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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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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.

the rearmost edge of the hole from the perspective of the player
Example: I thought I had missed the putt, but it fell in the backdoor.
back nine
(also "back side") the last 9 holes (10-18) of an 18 hole golf course
Example: She played much better on the back nine than on the front.
back tees
the longest (farthest back) set of tees on a golf course
Example: On difficult golf courses the back tees should usually only be played by advanced players.
back weight
weight added to the back of a wood head, generally thought to assist in getting the ball airborne by moving the club's center of gravity back
Example: In the days of wooden club heads back weight also seemed like decoration in some cases.
(also sometimes called "juice") reverse rotation on the ball
Example: A ball that is struck below its equator with a lofted club will usually have some backspin.
the backward movement of the body and club (away from the ball and target) in the golf swing in preparation for the downswing
Example: If you can get to the top of the backswing correctly the downswing will almost happen by itself.
baffing spoon
(also "baffie, baffy") archaic term for an approach wood or lofted wood
Example: She knocked it stiff with a baffing spoon/baffie/baffy.
the container (usually made of some kind of fabric or leather) in which a player carries their clubs
Example: She had a full complement of fourteen clubs in her bag.
bag drop
a place, which may or may not include a bag rack and/or have an attendant, where golfers unload their bags from cars, etc., before parking at golf courses
Example: The bag drop at Bushwood is near the left side of the clubhouse.
bag rack
(also "bag stand") a fixture (temporary or permanent, individual unit or one with groups of bag slots) for leaning or holding golf bags in a relatively upright position
Example: I have also heard the bag rack on the back of golf cars called bag "holder" and "bag stand."
bag room
a room, usually but not always at private golf courses, for storing members' golf bags
Example: The bag room attendant's name was Sal.
bag stand
(also "bag rack") a fixture for holding golf bags in a relatively upright position; portable bag stands differ from bag racks mainly in that they come in varieties that attach, or are built-in, to a golf bag and that can unfold to hold the bag upright and retract so that the bag can easily be carried between shots
Example: Carl's bag stand accidentally got bent somehow, and he had to lay his bag down for the rest of the round.
bag tag
a generally small and flat souvenir that can be clipped onto the outside a golf bag for display
Example: The only bag tag he had was from Pine Valley.
the location or direction or position to which one bails out, or plays away from trouble (see "bail out")
Example: I figured my bailout was into the left rough when I saw nothing but trouble down the right side.
bail out
to play or aim away from trouble (usually extreme)
Example: I was afraid of the water hazard on the right side of the fairway, so I decided to bail out into the left rough.
balance point
balance point the point on the shaft where the club's weight is even on both sides (the point on the shaft where the club is balanced to measure its overall weight)
Example: You can find a club's balance point by resting the club on your finger until it stays level.
rubber like material (dried juice of a tree) used for making soft golf ball covers (outermost layer of the ball)
Example: Balata covered golf balls yield a high spin rate and lots of feel, but don't offer much durability.
ball flight
the characteristics or behavior of a (reasonably or better) well-struck golf shot (i.e., there's not much talk about ball flight if one contacts the ball poorly)
Example: As my club head speed increased my ball flight got correspondingly higher.
ball flight law
physical principles that determine the flight of a golf shot (influenced by swing path, face angle, effective loft, club head speed at impact)
Example: The ball flight laws have changed since the advent of precise monitoring equipment and their data, but the basic ideas are still the same.
ball in pocket
(also "B.I.P.") when a player has picked up his ball and does not intend to complete a hole with a valid score
Example: Ted was ball in pocket/B.I.P., as he had already taken 5 strokes on the par 4 hole and his partner had a short birdie putt.
ball mark
(also "pitch mark") the depression that a ball makes when it strikes the ground (usually, but not always, associated with the putting green)
Example: A ball mark/pitch 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
ball mark repair tool
(also "ball mark tool, divot fixer, divot repair tool, pitchfork") a small, commonly two-pronged, fork-like tool for repairing ball marks or pitch marks (usually associated with, but not limited to, the putting green)
Example: A plain old tee can do the same job as a ball mark repair tool/divot fixer/divot repair tool/pitchfork, if you know how to use it.
