Golf Slang: Learn the Lingo Used on the Course

Definitions of Golf Slang Terms

Close-up of golf ball on putting green.
John Lamb / Photodisc / Getty Images

Golf slang is a colorful part of the game, and golf slang terms can be universally used or be specific to a very small region. Small groups of golfers might even develop their own terms, unique to their rounds.

We'll start with links to terms for which we have fuller, in-depth definitions, and after that are shorter definitions of many more terms. For the in-depth slang terms, click for the explanation:

Dew Sweeper
Duffer
Fishies
Flatstick
Foot Wedge
Gimmie
Greenies
Hacker
Hit It, Alice
Hosel Rocket
KP
Loop
Looping
Mulligan
Nice Putt, Alice
Sandbagger
Snowman
Splashies
Texas Wedge
The Tips
Wormburner
Yips

More Golf Slang Terms Defined

And following are many more golf slang terms defined:

Abominable Snowman: A score of 9 (even worse than an 8, which is called a snowman) on a hole.

Aircraft Carrier: A long, flat, rectangular teeing ground, one that is usually elevated a few feet above the level of the surrounding turf and that includes all the tees for that hole.

Air Mail: Verb meaning to overshoot the green, or hit the ball much farther than intended. "I air mailed the green on that shot."

Air Press: See Golf Formats and Betting Games

Air Shot: Another name for a whiff. Swinging and missing. "Nice air shot, pal."

Alec Guinness: A shot that goes out of bounds, or O.B. (from Guinness' Star Wars character, Obi-Wan Kenobi)

Afraid of the Dark: A ball that just doesn't want to go in the hole (a missed short putt, for example) is afraid of the dark.

Amelia Earhart: A shot that looks great taking off, but then you can't find the ball.

Back-door putt: A putt that catches the edge of the hole, spins around to the back of the hole, and falls into the cup off that back edge of the hole.

Barkie: A bet won by a golf who makes par on a hole after his golf ball hit a tree. Also called a "woody" or "woodie" (and sometimes spelled "barky"). "We're playing barkies today, $1 for each barkie."

Beach: The sand; a sand bunker. "That shot went to the beach."

Bo Derek: A score of 10 on a hole.

Botox: A putt that lips-out.

Buzzard: A double bogey.

Cabbage: The rough, especially thick, deep rough.

Can: Another term for the hole or cup.

Captain Kirk: Your shot went where no ball has gone before.

Carpet: Another term for the green.

Cart Jockey: A golf course employee who greets golfers before the round, offers them help getting their bags onto the golf cart, and/or gives them a lift from the parking lot to the pro shop. After the round, the cart jockey usually greets the golfers again as they leave the 18th green, offers to give their clubs a wipe-down, takes the cart back from the players.

Cat Box: A sand bunker.

Chef: A golfer who can't stop slicing.

Chicken Run: A golf tournament (such as a league or association outing) that is 9-holes and played late in the afternoon, typically after the end of the workday. The term is popularly used in South Africa. A reader from South Africa explained its origins: Small clubs out into the country traditionally played for a freshly slaughtered chicken to take home for dinner.

Chippies: A golf bet automatically won by chipping into the hole from off the green.

Christmas Present: A golf ball sitting under or behind a tree. (Worst Christmas ever!)

Chunk: Flub, fat shot, hit it fat. "I chunked that one."

Dance Floor: The putting green. A golfer who hits the green with an approach shot might say, "I'm on the dance floor," or, shortening the expression, "I'm dancing."

Danny DeVito: Same as a Joe Pesci (a tough 5-footer).

Dawn Patrol: Golfers or groups of golfers who prefer to play as early as possible in the morning - right at the crack of dawn if possible. Golfers who make up the dawn patrol are the first ones to get on the course. In that vein, dawn patrol is the same as "dew sweepers."

Deepage: A very long drive (your drive went deep - you achieved deepage).

Die In the Hole: When a putted ball just barely makes it to the hole - but does make it - and falls in, it died in the hole.

Dog Track: Golf course that is in rough shape, condition-wise. Same as "goat track."

Duck Hook: A particularly bad hook, that one barely gets off the ground and dives hard to the left (for a right-handed golfer). Short and ugly.

Fizzo: When you are still out after your first putt. From the abbreviation FSO, which stands for Freaking Still Out. (Of course, "freaking" is often rendered in another way.)

