Golf Dictionary - What golf terms really mean


R&A - The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, founded in 1754 and the oldest golf club in existence. As such, it holds many "firsts" in the game of golf: first accusation of an altered scorecard (1754); first disqualification for use of improper equipment (1754); first suspension for profanity (1754); first caddy fired for accepting a bribe (1754); first expulsion for throwing clubs (1754); first properly replaced divot (1897); first twosome permitted to play through (1924); first totally restored bunker surface following the play of a sand shot (1946); first completely honest handicap claim (1957); and first lost ball recovered by a following golfer and returned to its rightful owner (1984).

Rain - See 5TH & 15TH HOLES.

Rainmaker A, shot that is hit very high, so called because it travels close to the clouds.

Rake To pull the ball back into the hole casually with your putter after missing a putt. Amateurs often miss these rake jobs and then still count the stroke as holed because they only made a token effort. That's cheating.

Rattle it in When a putt bounces around the hole a bit before dropping into the cup, a golfer has rattled it in. This usually occurs when a putt has been struck firmly into the hole.

Reading the Green - Since greens are rarely level and their surfaces vary in smoothness or "speed" depending on how moist the grass is and how recently it was cut, golfers must examine them closely to determine which way and how far the ball will roll. Even the "friendliest"-looking green will have some tricks up its sleeve, and many are downright ornery. Thus the "message" of any given green, as read by the well trained eye of a seasoned player, can range from "Aim a little to the left" or "Look out-anything more than a light tap will run right by the hole" to "The best thing you can do with that putter is make it into a decorative lamp base" or "You'll be lucky to four-putt, and by the way, those are absolutely the ugliest pants I have ever seen."

Ready golf In ready golf each player may "fire when ready," a procedure instituted to speed up play.

Recovery Shot - Any shot whose primary purpose is to get the ball out of a hazard or away from an obstacle and back into playable position on the fairway. The most important thing to remember when playing recovery shots is not to be greedy. It's far easier to forget to include in your score a single short shot that put the ball into the middle of the fairway than to try to get away without counting a half-dozen duffs, caroms or ricochets.

Red Grange A score of seventy-seven, named after the number worn by the football great.

Relaxation - In golf, perhaps more than in any other game, relaxation is essential. Any tension in a player's body is instantly transferred to the swing or the putting motion, and the results are invariably disastrous. Even a slightly taut muscle can misdirect the path of the clubhead, sending an expensive ball into the water. An unnecessarily stiffened joint can lead to the kind of jarring, ground-hitting stroke that causes cumulative shaft-related damage to costly clubs and can lead to possible bone injury as well. And an overly rigid grip could, paradoxically, cause a muscular twitch that might allow the club to slip from the fingers during the follow-through, perhaps maiming another player and triggering a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. So for goodness sake, try to relax!

Reload To hit an errant tee shot and tee up a second ball. A term also used each time the beer cart approaches, as in "Let's reload."

Rim - The edge of the hole. A ball that goes around the cup without falling in is said to have rimmed the hole, or to have ringed, skirted, upped, lapped or looped it. It may also be said to have curled, circled or rolled around it, or to have done a tour, a circuit, a round trip, an orbit or a buttonhook. There are one or two terms for a ball actually going into the cup, but they are used so seldom that it seems like a waste of space to include them here.

Ringer A good player who enters a competition under less than truthful circumstances, usually by claiming a handicap that is much higher than it should be. Also known as a sandbagger.

Rinse, a What you give your ball when you clean it in a ball washer—or in the lake.

Robbed Golfers love to complain about being robbed, usually when a putt doesn't break when it should have, or when a putt travelling at Mach 2 doesn't fall into the hole as it should have, or when a tee shot forty yards offline winds up six inches out of bounds. If you want to be cool on the golf course, don't whine about being robbed every time something doesn't go your way.

Rock, the The pill. The ball.

Roll it When somebody's a good putter, you say, "Man, he can really roll it." Roll can also be used when players roll the boll over in the fairway to get an improved lie.

Roller coaster An up-and-down round.

Rope hook Term for a low, hard hook that will run great distances after hitting the ground. Very bad.

Rough - Unmown, naturally wild area bordering the fairway and sometimes separating the fairway from the tee. There are three basic types of rough: low rough, a narrow strip of 6-inch-high grass where the ball may be easily playable; high or deep rough, where the ball may be lost and, even if found, may be obstructed or otherwise unplayable; and dark rough, where the ball may be eaten or stolen and used as an object of worship by primitive peoples.

Round - Eighteen holes of golf, played in their proper sequence, followed by one or more additional rounds at the 19th hole.

Routine Term used facetiously to describe a par that is made under anything but routine circumstances. For example, if you hole out an eighty-yard wedge shot for par, you might exclaim, "Another routine par, my friend."

Rub of the Green - A phrase used in the rules of golf to describe a situation in which the flight of a ball is interrupted by anything other than another player in the match or his or her caddy or equipment. In such cases the match is continued and the ball is played from wherever it lands unless "whatever accidentally stopped or deflected the ball rattles, hisses, spits, growls or snarls; or stings, bites or drools; or makes menacing gestures or motions, or circles or makes ready to pounce; or has claws, fangs, a gun, a badge or a lawyer."

Rules - As currently constituted, the rules of golf consist of 34 basic regulations. The present record for breaking them in a single 18-hole round is an astonishing 31, with 69 penalty strokes, set in 1983 by H. B. Nichols at Bluster Bluffs C.C. in Smug Harbor, Long Island.

Run Whenever the ball is moving along the ground, it is said to be running. This is also what you should do if you bet and then don't have enough money to cover your losses.

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