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Glossary of Golf Terms

by Jake Tingey & Judd Lyon · Updated: 5/17/24

The Front Nine Golf Glossary is a comprehensive resource for golfers of all levels. From fundamentals to advanced concepts, our clear and concise explanations will improve your knowledge and understanding of the sport. Continuously updated, this glossary is the perfect tool for improving your game and impressing your golfing friends.


A hole-in-one, where the golfer sinks the ball in one shot.


A score of three under par on a hole.

Approach shot

A shot made towards the green with the intention of setting up a short shot for the next stroke.


The backward rotation of the ball in the air, caused by the club striking the ball with an upward angle.


A barrier or wall used to redirect the flow of air or water. In golf, a baffle can refer to the wall of a wind tunnel used to test club performance.


A score of one under par on a hole.


A score of one over par on a hole


The amount of curvature a putt takes due to the slope of the green.


A sand-filled hazard on the course.

Carom shot

A shot in which the ball bounces off another object, such as a wall or tree, before reaching its target.


The distance a ball travels through the air.

Chip shot

A short shot made from close to the green.

Course rating

A numerical value assigned to a golf course that reflects the difficulty of the course for scratch golfers.


The portion of the field that makes the cut and advances to the next round of a golf tournament.


The piece of turf that is displaced when a club strikes the ground.


A hole that bends in one direction, usually to the left or right.


A type of shot that starts out to the right of the target for a right-handed golfer, then curves back to the left towards the target.


The first shot of a hole, typically hit with a driver.


A score of two under par on a hole.


A type of shot that starts out to the left of the target for a right-handed golfer, then curves back to the right towards the target.


The closely-mown area between the tee box and the green.

Fat shot

A shot in which the clubhead strikes the ground before hitting the ball.

Flop shot

A high, soft shot played from close to the green.


A person who walks ahead of the group and helps locate the players' shots.


The area of grass surrounding the green that is cut slightly longer than the green itself.


The area of finely-cut grass surrounding the hole, where putting is performed.

Green fee

The fee charged to play a round of golf at a golf course.


The way in which a player holds the club.


A measure of a golfer's ability, used to adjust their score in competition.


Obstacles on a golf course that can affect play, such as bunkers, water, and rough.


The 4 1/4 inch diameter opening in the green where the ball is meant to be sunk.


A type of shot that curves sharply to the left for a right-handed golfer.


The position of the ball on the ground, relative to the slope and type of grass.


A type of golf course that is typically located near the coast and features firm, fast-draining soil.


The angle between the clubface and the ground when the club is soled.

Match play

A type of golf competition in which a player or team earns a point for each hole they win, rather than counting total strokes.


An extra shot taken after a poor tee shot, usually allowed informally between friends.


The number of strokes that a skilled golfer should take to complete a hole or a round of golf.

Penalty stroke

An extra stroke added to a player's score as a result of a rules infraction.

Pin placement

The location of the pin on the green, which can affect the difficulty of a putt.

Punch shot

A low, running shot played from the rough or when the ball is lying down.


A shot made on the green with the intention of sinking the ball in the hole.


The area of long grass that surrounds the fairway and greens.

Rough rule

A rule that allows a golfer to take a free drop from the rough if their ball is unplayable.


A complete game of golf, typically 18 holes.


A record of a player's score on each hole of a round of golf.

Scoring club

A club used for shorter shots, such as a putter or wedge.

Scratch Golfer

A scratch golfer is a player who has a handicap of zero, meaning they can play to the course's par on average. They are considered to be skilled golfers and are usually competitive at the amateur level.


A type of shot that goes off to the side, usually due to striking the ball with the hosel of the club.


The position of the feet and body before making a shot.


A situation in which one golfer's ball blocks the path of another golfer's shot.

Tee box

The starting point for a hole, where the golfer hits their first shot.

Tee markers

Markers that indicate the location of the tee box.

Tee shot

The first shot of a hole, played from the tee box.

Tee time

The scheduled time for a player or group to start a round of golf.


A score in which the golfer gets the ball into the hole in two shots after missing the green with the first shot.


The United States Golf Association, the governing body for the rules of golf in the United States.


A club with a high loft, used for short shots and for getting out of bunkers or rough.


A sudden and involuntary movement of the hands during a putting stroke.

Zero handicap

A golfer who has a handicap of zero is considered to be a scratch golfer, meaning they should shoot par for a round of golf.