld, scrubland and rock strewn areas. Fairways (with or without a first cut of rough) can also be bounded by water (the sea, lakes, rivers, streams, ditches, ponds, etc), sand (bunkers, sandy waste areas or beach) and vegetation (jungle, forest, woodland, etc) all of which may lie within the boundary of the course.
A round of golf usually involves playing all the holes on a golf course, which typically comprises 9 or 18 holes.
Royal golf clubs
Almost 100 golf clubs around the world (maybe more?) enjoy a "Royal" prefix conferred on the club by a reigning monarch. Several other clubs simply use Royal in their name, at the desire of their owners. The first club honoured by a monarch's royal prerogative is the Perth Golfing Society (1833), closely followed by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

The "monarch-granted" Royals can be found in the following countries: England (19), Spain (18), Belgium (11), Scotland (10), Morocco (10?), Australia (8), Canada (6), South Africa (4); Northern Ireland (3), Channel Islands (2), Ireland (2), New Zealand (2), Wales (2), and one each in: Brunei, Czech Rep, Germany, India, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Sweden.

At least three golf clubs were granted a "Royal" prefix but voted to cease using it, namely: Singapore Island GC, Hong Kong GC and Curragh GC (which subsequently reinstated the prefix). Look for the Did You Know section in our pages for each Royal golf club, to find details of which other clubs are "Royal" in that country.
rubber-core ball
[See "haskell (ball)"].
One of the official Rules of Golf published by the R&A or USGA, or a "local rule" that applies only to the specific golf club for which the rule was written. Local rules are usually shown on the scorecard for the course.
run-off area
[See "swale"].
run up
A low trajectory shot where the ball bounces before and then onto the green, before rolling towards the hole.
Ryder Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between two teams of mens professionals representing the USA and Europe. Each team comprises 12 players, who play a combination of foursomes, four balls and singles spread over three days of competition. (See our Tournaments section > by Tournament > Ryder Cup). The trophy itself is a mere 17 inches tall, and was designed by Mappin & Webb of London.
A sandie (also spelt sandy) means that your bunker shot, from a greenside or fairway bunker, is followed by a putt that sinks the ball into the hole. Said another way, you have got "up and down" in two strokes from the bunker.
A type of side bet in golf, which provides a pre-determined reward to any player who makes a par on a hole having been in a bunker on that hole.
sand trap
A hollow in the ground, which occurs naturally or is designed into the course and is filled with sand. Usually called a sand bunker.
sand wedge
A lofted club (usually 54-58 degrees), also known as a "sand iron" with a wide flange designed for playing from bunkers. US player Gene Sarazen is credited with its invention.
[See "duff"].
The action many golfers mistakenly employ to get the ball airborne, rather than hitting down on the ball and allowing the loft of the club to do the work.
The card provided by the golf club on which a player records the scores of one of his playing companions (and marks his/her own score) during a competition.
Scottish greens
Term used in some parts of the USA for temporary winter greens.
Also known as best shot format. A team game in which the 2, 3 or 4 players in a team all tee-off, the best positioned ball is then chosen and all players in the team play their next shot from that position. Subsequent shots are played from the position chosen as the best "team" position. There are many variations on the Scramble theme, including: Ambrose, Delaney, Miami and Texas scrambles.
scramble (Ambrose)
A variation on a standard scramble, in which handicaps are taken into account to give each team an appropriate handicap.
scramble (Florida)
A variation on a standard scramble (sometimes known as Step Aside scramble, Dropout scramble, or Mexican Standoff). In a Florida scramble, the player who's ball is selected for the "next shot" has to skip, or sits out, the playing of that next shot. He/she then participates on subsequent shots.
scramble (Miami / Delaney)
A variation on a Florida scramble. In a Miami scramble (also known as a Delaney scramble), the player whose tee-shot is selected for the second shot sits out the playing of that second shot, and all subsequent shots on that hole until the ball is on the green. When the ball is on the green, all players can putt.
scramble (Texas)
A variation on a standard scramble. In a Texas scramble, each member of the team is required to "contribute" a minimum number of drives during the round. Typically for a four-person team, it would be four drives each.
scratch (player)
A player whose handicap is zero or below, and whose average score for a round of golf is par or better.
Seagram Gold Cup

Between 1936 and 1970 the Seagram Gold Cup was presented to the winner of the Canadian Open Championship by the tournament's then sponsor Seagram Company.

