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Golf Instruction Book

The ABC's of Golf

Part A - All About How to Get Started in Golf
Part B - Basic Fundamentals and Concepts in Golf Swing Technique
Part C - Common Golf Words and Phrases - Glossary

Glossary of Golf Terms and Phrases
 Golf Terminology - Definitions and Usages

Golf words or phrases beginning with the letter

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Choose a tab above to find words that begin with that letter.

Or enter the word in the form below. If the word you're looking for cannot be found it will automatically be suggested to the Glossarymaster (MB) for review and inclusion.

pace of play
time taken to play a stroke, hole or round, usually thought of in terms of maximum allowable time with an associated penalty for exceeding that time; covered by rule 6-7 of the USGA Rule book
Example: The committee of any given tournament is in charge of setting any specific pace of play guidelines.
1. a group of two (or more) players  2. the process of forming player groups
Example: 1. Pairings for the first two rounds of the event were random, or blind draw  2. The pairing was done with consideration to marquis value or prominence.
1. the standard number of strokes in which a scratch player would be expected to complete a hole or course  2. (also "even, even par, level, level par") to score par on a course, or the state of being at that score during or at the conclusion of play
Example: 1. Par for a hole is based on the length of the hole plus two putts (e.g., a par four hole would be one that an excellent player would usually reach [the green] in two strokes, plus two putts to hole the ball).  2. I was at par/even/even par/level/level par with two holes still to play.
par in
to score a par on each remaining hole
Example: Standing on the 15th tee, Ted knew he'd have a good chance of winning the tournament if he could just par in.
par three course
(also "par 3 course") a golf course having only par 3 holes, usually but not always a 9-hole course (see also "pitch and putt" below)
Example: When I was a junior player we had a nearby par three course/par 3 course that was lighted, so we could play at night.
past parallel
beyond the point where the club's shaft is horizontal, or parallel with the ground, at the top of the backswing
Example: As a rule, going past parallel will produce less consistent results.
(also "swing path, club path") the direction the clubhead is traveling (generally referred to through the impact area and in relation to the target line)
Example: An outside-in path/swing path will cause a slice if the ball is contacted with a square or open (to target line) clubface.
looking up to see the result of the shot before impact, mainly used in reference to putting, and particularly on short putts
Example: It can be assumed that peeking on a short putt is the result of anxiety and/or lack of trust in one's technique or read.
(also "tee") another term for a tee - a small (usually, but not always, wooden) device for setting the ball up above the ground
Example: The teeing area was so hard he had difficulty getting his peg/tee in the ground.
penalty stroke
a stroke that must be added to the score, for a variety of reasons (e.g., lost ball, unplayable lie), in accordance with the rules of golf
Example: The penalty stroke for playing into and dropping from the water hazard cost Bill the hole.
Peoria scoring system
a system of scoring where 6 secret holes are selected, prior to the tournament, and a formula is applied using the scores from those 6 holes to determine a final score (more on tournament formats)
Example: The Peoria scoring system and the Callaway scoring system are popular methods of handicapping events where some, or all, of the players don't have established handicaps.
(also "cavity back, cavity-back") a style of club head where the mass is distributed more toward the perimeter (outside edges) of the club head in order to increase the effective size of the center of mass
Example: A perimeter-weighted/cavity-back club head does not really have a larger center of mass, it simply puts more of the club head's mass behind the ball on mishits.
(Professional Golfers' Association) organization to promote and regulate the profession of golf
Example: The PGA of America has over 25,000 members and is made up of club professionals, touring professionals, and many other types of golf professionals.
PGA section
geographical division of the PGA (As of 2013 there are 41 sections in the U.S. The web URL tends to change, but you can check and do a search for "sections" to see a list.)
Example: I am from the Northern California PGA section, or the Northern California section of the PGA of America.
("picking the ball") contacting the ball without touching the ground at all (usually not the best way of making solid contact but in some circumstances better than hitting it at all fat, e.g., from a muddy lie)
Example: He picked the ball clean from the sand, but caught it just a bit too thin, so it did not clear the lip of the bunker and he had to try again.
