What Are The Most Common Golf Terms And Phrases? (For Beginners)

Are you about to hit a golf course for the first time? And fear you’ll make a fool out of yourself for not knowing the basic golf terms and common golf phrases? Fret no more because this post will save you!

The most common golf phrases you should know include a few scoring terms and course lingo. Among these are the typical scores, such as par, bogey, birdie, and eagle. Common course terms include the tee box, fairway, rough, bunker and green.

I know… English, please! Golf terminology and phrases can sound like a new language for beginners. So if you are trying to learn the game or simply impress someone with your knowledge, knowing a few basic terms can come in handy.

Here, I have compiled a list of beginners golf terms and phrases that will help you sound less like a dummy the next time you hit a course…

Common Golf Terms And Phrases For Beginners

Now, common golf terms can be broadly divided into two categories. The scoring terms that you use to describe a golfer’s score and course terms that are related to different areas and conditions in the golf course.

I will explain several terms from both categories in detail and help you use them correctly. So let’s get started!

Scoring Terms

Simply put, a golf score is kept for how many shots a player takes to put his ball in a hole. 

Here are a few common golf phrases and terms for beginners related to the scoring card.

1. Par

It is probably the most common term in a golf game.

Par is the number of strokes an average golfer usually makes on a hole.

It is a standard number for comparing a player’s score. A good score is close to or less than par.

Each hole on the golf course is assigned a par number referring to its length and difficulty level. Usually, there are four par-3 holes, ten par-4 holes, and four par-5 holes in a course.

When you hit a scoring average of 72 for 18 holes, you should say you played “par golf.”

2. Bogey

Next comes the terms bogey and birdie. They are relatively easy to understand once you get the hang of “par.”

Bogey means that you took one stroke over par to make it in the hole.

So it means when you take four shots to make a hole, it is called one-over, and you make a bogey.

Double Bogey

If you make a hole in two shots more than par, your score is a double bogey.

So a double bogey in a par-4 hole means you scored a six for the hole.

Triple Bogey

A triple bogey is often shortened as “trip,” The concept is pretty self-explanatory if you know what a double bogey is.

A triple bogey is when you take three shots more than par to make a hole.

Hence, for par-4, triple-bogey means you hit a 7.

3. Birdie

Birdie is one of the most delightful terms for golfers. Getting a birdie on their scorecards means they are doing well.

When you make a hole in a shot fewer than par, it means you scored a birdie.

Now, here’s a thing about golf scores that you need to understand. Your score is judged after you make a hole and is based on the number of attempts you take to make a hole.

Moreover, if you hit a bogey in one hole and a birdie in the other, your average score will be “even-par.” Similarly, if you start a round with a bogey and score another bogey for the next hole, you will be “two-over” – not an ideal place!

4. Eagle

What’s even better than a birdie? An eagle!

A player scores an eagle when they take two fewer attempts than par to make a hole.

Therefore, you get an eagle on your scorecard when you get the ball in the hole in just two shots on a par-4.

5. Albatross or Double Eagle

When it’s your lucky day at the golf club, you get an Albatross.

Making a hole in only your second shot on a par-5 gets you an Albatross or double eagle.

Few golfers have the honor of hitting an albatross, as it takes extreme skill and precision.

6. Ace or Hole-in-One

An ace is the king of shots in golf. It is the most coveted score you could get and is highly likely to impress your colleagues.

An ace or hole-in-one is when a player takes only one golf shot to put his ball in the hole.

Understandably, aces are pretty challenging to achieve. They are rare, but your best chances of scoring one are on a par-3, although professional golfers sometimes ace a par-4.

Another essential detail about aces is a rule to treat all of your friends and club staff with a round of drinks when you hit one. I know, such a great rule! 

7. Mulligan

The first hole mulligan is one of those beginner golf phrases that you don’t get to hear in golf tournaments.

A mulligan is an official re-hitting when a golfer is unhappy with the shot.

Mulligans can be your best friend when you are a beginner at the sport or are not warmed up for the first shot.

8. Shank

Here’s where even the most expert golfer starts to waver. 

The shank refers to a shot where a golfer hits the ball with the neck or heel of the club, which leads to an embarrassingly short shot.

It is commonly known as the “S-word” since saying its name is considered a bad omen!

9. Lie

The way the ball rests after you hit it with your club is called its lie.

The lie can be good in short grass or bad in taller grass. Similarly, when the ball lies below or above your feet, it is called a sidehill lie.

10. Out Of Bounds

There is a zone on the golf course where you cannot play.

An area designated as a point of no return for golfers is referred to as out of bounds.

Golf Club Terms

1. Driver

A driver is a type of golf club considered to be in the wood category. The main purpose of the driver is to hit golf balls placed on a tee, from the tee box.

