Glossary of Golf Terms | Oregon Golf Association

Below are some basic golf terms for beginners. For a more advanced glossary of golf terms please visit PGA.com.

The Golf Facility

  • Golf Course:  an area of land laid out for golf with a series of nine or 18 holes. 
  • Clubhouse: The primary building for the golf course that typically houses the pro shop. Some clubhouse facilities also include a locker room and restaurant.
  • Pro Shop: The place where you check in before playing. Many pro shops sell snacks, drinks and golf equipment (balls, tees, gloves, sometimes clubs). The pro shop is where players rent clubs.
  • Driving Range: An area at the golf course where players can practice or warm up before rounds. Most driving ranges include yardage markers for players to gauge distance of shots. Not all golf courses have driving ranges.
  • Practice Green: Many golf courses have a practice putting green by the clubhouse. It's common for golfers to arrive early to the course so they have time to practice their putting before their scheduled tee time.

Playing the Golf Course

  • Tee Time:  Golfers schedule tee times in advance of playing at a course to reserve a time for their group to begin play. Some golf courses do not require a tee time which can be made over the phone or online at a course's website. Tee times help courses manage the optimal amount of golfers on the course at one time to avoid overcrowding. They are often made a couple of days in advance (and in some cases weeks).
  • Tee Box:  The area on the golf course where players start each hole. There are various tee boxes to play from which allow for varying degrees of difficulty. Beginners are encouraged to play from the forward tee boxes for a more enjoyable experience.
  • Fairway:  The fairway is the best place for you to hit your ball (and in turn, then hit your next shot). It's the part of a golf course between a tee and the corresponding green, where the grass is kept short which makes it easier to hit the ball.
  • Green:  The green is where the flagstick and hole are located. When players hit the ball onto the green, they use a putter to roll the ball into the hole. The greens are a particularly delicate area on the golf course. Golfers can avoid incidentally damaging the green by avoiding running, leaving marks with clubs or parking a golf cart too close.
  • Rough:  An area that surrounds fairways and greens that normally has longer grass length which makes it more difficult to hit the ball. It's the place you want to avoid, but most players end up spending a lot of time there... 
  • Sand Trap (a.k.a Bunker)  a shallow pit partly filled with sand, usually located near a green or fairway. Hitting out of the sand is difficult for beginners. The bunkers won't seem as daunting if you receive some instruction from a golf pro who can show you practical tips for hitting from the sand.
  • Water Hazards: These come in the form of a river, stream, lake, pond or any intended body of water. You want to avoid the water. 

Equipment Golfers Use

  • The Driver:  The driver is the longest and lightest club in the set. A modern driver has a very large head. It is used from the tee box with the ball placed on top of a wooden or plastic tee.
  • Irons:  A modern recreational set of clubs carries 5 through 9 irons. Each iron has a different loft on the club face which results in shots flying varying distances. The difference from club to club for the average players is about 10 yards. So a 9-iron will hit a ball higher and about 10 yards less than an 8-iron. The 8-iron will hit the ball higher and 10 yards less than a 7-iron and so on.
  • Wedge:  These “special irons” are used when your golf ball is near but not on the green. They are labeled with letters like PW (pitching wedge) or SW (sand wedge).
  • Putter:  The putter is a club designed for use on the green. It is a flat-faced club used to roll the ball into the hole.

Additional Terms

  • Break:  The amount a putt will curve to the side because of the slope of the green's surface. 
  • Hook:  A shot that curves sharply from right to left for right-handed players.
  • Slice:  A ball that curves from left to right to a greater degree than a fade.
  • Loft:  The degree of angle on the clubface, with the least loft on a putter and the most on a sand wedge. 

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