Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


Paint job A pro's putt that Zips out. The holes in professional tournaments are painted white to make it easier for TV viewers to see their location, and sometimes the paint around the hole's edge becomes crusty and makes the lip less accommodating to putts. At least that's what the pros say.

Par - Score achieved by a golfer who had only a few great shots on an entire round but somehow managed to hit them all on the same hole. See TRIPLE BOGEY.

Partner - Match play team member who holes out from a bunker to score a birdie on a hole you were about to win with a tap-in for a par, then putts out for a double bogey on a hole where you lie six and your ball is 40 feet from the cup.

Peg Tee.

Penalty - One or more strokes added to a golfer's score for play in contravention of the rules. Players are penalised a single stroke for simple infractions, such as Lost Ball, Ball Out of Bounds and Unplayable Ball. More serious breaches, like Playing Wrong Ball and Stopping or Deflecting Own Ball, carry a penalty of two strokes. The most severe violations, for which penalties ranging from three to five strokes are assessed, include: Pocketing Opponent's Lost Ball, Kicking Opponent's Ball Out of Bounds, Feeding Opponent's Ball to a Dog, and Rendering Opponent's Ball Unplayable by Running Over It with an Electric Golf Cart.

Pencil bag A small, thin golf bag often used by kids to lighten the load. Also called a summer bag because it's used in hot weather.

Pencil hockey When someone (not you, of course) is charged with the awesome responsibility of keeping score and then cheats by recording erroneous scores, he is said to be playing pencil hockey, which is akin to horse thievery and subject to the same punishment—hanging!

Pick it To hit the ball and make little or no contact with the ground. Accomplished with a sweeping motion as opposed to the sharp angle with which a digger attacks the ball. A golfer who picks the ball is called a picker. Greg Norman is a picker.

Pick it Up A term used to concede a putt. After your opponent has boxed the ball around four or five times, you can graciously suggest that he pick it up.

Pigeon An easy mark—the golfer everybody wants to play against. If you hear anyone refer to you as a pigeon, take up chess.

Pill The ball. The object of your frustration Maybe instead of trying to hit the pill, you should take a pill.

Pin - Familiar term for the flagstick. A ball that lands on the green even with the hole but off to one side is "pin high." A ball that lands right next to the hole, leaving a very short putt, is "stiff to the pin." Such putts are almost always conceded, but some players insist on putting them anyway. These players are called "pinheads."

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

Pin Placement - The location of the hole in each green is changed regularly to distribute wear evenly over the grass surface and to create an additional challenge to golfers familiar with the course. And, as golfers whose balls mysteriously land in a pond or bunker they've successfully avoided for months can attest, the position of key sand traps and water hazards is also periodically shifted and the astronomical cost of operating heavy earthmoving equipment at night and in secret explains the high greens fees charged at most golf courses.

Pinch A short, crisp shot played with firm wrists, no divot, and little follow-through.

Pin-seeker A shot that heads right for the flagstick from the moment it leaves the club face.

Pipeline The centre of the fairway, so named because an irrigation pipe often runs down it.

Pitch - An approach shot made with a short iron. There are four basic kinds of pitch shot: one in which the ball is given top spin to let it run along the green toward the cup (pitch-and run); one in which it is given backspin to make it "sit down" and stop next to the cup (pitch-and-stop); one in which it is shanked into a water hazard or dense under growth (pitch-and-search or pitch-and-destroy); and one in which it is driven directly into the ground with a half-top (pitch-and-moan).

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.

Plate A yardage marker that many courses have embedded into their fairways. A red plate means you are 100 yards from the centre of the green, white is 150 yards, and blue is 200. If you're more than 200 yards from the green, don't bother looking for a plate. What you need is a miracle.

Plateaued Term that refers to greens that are flat and sit up significantly higher than the level of the fairway.

Play 'em down To play the ball as it lies. The only way to fly.

Play It as It Lies - One of the two fundamental dictates of golf. The other one is "Wear It if It Clashes."