A golf club Secretary is usually a full-time appointment made by the Club Committee. While in office the Secretary's role is to lead the day-to-day management of the Club.
semi-private club
An American term for a golf club which is privately or member-owned, but which is open for visitors to play on a pay & play basis.
Seniors Tour
See European Seniors Tour; Champions Tour.
The section of the golf club between the grip and the club head.
shag bag
A bag designed for the collection and storage of golf balls, which is used whilst practising.
A mishit (many would say the worst mishit in golf) in which the golf ball is struck by the hosel of the club and squirts off to the right (for a right handed player).
short game
Play within 100 yards (90m) of the green, especially chipping, pitching, bunker shots and putting.
short hole
A par-3 hole.
An iron club for hitting short-range shots; the term is usually applied to 8 ad 9-irons and the pitching wedge. Other types of irons include: long-irons (numbered 1 to 4) and mid-irons (numbered 5 to 7). Short-irons have the most degrees of loft of the irons, although less loft than gap, sand and lob wedges.
short stick
Sometimes used to describe a putter.
The act of hitting the ball.
shot-gun start
A way to start a tournament in which groups of players tee off simultaneously from different holes.
side bets
Side betting is not altogether uncommon in golf! Some examples, which are defined elsewhere in this Dictionary include: Arnies; barkies; Nassau, and sandies.
sidehill lie
The description of a ball's position when it comes to rest on a slope. When playing a sidehill lie, the ball will either be above the level of the player's feet, or below the level (which is also known as a hanging lie).
Signature Course
A signature golf course (e.g. a Gary Player Signature Course) will have been designed with the close personal involvement of the "signature" designer. For "non-signature" courses, the designer may have developed the course design plans on a "desk-top" basis, without even having visited the site. Alternatively the plans may have been developed by others, then looked-over and improved by the named designer.
A player who is not accompanied by other players.
sink a putt
The action of putting the ball into the hole.
Sir Henry Cotton Award
Established in 1960, the Sir Henry Cotton Award is presented to the European mens' Rookie of the Year. The winner is selected by a panel comprising the PGA European Tour, the R&A and the Association of Golf Writers, and is usually the highest-placed, first-season player on the European Tour's Order of Merit. The Award predates the founding of the PGA European Tour in 1972.
Also known as Split-six. A scoring system used when three golfers play together. It is based on splitting six points per hole amongst the three players. Typically the lowest score for the hole attracts 4 pts, next-lowest 2 pts, and highest score 0 pt. Ties are resolved by dividing the points proportionately among the players: a tie for first is worth 3 pts each, a tie for second is worth 1 pts each, and a three way tie gives 2 pts each. A variation of Sixes is Nines (also known as Nine-points), based on distributing nine points per hole.
In a skins game, generally played between 2, 3 or 4 players, each hole is worth a given amount of points or money. A player who wins the hole outright is said to win the "skin," and whatever that skin is worth (for that hole and any prior holes which were not won outright). If a hole is not won, then the value or points from that hole carry forward to the next hole, and so on.
A golf shot that curves to the right (for a right handed player), caused by the application of clockwise spin to the ball, either deliberately or unintentionally. The opposite of a hook.
slope rating
Introduced in the United States by the USGA, the slope rating of a course describes the relative difficulty of that particular course for a bogey golfer compared to a scratch golfer. For more difficult courses, the assumption is that players' scores will rise more quickly than their handicaps would predict. The "slope rating" of a course predicts that rise. A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a slope rating of 113, while slope ratings range from a minimum of 55 (a very easy course) to a maximum of 155 (extremely difficult).
Smyth Salva
Presented to the lowest scoring amateur in the Women's British Open, provided the player makes the cut and plays in all four rounds.
Solheim Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between two teams of womens professional golfers representing the USA and Europe. Each team comprises 12 players. (See the Tournaments in our Encyclopedia of Golf section).
Southern Africa Tour
See Sunshine Tour.
spade mashie
A deep-faced iron club, no longer in use, some what more lofted than a mashie. The modern equivalent would be the number six iron.
speed of play
[See "pace of play"].
Spikes are screwed into the underside of golf shoes, to provide golfers with the necessary grip while playing shots. Also known as cleets or studs (or coggs in Ireland). Originally made of metal, many golf clubs nowadays insist on players wearing "soft spikes" made of plastic.
See "Sixes".
spoon (club)
Traditional name for a lofted fairway wood the equivalent of the modern-day 3-wood. An approach wood that had more loft than the spoon, was known as baffing spoon or "baffy."
A form of stroke play. A player is awarded a fixed number of points for each hole, based on his/her net score at each hole. The system was developed by Dr Frank Stableford, and has become very popular for club competitions in Europe. A player's net score for each hole attracts a certain number of points: 2 pts (for net par); 3 pts (1-under par); 4 pts (2-under); 5 pts (3-under); 1 pt (1-over par); 0 pts (2 or more over par). A key ingredient of stableford is finishing the hole and "picking-up" when no points can be scored). Modified stableford competitions use variations on the basic stabelford points per hole scoring system are to be found in games such as Denver and Murphy.
Taking one's stance involves placing the feet in position in readiness to make a stroke.
standard scratch score
The total score that a scratch handicap golfer (i.e. 0 hcp) is expected to make over a specific 18-hole golf course.
Can refer to the flagstick that marks the hole, or one's golf clubs (sticks).
stimp meter
The device used to measure the stimp (i.e. speed) of a putting green.
Stonehaven Cup
Awarded annually to the winner of the men's Australian Open Championship.
