Our Favorite Golf Slang Terms

golf slang terms you need to know

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about any sport, there’s a language to it that is unique.  It can even be regional with different terms meaning different things around the world. With golf, there is a language, including slang terms, that are used around the world.  

Our friends over at online golf clothing retailer, Golfposer sent us some of their favorite golf slang terms so you feel at home on the course when people start talking golf-speak!

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Golf Play Slang

Backdoor putt

A putt where the ball catches the edge of a hole and spins around to the back then falls into the cup from that back edge.

Condor

The rarest of the golfing birds – a hole in one on a five par hole or four under.

Daisy cutter

A shot that never leaves the ground and therefore would cut the daisies if there were any – also known as a worm burner in the US.

Don Henley

Used as slang for an eagle because he was in The Eagles.  Slang doesn’t need to be complicated!

Dunch

A dunch is a badly fatted pitch or a chip shot that hardly moves from its original spot after the ball is hit.

Knife

To knife, a shot is a badly thinned pitch or chip shot where the ball flies across the green but only at knee height and usually ends up somewhere hideous at the other side.

Jon Bon Jovi

A shot that doesn’t get anywhere near the whole, coming from the 1980s song Livin’ on a Prayer – ‘woah, we’re halfway there’

Mulligan

A mulligan is a do-over.  This is where you have hit a bad shot and have to replay the stroke.  The first bad shot is not counted – this isn’t an official rule under golf but is something that people might do when playing casually.  In a tournament, this would simply be a counted as a shot even if it was retaken.

Oscar Bravo

Phonetic for OB which in golf means out of bounds.

Out of the screws

Out of the screws means to hit the ball flush from the centre of the club face.  The term comes from the days when the face of a driver or a wooden-headed club was actually screwed into the clubhead.  And this meant one of the screws was found straight on the middle of the club head.

Snowman

A score of eight on a hole because of the number kind of looks like a snowman with no features, snow or anything else.  And an abominable snowman is used for a 9.

Trombones

An 18 hole score of 76 which is named for the musical song that starts:

“Seventy-six trombones led the big parade/

With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand …”

Unmentionable

The unmentionable is the shank, but the term actually refers to a shot that strikes the hosel of the club and a part of the face then heads off in right angels.  Other terms for the same effect is the socket rocket, the Lucy Locket, the Armitage (Shanks) and the Sherman (tank).

Walking sticks

An 18 hole score of 77 based on the fact that the two numbers look a bit like two walking sticks.  Sometimes golf slang is strange!

Yank

When you yank a shot, it means a putt that pulled left for a right-handed player or right for a left-handed player.

Other Golf Slang Terms You Need To Know

Aircraft carrier

The flat rectangular area where you tee off usually raised a little above the level of the surrounding turf and including all of the tees for that particular hole.

Dog license

This is beating or losing to an opponent 7&6.  This comes from the old price for a ‘dog license’ which was 7 and 6.  It is considered to be something of a thrashing on a links course.

Ferrule

On the modern club, the ferrule is mostly an aesthetic feature, but it is a small plastic ring that circles the shaft of the club at the spot where it enters the club head.

Kitty litter

Another name for a bunker as the sand is similar to the litter that cat owners give their cats.

Nassau

This is a golfing wager that was first used in Nassau County Club in Long Island, New York.  It divides the game into three and you bet on the front nine, the back nine and the entire round.

Sandbagger

A sandbagger is someone who misrepresents their ability in a negative way.  So when you ask someone how many strikes they are going to give you, a sandbagger will claim to be worse than they are to get more strokes and increase their chances of winning.

Waterhole

It can refer to any golf course where there is a lot of water but is most often used for courses that have a lot of water within them and where you have to drive over a body of water.

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