Golf Terminology For Beginners | Everything You Need To Know

Whether you’re a beginner golfer stepping onto the green for the first time or a casual observer trying to grasp the intricacies of the sport, you may hear some weird words that will go over your head.  Golf has its unique language, so you have to understand golf terminology before getting into it.

If you learn the language of golf, you can easily communicate with other players, comprehend the rules and strategies, and fully immerse yourself in the game. So we have compiled a list of golf terminology for beginners. 

Golf Terminology For Beginners – Basic Terminologies

Golf Terminology For Beginners

Each and every games played in the world have some terminologies, golf is not exception to that. There are many terms associated with the game of golf. I have divided most of the basic and common terminologies into four categories and provided brief descriptions of each one. So, lets know the golf terms.

1. Golf Course Terminology 

Tee box 

The tee box is the designated starting point for each hole on a golf course. There are tee markers on each box. You need to place your ball on the teeing ground before making your initial drive.

The distance from the tee box to the green varies for each hole and determines the length and difficulty of the hole.


The fairway is a well-manicured strip of grass that extends from the tee box to the green. It is the ideal landing area for tee shots and subsequent shots from the fairway. 

The fairway provides a more predictable surface so that you can hit the shot to the green with ease. It offers a consistent lie and allows for good ball control. Staying on the fairway often provides the best chance of reaching the green in the fewest strokes.


The green is the ultimate target on each hole. It is a specially prepared area of short, finely cut grass that is extremely smooth. This is the place where the hole is located.

You need to get the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes possible. It has subtle slopes and undulations, which can affect the direction and speed of the ball when putting.


Bunkers are areas filled with sand which are called sand traps. You can find them anywhere around the greens and fairways.

Green bunkers are shorter and you can get out of them with a lob wedge. On the contrary, fairway bunkers are much longer and need strategic shots. 

Bunkers are designed to penalize wayward shots. You need to apply a different technique as the sand can significantly affect the ball’s trajectory and spin

Water hazards

Water hazards are a common type of hazard on a golf course. Like ponds, lakes, or streams. If your shot lands in the water, it will be a penalty stroke. You must take a drop and continue your play.


The rough on a golf course is like a hidden challenge waiting to test the skills of golfers. Its thick grass and unforgiving nature make it a formidable obstacle to wayward shots. If your ball lands in the rough, then the next shot will be tougher. 

Depending on the course, rough length can add a lot or a few scores to your game. Some courses have semi-rough and deep rough. Semi-rough is still forgiving and easy to find the ball, whereas deep rough is more difficult and harder to hit the ball on. 

Out of Bounds

Out of bounds refers to areas outside the boundaries of the golf course. If your ball goes out of bounds, you must take a penalty stroke and replay the shot from the original position.

2. Scoring Terminology

Stroke play 

Stroke play is the most common format of golf. Each player counts the total number of strokes they take to complete the entire round or a specific tournament. The player with the fewest total strokes at the end of the round or tournament is the winner.

In stroke play, every stroke counts, and the aim is to achieve the lowest overall score.

Match Play

Match play is a format where players compete against each other on a hole-by-hole basis. Each hole is a separate contest. If you win the most holes, you will win the match.

The score is expressed as the number of holes up or down, with the number of holes remaining. In match play, the total number of strokes is not relevant; only the number of holes won matters.


A par is the preset number of scores that a golfer expects to take to complete a hole or the entire course. Each hole on the course has its par value relating to the length of the hole.

You must hear par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes. A golf course with 18 holes might have a par of 72 if it consists of a mix of par-3, 4, and 5 holes.

In golf, a par refers to the score that a scratch golfer is expected to achieve. Par 3 is a challenging shot where you need to reach it with one stroke.

You usually need two good shots to reach the green on a par four, while three shots are required on a par five.


A birdie is a score that is one stroke under par on a hole. For example, if you complete a par-4 hole in 3 strokes, it is called a birdie.


A bogey is a score that is one stroke over par on a hole. If a par-4 hole is completed in 5 strokes, it is called a bogey.


 An Eagle is a score that is two strokes under par on a hole. If a par-5 hole is completed in 3 strokes, it is called an Eagle.

Double Bogey

A double bogey is a score that is two strokes over par on a hole. If a par-4 hole is completed in 6 strokes, it is called a double bogey.

Ace – Hole in one

In golf, an “ace” refers to a hole-in-one. It is the ultimate moment of pure joy for any golfer. If you make a single shot that perfectly results in the ball finding its way directly into the hole on a par-3. Achieving an ace is a testament to both skill and a touch of luck. 


A handicap represents the number of strokes that a player receives as a handicap allowance. Lower-handicap players have lower handicap values and are generally more skilled, receiving fewer strokes.