In this competition format each player (or team) is given a length of string, with which to improve bad lies. Typically players get 50cm (20 inches) of string for each point of their handicap. When confronted with a bad lie, the player can move the ball (without penalty) and cut-off an equivalent length of string from their allocation. Once the string is used up, subsequent bad lies cannot be improved.
The act of hitting the ball.
stroke and distance
A term commonly used for the penalty associated with a lost ball or hitting the ball out of bounds. The player is required to re-play his/her shot from where it was last played. The original stroke counts on the player's score, while a penalty of one shot is added to the player's score for losing the ball or going out of bounds. The player has therefore incurred a penalty "stroke" and loses the "distance" that the original shot travelled.
stroke hole
A hole at which a player receives a shot(s) as determined by his/her playing handicap and the stroke index of the hole.
stroke index
Used to indicate the relative difficulty of the holes on a golf course, and as a basis for determining where a player receives strokes based on his/her handicap. The lower the stroke index number, the harder the hole is deemed to be.
stroke play
One of the two fundamental forms of competition in golf (the other is match play). In stroke play the number of strokes a player (or team) takes to complete a round is compared with the scores of the other competitors. The winner is the player (or team) with the lowest score, which, depending on the competition being played, might be on a gross or net basis. Stroke play has largely supplanted match play in professional tournament golf. Stableford scoring, particularly common in European amateur competitions, is a variation of stroke play, where the number of strokes per hole is converted into a fixed number of points.
[See "yardage guide"].
[See "spikes"].
Traditionally the stymie occured on the green, when one players' ball blocked the route of another player's ball to the hole. To reach the hole the stymied player was required to play his/her ball over the top of the obstructing ball. Stymie's were outlawed from golf in 1951. Nowadays a player is said to be stymied if an object such as a tree blocks the player's intended shot towards the green.
sudden-death playoff
A situation where additional holes are required to produce a winner of a tied competition. The first player to record a score lower than his/her opponents' score wins in a "sudden-death" playoff.
summer rules
The normal local rules (summer rules) of the course are applied during the regular playing season. Any temporary "winter" rules do not apply in this period.
Sunshine Tour
More commonly used name for the Southern Africa Tour. The Tour's principal role is the sanctioning, management, marketing, technical administration, development and promotion of professional golf tournaments in the region of Southern Africa. [Website:].
A small grassy depression or hollow in the terrain around the green, usually closely mown, which allows the ball to run away from the green into a "gathering area" of closely mown grass, or possibly into longer grass, water or sand. Swales, which are sometimes called run-offs, can occur naturally or be designed into the course.
sweet spot
The preferred spot on the club face with which to hit the ball, which imparts the greatest distance and best trajectory to the ball flight.
The action of hitting the golf ball, which comprises the backswing, downswing and follow-through.
The first part of the golf swing when the clubhead travels back from the address position.
The wooden or plastic peg used to tee the ball up above the ground, to assist the execution of the "tee-shot".
Nowadays the term tee-box generally refers to the entire teeing ground. In the early days of golf, and still to be found on some courses to this day, the exact point at which you hit your tee-shot was marked by a box. The tee-box contained sand, which was used to make a small pile, on which the ball was placed. Wooden tee-pegs replaced the need for the sand pile.
teeing ground
The teeing-ground (also called "tee" or "tee-box") is the closely mown and level ground from which each golf hole starts. It usually contains a number of teeing positions, for men and women, and for players of different standards. The respective teeing positions are indicated by sets of tee-markers.
Players tee-off from their appropriate position on the teeing ground, as indicated by sets of tee-markers. The player's ball is teed-up between the two relevant tee-markers, and must not be in front of them, but can be up to two club lengths behind them. The colours of the sets of tee-markers indicates which players should tee-off from which place. Although there is no common standard for the colour of tee-markers, in Europe and other parts of the world you will commonly find: black or gold (men's back tees, also known as the "tips"); white (men's competition or medal tees); yellow (men's front tees); blue (women's back tees); red (women's front tees); green (senior's and/or junior's tees). In the USA the colours are more likely to be: black/gold (men's back); blue (men's competition); white (men's front and women's back tees); red (women's front). The longest courses can have six or even seven different sets of tees.
The time at which a particular group of golfers are scheduled to start their round of golf.
The speed and rythm of a golfer's swing.
Texas Scramble
See "scramble (Texas)".
The Belt
Was originally presented to the winner of the Open Championship between 1860 and 1870. Having won it three times in succession between 1868 and 1870, Young Tom Morris was entitled to keep the Belt. The Open was not played in 1871, but resumed in 1872, when the trophy awarded was, and still is, The Claret Jug (see separate entry).
The Royal Trophy
The Royal Trophy is presented to the winning team in an annual (sometimes two-yearly) competition between two teams of mens professionals representing Asia and Europe. Each team comprises 8 players, who play a combination of foursomes, four balls and singles spread over three days of competition. (See our Tournaments section > by Tournament > The Royal Trophy). The Royal Trophy was first played in 2006.
thinned (shot)
A shot in which the clubhead strikes the ball too high and results in a low, often slicing shot.
Match Play competition in which three players play each other and each plays his or her own ball.