Playing Through - A display of courtesy on the course in which a group of golfers who have stopped to search for lost balls conclude that they are causing delay and, anxious to spare the group behind them several minutes of inactivity on the tee, stand aside and invite that group to hit their drives so they will be to profitably use the period before they can resume play in a time-consuming hunt for their own lost balls.

Plugged When your ball becomes imbedded in the ground, it is plugged.

Point A betting unit on a hole.

Pond ball A golf ball specifically intended for shots over water. Usually pond balls are old, beat-up balls that don't constitute much of a loss if they find the water, which is exactly where they normally end up.

Pop A short, crisp, abbreviated stroke on a putt.

Pose What a golfer does when he hits a shot he's especially proud of, holding his follow-through for everyone to admire.

Position A The ideal position from which to attack the pin.

Practice Green - A putting area near the clubhouse where players can try out chips, pitches and putts. It is usually located near the 19th hole so players can also work on their nips, drafts and snorts.

Practice Tee - The place where golfers go to convert a nasty hook into a wicked slice.

Preferred lie A euphemistic way of saying a golfer has improved his lie. This can be done legally in certain situations, but mostly it's done to cheat.

Press A betting term that means a new match is starting within the original match. This press match continues until the end of the original match, and the stakes are the same for both matches. Presses are often automatic when one side goes down two holes in the original match

Priority on the Course - In determining the order of play, the following rules should be applied:

  • Matches which, when Mulligans, take-overs and practice shots are included, are playing 10, 12 or 14 balls should give way to matches playing 6 or 8 balls.

  • A match that is playing the course out of sequence by cutting across from the green of one hole to the tee of a much later hole is entitled to pass a match that sneaked onto the course without paying.

  • Any match that has a player in it posing as a doctor who is late for a vital operation takes precedence over a match with a player pretending to be a judge overdue at a key trial.

  • Single players have no standing and must give way to a match consisting of two, three or four golfers unless, through voice changes and variations in stance and gesture, they can convincingly fake the symptoms of a multiple personality disorder.

Pro - Sensible person who believes that individuals who spend time playing golf professionally are no different from those who engage in some other similarly demanding occupation such as strip mining or demolition work and that, far from paying for the privilege, they should actually receive financial compensation for their labours.

Pro Shop - Challenging hazard located just before the first tee at most country clubs. The trick to getting out in under $10 (about par for the course) is concentration. Don't be distracted by the leather golf bags and matched club sets, the radical new putter designs, the smooth gloves, the shiny shoes, and the sporty golfing attire. Keep your head down and your eyes on the balls and tees. Tell yourself that your present clubs aren't old-they're classics. Every item of apparel you're wearing brings you luck. Your shoes are perfectly broken in. Your hat has character. Your glove . . . Forget your glove. Take a firm stance and dig in your heels. Get a good grip on your wallet. Take it out in a fast, sweeping motion and lightly flip a few crisp bills onto the counter. Always use cash: "charging" is one of the hardest golf habits to break, and those few little pen strokes can end up costing you plenty. Pick up your purchase with a quick snap of the wrist, then turn and stride confidently for the tee. You may shoot 100 today, but you're way, way ahead of the game!

Pro side The high side of the hole, so called because more aggressive players generally miss their putts on the high side, where the ball has a greater chance of falling into the cup.

Pro tees The tees from which the golf course plays the longest. The tees you do not want to play.

Pull - To hit a shot straight but to the left of the intended target.

Punch Identical to a knockdown shot. A low, boring shot played with little wrist action and little follow-through. Used to combat a headwind.

Pure it To strike the ball perfectly and achieve the intended ball flight and distance.

Push - To hit a shot straight but to the right of the intended target.

Put a tack on it A request from one of your fellow competitors to mark your ball, usually just before he holes a twenty-five-footer that breaks your heart.

Putt - To hit a shot straight but to the left, the right, beyond, short of, over or around the intended target.

Putt out When you elect to finish a hole, even though you may not be away, you are putting out. It's permissible to do this if you declare your intentions before doing so and are just a few feet from the hole.

Putter - Specialised club used on the green. The putter differs from the other golf clubs in the bag in that it always produces shots that roll forward a few feet and stop.

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