Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


Back Door - The side of the cup opposite the position of a player's ball on the green. Sometimes a putt will curve around the cup and enter by the "back door." Of course, on other occasions, it may choose to wait politely on the "back steps," sit down for a smoke on the "back porch" or go for a nice long walk in the "back yard.". Perhaps the most famous backdoor putt is the one sunk by Spain's Seve Ballesteros on the seventy-second hole of the 1984 British Open championship at St. Andrews to beat Tom Watson.

Back Nine - The final 27 holes of an 18-hole golf course.

Backhander A putt struck with the back of the putter blade. Sometimes golfers will do this in a casual fashion when the ball is very close to the hole. When they miss a backhander—and it happens often—amateurs often smile and record their score as though they had made the putt. This is known as cheating.

Backswing - The part of the swing that takes place after the ball has been improperly addressed but before it has been sent to the wrong destination. See FOLLOW-THROUGH.

Bag rat Caddie.

Bail out What many golfers do to avoid trouble on the course. That is, they hit a shot in the direction opposite the trouble. If the trouble is on the right side, they bail out left. If the trouble is on the left side, they bail out right. This term can also be used to describe how a golfer (after calling in sick to work) exits his cart after seeing his boss approaching.

Ball - A dimpled, rubber-covered, solid- or composite-cored, high-compression sphere with a weight of 1.62 ounces and a diameter of 1.68 inches that will enter a cup 4.25 inches in diameter and 4.0 inches deep after an average of 3.87 putts.

Ballwasher - Golfers who have "brushed up" on their tee tactics know that in addition to removing dirt from balls, the ubiquitous ballwasher also has a squeaky plunger that can be operated during an opponent's set up to make certain that he or she is "in a lather" when the ball is hit, and they've learned that the pipe the machine is mounted on will produce a nerve racking, swing-wrecking gong-like tone if struck with a clubhead, guaranteeing that their competitor's drive is a "washout" and that if any money is riding on the hole, they will "clean up."

Banana Ball 1. An especially curvaceous slice. A ball that starts to the right and continues to curve right until it nearly lands behind the golfer who hit it. This shot is one reason why the word fore is heard on the golf course nearly as often as more notorious four-letter words. 2. Formal dance at an exclusive WASP country club.

Barky When one of your shots strikes a tree and you still make par for the hole, you have made a barky. Golfers often include a barky as one of their junk bets during a match.

Be right An urgent request a golfer makes of his ball during its flight to the green, usually occurring when the ball appears to be on line with the flagstick and the only doubt is whether the right club was used. The phrase is also used frequently by caddies who want to keep their jobs.

Be the ball Profound golfing advice uttered by Chevy Chase in the movie Caddyshack. Golfing geeks have picked up the expression and often use it during a round, to the great annoyance of their companions.

Beach, the The bunkers and other sand-covered areas at a golf course are known collectively as the beach.

Bent - The species of grass most often found on greens.

Bermuda & Blue - The species of grass most often found on fairways.

Bindweed, Bog Grass, Bullrushes, Eel Grass, Quack Grass, Reeds, Scutch, Sedge, Spurge, Stinkweed & Viper's Grass - The species of grass among which the ball is most often found.

Birdie - A Mulligan, the best of one or more practice swings, and a 20-foot "gimme" putt. See EAGLE.

Bisque - An informal handicapping system in which one player allows another to take a "free" stroke, called a "bisque," at whichever hole he or she chooses. Such a stroke taken without explicit permission from another player is a "tisquetisque."

Bite A ball is said to bite when it is hit with sufficient backspin to make it stop quickly—or even roll backward—on the green. Biting carries its own satisfaction, but remember, it only helps if it brings the ball closer to the hole.

Blade To hit a ball off the edge of an iron, thereby creating a shot that takes off like a line drive in baseball. Most often the shot will end up beyond its intended target. This shot is also said to be hit thin, or to be skulled. Blade is also a thin putter (no more than a half-inch wide) with a straight face. Little Ben, the famous putter owned by Ben Crenshaw, is an example of a blade putter.