A match involving three players where two players play against one. Each team plays only one ball, the two-person team taking alternate shots. The scoring format can be either Match Play, Strokeplay or Stableford. At the start of play the two-person team decides which player will play the first tee-shot, after which they alternate the tee shot on each hole.
tight fairway
A fairway that presents an intimidating tee shot, which is likely to be 30 yards or less in width.
tip (advice)
Instruction on how to play a particular shot and with what club, which can only be given by a player's caddie or playing partner.
tip (caddie)
A some of money expected by a caddie at the end of a round of golf.
toe (club)
That part of the head of a golf club that is at the opposite end to the heel.
The action of mishitting (topping) a golf ball, by striking down on just the top part of the ball, causing it to remain close to the ground and not get properly airborne.
top dressing
The essential greenkeeping process of spreading sand, or a sand/soil/fertilizer mix, onto greens and fairways to promote better growth and quicken the healing process after aeration (by "hollow tining" for example). The sand-mix is worked into the grass surface and its root structure by raking, or is washed in with rain or sprinklers. Top dressing greens is a process that dates back to Old Tom Morris and the Old Course St Andrews.
The amount to which a golf club shafts twists during the swing.
triple bogey
A score of three over par for a hole.
Piece of equipment with wheels, on which a golf bag is placed so that it can be pulled around the golf course rather than carried. Also know by many other names: pull cart (USA); chariot (France); trundler (Australasia) and rickshaw (Canada). Trolleys can also be powered by battery, in which case the prefix "power" or "electric" is applied to the local term for a trolley. Occasionally (as in the Southern United States) you may hear the term "trolley" used to describe a powered golf cart (i.e. buggy) in which two players can sit and ride.
turn (course)
The halfway point on a golf course at the end of the 9th hole. The term comes from the days when out-and-back golf courses were based on nine holes that took you away from the clubhouse, which were followed by a "turn" for home and an inward nine that brought you back to the clubhouse.
turn (rotation)
The rotation of parts of the body during the golf swing, e.g. shoulder turn or hip turn.
two piece ball
The most commonly used golf ball is a two-piece ball, which combines durability with maximum distance. The balls comprise a single solid sphere (core), usually made of hard plastic. The sphere is covered by a tough, cut-proof cover of Surlyn or other speciality material. The harder feel of the two-piece ball produces greater distance, but does not provide as much opportunity to "shape" and control the ball as is the case with a softer three- or four-piece ball.
Two tie all tie
Also sometimes stated as "One tie all tie". This concept is used in various golf games if two (or more) competing players tie for the best score on a hole, and the winner(s) would normally receive a "reward" in the form of either points, skins or cash (depending on the game being played). If the "two tie all tie" concept is applied, then all other players in the competition are deemed to have tied the score as well. The competition resumes without a winner on that hole.
Presented to the winner of the annual match between two teams of mens professionals representing the USA and the Rest of the World (the teams must each include six players aged 40 - 49 and six players aged over 50). (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
under clubbing
Hitting the ball short of the intended target, usually as a result of incorrect club selection.
under par
A player's score in a stroke play event where he/she has taken less shots than the par for that hole or course. "One-under" at a par-4 hole means the player has taken three shots, and therefore recorded a birdie. Two-under at a hole is an eagle (or hole-in-one at a par-3); three-under par is an albatross (double eagle in the USA). A player who finishes a round on an 18-hole par-72 golf course with a score of six-under, will have gone round the course in 66 strokes.
The lead enjoyed by a player over his/her opponent in a match play event. If you have won two more holes than your opponent you will be "two up."
up and down
To get "up and down" means that your shot from somewhere off the green is followed by a putt that sinks the ball into the hole. An "up and down" from a greenside bunker is often referred to as a "sandie" (also spelt sandy).
uphill lie
A situation where the ball comes to rest on a slope facing uphill. When you take your stance your front foot will be above the level of your back foot.
The United States Golf Association is the governing body for golf in the USA and Mexico. Among its main functions are the organisation of the US Open, US Women's Open, US Seniors Open and several other top level competitions in the USA. It is also the governing body on the rules of golf in the USA (a responsibility in which it collaborates with the R&A Golf Club of St Andrews). [website:].
[See LPGA].
[See PGA of America].
Vardon Grip
Method of holding the handle of the club in which the little finger of the right hand overlaps the forefinger of the left. Popularised but not invented by Harry Vardon
Vardon Trophy
Established in 1937, the Vardon Trophy is awarded annually by the PGA of America. The winner is the PGA TOUR player who has the lowest average score per round, over a minimum of 60 rounds. (See Tournaments section - by Tournament - US PGA Vardon Trophy). See also Byron Nelson Award, a similar low average award, but made by the PGA TOUR for a minimum of 50 rounds.
Vare Trophy
Established in 1953, The Vare Trophy is awarded annually by the LPGA (of America). The winner is the LPGA tour player who has the lowest average score per round, during the season. The Trophy was named in honour of Glenna Collett-Vare, one of the LPGA's outstanding former players.
A movement backwards and forwards of the golf club which loosens the hand and arm muscles prior to starting the backswing.
Walker Cup
Presented to the winner of the two-yearly match between two teams of mens amateur golfers representing the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. The tournament was first played in 1922, and the trophy takes its name from George H. Walker, President of the USGA in 1920, who conceived the idea for the competition. (For year-by-year results see our Tournaments section).
Walter Hagen Cup