ball marker
(also "ballmarker, marker") usually a small, flat object (like a dime) used to mark the ball's position (usually, but not exclusively) on the green while other players putt and/or the ball is cleaned
Example: When you're on the green you may mark the position of your ball with a ballmarker.
ball position
the position of the ball relative to a player's stance and the target at address
Example: The ball position is considered to be "forward" if the ball is nearer the front foot (relative to the target), "back" if it is closer to the rear foot and "middle" if it is centered between the feet.
ball retriever
a telescoping stick with a small attachment at the end to scoop or grasp a golf ball in a hard to reach spot, most commonly in a water hazard
Example: A ball retriever does not count as one of a player's allowable fourteen clubs, because it does not have what is considered a shaft or a head, as defined in the Rules of Golf.
ball size
the diameter of a ball as specified in the Rules of Golf: not less than 1.68 inches (42.67 mm)
Example: Ball size has not been the same throughout golf history.
ball speed
initial velocity of the ball right after impact
Example: Ball speed decreases as time after impact increases.
ball striker
usually used in reference to a player whose strong suit is consistently solid contact and the ability to control the trajectory, distance and direction of full golf shots
Example: Gonzo was a great ball striker but was under-appreciated for his short game.
ball striking
1. a statistical category comprised of 2 others: total driving (which is a combination of distance and accuracy) and greens in regulation  2. can also be used to refer to the long game in general, or play from tee to green
Example: 1. Ball striking is the total of a player's rank in total driving and greens in regulation  2. His ball striking was not as good today as it usually is.
ball washer
A mechanical device for scrubbing golf balls clean, usually found near the tee of every hole
Example: It is a common exaggeration for people to compliment short game wizardry by saying, "That guy could get it up and down from the ball washer."
ball weight
the weight of the golf ball as specified in the Rules of Golf: not greater than 1.620 ounces (45.93 g)
Example: If ball weight was not regulated golfers would not be playing the same game.
excessive fixation on the ball, diminishing or eliminating body and/or target line awareness
Example: Carmine was so ball-bound he had no idea that his swing through the ball was different than his practice swing.
(more commonly "ballooning", also "upshooter, upshooting") excessive climbing or lifting of a shot beyond its normal trajectory, usually into the wind and usually causing the shot to fall short of the intended distance
Example: Ballooning/upshooting is usually thought of as a bad thing, but it can be used to advantage in some situations, if predictable.
banana ball
another term for a slice (bananas are usually quite curved)
Example: Jerome played his typical banana ball until he reached number 12, where he had to hit a 7 iron off the tee because the fairway was lined with tall trees on both sides, and very tight.
baseball grip
(also "10-finger, full-finger, ten-finger" grip) a method of holding the club using all ten digits on the grip with no overlapping or interlocking fingers ["baseball grip" is actually a misnomer: baseball bats are not held like this]
Example: The relative position of the hands to the club's face is the same in a baseball/full-finger/10-finger/ten-finger grip as it is in the other more popular overlapping and interlocking grips.
be right
(also "be the number") an expression popularized by tour players on television, usually indicative of a well-struck shot that is proceeding in the desired direction with the only question being the distance that the ball will travel; a plea or wish, short for "be the right club" or "be the right distance"
Example: Cougar yelled "be right/be the number" as his ball headed straight toward the flag.
any sand-filled hazard
Example: Is my ball on the green or the beach?
beginner set
(also "starter set, half set") a partial set of golf clubs usually consisting of either the odd or the even numbered irons, a putter and a reduced number of woods
Example: A common configuration for a beginner set/half set/starter set might be 4, 6, 8, PW for the irons, a 3 wood and a putter; but sets vary.
