Online Golf Dictionary

Online Golf Dictionary

Aim: The act of aligning the clubface to the target.

Alignment: The position of the body in relation to the target.

Angle of Approach (or Attack): A term that describes the relative angle which the clubhead approaches the ball at impact which, in turn, helps determine the distance and trajectory which the ball travels.

Approach: A shot hit towards the green.


Backswing: The motion of taking the club away from the ball and setting it in position at the top of the backswing from which the club can be delivered to the ball at impact.

Backspin: The rotational spin of the ball produced by contact with the clubface. The greater the backspin, the higher the ball will fly and the more it will spin, and therefore stop or even spin backwards on impact with the turf.

Balance: The proper distribution of weight both at address and throughout the swing.

Baseball Grip: A grip in which all ten fingers are placed on the grip of the club.

Birdie: A score of one under par on a hole.

Bladed Shot: A bladed shot occurs when the top half of the ball is struck with the bottom portion of a club.

Block: A swing in which the rotation of the forearms is delayed or prevented throughout the hitting area, generally producing a shot that flies to the right of the target for a right handed player.

Bogey: A score of one over par on a hole.

Break: The amount a putt will curve due to the slope of the green.  Grain of the grass and wind will also affect the movement of the ball.

Bump and Run: A shot around the green in which the player hits the ball with minimum air time and maximum ground time to control trajectory and distance.

Bunker: A hollow comprised of sand or grass or both that exists as an obstacle and, in some cases, a hazard.

Caddie: A person hired to carry clubs and provide other assistance.

Carry: The distance a ball will fly in the air, usually to carry a hazard or safely reach a target.

Casting: An uncocking of the wrists prematurely on the downswing, resulting in a loss of power and control.

Cavity-back: A type of iron in which a portion of the back of the clubhead is hollowed out and the weight distributed around the outside edges of the clubhead.

Centrifugal Force: The action in a rotating body that tends to move mass away from the center. It is the force you feel in the downswing that pulls the clubhead outward and downward, extending the arms and encouraging a circular path.

Chicken Wing: A swing flaw in which the lead elbow bends at an angle pointed away from the body, usually resulting in a blocked or pushed shot.

Choke Down: The act of gripping down on the shaft, which is generally believed to provide greater control.

Chunk: A poor shot caused by hitting the turf well behind the ball.

Closed Clubface: The position formed when the toe of the club is closer to the ball that the heel, either at address or impact, which causes the clubface to point to the left of the target line.

Closed Clubface: (swing) A position during the swing in which the clubface is angled to the left of the target line or swing plane, generally resulting in shots hit to the left of the target.

Closed Stance: A description of a stance when the rear foot is pulled back away from the target line.

Closed-to-Open: A swing in which the clubhead is closed on the backswing but then manipulated into an open position on the downswing.

Coefficient of Restitution: The relationship of the clubhead speed at impact to the velocity of the ball after it has been struck. This measure is affected by the clubhead and ball material.

Coil: The turning of the body during the backswing.

Compression: A measure of the relative hardness of a golf ball ranging from 100 (hardest) to 80 (softest).

Connection: A description of a swing in which all the various body parts work harmoniously to produce a solid, fluid motion.

Cross-Handed: A grip in which the left (or lead) hand is placed below the right hand (in other words, a grip that is the opposite of the traditional grips.

Cupped Wrist: A position in which the left or top hand is hinged outward at the top of the backswing.

Cut Shot: A shot played with a slightly open clubface and a swing path that travels out to in. The result is a soft fade that produces additional backspin and causes the ball to stop quickly on the green.

Deep-Faced Driver: A driver with greater-than-standard height on its face.

Decelerate: A decreasing of the clubhead speed in the hitting area.

Divot: The turf displaced when the club strikes the ball on a descending path.

Double Bogey: A score of two over par on a hole.

Double Eagle: A score of three under par on a hole.

Dormie: The point in match play when a player is up in a match by the same number of holes that remain.

Downswing: The swing forward from the top of the backswing.

Draw: A shot that flies slightly from right to left for right-handed players.

Driving Range: Another term for a practice area. Also known as a golf range, practice range or learning center.

Duck Hook: A shot that flies sharply from right to left for right-handed players. It is usually hit unintentionally, since it is difficult to control.


