Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


Dance floor The green. Perhaps the term conies from the smooth surface and relative flatness of the green, or maybe it is meant to convey the joy that accompanies finally making it there. One of the most famous dances performed on the green is the "sabre dance" done by Chi Chi Rodriguez to celebrate a birdie.

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

Dead When your ball is in a position from which you have no chance of getting it onto the green with your next shot. These positions include squirrels' nests and car windshields. (See alsojaiZ.)

Deuce A score of two for any hole. Too many of these on your scorecard means you're probably only counting your tee shots.

Delay - Golfers are expected to play "without undue delay." The question of exactly what constitutes undue delay has been under intensive study since 1971.

Dew sweepers Golfers who habitually play first in the morning; members of the dawn patrol.

Die it in the hole The action of putting the ball so that it falls into the cup as it is dying, or losing the last of its momentum. Such strokes run the risk of becoming Central America putts, left on the amateur side of the hole.

Digger A golfer who takes a big divot with his iron shots. A digger's swing takes a very steep approach to the ball. The opposite is a picker, a golfer who sweeps the ball off the ground with a flatter swing path.

Dimples - Tiny circular hollows impressed onto the outer covering of golf balls to regulate their lift. The surface is also usually punctuated with at least one large cut, or "smile," caused by a shanked iron shot. Curiously, golfers who complete these "faces" by adding eyes, ears, hair and a nose to roughly resemble whoever taught them golf find that they can hit their works of art nearly twice the distance of an undecorated ball.

Divot - Colourful Scottish word for the piece of turf scooped from the ground in front of the ball in the course of an iron shot. In Scotland, depending on its size, a divot is referred to as a "wee tuftie" (2 " x 4 "), "peg o' sward" (4 " x 6 "), "snatch of haugh" (6" x 8"), "fine tussock" (8" x 10"), "glen" (1' x 2'), "firth" (11/z' x 3'), "loch" (2' x 4') and "damned English divot" (anything larger than 8 square feet).

Dogleg - A hole with a 90° angle between the tee and the green. One with a pockmarked tee area, unkempt fairways or a patchy green is a "dogear." One on which large amounts of casual water regularly accumulate is a "dog paddle." One with an elevated tee and green and a sunken, treacherous approach is a "dog dish." And a course on which holes like these predominate is, simply, a "dog."

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

Dormie - Formal term for a team in match play that leads by as many holes as remain to be played. "Hustlers" will often deliberately shoot poorly during the early part of a round to get gullible opponents into this apparently favourable position, then propose a greatly increased, all-or-nothing bet on the remaining holes, with a sudden-death playoff if necessary. How can you spot these tricksters? It's not easy, but, generally speaking, don't play golf for money with players who use two-piece clubs that unscrew in the centre of the shaft, who put baby powder on their hands before grasping the driver or use billiard chalk on their clubfaces, or who have a habit of saying things like "Dunlop 4 in the centre pocket" before making a putt.

Double Bogey - Two strokes over par, or, for a golfer who happened to score a 7 on a long par-5, a birdie and an eagle that occurred on the same hole. See TRIPLE BOGEY.

Double Chen Hitting the ball twice on the same shot. The term derives from the 1985 U.S. Open when tournament leader T. C. Chen suffered a disastrous two-stroke penalty for hitting his ball twice while attempting a shot from greenside rough. Rattled by his mistake, Chen was caught and passed by eventual champion Andy North.

Double dip In a four-ball match, a double dip occurs when you and your partner both birdie the same hole. The dipping is done by your opponents—into their pockets!

Double Eagle - Three strokes less than par for a given hole. This unusual achievement might be accomplished by, say, taking advantage of a tailwind on a straight par-5 hole to get down in two strokes, scoring a hole-in-one on a short par-4 or just skipping entirely a difficult par-3 hole. See HOLE-IN-ONE.

Double sandy A score of par or better on a hole where two shots are played from bunkers, most often recorded on a par four or par five where one sand shot is played from a fairway bunker and one shot from a greenside bunker. Amateurs rarely record a double sandy, but if they do they can collect because it's usually included as junk bet

Down and dirty Playing the ball "as it lies." No rolling the ball over or sitting it up. The way the game is meant to be played; your score is meaningless unless you play it down and dirty.

Down the road When you fail to qualify for the next round of play in a tournament. Also called on your way home.

Downtown Where the ball goes when you absolutely launch one from the tee. Borrowed from the baseball term for where a home run ball goes.

Dress - Although clothes in a variety of styles are acceptable on a golf course, a few general pointers are worth keeping in mind when selecting an outfit:

  • It should be visible to an individual with normal eye sight looking out the window of a spacecraft in orbit.

  • It should be made out of a fabric derived from a substance that was mined or refined rather than grown or raised.

  • It should jam radar.

  • It should be composed of no fewer than eight separate colours or shades and should bear a minimum of four distinct emblems.

  • When scuffed, the shoes should require repainting or restuccoing rather than shining.

  • Any hat should be identifiable as such only by its position on the wearer's head.

Draino Exclamation that follows the sinking of a putt, particularly a long putt.

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

Drive - The initial shot on each hole, made with a special wood, the driver, on par-4 and par-5 holes, and with shorter woods or irons on par-3 holes. Because the drive is so critical to the play of the hole, total concentration is essential, and thus, if the shot is spoiled because of some audible disturbance inadvertently caused by another player on the tee, such as a pair of shoelace tips clicking together or the wind whistling through an onlooker's eyelashes, it is customary to take the shot over. See MULLIGAN.

Drive for show and putt for dough "He who putts the best wins the most." This timeless golf cliche supports the contention of some PGA Tour critics who say the professional game amounts to little more than a weekly putting contest.

Driving Iron - The #1 iron, sometimes used for tee shots. Its chief virtue is that, unlike a wooden-headed driver, it puts a deep cut in the ball while driving it into the rough or out of bounds, thus ensuring that if the golfer who hit the ball cannot find it, no other player will get any use out of it.

Driving Range - A place where golfers go to get all the good their systems.

Drop kick When the club strikes the ground and then bounces into the ball. (See also chilli dip, dub, ).

Dropped cat, like a Description of a ball with plenty of backspin that hits the green and hardly bounces.

Dropping a Ball - A recent rule change does away with the old requirement that players introducing a ball to replace one that is lost do so by dropping it over their shoulder and behind their back. Players may now drop it at arm's length in any direction they choose. Of course, as before, a penalty stroke is assessed. This rule change does not affect clandestine ball drops, which are still made from the bottom edge of the pants pocket with the thumb and first two fingers of one hand while idly swinging a club with the other. And, it goes without saying, there is still no penalty for such drops.

Dub To mishit a shot badly, causing it to roll on the ground and come to a stop far short of its target. A dubber is the guy in the group ahead who takes fourteen shots to reach the green and still insists he's having fun. (See also hacker and duffer.')

Duck hook A shot that ducks to the left as soon as it is hit. More hazardous than a slice because it carries topspin and tends to roll farther after reaching the ground. As Lee Trevino once said, "You can talk to a fade, but a hook won't listen."

Duffer - A golfer whose actual score on any given hole is ordinarily more than twice his or her reported score.

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