Golf Terminology for Beginners

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Golf Terms That Every Beginner Golfer Should Know

Golf is simply hitting a golf ball into a hole hundreds of yards away.

LOL, yes simple in its objective, however, there is much to learn as a new golfer just starting out.

And the game of golf like many other sports and hobbies has its very own language.

For beginner golfers, this can be quite foreign and hard to grasp.

The technical terms alone can be baffling and confusing, especially if you have never played or watched golf on TV.

While there are thousands of words dedicated just to golf, I am listing here the most important ones to know as a new golfer to help start you off in your journey.

Golf Game Basic Terminology for Beginners

Golf

A game that is played outside on a golf course where the object is to hit a golf ball into a hole hundreds of yards away.

Golf Round or Round of Golf

This just means the game that you play each time you go out and play golf.

Golf Ball

The ball that is hit and used in the game of golf.

Golf Club

There are 2 definitions. The first refers to the equipment used to hit the golf ball. Golf clubs are comprised of a driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and a putter.

The second definition is usually a golf course with a private membership of golfers. For example, Augusta National Golf Club.

Golf Course

A golf course is located outdoors where golf is played. A typical golf course is either 9 or 18 holes.

Golf Course Overview

Here is a listing of areas you will find on a golf course.

  • Tee Box – where you tee up the ball at the start of each hole.  
  • Fairway – the large area of manicured grass between the tee box and the green.
  • Rough – the area off the fairways and greens with grown in longer grass.
  • Bunker or Sandtrap – the areas that are filled with sand.
  • Green – the very tightly manicured area where the cup or hole is located.  Putting takes place here.
  • Fringe – the area that surrounds the green that is just a bit longer than the green and shorter than the rough.
  • Flagstick or Pin – each hole has an actual target or flagstick that is located on the green.
  • Hazard or Penalty Area – these areas are staked or marked and include ponds, streams, fescue, natural vegetation where a golfer may find trouble.
  • Out of Bounds – areas that are marked that can not be played out of.
  • Divots – marks, indents or tufts of earth that have been pulled up due to a golf club or a ball that lands and marks the green.

Types of Holes

Each hole on a golf course is designated either a Par 3, 4 or 5.

  • Par 3 – this hole takes 3 shots to hole out. This is the shortest hole on a golf course.
  • Par 4 – this hole takes 4 shots to hole out. It is the mid-distance hole on the golf course.
  • Par 5 – this hole take 5 shots to hole out. It is the longest hole on the golf course.

Tee Time

The exact time when your group is scheduled to tee off or start on the first hole.

Twosome, Threesome or Foursome

Refers to the number of people playing in one group. Golf can be played with 1 – 4 players in each group. Twosome means 2 people are playing in the group. Threesome means 3 people and so on.

Golf Score

An overall 9 or 18 hole score is the total number of times you hit the ball in a round of golf. Another name for hits is “strokes”.

A separate score for each hole is tracked on a scorecard and at the end of the round, it is the aggregate of all these holes that makes up your total or final round score.

On each hole, you can score the following below.

  • Par: the expected number of strokes that a professional or scratch golfer is expected to shoot.
  • Birdie – 1 under par
  • Eagle – 2 under par
  • Albatross – 3 under par
  • Bogey – 1 over par
  • Double Bogey – 2 over par
  • Triple Bogey – 3 over par
  • Ace or Hole in One – where it takes 1 shot on the drive to put the ball in the hole.

Golf Handicap

This allows golfers at any level to compete or play on a level playing field. It is a calculation that averages prior scores and gives you a number that correlates to how many strokes above par you would usually shoot in any given round.

Types of Golf Shots

  • Drive – the first golf shot from the tee box on each hole.
  • Fairway Shots – typically the second and third shots made from the fairway.
  • Pitch and Chip Shots – also called the short game. Typically these golf shots are made from within 100 yards of the green. A pitch is longer than a short chip.
  • Putt – the act of rolling in putts on the green into the hole.

Golf Accessories

  • Tee – a tool that is manually placed in the ground by a golfer and used to elevate the golf ball for the drive on each hole. A tee can only be used in the tee box.  
  • Golf cart or Pushcart/Pullcart – Golfers either carry their golf bags on their back, ride in a motorized golf cart or will use a pushcart or pullcart which holds their golf bag.
  • Divot Repair Tool – tool that helps to repair divots made on the green.
  • Ball Marker – tool that is used to mark the golf ball on the green.
  • Golf Glove – a golf glove helps with the proper grip and is usually worn on one hand.

Areas of a Golf Course or Golf Club

  • Clubhouse – the main building where all the different areas below are located.
  • Pro Shop – usually where you check-in, pay for your round, obtain a scorecard, and puchase golf merchandise.
  • Locker Rooms – designated areas for changing, showering, and bathroom facilities.
  • Bag Room – a place where golf clubs may be stored at a golf club
  • Starter – the person who greets you at the first tee and provides any special instructions.
  • Practice Area – areas designated for practice. This can be a driving range, short game area or practice putting green.
  • 19th Hole – bar or restaurant to meet and socialize after a round of golf.

Golf Course Personnel & Staff: 

A golf course can not be run without the many people who help with the different facets of golf – from the business and logistical operations as well as maintaining the actual landscaping, design and golf course.

  • Head Golf Professional – an individual that is in charge of all golf business operations. They may be responsible for a team of other staff and assistants or teaching golf professionals.
  • Superintendent or Greenskeeper – an individual that is in charge of maintaining the golf course. They are responsible for the maintenance and landscaping crew that takes care of the grounds.
  • Golf Architect or Designer – the individual who designs a golf course.
  • Cart and Bag Attendants – individuals who help with golf carts, bags, and other helpful services.
  • Caddies – individuals who carry a golfer’s bag during a round. They also can provide tips and advice on how to play the golf course.

Golf Course Types

  • 18 or 9 hole Golf Courses – golf courses are designed to be either 9 or 18 holes.
  • Municipal or Public Golf Courses – golf courses that are open to anyone that would like to play and a membership is not needed.
  • Executive Golf Course – golf courses that are shorter in distance than a full-sized golf course.
  • Par 3 Golf Courses – golf courses that are comprised of all par 3’s.
  • Private Clubs, Golf Clubs, or Country Clubs – golf courses that require a membership or money to join and can be exclusive.
  • Golf Range, Golf Simulators, and Golf Entertainment – facilities that provide practice areas only – inside and/or outside. Practice areas include driving ranges, putting greens, short game areas, indoor hitting bays with simulators, and other entertainment offerings.

Wrap Up

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to golf terms and terminology. I hope it provides you with enough information in the beginning as you start out learning this amazing game along with 2.5 million other new golfers.

Yes, exciting stuff! That’s right, as reported by the National Golf Foundation in 2019.

I love the growth we are seeing in golf and that more people are taking up the game.

With these numbers, I want to help by providing as much info for new golfers since golf can be quite challenging to learn especially in the beginning.

If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter as I am writing and putting up new posts on topics such as beginners golf each week.

You’ll also receive a Free Golf Guide on How to Play Your Best Round of Golf.

It actually includes helpful tips like what to bring to the golf course when you play, a little on etiquette, and what to expect during the round, and helps put you in the right mindset for an amazing round of golf.

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