pick up
lifting the ball and discontinuing play on a hole, for various reasons (e.g., informal - too many strokes and too much time has elapsed, causing the following group to wait unduly; team or match play competition situation: partner or competitor has already completed the hole with a better score)
Example: He reached his limit of patience on the hole and decided to just pick up, hoping for better results on the next hole.
another term for a golf ball
Example: She can really hit that pill when she gets going.
(also "flagstick, stick") the stick or pole that rests in the cup and holds the flag
Example: Her approach shot hit the pin/flagstick/stick.
pin high
(also "hole high") when the ball has travelled the correct distance and is even with the hole, but off to one side or the other (whether or not it's on the green)
Example: Terry's approach shot was pin high/hole high to the right.
pin position
(also "pin placement, hole location") the exact location of the hole and flagstick
Example: 1. The pin position/pin placement/hole location may be different every day.
pin sheet
a chart that shows the hole locations on each green
Example: 1. The pin sheet - or knowing the hole locations - is important to highly skilled players.
1. (also "Chapman, Chapman Scotch") a variation on a four-ball match between two 2-man teams where each player hits a tee shot, then players on the same team switch and hit their teammate's ball. After the second shots are hit the team plays only one ball (of their choice), alternating strokes, until holed (more on tournament formats)  2. a famous North Carolina resort/golf complex/area/village with a rich golf history
Example: 1. A Pinehurst/Chapman/Chapman Scotch match is one form of an alternate shot format.  2. The No. 2 course at Pinehurst was the site of the 1999 U.S. Open and has hosted many other prestigious championships.
("pitch shot") a relatively short, lofted shot designed to land softly and not roll much (differs from a chip in its trajectory and amount of roll)
Example: The pitch/pitch shot is very valuable from the short side of the green.
pitch and putt (course)
(also "pitch 'n' putt") a par 3 course with extremely short holes (usually not much longer than 130 yards, probably in most cases averaging less than 100 yards per hole)
Example: Pitch and putt courses are good places for beginners to play, and good for practicing wedge shots and the short game.
pitch and run
a lofted shot that is also intended to release/run/roll
Example: The pitch and run is a feel shot between a chip and run and a pitch.
pitch mark
(also "ball mark") the depression that a ball makes when it strikes the ground (usually, but not always, associated with the putting green)
Example: A pitch mark/ball mark should be repaired to the best of the player's ability to be as smooth as before the ball impacted the ground.
divot fixer
(also "divot repair tool, ballmark repair tool") a small (usually) two-pronged fork-like tool used mainly for repairing the putting surface
Example: Some people simply use a tee to repair their ball marks, while others prefer to use a pitchfork/divot repair tool/ballmark repair tool.
pitching niblick
archaic term for an 8 iron
Example: Ted used his pitching niblick from the bunker.
pitching wedge
(also "wedge, P, PW, W" and more) a lofted short iron (usually next in chronological order after the 9 iron and somewhere between 47° and 52°)
Example: Tom usually could hit his pitching wedge about 100 yards.
(also "swing plane") most easily visualized as the plane that the shaft of the club or the clubhead's arc describes during the swing
Example: The subject of plane/swing plane can be very complex or very simple depending on how deeply you get into it.
playing the ball down
(also "playing it down") playing the ball as it lies, as opposed to improving the lie
Example: Playing the ball down is standard operating procedure in golf.
play through
(also "go through") passing the group in front of you (for various reasons) while they wait
Example: The group in front of us had two very slow inexperienced players, so they let us play through/go through.
plumb bob
a method of reading putts where the putter is hung from the fingers (like a surveyor's plumb line) in front of one's visual field to create a vertical reference
Example: Plumb bobbing is virtually impossible (for many reasons) as a measurably effective method of reading putts, though some players do it out of habit and feel (subjectively) that it helps or works for them.
1. (also "bury, embed") when the ball embeds in the ground  2. (also "core") a cylindrical chunk of earth removed by aeration
Example: Ted's ball was plugged in the bunker to the point where it was barely visible.  2. After the greens were aerated there were plugs/cores lying everywhere, so putting was problematic.
poa annua
(also just "poa" or, incorrectly, "poanna") grass (actually a weed) that sometimes grows on golf courses in moist climates and can make putting greens bumpy if mixed with other grass
