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.

Term

Definition

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.
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.
partner
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.
Patsome
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.info].
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.com].
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.
PGA TOUR
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: pgatour.com].
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.
PGA TOUR FedExCup
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: pgatour.com.au].
pin
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.
pitch
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).
posture
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.
power-fade
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).
Pro-Am
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.
putt
A shot which is played on the green or from just off the green with a putter.
putter
The flat-faced club designed for use on the putting green.

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