Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


Keeper A successfully executed shot.

Keeping Score - In general, golfers assign a number exactly one higher than the previous one for each shot they play to arrive at the cumulative total of all the strokes required to complete a given hole. While it has the merit of simplicity, this system does tend to produce discouragingly high numbers, and players who perennially score in the 90s or higher might think about switching to an unconventional numbering system which, while still adhering strictly to the custom of counting each and every stroke, nevertheless provides a more acceptable result. Two excellent candidates are the arithmetic series -2,-1,0,1,2,3,4 etc. and 1,2,2,3,3,3,4,4,4,4 etc. Also worth considering are binary numbers, which, no matter how large, are always composed of zeros and ones, and Roman numerals, whose simple written form (the key golf numbers 4,5,6,7 and 8 are indicated by IV,V,VI,VII and VIII) permits alteration of the scorecard with the effortless erasure or addition of an "I" or two rather than the complex conversion of, say, a telltale Arabic "9" into a "5."

Kick Literally, the way the ball bounces. Sometimes it kicks your way and sometimes it doesn't, but golfers are always asking for a good kick.

Kill To hit the ball with great force. This was John Daly's "swing thought" during the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. Before each shot his caddie, Jeff "Squeaky" Medlen, uttered one word: "Kill." Daly did.

Knee-knocker 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. Every golfer experiences a knee-knocker at some time. (See also throw-up range and yips.}

Knickers - Baggy trousers worn by golfers in the 1930s. They were called "plus fours" because they were cut off four inches below the knee, then tucked into long socks. Plus fours have disappeared from golf courses, and the only golfing apparel anything like them that exists today is a much more appealing form of attire, worn by women, known as "minus tens."

Knife The one iron. The toughest club to hit. If you carry a 'knife in your bag, you're either a real player or a 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 lightning storm to hold their one irons aloft because "even God can't hit a one iron."

Knockdown Term for a shot that is hit with an abbreviated follow-through to produce a low-trajectory, slight fade, and plenty of spin. A knockdown shot usually doesn't travel as far as a normal shot. This shot is employed when control is paramount. (See also punch.')

Knockoff A club that is a clone or forgery of an original design. Knockoff clubs are attractive to golfers because they're so much less expensive than the clubs they imitate.

Knuckleball A shot without spin that has an erratic flight. Some baseball pitchers find success with a knuckleball; golfers never do.

Kolven - A golf-like 17th-century Dutch game played on frozen canals with clubs and balls. A similar game called "chole" was being played in France in the 14th century, and there are other, even earlier traces of the sport. For example, in the modest tomb of King Puttankhamen I (1350 B.C.-1345 BC), a set of 14 bronze-shafted clubs were discovered, each one broken in two; and, in eastern Turkey, an ancient Babylonian clay tablet from about 4000 BC was unearthed that bears an astonishing resemblance to a scorecard, with the numbers 1 through 18 inscribed in a row and, next to them, scores (a few of them changed several times) that add up to 117 but are followed in the space for a total at the bottom of the column by the number 77.

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