Eagle: A score of two-under-par on a hole.

Effective Loft: The actual loft on a club at impact as opposed to the loft built into the club. Effective loft is determined by, among other things, the lie and the position of the hands relative to the ball at impact.

Explosion: A shot played from a sand bunker, usually when the ball has buried or settled down into the sand.

Extension: The act of extending the arms without tension during the swing.  The club should feel as far away from the body as possible.

Fade: A shot that flies slightly from left to right for the right handed player and right to left for the left handed player.

Fat Shot: A description of a shot when the clubhead strikes the turf behind the ball, resulting in poor contact and a shot that comes up well short of the target.

Flange: The bottom of the sole of the golf club.  Sand Wedges have the widest flange with the longer irons having the thinnest flange.

Flat Swing: A swing that is more horizontal and less vertical in plane than is typical.

Flier: A shot from the rough or in wet conditions that reduces the amount of backspin on the ball, causing it to fly lower and farther than it might under normal conditions.

Flip or Flop Shot: A shot, usually played with a wedge, that involves a wristy swing designed to hit the ball a short distance but with a lot of height.

Floater: A ball struck from the deep grass that comes out slowly and travels a shorter distance because of the heavy cushioning effect of the grass between the ball and the clubface.

Fluffy Lie: A lie in which the ball rests in long grass. This shot is challenging as the ball may sit high in the grass or settle in the bottom of the grass.

Follow-through: That part of the swing that occurs after the ball has been struck.

Footwork: The coordinated action of the lower body during the golf swing.

Forward Press: The movement of the hands in front of the clubhead at address.

Forward Swing: The downward motion of the hands, arms and club from the top of the backswing to impact. Another terms for downswing.

Fried Egg: The slang term for a buried lie in the sand.


Grand Slam: The four professional Major Championships -- the PGA Championship, the Masters and the United States and British Opens.

Golf Range: A facility where people can practice their full swings and, in some cases, their short games.

Grain: The direction which the blades of grass grow, which is of primary importance on the putting greens (particularly Bermuda grass greens) as this can affect how much and in which direction a putt breaks.

Greenkeeper: An older, outdated term for the course superintendent.

Grip (Equipment): That part of the golf club where the hands are placed.

Grip: The placing and positioning of the hands on the club. The various types include the Vardon or overlapping, the interlocking and the 10-finger or baseball grip.  Watch the Grip Routine video here.

Groove (equipment): The horizontal scoring lines on the face of the club that help impart spin on the ball.

Ground: When referred to in the Rules of Golf, it means the point when the club touches the ground (or water) prior to playing the shot. (It is against the Rules of Golf to ground your club in a hazard).


Half Shot: A shot played with an abbreviated swing and reduced swing speed. This shot is often played when trying to hit a short shot or control trajectory.

Heel: The part of the clubhead nearest the hosel, or the shaft of the club.

Heel and Toe Weighted: A club design where weight is distributed towards the heel and toe of a club, usually an iron, to reduce the effect of mis-hits.

High Side: The side of the hole that a putt breaks from.

Hitter: A player who favors a forceful, aggressive style of swing.

Hooding: Impacting the ball with the hands well ahead of the ball; which tends to reduce the effective loft of the club.

Hook: A shot that curves sharply from right to left for right-handed players, or right to left for left handed players.

Hosel: The part of the club connecting the shaft to the clubhead.

Impact: The moment in the swing when the club strikes the ball.

Inside-to-Inside: A swing path that will produce the greatest percentage of solid, straight and on-target shots. It refers to a path in which the clubhead travels from inside the target line, to impact, and then back inside the target line.

Inside-to-Out: A swing path in which the clubhead approaches the ball from inside the target line and, after contact, continues to the outside of the target line before turning back to the inside of the target line.

Intended Line of Flight: The direction a player plans for his ball to begin after impact.

Iron Byron: A testing device modeled after Byron Nelson's swing. It is used to test clubs and balls.


Kinesiology: The scientific study of man's movement and the movements of implements or equipment that he might use in exercise, sport or other forms of physical activity.

Kinetic Energy: The form of energy associatedwith the speed of an object. Its equation is: KE=1/2mv2(squared); or kinetic energy= ? mass x velocity squared.

Lag: A shot, usually a putt, designed to finish short of the target.