Presented annually to the winner of the WGC Match Play (currently sponsored by Accenture). (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia).
Wanamaker Trophy
Presented to the champion golfer of the USPGA Championship (one of the four mens' Majors). (See Tournaments section in Encyclopedia). The trophy is named after department store owner Rodman Wanamaker who provided the trophy and the initial purse of $2,580.
See: World Amateur Team Championships
water hazard
Areas of water on the golf course that come in many forms, including: lakes, ponds, rivers, drainage ditches, streams, wetland areas, barancas, wash areas and, on coastal courses, the sea and/or beach can also be water hazards. The margin of a water hazard is defined by stakes, yellow stakes for a regular water hazard and red stakes for a "lateral water hazard."
water hole
A golf hole where a significant water hazard is present, often requiring the player to hit over the hazard to reach the green.
wedge (club)
A wedge is a specialised variation of a normal "iron" club, with a similar look and general construction, but the face of a wedge has a much higher loft. Like their predecessors (niblicks), wedges are used for short-distance play from close to the green, as well as for getting out of difficult lies in the rough or from sand bunkers. The loft of wedges typically varies from 48 to 64 degrees, and they are grouped into five categories: pitching wedge (PW, 48-degrees), gap wedge (GW, 52-degrees), sand wedge (SW, 56-degrees), lob wedge (LW, 60-degrees) and ultra lob wedge (LW, 64-degrees).
West Coast Swing
The start of the US PGA Tour season has often been referred to as the West Coast Swing, embracing the eight or so season beginning events in Hawaii, California, Arizona (and more recently Mexico). In the past a prize has been awarded for the best cumulative performance (in terms of money won) on the Swing.
[See "air shot"].
Term used widely in Scotland for bushes (usually gorse bushes) found on the golf course.
Waxed thread used to bind the area where the shaft meets the club head. Modern techniques have made this practice redundant.
winter green
A temporary green used during winter months to protect the normal summer green. Winter greens are usually located on a flattish piece of fairway close to the normal green. They may have a larger than usual hole cut in them, to compensate for the more bumpy putting surface that a winter green often provides.
winter rules
A local rule(s) that is instigated for play during winter months. One of the most widely employed winter rules is giving players the opportunity to lift, clean and place their golf ball on the fairway.
Wire-to-wire win
A victory in which the winning player leads the tournament from the first round to the last.
Essentially a betting game for a group of four players, using full handicaps. On each hole, on a rotating basis, one player is the "wolf" and he/she tees off first. Having watched the other three tee-off, the wolf then chooses to play the hole against the others alone (1 vs 3), or partner up with one of the others (2 vs 2). The best ball score wins the hole (in case of a tie between the opposing sides, nobody wins or loses). The players tee-off throughout the round in the same order as at the first hole, with the rotating "wolf" always going first. If the betting amount is $1, then a 2 vs 2 win gets the wolf and his/her partner $1 each from the other two players; a 1 vs 3 win gets the wolf $2 from each of the other players, but a loss means the wolf pays out $2 to each of the other three players. Great insights into "Wolf" are contained in Chi Chi Rodriguez's book Chi Chi's Golf Games You Gotta Play.
wood (club)
A wood is typically used for the longest distance shots that a player needs to hit. Woods have larger heads and longer shafts than irons, which generates a higher club head speed at impact. The heads of traditional woods were generally made with persimmon wood; nowadays they are usually made from a metal alloy (e.g. steel, titanium, carbon fiber or scandium). Although some golfers and commentators prefer the term "metals" or "metal woods," the term "woods" is still commonly applied to these clubs, which differentiates them from irons, indicates their intended use on the golf course and continues to carry forward their historical name. The longest wood is the driver, which is commonly used from the tee at par-4 and par-5 holes. Fairway woods (3-wood, 4-wood and 5-wood) are commonly found in a golfer's bag, while some golfers also carry approach woods with even more loft (6, 7, 8 and 9 woods). A very rare animal nowadays is the 2-wood, which can be used as a driving wood from the tee or from the fairway (for better players).
World Amateur Team Ch'ships
With the aim of promoting friendship and sportsmanship through golf, the World Amateur Team Championships are organised by the International Golf Federation, which is the recognised International Federation for Golf for the IOC (International Olympic Committee). At the biennial WATC, 3-person teams, containing many of the world's best amateur golfers, come together to compete for the Eisenhower Trophy (men) and Espirito Santo Trophy (women). During their amateur days, many of the world's top players have competed in WAT Championships, not least Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Tiger Woods, Nancy Lopez, Phil Mickelson, Se Ri Pak, Luke Donald, Karrie Webb, Trevor Immelman and many more of the world's best players.
World Golf Rankings
A rolling world golf Order of Merit, which is determined by players accumulating points from tournaments organised by members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, i.e. European Tour, US PGA Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour (Southern Africa). These Tours co-sanction the Official World Golf Rankings. World Golf Ranking points are also awarded for top finishes on three other tours : Canadian Tour, Challenge Tour, Nationwide Tour.
Long after the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) was established in the United States in 1950, the WPGA (Women's Professional Golf Association) was formed in 1978 as part of the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) of Britian & Ireland. Supported by several important commercial sponsorships (notably that of Carlsberg Lager), the WPGA established a tour in 1979, with 20 events held in the UK. Within a few years the Tour had taken on a European dimension, and in 1988 the tour players branched out into the independent Women Professional Golfers' European Tour (WPGET).
WPGA Tour Aus

