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.



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).
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.

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