Flub: Usually applied to badly botched chip shots, especially ones hit fat.

Four-Jack: When it takes you four putts to get your ball in the hole, you four-jacked it.

Fried Egg: A golf ball that has plugged, or buried, in a sand bunker, so that  the top of the ball resembles the yolk in a fried egg.

Frog Hair: The fringe around a putting green.

Goat Track: Poorly maintained golf course with rough conditions.

Good-Good: Agreement between two golfers on the green to give each other gimmes. As in, "if mine is good, yours is good."

Hand Wedge: The "club" a golfer uses when he cheats by picking up the golf ball and tossing it into a better spot. Sometimes called a "hand mashie."

Hangman: A score of 9 on a hole. Because the numeral "9" looks like the a person hanging from a noose in the children's fill-in-the-blanks game called Hangman. Sort of. If you squint.

Hogies: Also called Hogans. See Golf Formats and Side Bets.

James Joyce: A putt that is hard to read. (Can be any author known for dense, challenging prose.)

Joe Pesci: A difficult 5-foot putt. A tough 5-footer, in other words. Same as a Danny DeVito.

Jungle: The worst, deepest rough.

Kitty Litter: The sand, or a sand bunker. "I hit that one into the kitty litter."

Knee-knocker: A challenging, short (or shortish) putt - one you should make but are scared you might miss.

Ladies Playday: A tournament date set aside for a golf club's women's association. This terms is a leftover from the era in golf when, at some clubs, women were restricted to only a few tee times during a week.

Laurel and Hardy: When you hit a thin shot and then a fat one.

Lumberjack: A golfer who keeps hitting into the trees.

Lunch Ball: A do-over. Mess up a shot? Hit it again. Same as a mulligan, in other words.

Mouth Wedge: That guy who just won't shut up on the golf course? Who talks way too much, or is always needling other golfers or acting like a know-it-all? That guy needs to put his "mouth wedge" back in the bag.

19th Hole: The clubhouse bar or restaurant.

Pole Dancer: When your shot into the green hits the flagstick, it's a pole dancer.

Popeye: A shot with lots of "spinnage" (lots of spin).

Rainmaker: A golf shot with a very high trajectory. Usually applied to pop-ups, skyballs or other mis-hits, but can be applied to a shot played intentionally.

Reload: To hit your shot a second time (same as mulligan - a do-over) or to try again after hitting a ball into the water.

Scuffies: See Golf Formats and Side Bets.

Short Grass: The fairway. "Keep it in the short grass."

Silly Season: That part of the golf year after the PGA Tour schedule has ended, when unofficial money tournaments are played (such as the Skins Games or mixed-tour team events). The term can be used generically to refer to any golfers playing oddball rules or formats.

Snakie: A 3-putt.

Spinach: The rough. "Don't hit it left, the spinach is really thick over there."

Sticks: Golf clubs.

Stony: Said of an approach shot into the green when the ball stops very close to the hole. "I hit that one stony" or "my ball is stony."

Stop the Bleeding: To end a stretch of poor play. "I've made three bogeys in a row, I really need to stop the bleeding."

Sunblock: A golfer who spends a lot of time in bunkers (a k a, at the beach).

Sunday Ball: Same as a "lunch ball" - another term for a mulligan (do-over).

Tiger Tees: The teeing grounds used in professional tournaments, or the rearmost tees at any golf course.

U.S.G.A.: What you say to a buddy who is reloading - stands for "ugly shot, go again."

Velcro: Very slow greens, in terms of green speed. "These are some Velcro greens."

Victory Lap: When a golf ball catches the cup and spins around the rim before falling into the hole, it's taking a victory lap.

Wall Street: The bailout area on a hole.

Water Ball: Either an old or cheap or scuffed up golf ball you substitute for a good ball when hitting over a water hazard because you don't want to risk losing the good one; or any ball you just hit into the water.

Water Hole: Any hole on the golf course on which water comes into play, but especially those with a lot of water - e.g., where the golfer has to hit a drive over a body of water.

Yank: A putt that is pulled left (for a right-handed golf) of the hole. "I yanked it."

For more colloquial terms see our Tournament Formats and Betting Games glossary, or browse the main Golf Glossary index.

Many common golf slang terms are not yet included in our Golf Slang Dictionary. So feel free to tweet us with suggestions for additions.