Popular Golf Expressions in 2021

Golf Expressions You May or May Not Know

Bag rat


** Every Caddie ever is wondering who came up with this one!

Air mail

To hit a shot much farther than planned (most commonly over the green.) Amateur golfers frequently airmail approaches to greens fronted by hazards


Term used to describe a score of double par on a single hole.


Deep, thick, inescapable rough. Also called spinach. Green, leafy vegetables are not good for your golf game.


The green. Soft, well-manicured fairways are also referred to as being "like carpet."

Cart golf

Term for when two golfers riding in the same golf cart repeatedly hit the ball in the same direction (usually into the rough). An efficient but not necessarily pleasant way to play golf.

Dance floor

The Green. Perhaps the term comes from the smooth surface and relative flatness of the green, or maybe it is meant to convey the joy that accompanies finally making it to the green.

Dawn patrol

The golfers who are the first to play each day, so named because they start their match around the course at sunrise.

Does it open up over there?

A phrase often used on holes with doglegs. The answer is almost always "No" but playing partners will respond with "I'm not sure." This conversation takes place even if you have played this course 50 times.

Dog track

Derogatory term for a golf course that is not well maintained.


A shot that travels only a few feet, usually without getting airborne.

Elephant burial ground

Collective term for the huge moounds found on the greens of certain golf courses. Where good scores often go to die.

Elephant's ass

A poorly struck shot that is "high and stinky." Usually applied to a popped-up drive that is higher than it is long. An elephant's ass might also prompt a comment such as, "Except for distance and direction, that was a good shot."


To miss the ball completely. The air moves, but nothing else does.

*** Who doesnt remember doing this during the first 20 rounds of golf or so. Then playing it off like it was a really aggressive practice swing :)- 


A terrible shot. Putt, chip, pitch, drive-it doesn't matter. If you hit it bad, you flubbed it, buddy.


To take four putts on a hole. Only tolerable for those who can drive the green on a par five. When asked how he four-jacked a hole at the Masters, Steve Ballesteros replied, "I miss. I miss. I miss. I make." Well said.

Get down

A message from golfer to ball asking it to cease flying-now! Usually heard after a ball is hit too far or offline; almost always uttered with great agitation.

Get up

A message from golfer to ball asking it to fly


A conceded putt, shortened from the phrase "Give it to me." Gimmes are the center of many golfing controversies, especially amongst the ranks of amateurs who are always looking for an opponent to concede a putt, even if their ball is off the green.

** We always had a length of putter rule to determine a gimme

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Golf widow

The wife of an obsessive golfer. She doesn't know who Jack Nicklaus is, and she doesn't care. Her husband will remember Jack's birthday before he remembers hers.

Grocery money

Winnings from a golf bet that the winner pledges to spend on food and drink, or groceries, usually at the nineteenth hole.

Grow teeth

A golfer's plea for the ball to stop quickly.


A terrible golfer. A person who hacks it around the golf course.

In the leather

Phrase meaning a putt is close enough to the cup (a distance no greated than the length of the putter grip) to be conceded.



The yearning chasm that is in front of the cup, when a putt stops just inches short of its intended destination. For example, "He left it right in the jaws."


The thickest, deepest, nastiest rough on the course.


A putt in the three-to-four foot range that causes emotional and physical problems for the golfer. The term comes from the nervous trembling that accompanies these short putts.


The one iron. The toughest club to hit. If you carry a knife in your bag, you're either a real player, or phony who wants to look like a real player. A few swings with the knife will reveal the true you. Lee Trevino advises golfers caught in a lightening storm to hold their one irons aloft because "even God can't hit a one iron."

Leaf rule

Rule used in certain parts of America during Autumn allowing a golfer to play another ball without penalty when his previous shot is lost and assumed covered by leaves.

Lip out

A putt that hits the lip and spins out.

Meat and potatoes par four

A long, straighttforward par four devoid of water, bunkers, and other hazards that might make the hole more difficult.

Mickey Mouse course

golf course with many flaws, possibly including poor maintenance, too many short holes, and tachy architectural features.

Milk the grip

To lighten and tighten the grip on a club before beginning a swing. This enables a golfer to get exactly the correct grip pressure (light) for a solid stroke.

Million-dollar swing

A flawless swing a' la Tom Purtzer or Steve Elkington or Tiger Woods.


To mishit a shot.

Nineteenth hole, the

The bar and grill you visit after your round. This is the place where most golfers find their best lies.