Example: Greens that are partly poa annua tend to get very bumpy in the later part of the day, but can be very smooth if poa annua is the only kind of cover.
another term for a handicap stroke
Example: Carter was looking forward to the next hole because he got his first pop of the match.
pop stroke
a (typically putting) stroke characterized by an abrupt little "hit" or twitch of force at the ball rather than a smooth acceleration through the ball
Example: A pop stroke may be ugly to look at, but that doesn't overshadow its lack of effectiveness in most cases.
postage stamp
("postage stamp green") a green with a particularly small surface area presenting a demanding target
Example: Probably the most famous postage stamp green is on the 7th hole at Pebble Beach.
pot bunker
a small deep bunker, typically with steep sides, requiring a very steep angle of ascent to escape
Example: I knew I was going to have difficulty reaching the green on the par 4 6th hole when my tee shot found the pot bunker on the right side of the fairway.
power fade
(also "slider") a slight curve from left to right for a right-handed player (usually thought of in terms of tee shots or long shots)
Example: A slider/power fade is a very effective and controllable shot.
power leak
some error interferring with the efficient sequence of movements and delivery of force in the full swing
Example: Bill wanted more distance, but had a power leak in his swing that he didn't know about.
practice green
("practice putting green") a green which is separate from the golf course and is designated for practicing putting only or putting and/or the short game
Example: After the round she spent a few minutes on the practice green/practice putting green working on her technique.
practice range
(also "practice facility, practice tee, driving range, range") an area, separate from the golf course, designated for hitting practice balls
Example: Practice ranges/Practice facilities/Practice tees/Driving ranges/Ranges vary widely in their size and caliber.
practice round
a round of golf usually thought of as being for the purpose of familiarizing a player with a particular course, and referred to specifically to differentiate it from a round in a competition
Example: On the PGA Tour the practice rounds are usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the tournament proper beginning on Thursday.
practice swing
(also "rehearsal swing") a swing through the air made (without hitting a ball) to work on, or feel, the movements that you intend to make when you hit the ball, or just to loosen up
Example: She always takes one practice swing before each shot.
pre-shot routine
procedure prior to hitting a golf shot, usually thought of as a consistent sequence (see my article on the Pre-shot Routine)
Example: Pre-shot routine(s) can vary widely between individuals.
preferred lies
(also "improved lies, winter rules, bumping it") a local rule under which a player can improve his lie without penalty
Example: The course was so wet and sloppy that we played preferred lies/improved lies/winter rules/bumps for the first time since last year.
a wager on top of, or augmenting, an already existing wager, implemented at some point after the original wager has begun and applying to only the remaining holes
Example: Bob was two down after two holes, so he decided to press in hopes of winning the remaining 7 holes on the front nine, and perhaps even the entire 9.
primary rough
the longest (cut of) rough, probably the second or third cut—or not mowed at all (this can be confusing because of the similarity between the words "primary" and "first", but in this application primary means longest or most severe while first means shortest or lowest—first cut = longer than fairway; second cut = deeper still (in a Major probably pretty bad, i.e., deep, thick - the second cut may even be the primary rough)
Example: The Championship course had such long primary rough that the players could not see their knees when standing in it.
private golf course
(also "private golf club") a golf course that requires membership, not accessible to the general public
Example: Many major championships are contested on private course/private clubs.
private equity club
a membership-only golf course where members own a portion of the club, and memberships can be sold
Example: I'm sure the National Golf Foundation has statistics on how many private equity clubs there are in the U.S.
private non-equity club
a membership-only golf course where memberships are bought for a period of time (annual, monthly, etc.) and members do not own any portion of the club
Example: I'm sure the National Golf Foundation has statistics on how many private non-equity clubs there are in the U.S.
(also "Pro Am") a tournament in which professionals and amateurs play together on teams
Example: The Bob Hope Desert Classic is a well-known Pro-Am which has been around for many years and changed names (sponsors) almost as many times.
Pro shop
usually thought of as the building or room where the retail operation of a golf course takes place (the functions of a pro shop can vary widely and might include tee time reservations, club fitting, handicap posting area, and so on, in addition to the sales of golf equipment, clothing, accessories, etc.)
