Bogey, birdie, albatross, fescue, ham, and egg. Do these golf terms sound like a different language to you? If so, you’re not alone. Even if you don’t have an interest in playing golf, knowing the lingo will make watching golf much more enjoyable and allow you to talk golf with friends and family.
Are you headed out to your first golf tournament? Do you want to be able to follow along and understand what’s happening? Here are 9 golf terms to get you started and make it sound like you at least know the basics.
Golf Terms for the Newbie: Start Here
Even if you’re just watching golf of TV, a little knowledge will make it more enjoyable. You’ll know what the announcers are talking about and understand the rules.
Let’s start simply. Par is the number of shots in which golfers should finish the hole. If the par is 5, it’s expected that a golfer should finish the hole in 5 shots. Finishing the hole means that the golfer gets the ball in the hole.
Finishing a hole in less than the par is “shooting under par” and finishing the hole in more shots than par is “over par.”
Par can be anywhere from 3 to 5, although a par 4 is the most common. You can also use par to calculate a golfer’s overall score. If you take the number of shots it took the golfer to finish every hole and add them together, you get their score.
Most courses have a par of 72 (18 holes each at par 4).
2. Tee Box
At the start of every hole, there is a tee box that indicates where the golfer should tee off. This is the only place on the course where a golfer can use a tee, which is a wooden or plastic peg holding the ball off the ground.
If you’ve ever been on a golf course, you probably noticed different colors of tee boxes. This denotes who should hit from that spot. The location of the tee box depends on gender and the expertise of the golfer.
Women hit from the red box, men from the white, professionals from black or gold, and seniors (men 55 and over) from the yellow tee box.
The fairway is the space between the tee box and the green. The grass is usually shorter and it’s easier to hit the ball out of the fairway. When you tee off, the goal is to get the ball as close to the hole as possible and keep it in the fairway.
When you hit the ball from the tee box, you want to avoid the rough. The rough is the long grass that surrounds the fairway. Since the grass is longer, it’s hard to hit the ball out of the rough.
The length of the grass in the rough varies, with shorter grass closer to the fairway and longer grass the further away from the fairway you go. Basically, the worse your shot is, the more significant the penalty.
After you make it off the tee box through the fairway and avoiding the rough, you come to the green. This is the end of each hole and it’s where the cup for the ball and the flag are.
The grass on the green is cut very short, which makes the final shots difficult, but also more precise. The green is where you make your final putts to finish the hole.
The bunker is the pit of sand that you see throughout the golf course. They are sometimes called sand traps, but bunker is the official term.
Bunkers are meant to make the course more difficult, as it’s tough to hit a ball out of the sand. They are usually found along the fairway or close to the green, to make the final shots even more difficult.
7. Birdie, Eagle, and Albatross
When a golfer finishes a hole in fewer shots than par, there are special names for it. When a golfer finishes 1 under par, it’s called a birdie. Two under par is an eagle, and 3 under par is an albatross.
An albatross is sometimes called a double eagle and is extremely rare. These types of shots are when you really see golfers and fans get excited during golf tournaments!
A bogey, on the other hand, is when a golfer finishes above par. Finishing one shot above par is a bogey, two shots above par is a double-bogey, and three shots above par is, you guessed it, a triple-bogey.
A bogey is definitely not what golfers, especially professional golfers, want.
An ace is a correct term for a hole-in-one. In the US, the term hole-in-one has become popular, but in European countries, they use this official term for this rare shot.
Show Off Your Knowledge
While you might not be an expert, these golf terms will give you a leg up the next time you watch golf on TV or attend your first golf tournament.
Now, how to act at a golf tournament is a whole other topic. There are rules and etiquette for proper attire, decorum, and behavior.
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