Established in 1972, the WPGA Tour Australasia (formerly the ALPG - Australian Ladies Professional Golf) is the governing body for womens' professional golf in Australia and coordinates the WPGA Tour Australasia. The organisation started out in 1972 as the LPGAA (Ladies Professional Golf Association of Australia) and launched a tour for professional women golfers in 1973. The name change to ALPG came in 1991. [Website:].

The Women Professional Golfers' European Tour (WPGET) was established in 1988 when the tour players of the WPGA branched out on their own from the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) of Britian & Ireland. In the process they moved from the PGA's headquarters at The Belfry to their own premises at the Tytherington Club in Macclesfield. The Tour could boast 25 events in 1988, including the national open championships of many European countries. In 1998 the Tour changed its name to the European LPGA Tour, before adopting the name Ladies European Tour (LET) in July 2000.
wrong ball
A wrong ball is any ball that is not the player's ball in play, a provisional ball that he/she has hit or a second ball played when there is doubt about the correct procedure to follow during the play of a hole. A wrong ball can include another player's ball, an abandoned ball and the player's original ball when it is no longer in play. If you play the wrong ball this stroke does not count, but you incur a 2-stroke penalty.
x (on scorecard)
The letter "X" may be used on a scorecard for a particular hole, indicating the player didn't record a score for that hole.
x-out ball
A cross-out or x-out ball is one that has not passed the quality inspection process following manufacture, and is a ball that cannot be used in competition. The maker's brand on such balls is usually crossed out with a line of Xs.
yardage guide
A book printed by the Golf Club that provides information about each hole on the respective golf course. In some parts of the world it is referred to as a strokesaver. The pocket-sized book usually contains diagrams and details about local rules, yardages of each hole, location and distance to hazards and distances to the green from various points on the hole. The better yardage books also provide a plan of the course and some historical notes about the club and course.
Yellow Ball
A variation of the Devil Ball format, played by 3 or 4 person teams on a stableford scoring basis. On each hole, one player must play the "yellow ball"; his/her stableford points for that hole are doubled and then combined with the one best stableford score from among the other golfers, giving the team stableford score for that hole. The "yellow ball" rotates from hole to hole, so that in a four person team each golfer is in the spotlight every fourth hole. (See also "Devil Ball").
The amount made by a player who misses the cut in a professional tournament ... i.e. nothing.
zip (spin)
Another term for applying back-spin to a golf ball.
zoysia grass