Lateral Slide: or Shift: A movement early in the forward swing in which the hips begin to slide to the target and rotate.

Lay Off: When the swing plane flattens out at the top of the back swing, it causes the club to point to the side of the target and the face to close.

Learning Center: A complete practice and instruction facility, which may or may not be on the site of a golf course

Level-Par: A term describing a score of even par.

Lie: Relates to the resting position of the golf ball.  The lie is usually in relation to a course condition, ie fairway, rough, etc.  Relates to the club, it is the angle of the sole of the club relative to the shaft.

Line: The intended path of the ball, usually referred to in the context of putting.

Line of Flight: The actually path of the ball.

Links: The term for a course built on linksland, which is land reclaimed from the ocean. It is not just another term for a golf course. (The Old Course at St. Andrews is the most famous links in the world.)

Lob Shot: A short, high shot, usually played with a wedge, designed to land softly.

Loft: The degree of angle on the clubface, with the least loft on a putter and the most on a sand wedge.

Long Irons: The 2-5 irons.

Looking Up: The act of prematurely lifting your head to follow the flight of the ball, which also raises the swing center and can result in erratic ballstriking.

Loop: The shape of the swing when the backswing and forward swing are in different planes.  Loop also refers to a round of golf.

Loosened Grip: Any time a player opens his fingers and loses control of the club.

Middle or Mid-irons: The 6-8 irons.

Mulligan: The custom of hitting a second ball on a hole, usually the 1st tee.  Mulligans are not allowed according to the Rules of Golf.

Nassau: A competition in which points are awarded for winning the front nine, back nine and overall 18.

Off-Green Putting: When a player elects to putt from off the green rather than chip.

Offset: A measure of the distance between the leading edge of the hosel and the leading edge of the clubface.

One-Piece Swing: A swing where the wrists remain stable through impact.  The one-piece swing results in a lower flight and shorter distance.

One-Piece Takeaway: Sometimes called the "modern" takeaway, it describes the beginning of the backswing when the hands, arms and wrists move away from the ball, maintaining the same relationship they had at address.

Open Clubface: When, either at address or during the swing, the heel of the clubhead is leading the toe, causing the clubface to point to the side of the target.

Open Stance: When the lead foot is pulled back farther from the target line than the rear foot. This stance generally helps promote a fade ball flight.

Open-to-Closed: A description of the movement of the clubface from open on the backswing to closed at impact.

Outside-to-In: A description of a swing path when the clubhead approaches the ball from outside the target line and then continues to the inside of that line following impact.

Overclub: When a player picks the wrong club, usually for an approach shot, causing the ball to go over the green.

Over the Top: A motion beginning the downswing that sends the club outside the ideal plane (swing path) and delivers the clubhead from outside the target line at impact. This is sometimes known as an outside-to-inside swing.


Pace of play: The time it takes to play a round of golf.  A typical pace of play is 4 hours.

Paddle Grip: A putting grip with a flat surface where the thumbs rest.

Par: The score an accomplished player is expected to make on a hole, either a three, four or five.

Path: The direction the club travels during the swing or the putting stroke. This is best observed from an overhead view.

Pendulum Stroke: In putting, a stroke that moves the clubhead back and forth on a constant line, without deviation.

Pinch Shot: A shot played in which a player strikes the ball with a crisp, clean descending blow.

Pistol Grip: A grip, usually on a putter, that is built up under the left or top hand.

Pitch-and-Run: A shot from around the green, usually with a middle or short iron, where the ball carries in the air for a short distance before running towards the hole.

Pivot: The rotation of the body around a relatively fixed point, usually the spine.

Plumb-bob: A method few players use to help them determine the amount a putt will break. It involves positioning yourself behind the ball and holding the putter vertically so it covers the ball. In theory, the shaft of the putter will indicate the amount the ball will break.

Plugged Lie: The condition when the ball comes to rest in its own pitch mark, usually in a bunker or soft turf.

Press: To try and hit the ball harder than usual. This also describes an extra effort to play well.

Pre-Shot Routine: The actions a player takes from the time he selects a club until he begins the swing.

Pronation: An inward rotation of the hands towards the body’s centerline when standing in a palms-facing-forward position.

Pulled Shot: A relatively straight shot that begins to the side of the target and doesn't curve back.

