Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


OB The abbreviation for the three saddest words in golf—out of bounds. You don't want to go there.

Obstructions - Golfers may move their balls away from or remove any artificial obstacles not part of the course such as torn and crushed hats and other discarded articles of clothing; chewed scorecards; ripped instruction books; halved golf balls; discarded golf clubs; demolished handcarts; and over turned and burning electric carts.

Official Records - The history of golf is filled with the memorable accomplishments of the game's stars, but, alas, the more humble achievements of less skilled players often go unsung. The brief list below is an attempt to rectify this unfortunate state of affairs:

SHORTEST MISSED PUTT: .83 inch, Randall P. Huggins, 9th Green, Gossiping Pines C.C., Bedham, Mass., 1977.

LONGEST SUSTAINED SCREAM: 39 seconds, Liz Yownes, 8th tee, Tallulah Lake C.C., Los Nachos, Calif., 1982

SHARPEST SHAFT BEND IN ONE MOTION: 314°, A. McNaith 14th hole, Napping River C.C., Necco, Ont., 1968

FARTHEST THROWN CLUB: 86.4 yards, B. Bob Binger, wind mill hole, Tumbleweed Putt 'n' Sup, Zeno, Tex., 1974

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

On the clock Condition under which a group of slow-playing professionals is informed by tournament officials that their play will be timed to ensure it is in accordance with the rules and continued slow play will result in a penalty—a warning that usually draws a response of incredulity and disdain from the golfers. This slow play by the guys on TV is largely responsible for the five- and six-hour rounds that are so common on public golf courses today.

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

One a side When your sandbagging opponent insists that his handicap is two strokes higher than yours, you'll have to give him two strokes to make your match even. So you give him a stroke on the most difficult hole on each nine—one a side. Then you sit back and watch as he shoots sixty-eight.

One-putt - To send the ball into the hole with one stroke of a putter after taking 11 shots to reach the green. See FOUR-PUTT.

Open - A tournament that is open to all players, amateur or professional, who can qualify. Big tournaments like the British and U.S. Opens are the goal of any talented golfer, but it is worth remembering that whereas in, say, tennis only 50 percent of the players in the men's singles final will lose, in golf more than 98 percent of the players in the final round of a tournament invariably fail to win.

Open the door To misplay a shot that allows your opponent back into a hole, a match, or the tournament.

Oscar Brown Nickname used by some of the funnier golfers for out of bounds, but only when their opponent hits it OB. As in "Sorry, pal, that's Oscar Brown." Time to reload.

Out of Bounds - A ball lies out of bounds and may not be played if the whole of its circumference is beyond the line marked by the stakes that form the golf course boundary. Many golfers feel, however, that a ball which appears to be out of bounds should, considering the curvature of the earth, be more properly regarded as in bounds since it lies a good 24,900 miles inside the out-of-bounds line.

Overclubbing & Underclubbing - Using clubs that hit the ball over your target ("too much club") or short of it ("too little club") is a common mistake made by many players. You can overcome this error by understanding what each club can do, and meanwhile you can compensate by overlooking and undercounting, and, if caddies are present, by overtipping with an understanding.

Overcook it To hit a shot too hard. Also, when you intentionally draw, fade, slice, or hook a shot and you get too much curvature, you've overcooked it.

Submit a golf joke to Bad Golfer!