Golf Terms for Beginners

These are the basic terms to get you started in understanding golf talk.


The position of the body in relation to the initial target. 


The motion that involves the club and every element of the body in 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.


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


A score of one under par on a hole.


A score of one over par on a hole.


The amount a putt will curve to the side because of the slope, grain and wind that affect the movement of the ball.


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


A person hired to carry clubs and provide other assistance.


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

Double Bogey

A score of two over par on a hole.


The swing forward from the top of the backswing.


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


That part of the swing that occurs after the ball has been struck.

Forward Swing

The downward motion of the hands, arms, and club from the top of the backswing to impact. Another term for downswing.

Grip (Equipment)

That part of the golf club where the hands are placed.


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. (The Vardon grip is the most popular grip today).


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Short Game

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


The position of the feet at address.

Sweet Spot

The point on the clubface where, if it is struck with an object, the clubface will not torque or twist to either side.

Target Line

An imaginary (often visualized) line drawn behind and through the ball to the point a player is aiming. If the player is planning to curve the ball, this point is the initial -- not the ultimate -- target.

Tee Box

The area where players tee to start a hole.


The speed of the swing (not necessarily the clubhead speed).

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