Example: I'll check-in with the Pro shop while you take care of getting the bags on a cart.
progressive offset
where a set of clubs has differing amounts of offset (leading edge of face behind forward edge of hosel) throughout, e.g., more offset in the long irons than in the short irons
Example: Progressive offset is supposed to help keep the hands more in front of the club face with the longer clubs.
provisional ball
(also "provisional") an additional shot played in a situation where it is believed that the original ball may be out of bounds or lost (the shot is played before leaving the area of the original shot)
Example: If you think your ball is either out of bounds or lost it's a good idea to play a provisional ball/provisional, as it will save time if the original ball is, indeed, out of play.
Psycho grip
(also "Claw grip, Gator grip") an unusual method of gripping the putter, popularized by PGA Tour player Chris Dimarco, where the fingers of the bottom hand are on top of the grip rather than on the bottom
Example: Mark Calcavecchia and Bernhard Langer also use(d) the Psycho grip/Claw grip/Gator grip.
public golf course
a golf course that is accessible for play to the general public
Example: Occasionally a major championship is held at a public golf course.
1. (also "yank, jerk") a shot that goes to the left of the intended line for a right-handed player  2. to select a club or remove it from the bag
Example: I pulled my putt slightly, but it still went in.  2. He pulled the driver, to the dismay of his caddie.
pull cart
(also "hand cart, trolley") a mechanical device or trolley with wheels and a handle used to carry a player's bag and clubs
Example: Using a pull cart/hand cart/trolley is an alternative to carrying your bag or riding in a motorized golf car.
pull hook
a shot that is both a pull and a hook, starting and curving to the left of the intended target line for right-handers
Example: The nasty pull hook resulted in a lost ball and a two-shot penalty.
punch out
(also "chip out") hitting a relatively small chip shot (many times sideways or even backward) to extricate oneself from trouble (e.g., trees) when a longer shot is needed but obstructed
Example: I hit my tee shot into such thick trees that I just had to punch out/chip out for my second shot.
punch shot
(also "punch, knockdown, knockdown shot, half shot") a shot played with less than a full swing, mainly to control distance, trajectory and spin
Example: A common variation on the punch shot/punch/knockdown/knockdown shot/half shot is where the hands reach shoulder height on the backswing and also finish shoulder high in the follow-through.
punch the greens
another phrase for aerate
Example: They decided to punch the greens on Thursday, so my putting the following weekend was not particularly good.
1. (also "flush, solid, on the sweet spot, on the screws, on the nut") perhaps not proper English, but a great feeling Smile when you hit one sweet! -- a shot struck perfectly on the center of gravity of the club with a square face  2. (or "puring") a proprietary method of locating the most stable side of shafts and installing them all in the same orientation for uniformity (also see spine aligning)
Example: 1. There's nothing like hitting it pure/flush/solid/on the sweet spot/on the screws/on the nut.  2. If your skill level is high enough so that puring your shafts is important, you are exceptionally good.
(also "shove, block") a shot that goes to the right of the intended line for a right-handed player
Example: I guess I was afraid of the water hazard next to the green on the left because I pushed/shoved/blocked my approach shot to the right.
push fade
a shot that is both a push and a fade, starting and curving to the right of the intended target line for right-handers
Example: Vince's push fade actually ended up all right, as there was no trouble on the right side of the hole.
a shot (generally, but not necessarily hit with a putter) that is intended to make the ball roll (usually, but not exclusively, on or just off the putting green)
Example: I made my putt for birdie and tipped my hat to... my playing partner.
(also "flatstick, wand") a club with a fairly straight face (very little loft) used for putting, or rolling the ball on the ground
Example: At times it seems that Arnold Palmer uses a different putter every day.
putt out
(also "finish") to complete play by holing your ball, or to putt your ball into the hole whether you are away (farthest from the hole) or not
Example: Since my lag putt stopped just a foot from the hole I went ahead and putted out/finished.
putting green
(also "green, putting surface, dance floor") the most closely mown and smooth (hopefully) area on the course, which is specifically prepared for putting and on which the hole is placed
Example: Once you're on the putting green/green/putting surface/dance floor you may mark, lift, clean and replace your ball within the rules.


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