1. (also "curve, shape, work") another term for curving a shot  2. altering a club's loft or lie angle by applying leverage to the hosel
Example: 1. He had to bend the ball a long way to miss the tree and avoid the lake.  2. I decided to have my long irons bent to two degrees upright.
bend point
(also "flex point, kick point") the point of maximum bending of a club's shaft, measured with the club in a horizontal position by securing the grip end of the club and hanging a standardized weight just above the club head
Example: All else being equal, a lower bend point/flex point/kick point will produce a higher trajectory and vice versa.
bending bar
bending bar
a tool, similar to a crowbar, for bending a club's hosel
Example: A club's lie angle is usually altered with a bending bar.
below the hole
when the ball is in a position lower than, or downhill from, the hole on ground that is not level
Example: As a general rule, particularly in the short game and on faster greens, it is easier to play from below the hole than from above the hole.
bent grass
a very smooth, fine-bladed grass usually (but not exclusively) used for putting greens
Example: Bent grass creates an extremely smooth, though relatively delicate, putting surface and is mainly found in cooler weather areas.
Bermuda grass
a more course bladed, durable grass that stands up well in hotter climates (e.g., Southeastern U.S., tropical)
Example: Bermuda grass greens are notorious for their grain, which influences putts in seemingly supernatural ways.
a match where an individual plays against the better ball of two, or the best ball of three, players -- commonly and mistakenly thought of as two-man teams playing their best ball against each other, which is actually called a "Four-Ball" match (more on tournament formats and games)
Example: Best-Ball matches are less common than Four-Ball matches.
better ball
the best score for a team (more on tournament formats and games)
Example: Better ball matches are where an individual or team pits their (best) score, for a hole and/or round, against another team's best score.
a score of one under (less than) par for a hole
Example: She made a birdie 4 on the par 5 15th hole.
(also sometimes "check, grab, hold, sit, sit down, hit a house" and so on) 1. a command* issued to the ball by a player who believes their ball is going too far or too fast  2. the act of the ball stopping quickly as a result of backspin
* some players feel that issuing commands to their ball during its movement can alter its final resting point Grin
Example: I was really hoping my ball would bite when I saw it heading toward the deep forest.
1. (also "leading edge") the leading (lowest/forward-most) edge of a club's head, where the sole and face meet  2. (also "skull, thin, belly") when the ball is contacted with the leading edge instead of the face of the club, producing a low trajectory shot with less than the usual amount of spin  3. a style of iron head that is (usually) smaller and thinner along the bottom but especially along the top edge, resembling a blade
Example: 1. Hitting the ball on the sweet spot is preferable to hitting it with the the blade.  2. He hit a good drive, but then bladed/skulled/thinned/bellied his wedge shot.  3. His irons were old blades; whereas mine were bigger, thicker and perimeter-weighted.
(also "blast shot, explosion, explosion shot") a shot that removes a large amount of sand or earth in addition (hopefully) to the ball, as from a buried lie in a bunker
Example: A(n) blast shot/explosion shot back into the wind can be unpleasant.
blind shot
a shot where the intended landing area is not visible from the player's perspective
Example: Since Tomas had never played the course before he didn't know where to aim when he encountered a blind shot on the tee of hole fourteen.
1. (also "block shot, push") a shot that is pushed (to the right for a right-handed player), usually thought of as severe rather than mild  2. tee block or marker
Example: A block shot commonly results from a swing that is too flat and inside.  2. Be sure not to tee your ball in front of the blocks.
(also "bloodsome scramble") same as a scramble but the worst shot is selected each time rather than the best shot, and each player in the group must hole the ball (more on tournament formats)
Example: A bloodsome / bloodsome scramble might take a lot longer than a scramble.
a score of one over (more than) par for a hole
Example: She played the hole fairly well, but still only managed to make a bogey.
bogey golfer
a player whose handicap is about 20 for men (between 17.5 and 22.4) and about 24 for women (between 21.5 and 26.4), according to USGA standards at the time of this writing
Example: The slope rating of a course is based on the ability of the bogey golfer.
bogey rating
like a course rating but based on the ability of a bogey golfer rather than a scratch golfer (the bogey rating is a number used to calculate the slope rating of a course)
Example: The course rating and bogey rating of a course are set by teams of players/evaluators that represent a state or local golf association.
bore-through shaft
a club where the shaft is inserted into and all the way through the head to the sole
Example: Bore-through shafts, or clubheads, have a fixed lie angle.
the allowance for the break or curve of a shot (usually associated with putts or chips)
Example: If you borrow a certain amount in your alignment away from the hole, one would assume that you anticipate it being repaid by the break of the putt.