Blind Hole - A hole whose green is not visible when an approach shot is made, thereby requiring a player to rely on senses other than sight, such as the unmistakable sound of an unseen golfer shouting after being struck by a ball, the distinct smell of trouble, the metallic taste of fear and the sudden touch of flu that dictates an immediate return to the clubhouse by way of the deep woods.

Blood, no Phrase used most often in match-play situations to indicate that the hole was halved, or played even, and no money has been won or lost.

Blow Up To have your golf game come apart at the seams. Easily recognized: When your score is blowing up, so are you.

Bo Derek A perfect shot. The expression comes from Ms. Derek's role in the movie 10, in which some considered her as attractive as a 350-yard drive down the middle of the fairway.

Bob Barker A shot that's hit too high to be effective, so called because we ask it to "come on down."

Body English - Informal term for nervous leaning or twisting movements that players sometimes make, particularly while putting, to "persuade" the ball to go in a desired direction. If the ball fails to do so, these movements are often followed by a series of vulgar gestures and physical expressions of disgust referred to as body Spanish, body French or body Italian.

Bogey - The number of strokes needed to finish a hole by a golfer of average skill and above-average honesty. See DOUBLE BOGEY.

Bogey train A series of consecutive bogies. For professional golfers, the bogey train is a one-way ride to a job at a driving range.

Bomb A very long shot, usually a drive. John Daly hits bombs. Tiger Woods hits bombs. Most amateurs are content to hit firecrackers.

Borrow On a breaking putt, the amount of distance aimed to the right or left of the cup. The greens at August National (where the Masters Tournament is held each year) are so severely sloped that golfers may have to borrow fifteen or twenty feet when lining up their putts. Borrow too much or too little, and you'll wind up borrowing to pay your gambling debts.

Boss of the moss A golfer who is especially proficient on the green. On the PGA Tbur, Loren Roberts is commonly called "the boss of the moss" because of his putting prowess.

Brassie - Traditional name for the 2-wood, whose sole was at one time made of brass. The 3-wood is sometimes referred to as a "spoon," the 4-wood as a "baffie," the 5-iron as a "mashie," the 7-iron as a "mashie-niblick," and the 9-iron as a "niblick." Any club wrapped around a tree is a "smashie." If a club is flung into a water hazard, it is a "splashie." If it has a slippery grip, it is a "bashie." If it is hurled at a dog, it is a "lassie." A club that was allegedly used in a hole-in-one is a "fibstick." If it was a wood, it is a "fablespoon."

Break - 1. The shifting or changing of the direction of a putt caused by the slope or slant of a green. 2. The splitting or shattering of the shaft of a putter caused by the rage or wrath of a player.

Breakfast ball Another way of saying mulligan Derived from the fact that many players eat breakfast just before teeing off and may require two tries to hit a good tee shot on the first hole.

Broom A term used to describe the putting stroke, since the motion involved in using a broom is similar. Many amateurs, though, are far more proficient at sweeping the garage than getting down in two.

Brother-in-law act Alternating excellent play by partners in a two-ball match. Getting brother-in-lowed means your opponents took turns beating your brains in.

Bunker - A hazard consisting of an area of ground along a fairway or adjacent to a green from which a large amount of soil has been removed and replaced with something designed to trap golfers. If such a hazard occupies more than 2,000 square feet of ground and traps golfers permanently, it is referred to as a "condominium."

Bunt A controlled shot struck more for accuracy than distance; usually follows a low trajectory and runs a long way after hitting the ground. Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino are two accomplished golfers who bunt the ball to avoid the wind or to make sure the ball finds the fairway. For fun, you can also use the term to describe a less-than-prolific drive hit by an opponent, for instance, "Nice bunt, ace."

Burner A tee shot that's hit low and hard.

Butterfly with sore feet, like a An expression used by the more poetic golfers to describe a shot that lands very softly on the green.

Buttonhook A putt that hits the cup on one side and rolls all the way around the edge of the cup before coming out the front edge of the cup. Also called a horseshoe. Either way, very nasty.

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