Punch Shot: A low-flying shot played with an abbreviated backswing and finish. The key to the shot is having the hands slightly ahead of the clubhead at impact, which reduces the effective loft of the club.

Pushed Shot: A shot that starts to the side of the target and never curves back.


Radius: The distance between the center of the swing arc (the target or forward shoulder) and the hands on the grip.

Reading the Green (or Putt): The entire process involved in judging the break and path of a putt.

Recover: To successfully hit a shot from a poor location.

Release: The act of freely returning the clubhead squarely to the ball at impact, producing a powerful shot.

Reverse: Weight Shift: A swing flaw in which the weight moves forward on the backswing instead of to the back leg.

Rhythm: The coordination of movement during the golf swing or putting stroke.


Scramble: To recover from trouble or a popular form of team play in which the team members pick the ball in the best position and everyone plays from that spot.

Setup: The process of addressing the ball, so that the club and body are properly aimed and aligned.

Shank: When the ball is struck on the hosel of the club.

Shape: To curve a shot to fit the situation.  The word is also used to describe the flight of the ball.

Short Game: Those shots played on and around the green, including putting, chipping and pitching, and bunker shots.

Short Irons: The 9 iron, pitching and sand wedge.

Slice: A ball that curves from left to right (for a right handed player) to a greater degree than a fade.

Sole: When referring to equipment, it is the bottom of a club.  When referring to the swing, it is the point when the sole of the club touches the ground at address.

Sole-Weighted: A design of golf clubs incorporates additional weight along the sole of the club. This makes it easier to get the ball into the air and is also effective from the rough.

Splash Shot: A shot played from a good lie in the bunker. The club "splashes" through the sand, throwing the ball into the air.

Square: A term frequently used in golf. It can be used to describe a stance.  Toes, knees, hips, forearms, shoulders and eyes are square to the target line or the clubface.  It can also refer to the status of a match.

Stance: The position of the feet at address.

Steer: An attempt to guide the flight of the ball.

Stroke Play: Also known as medal play, it is a form of competition based on the cumulative number of strokes taken, either over one round or several.  Most professional tournaments are stroke play events.

Strong Grip: A terms used to describe a grip in which the hands are turned counter-clockwise on the grip.

Supination: An outward rotation of the hands (thumbs turning out) away from the body's centerline when standing in a palms-facing-the-body position. In the golf swing it is the right-hand rotation motion on the backswing and the left's on the forward swing.

Swaying: An exaggerated lateral movement of the body on either the backswing, forward swing, or both, which results in inconsistent shotmaking.

Sweet Spot: The point on the clubface where the clubface will not torque or twist to either side.

Swing Arc: The entire path the clubhead makes in the course of a swing. It is a combination of the swing's width and length.

Swing Plane: An imaginary surface that describes the path and angle of the club during the swing.

Swingweight: A measure of the effective weight of a club.

Swingweight Scale: A device for measuring swingweight.

Takeaway: The movement of the club at the start of the backswing.

Target Line: An imaginary (visualized) line drawn behind and through the ball to the point a player is aiming.

Tee Box: The area where players tee to start a hole.

Tempo: The measurement of time fromt eh moment the club is taken away from the ball until impact with the ball.

Three-Quarter Shot: A shot played with a shortened backswing and lessened arm speed.

Topped Shot: A shot where the bottom of the club strikes the top half of the ball.

Trajectory: The height and angle the ball travels when struck.

Transition: The change of direction in the swing, from the backswing to the forward swing.


Uncock: The release of straightening of the wrists during the downswing.

Upright: A steeper-than-normal swing plane.  Upright also refers to a club's lie in which the shaft is placed at a steeper-than-standard angle.

Visualization: A mental image of a swing or shot or even an entire round. (Once she began visualizing her shots, her scoring improved dramatically.)

Waggle: A motion or several motions designed to keep a player relaxed at address and help establish a smooth pace in the takeaway and swing.

Weak Grip: A term describing a grip where the hands are turned to the left for a right-handed player.

Whiff: A complete miss.

Wrist Hinge: A description of the hinging motion of the wrists during the backswing in which the hands are turned clockwise. Ideally, the wrists are fully cocked at the beginning of the downswing.

Online Golf Dictionary