Nip it

When you hit an iron shot without taking a divot, you have nipped it. Good golfers do this in an attempt to minimize backspin; bad golfers do it by accident.


When you hit a shot that achieves the absolute maximum distance for that club, you have nuked it.

On fire

You're on fire when everything you do on the course seems to work out just as you planned.

On the screws

Description for a well-executed shot. In the good 'ol days, when woods were made of wood, club makers fitted a piece of plastic insert into the club face as a safeguard against premature wear. These inserts were fastened to the club with screws. When a golf would hit a good shot, he would say, "I hit it on the screws."

Oscar Bravo

"OB" or "Out of Bounds"

Pin high

Whenever the ball lies at the same elevation as the hole.


A shot that heads right for the flagstick from the moment it leaves the clubface.

Pitch and putt

A derisive term given to golf courses that are short and easily conquered, so named because just a pitch and a putt will get you into the hole.

Ready golf

In ready golf each player may "fire when ready," a procedure instituted to speed up play.


To hit an errant tee shot and tee up a second ball. A term also used each time the beer cart apporaches, as in "Let's reload."


Golfers love to complain about being robbed, usually when a putt doesn't break when it should have, or when a putt traveling at Mach 2 doesn't fall into the hall as it should have, or when a tee shot forty yards off line winds up six inches out of bounds. If you want to be cool on the golf course, don't whine about being robbed every time something doesn't go your way.

Rope hook

Term for a low, hard hook that will run great distances after hitting the ground. Very bad.


Whenever the ball is moving along the ground, it is said to be running.


A shank is a severe miss hit in which the golf ball is struck by the hosel of the club. On a shank, a player has managed to strike the ball with a part of the club other than the clubface. A shanked shot will scoot a short distance, often out to the right, or might be severely sliced or hook. Someone who shanks a lot might be said to "have the shanks" or to be "shanking it."

Short grass

Where you are when you hit the fairway with your drive.

Short stick

The putter, so named because it's the shortest club in the bag. You can make up for a lot of bad work with other sticks if you can handle the short stick.


Term use to describe a score of "8" on a single hole.

Tap in

A short, easy putt, that anyone can make.


A putt that's long enough so that it's not a gimme but short enough so that a decent player should hole it, so called because it tests a golfer's skill.

Texas wedge

When you use your putter from off the green, that a club becomes a Texas wedge, so named because the shot became popular in Texas, where hard, dry conditions make it less risky to putt from off the green.

The Jar

The hole.

Thin, hit it

To hit the ball in the center with the club's leading edge, instead of sliding under it. Chances are your shot will fly lower and farther than you intended. This is still much better than hitting it fat.

Throw your purse at it

Use this after your playing partner has just left his eight foot birdie putt four feet short. Watch for flying putters.

*** We always say "Look whos carrying Louis Vuitton", Im not sure that even makes sense but we say it every time! 

Up and down

A way of describing the short game; if you chip on and then one -putt, you're up and down in two. Also, when your level of play alternates between good and bad, you're having and up-and-down round.



A putt that rolls all the way around the edge of the cup before coming out.

Victory lap

The circle a putt makes around the rim of the cup before falling in.


To move the club head back and forth before beginning the takeaway. Golfers do this to relieve tension just before beginning their swing. When they see the results of their swing, tension reenters their bodies.

Watery Grave

Where your disobedient golf balls go every time you try to carry a water hazard.

Weekend warriors

Golfers who play infrequently, so called because the only time they can play is on weekends.


When you swing at the ball and miss.

Winter rules

In certain areas where the winters are harsh, golf courses don't receive much maintenance between October and April. To make winter golf more palatable in these areas, many courses enact winter rules, which provide for improved lies under certain circumstances. Winter rules are fair since golf was not meant to be played on a poorly maintained course, though the Scots play on rough courses year-round.

Worm Burner

A line drive that just scoots up the fairway


A putt that is pulled to the left.


A nervous disorder that afflicts golfers on the green. An inability to take the putter back, coupled by twitchy hands and the complete absence of nerve, constitutes a case of the yips. No golfer has ever permanently conquered this condition.

You da man

A popular expression among golf's great and unwashed, generally heard in the millisecond after a shot has been struck and well before the outcome of the shot can be determined.

Zone, the

When everything you do is right, and you know it's right before you do it, that's the zone. The number of times you get to visit the zone, and the amount of time you spend there, is in direct proportion to your ability. So if you want to get in the zone, you'd better visit the practice tee first.


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