2. Fairway Wood

Fairway woods are similar to drivers, but these golf clubs have smaller club heads than the driver. The smaller size of the fairway wood allows you to hit a long shot from the fairway or rough, without a tee.

3. Hybrid

In basic terms, a hybrid is a cross between a fairway wood and an iron. As you might imagine, the hybrid looks just as it sounds. You are able to get the best of both worlds out of a hybrid, because it will typically go farther than any of your irons.

4. Iron

There are several different irons for different uses. Their shafts are shorter than your woods, while the club heads are solid and typically made of stainless steel. Irons range in numbers from 3 to 9, each used for different distances and varying lofts. For example, a 9-iron has more loft (height), a shorter shaft (club length), and travels a shorter distance than the 6-iron.

5. Wedge

Wedges are similar to irons, differing mainly in more loft, shorter shafts, and providing the shortest distance. The four main types of golf wedges are the pitching wedge, sand wedge, gap wedge and lob wedge. The pitching wedge offers the least amount of loft, while the lob wedge offers the most. Golfers usually hit these clubs when playing out of sand and chipping on to the green.

6. Putter

The putter is used once you are on the golf green. Using short, back-and-forth strokes based on the speed and distance you need, the goal of the putter is to tap and roll the ball in to the hole. The putter also has a unique look and comes in varying shapes and sizes.

Course Terms

Here are a few beginner golf phrases for expanding your vocabulary to describe a golf course.

1. Fore

You are likely to hear golfers shout the word “fore” several times on a golf field. It is often followed by people ducking in panic and covering their heads.

A golfer shouts “fore” when his shot is about to hit another player.

It is courtesy to say “fore” when you see a ball flying toward a bystander or another group of golfers.

2. Tee Box And Tee Shot

Tee box and tee shots are common golf phrases you hear when you start a game.

A tee box is where you make your tee or first shot for a hole.

There are tee markers for every hole that indicates where your ball needs to be for making a shot. Make sure your ball is teed adequately behind the marker, or you will have to face a penalty.

3. Fairway

It is where you want your tee shot to land.

Fairway is next to the tee box, where the grass is mown short.

Here’s why you want your ball to land in the fairway after your tee shot;

  • The grass is shorter, so it is easier to make the next shot
  • You can predict the ball’s lie and choose a club accordingly
  • It leads straight to the hole, so it is easier to hit approaching shots

4. Green

Your final destination for the ball is the green.

The area next to the fairway with finely mowed grass, the hole, and the flag is known as green.

Ideally, in two shots, your ball should end up on the green for a par-4. It is how you can have lesser shots and a better score.

5. Rough

Rough is where you don’t want your ball to land.

The part of the golf course around the fairway and green, with the tallest grass, is known as rough.

Usually, hitting your ball in the rough leads to a challenging next shot. The difficulty level of shooting from a rough varies with each golf course. In some courses, it isn’t such a big deal, but it adds a lot to the score in others.

6. Bunker or Sand Trap

How to test a player’s skillset and tell whether they are worth their salt or not? By using bunkers or sand traps!

A bunker or sand trap is a strategically placed obstacle to make a round difficult for golfers.

There are two types of bunkers based on where they are located. A greenside bunker lies near the green and requires short shots.

On the other hand, a fairway bunker is placed in par-4s and par-5s, and the shots are longer and require more creativity and strategic thinking.

7. Hazard

A golf course may have a few hazards that the course architect puts in your way to keep the game alive and challenging.

Water, rough patches of grass, and sand traps deliberately put in the course by the designer are called hazards.

You may want to play around them as they are usually out of the reach of a golf player.

8. Front Nine

Before we dive into a few more beginner golf terms, let’s understand a golf course’s design. 

A standard golf course has 18 holes. Each of them is numbered 1 through 18. Golfers usually categorize these holes into two sets of nine. The scorecard is also divided into these two sets.

The first nine holes of a golf course are known as front nines.

9. Back Nine

After you have completed the front nine holes, your scores will be tallied to the other set of nine.

The last nine holes (holes number 10 through 18) are referred to as back nines.

After playing all 18 holes, you add your front nine and back nine scores and calculate an average.

10. 19th Hole

Yep, I know we just learned that a golf course has 18 holes. The 19th hole is a humorous term to describe the clubhouse.

The 19th hole is where golfers usually eat, drink, and freshen-up post-match.

Many golf clubs have a restaurant, bar, lockers, and other facilities for players at the start of the course. You can access these areas after you have played all 18 goals to relax.


So, there you have it – your dictionary for beginner golf phrases and terms. It will ensure you cover all the basics before heading into a golf course with your buddies.

Give them a few reads to grasp the concept, and after a few attempts of using them correctly, you will be fluent in golf lingo in no time. Because it is always a good idea to do your homework than to make a fool out of yourself!

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