High-handicap players have higher values and receive more strokes to compensate for their relative skill level. The purpose of handicaps is to create fair competition among players of different abilities. It allows everyone to have a chance to compete on an equal footing.

3. Swing Terminology


The grip is how you hold a golf club. It plays a crucial role in your swing. There are different grip styles, including overlapping, interlocking, and baseball grips. The grip allows you to control the clubface and influence the direction and trajectory of your shots.

A proper grip provides stability and control. It helps you to maintain a consistent swing throughout.


You should have your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed.

Ball Position

You may have different ball positions depending on the club you’re using. For irons, the ball is usually played in the middle of the stance, while with the driver, it’s positioned more toward the front foot.


Bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight and your knees slightly flexed. This creates a balanced and athletic position.


The backswing is the initial movement where you take the club away from the ball. It involves rotating your shoulders, turning your hips, and cocking your wrists to build power and set the club into the correct position at the top of the swing.


The downswing occurs between the top of the backswing and the impact of the ball. It involves a sequence of movements where the lower body initiates the downswing.

Like the rotation of the hips, the release of the wrists, and the acceleration of the clubhead toward the ball.


Follow-through is the continuation of the swing after impact. It relates to the extension of your arms and the rotation of your body toward the target.

Balanced and complete follow-through ensures proper weight transfer and control of the club throughout the swing.


A slice is a shot that curves severely from left to right (for right-handed golfers) or right to left (for left-handed golfers). If your clubface is open relative to the swing path, it can result in a side spin that makes the ball curve to the side.


A hook is a shot that curves severely from right to left (for right-handed golfers) or left to right (for left-handed golfers). If your clubface is closed in your swing path, it produces side spin that makes the ball curve to the side.


A draw means a shot that curves gently from right to left (for right-handed golfers) or left to right (for left-handed golfers).

You can create it by starting the ball to the right of the target and having a swing path that is slightly from the inside. It allows the ball to curve back toward the target.


If your shot curves gently from left to right (for right-handed golfers) or right to left (for left-handed golfers), it will fade.

When you start the ball to the left of the target and have a swing path that is slightly from the outside, it causes the ball to curve away from the target.


A shot where the ball is struck by the hosel of the club is called shank in golf. It can lead to a sharp, unintended sideways direction. In this shot, the ball will travel in an unpredictable manner, often veering off to the right (for right-handed golfers).

Topped Shot

A shot where the golfer strikes the top portion of the ball instead of the center. In this case, it will consider a low, weak shot that doesn’t achieve the desired distance or trajectory.

Chunked Shot

Also known as a “fat shot” or a “duffed shot.” It occurs when you hit the ground before striking the ball. There will be a minimal ball flight and cover a shorter distance than intended.

4. Golf Practice Terminology

Driving Range

It is a large area on a golf course or practice facility where golfers can practice their long shots, particularly with a driver or other woods.

It typically has multiple hitting bays or tees and provides you with the opportunity to hit numerous balls to improve your swing technique and distance.

Practice Green

It is a practice facility where you can practice putting. The practice green usually resembles the actual greens on the course, allowing you to work on your stroke, distance control, and reading the break of the putt.

Chipping Area

A designated area with short grass where you can practice your chip shots. They often have targets or holes to aim at. You can develop your short-game skills, such as controlling trajectory, spin, and distance on shots played closer to the green.

Pitching Area

It is similar to a chipping area. A pitching area is designed for practicing shots that require more loft and a higher trajectory than chip shots. You can use this area to practice pitches, flops, and lob shots, focusing on accuracy and distance control.

Bunker Area

Designed specifically for practicing bunker shots. It typically consists of various bunkers with different depths and sand conditions. It helps you nail the technique to get out of sand traps and develop your bunker shot.

Target Practice

A practice method where golfers aim at specific targets or markers on the range or practice area. This helps you develop accuracy and shot-shaping skills, as you aim for specific distances or landing areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do you call your first shot in golf?

The first shot is referred to as the “tee shot” or “drive.” During this shot, the ball is elevated from the ground using a tee.

What is a poor golf shot called?

Golfers often call a poor golf shot as bad shot or missed shot. Slice, hook, shank, chopped shot, etc. are considered poor shots. 

What is a free shot called in golf?

A free shot is commonly called a “mulligan.” It is an informal term that golfers use to describe a do-over or a second chance to hit a shot without penalty.

What is fried egg in golf?

A fried egg is a slung in golf. If your ball lands on the sand and trap in it, it is a fried egg. 


There is a wide range of terms and slang in golf play. As time passes on the golf course, you will learn them gradually.

However, we have shared the basic golf terminology which is an important step for beginners. With these terminologies, you can better communicate with others and navigate the course with confidence.