Golf often gets a bad wrap sheet for stuck-up individuals who do not welcome outsiders to their private establishments. Despite that stereotype, there is a lighter side to the game.
In this post, I take you through 30 funny golf terms and sayings every golfer should know.
I have compiled a list of classic terms that golfers globally can relate to. Plus, I included some that I learned growing up in South Africa. These terms refer to the conditions of courses, shot shapes, and scores.
Table of Contents
- 1. Goat Track
- 2. Robbed
- 3. James Joyce
- 4. The Cat Box
- 5. Dew Sweepers
- 6. The 19th Hole
- 7. Fresh Air Shot
- 8. Banana Ball
- 9. Rainmaker
- 10. Texas Wedge
- 11. Four-Jack
- 12. Snowman
- 13. Fried Egg
- 14. The Dance Floor
- 15. Mickey Mouse Course
- 16. Victory Lap
- 17. The Drink
- 18. Oscar Bravo
- 19. An Ostrich
- 20. Yips
- 21. Scrambling
- 22. Breakfast Ball
- 23. Ace
- 24. Foot Wedge
- 25. Chicken Stick
- 26. Hosel Rocket
- 27. Duck Hook
- 28. Platypus
- 29. Swing Oil
- 30. Toothed It
1. Goat Track
When you grow up in a rural area as I did, you become used to poorly-maintained layouts and cheesy livestock references. A goat track was the term of choice in my neck of the woods for shoddy golf courses. You struggle to distinguish the fairway from the rough, and the greens are actually brown.
A goat track in my town meant the same as the phrase dog track that you employ in the United States.
I am well versed in this term. Being robbed on a golf course happens when your ball lips out of the cup. Then it stops on the edge of the cup or just rolls by. On a good day, that would drop, but when the Golfing Gods are against you, you cannot win.
3. James Joyce
James Joyce was an Irish novelist praised for his intellect and wit. However, his work is lost on many readers who find it difficult to understand and follow. The golf term references putting lines that are near impossible to judge. This is especially true on links courses where undulation attacks at every turn.
4. The Cat Box
A cat box in golf references a sand trap. While you fill your feline’s toilet with absorbable clay, bunkers generally contain Silica sand. Either way, you do not want to drop your cat’s litter or a sand bunker.
5. Dew Sweepers
When possible, I prefer to grab the earliest tee time of the day. The course is quiet, and you do not have anyone in front of you, enabling you to set the pace of play. Getting up this early makes me part of the elite global senior’s club called the dew sweepers. Jokes aside, a dawn patrol round is an ideal way to start your day.
6. The 19th Hole
Although your scorecard only caters to 18-holes, it is the 19th which is most important in my eyes. This is the bar. A social environment to reminisce about the round and forge lifelong friendships. No matter how well or bad you played, the 19th hole makes you remember what matters in life.
7. Fresh Air Shot
None of us wish to admit it, but we have all had a freshy at some point in our golfing careers. A fresh air shot happens when you swing and miss the ball completely. Despite not touching the ball, your intention to strike it counts as a stroke. This is unfortunate for the victim but forever hilarious to their playing partners.
8. Banana Ball
Think about the shape of a banana. It curves slightly, the same direction your golf ball does when you catch it with an open or closed clubface. A banana ball describes a sliced shot, where your ball curves from left to right if you are right-handed. Yet another term you do not want to hear.
If you generate excess backspin rpm off the clubface, your ball balloons into the heavens before falling rapidly back to earth. The term rainmaker suggests that your ball flew so high that it descends rapidly from the sky like a rainstorm.
10. Texas Wedge
My putter is my favorite club in my golf bag. So much so that I use it off the green whenever I can. I am not alone in this philosophy, and there is a slang term to describe this heathenism. It is called a Texas wedge.
Ben Hogan is said to have coined the phrase based on his experience in the lone star state. The small dome greens, high winds, and tight lies made it safer to putt than pitch your ball.
A recent example of spectacular Texas Wedge play came from Cam Smith at the 2022 Open Championship. He putted the ball from off the green, around a bunker, setting himself up for a testing par attempt:
Four-Jack, like Three-jack, refers to the number of putts you had on a hole. Four-Jack specifically represents a 4-putt, which is painful and humiliating. Especially if you hit a par 5 green in 2 and a 4-putt for a bogey.
A snowman is a score you never want on your scorecard. An 8 represents a snowman, based on the shape of the number. If you make an 8 on a par 3, you record a quintuple bogey, while the same score on a par 4 is a quadruple bogey. Finally, an 8 on a par 5 is a triple bogey.
13. Fried Egg
Landing in the bunker is demoralizing, but as bad as you think it is, there is always the chance of it being worse. A fried egg is one way to rain on your parade.
This means that most of your golf ball is lodged into the sand, and only the top part sticks out. It resembles a fried egg, with the yolk towering over the egg whites below. A fried egg is difficult to control for amateurs and professionals, leading to erratic results.
