What in The World Does The Term “Stick” Mean in Golf?

I’ll never forget the first time I heard “stick” on the golf course.

It was my first live round, and one of my playing partners said, “make sure you are lined up with the stick.” I nodded but had no idea what he was talking about.

If you’ve had a similar experience, don’t feel bad. Golf has a ton of slang words, and nobody knows all of them when they first start playing.

In this post, we’ll break down what “stick ” and some other popular slang terms in golf.


What is a Stick in Golf?

“Stick” actually has quite a few meanings on the golf course. Let’s list each of the meanings and briefly describe each. You may be shocked to learn that a stick could be a person or an object.


This is probably how the term “stick” is most commonly used. In our above example, my playing partner was referring to the flagstick on the green. I wasn’t lined up properly for my approach shot, and he was trying to correct my stance.

For those that don’t know, a flag on a stick is placed into the hole on each putting green to give golfers a reference point to look at before hitting their shots. Other folks may refer to the flagstick as “the pin.”

Scratch Golfer

Another meaning of the word stick is a scratch golfer. A scratch player is someone who has a handicap of zero. This means that on most occasions, they shoot par, regardless of how challenging the course may be.

Someone may ask, “Is John a good golfer?” A standard reply would be, “John’s a stick.” This would mean you wouldn’t want to play against John for money.

Golf Club

Stick is also short for a golf club. The terms are often used interchangeably. Instead of asking someone what club they’re hitting, you can say, “What stick you got?”

Here’s a fun fact for you… Golf clubs were initially called golf sticks because the Church of Scotland frowned upon golfing on Sundays. To get around this, golfers would disguise their golf clubs as walking sticks!

Type of Golf Round

You may hear the phrase “off the stick” thrown around on the golf course. This means that none of the golfers’ handicaps will be considered when keeping score.

In simple terms, the golfer with the lowest score wins the round. In a tournament or competition play, “off the stick” is how the scoring is done most of the time.


Other Useful Golf Slang / Terms to Know

Now that you know all of the different things a golf stick can mean, here are a few more golf slang words that are often thrown around on the golf or driving range.

  • Ace: Another word for hole in one!
  • Beach: A nickname for a sand bunker.
  • Buzzard: Another name for double bogey (two over par).
  • Fairway: Most golfers refer to the fairway as the “short stuff” or the “short grass”.
  • Fly the Green: Hitting a ball completely over the green.
  • Fried Egg: When the golf ball is so badly buried in the sand trap that you can only see the top half of it.
  • Gimme: A putt that is so short that all competitors in the group won’t even make you hit it.
  • Green: Lovingly called the “dance floor” by some folks.
  • Hacker: A nickname for a high handicapper or a golfer without much experience.
  • Lay Up: Choosing to hit the ball short of the green if going for it is deemed too risky of a shot.
  • Mulligan: This is where you get to re-hit after a bad shot. Mulligans are never allowed in official tournaments.
  • OB: Short for when you hit a ball out of bounds. The golf course will usually have white stakes to serve as the out of bounds markers.
  • Over the Top: An improper swing path that often results in a wicked slice.
  • Putter: Also known as the flat stick.
  • Tap In: When the ball rests right near the hole. Most of the time your buddies will consider this a “gimme”.
  • The Tips: This is the nickname for the tee box that is furthest away from the hole. Most of the time, only scratch golfers or professionals play from the tips.
  • Victory Lap: When the golf ball goes all the way around the rim of the cup before dropping into the hole.
  • Watery Grave: A nickname for any type of water hazard on the golf course.
  • Worm Burner: Ever hit a shot that just barely (or never) gets off the ground. That’s called a worm burner!
  • Whiff: When a golfer completes a swing but completely misses the golf ball.
  • Yips: When a golfer can’t seem to make short putts. It’s often caused by thinking too much, having shaky hands, or both.


Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with sports for over 30 years. He's been an avid golfer for more than 10 years and is obsessed with watching the Golf Channel and taking notes on a daily basis. He also holds a degree in Sports Psychology.