bounce angle
("bounce sole, bounce angle") the angle of the club's sole from front to back (usually used in reference to irons -- wedges in particular -- and measured in degrees)
Example: Many sand wedges have a large flange and significant bounce.
bowed wrist
("bowing") indicates a wrist position where the palm is closer to the underside of the forearm (technically called "flexion") -- see also cupped
Example: Some golfers have a bowed left wrist at the top of the backswing, which could cause pain from overuse.
box grooves
(also "square grooves") see grooves
archaic term for a 2 wood
Example: He always favored the brassie no matter how tight the hole.
the curve of a putt or running shot due to the slope of the terrain and gravity
Example: As you gain experience in golf your ability to read the break on putts improves.
breakfast ball
(also "lunch ball, Mulligan, Sunday ball") another term for a Mulligan or do-over
Example: Not caring to play by the actual rules, Giuseppe indulged himself with a breakfast ball/lunch ball/Mulligan after topping his first ball 10 feet.
British ball
(also "small ball, European ball, British Open ball") a slightly smaller golf ball (1.62 inches in diameter instead of the standard 1.68 inches) that was common many decades ago, but that has not been allowed by the R & A since 1990 (and has been disallowed from The Open Championship, or British Open, since 1974)
Example: Because the British ball/small ball/European ball/British Open ball was smaller in diameter it probably went a little farther than the standard ball, all else being equal.
(also "golf buggy, trolley") another name for a golf cart, or push cart, but in some places it means any type of golf cart, including golf cars
Example: In the U.S. you might hear something like, "Let's rent a cart and ride today;" whereas in the UK you might hear something like, "Let's hire a trolley/buggy," instead... or you might not.
(also "horizontal bulge") the curve of the face of a wood (across, from heel to toe) which helps shots hit toward the heel or toe curve back in the direction of the center
Example: Horizontal bulge helps toed shots draw or hook and heeled shots fade or slice.
bump and run
(also "chip, chip and run, chip and roll") A shot that is designed to roll (run) farther than it flies (usually, but not always, from near the green)
Example: Bump and run shots are simpler and safer than pitch shots.
bumping it
(also "improving your lie, preferred lies, winter rules") altering the ball's position, or the way it rests (lies) on the ground, so as to make the it easier to contact cleanly -- mainly put into effect when course conditions are not acceptable for playing the ball down, usually due to wet, soggy conditions)
Example: Bumping the ball is not allowed within the rules unless the committee has invoked winter rules/preferred lies.
a depression in the ground usually (but not always) filled with sand
Example: Bunkers are hazards commonly situated so as to demand accuracy on shots.
buried elephant
a particularly large mound or hump, usually used in reference to the surface of a putting green
Example: I'm not sure where the term buried elephant originated, but if I find out I'll include it.
buried lie
(also "embedded lie, plugged lie") when the ball goes into the ground (usually the sand in a bunker) and embeds, plugs or sticks partially or completely under the surface
Example: Mortimer had a buried/embedded/plugged lie that was so bad he could barely see any of his ball.
another name for a creek, more commonly heard in the UK
Example: The most famous burn in golf - that I am aware of - is the Swilcan Burn at St. Andrews.
1. (also "plug") the process of a ball embedding  2. an expression that refers to making a putt firmly and in the center of the cup, without hesitation or doubt
Example: Tomas knew the instant he struck his approach shot that it would not go far enough to carry the front bunker and, knowing his luck, would probably bury.  2. "If Tracy can just make this tricky four-footer for par she will have her first victory on tour... and she buries it!"
(or "butt end, shaft butt") the end of the shaft or grip farthest from the club head; shaft butt diameters are usually measured in thousandths of an inch (e.g., .600) and are combined with grip core measurements to create grip sizes
Example: Shaft and grip butt diameters vary.
butt cap
(also "end cap") the top end of the grip, or a plastic cap on wrapped or leather gripped clubs
Example: When a club is in an upright golf bag it is resting on its butt cap/end cap.
occasionally, a relatively small number of golfers use this word as another name for a double bogey
Example: Just from the sound of the words what would you rather have, an eagle or a buzzard?


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