What Is a 'Snowman' in Golf?

And when one of them turns into a blizzard

A snowman on the first fairway with the clubhouse in the background at St Andrews Old Course
This snowman at St. Andrews apparently loves golf. But golfers do NOT love making a snowman!. Brian Morgan/Getty Images

A snowman sounds like something that should be fun to make. But in golf it most definitely is not! In golf, a snowman is something you very much want to avoid.

That's because "snowman" is a slang term golfers use for a score of "8" on any individual hole. Use eight strokes to play a hole and, sorry bud, you just made a "snowman." A golf snowman won't melt anything but your scorecard.

Why 'Snowman'?

How did "snowman" come to mean a score of 8?

Look closely at that numeral - 8. What does it look like? Well, it kinda sorta looks like one round ball of snow placed on top of another ball of snow.

Examples of Usage

A golfer who just made an 8 might tell his marker, "Put down a snowman on the scorecard for me." Or simply cry out in anguish, "Oh, no! The dreaded snowman!"

Oftentimes, one's opponents or fellow-competitors will point it out for you. If you're playing in a group with buddies who like to rib one another, they will surely let you know that a score of 8 is in danger of happening: "Don't miss this putt or you'll have a snowman on your card."

When a Snowman Turns Into a Blizzard

Put more than one "8" together and your snowman just turned into a blizzard:

  • A golfer who winds up with an 18-hole score of 88 can be said to have shot a "blizzard."
  • Or two golfers who both score 8 on the same hole just experienced a blizzard.

Snowman is one of several terms used as slang by golfers for specific scores.

For example, "hockey sticks" refers to an overall score of 77; shooting "trombones" means 76. As for single-hole scores, see the similar terms hangman and Bo Derek.

"Snowman" is the most common and most widely used of such terms. In fact, one sometimes - on the relatively rare occasions when a tour pro makes an 8 or threatens to do so - hears the term on televisions broadcasts of golf tournaments.

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