14. The Dance Floor
A funny synonym for the green is the dance floor. This is where all the action happens, and you must bring your A-game. If your putting stroke is off, you miss opportunities, lose strokes and go home feeling sorry for yourself. Much like a night out with the lads.
15. Mickey Mouse Course
A Mickey Mouse course takes a goat track to a new level. These layouts have short holes compared to other golf courses and suffer from poor maintenance. You needn’t be a long hitter to knock your ball onto the green. However, good luck trying to read the putts on the cabbage patch greens.
16. Victory Lap
When your ball does a victory lap, it is nerve-racking for every golfer. Your ball makes it to the cup and decides to inspect the layout of the land. It circumnavigates the hole before dropping in. Rolling around the cup counts as the victory lap before the ball sinks into the hole to secure a lower score.
17. The Drink
There is nothing intelligent about this term, only logic. The drink refers to the nearest water hazard in play. When the drink is in play, you can play safe and lay up or go for glory, bearing in mind a high risk.
18. Oscar Bravo
I like the name Oscar Bravo, it has a ring to it. This slang term takes the code words from the phonetic alphabet for O and B. O represents out of, while B stands for bounds. Therefore, you say Oscar Bravo when you are your playing partner sacrifices their ball out of play.
19. An Ostrich
As an African, I had to throw in one term that was thrown around my club. An ostrich is the grandest known living bird, but it cannot fly. However, it gathers some impressive speed, sprinting up to 43 mph.
On the links, we called an ostrich a shot that struggled to get off the ground but ran an impressive distance.
Yips are a psycho-neuromuscular impediment that hampers your muscle memory and ability to swing the club and strike the ball. I remember watching Sergio Garcia at the Nedbank Million Dollar when he got the yips. He literally couldn’t strike a golf ball. A few years later, I experienced the same. I could not stroke anything within 5 feet cleanly.
Scrambled eggs generally contain a mix of ingredients that form a delicious creamy texture to be enjoyed on toast or as is. Scrambling references a mixed bag of shots, yet you still manage to make a par.
For example, you hit your drive into the woods, then your second into the bunker. Next, you send your third shot 15 feet past the hole and drain the putt. Therefore, you were all over the place and still managed a par.
22. Breakfast Ball
An unwritten rule among buddies. When you tee off first thing in the morning, casual golfers enable a breakfast ball. This credits you with a mulligan should your first shot finish in an undesirable lie.
Ace is derived from the Latin term ‘asa.’ Asa was the smallest coin denomination in Ancient Rome. Therefore it is featured at the top of the list of denominations. The English later adopted the term to mean the ‘first one’ or the ‘best one at something.’
Therefore, when you card a hole-in-one the term Ace is fitting, as it describes you being the best one at that hole. Hole-in-ones are most common on par 3’s, where the achievement is also called an eagle. In addition, I have played with two players who carded aces on a par 4. That is also known as a double eagle or albatross.
24. Foot Wedge
I am not condoning this behavior but instead telling it how it is. A foot wedge is not a golf club. The term describes a golfer who kicks the ball into a favorable position. This is cheating and should not happen on a golf course.
25. Chicken Stick
A chicken stick is the most trustworthy golf club in your bag. No matter the lie, you can rely on this club to get you out of trouble and back into play.
26. Hosel Rocket
Another term you never want to hear coming your way is ‘hosel rocket.’ This is a classic shank where your hosel connects the ball and sends it rocketing directly right if you are right-handed. After a freshy, this is the most embarrassing result for a golfer.
27. Duck Hook
A duck hook is an unpleasant sight if you are the one who struck the ball. However, your playing partners find it hilarious. Your ball leaves the clubface and hooks violently to the left for right-handers.
Golf Monthly alleges that the animal reference in the name has less to do with the fuzzy creature and more to do with the action. When your ball hooks ferociously, it ducks into the rough or woods, leaving you with limited options for your second shot.
This definition of duck refers to taking cover or evading duty or responsibility. Therefore, your ball ducks behind trees, evading the fairway.
The opposite of a duck hook is a platypus. The rarity of sighting a platypus makes it an apt comparison for hitting your ball out of bounds and still making par. It is uncommon and deserves a unique name.
Over in my neck of the woods, we would use fitting names for the area, such as a white rhino.
29. Swing Oil
Every time I hear this saying, it reminds me of Bender from Futurama. He needs hard liquor to keep him oiled and operational. On the golf course, swing oil generally means a beer. However, if hard tac or wine enhances your performance, keep doing what works for you.
30. Toothed It
If someone says they toothed their shot, they hit the ball off the bottom of the clubface. This means the ball produces less spin, flies low, and does not sit down rapidly. Plus, it sends vibrations up the shaft and shocks your hands.
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