Zoysia is a type of grass native to parts of Asia and Australasia, and named after the Austrian botanist Karl von Zois. Zoysiagrass can withstand wide variations in temperature, sunlight and water, making it a widely used grass for lawns in temperate climates, not least on the fairways and teeing areas of golf courses.

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124th US Open: the No.2 Course at Pinehurst once again plays host to this most illustrious championship (June 13-16). Wyndham Clark defends his title, having won at Los Angeles CC in 2023.

79th Women’s US Open: the second women’s major championship of the season gets underway at Lancaster CC in Pennsylvania. It’s the second time the championship has been held here.
(May 30-June 2).

Who's Who

Nelly Korda: won the Mizuho Americas Open (May 16-19) at Liberty National GC, continuing her extraordinary form in LPGA events. This was her sixth win in seven starts in 2024.

Xander Schauffele: recorded his first major championship win, and second record-equalling low score of 62 in a major. Only he, Branden Grace, Rickie Fowler and Shane Lowry have achieved this feat in a men’s major championship.

Marco Simone Golf & Country Club

Marco Simone Golf & Country Club: With a clubhouse that might befit a Roman Emperor, and a golf course to match, you can be sure of a memorable outing at Rome's most talked about golf facility.

Jim Fazio's original layout was much changed to create a modern Ryder Cup course ... now one of the Eternal City's (and Italy's) most revered.

Prince's Golf Club, Kent (UK)

Here at Prince’s Golf Club you'll find 27 excellent holes of links golf. Just over the fence and sharing similar terrain is Royal St George’s; but Prince’s is far from overshadowed by its venerable neighbour. The three nine-hole loops at Prince's, laid out over gently undulating terrain, are sure to bring a smile of satisfaction to all lovers of links golf.

Stay&Play at Prince's: excellent onsite Lodge accommodation available

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