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.



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.

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Tournament of Champions: the PGA Tour’s calendar-year starts, as it has done since 1999, with this iconic event in Hawaii. The field is drawn from players who won a PGA Tour event in 2022, or were amongst the top 30 in last year’s FedEx Cup final standings (Jan 6-9).

Desert Swing: the European (DP World) Tour launches into 2023 with three events in its UAE “Desert Swing”. Up first is the Abu Dhabi Championship (Jan 19-22), followed by the Dubai Desert Classic (Jan 26-29) and the Ras Al Kaimah Championship (Feb 2-5).

Who's Who

Kathy Whitworth: the end of 2022 saw the passing of LPGA Tour legend Kathy Whitworth. Her 88 LPGA Tour victories is more than achieved by any other golfer on either the LPGA or PGA Tours. Amongst her victories were six major championship titles.

Barry Lane: the golfing world was also saddened by the passing of Barry Lane, one of the European Tour and European Senior Tours most popular players. Enjoying success on both Tours, Lane was know for his excellent ball-striking and amiable personality.

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.

Costa Cruise & Golf

Costa’s "Cruise & Golf" allows golfers and their families to combine a unique golfing experience with the relaxation and fun of a cruise on board Costa Smeralda. Golf enthusiasts are offered a choice from 23 top-quality golf clubs; their chosen courses are played during the ship’s port calls in Italy, France and Spain. While the golfers are driving the fairways, accompanying non-golfers are able to enjoy the amenities and activities on-board, or explore wonderful places on day excursions organised by Costa. Read more ...

Costa Cruise Travel

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