Golf is a complex sport. There are so many terms to know, it can make a prospective beginner think twice. Don't worry! Here is your guide to basic golf terminology to get you on your way to the green in no time.
Basic Golf Overview
The object of golf is to hit the golf ball in however many holes that the course has in as few strokes as possible. Most courses have either 9 or 18 holes. A round consists of playing 18 holes in the order that they come up due to the course layout. If the course has 9 holes, a standard round is two 9 hole rounds.
Each hole begins by the golfer hitting the ball from a tee in the teeing box. The teeing box is a marked area on the course designed for the first shot of every hole. When the ball stops moving, the golfer must hit the ball from that location until the ball lands in the hole.
Each hole has its own par, which is the number of strokes a skilled golfer should require to get the ball in that hole. Most holes are par-three, par-four, or par-five.
Penalty strokes occur when a golfer loses the ball (in the water, out of bounds, etc) or breaks a small rule (moves an object, etc). Penalty strokes are added on as if the golfer had taken an extra stroke.
There are two basic ways of playing golf, Match Play and Stroke Play/Stableford Points. In Match Play, two golfers or two teams of golfers play each hole as a separate competition. The golfer or team that gets the ball in with the fewest number of strokes is said to have won that hole. The golfer or team that wins the most holes at the end of the course wins the match. In Stroke Play, every team or player adds the score achieved for each hole to produce a total score. The team or player with the lowest score wins. In Stableford Points, a player or team earns a certain amount of points for their score on each hole. Higher points are given when a hole is completed in a number of strokes lower than par, so the higher points are better. The player or team with the highest amount of points wins.
Types of Shots
* '''Drive'''-- A long distance shot intending to hit the ball as far as possible down the fairway towards the green.
* '''Approach'''-- A shot made with the intention of hitting the ball on the green. Usually the second shot made in a game. A shorter-range iron club is selected in respect to how far away the green is from the ball.
* '''Putt'''-- A shot that makes the ball roll on the ground towards the hole. It is made with a putter.
* '''Lag'''-- A longer type of putt where the objective is more about getting the ball closer to the hole and in a better position than to actually hit the ball into the hole.
* '''Chip'''-- A short, lofted shot that is used as a short approach shot (if you are within 35 yards), to reposition the ball on the fairway, or to escape a hazard such as a sand trap.
* '''Bump and run'''-- Variant of the chip shot, this is when a player uses a putting motion with a medium or high lofted club to run the ball along the ground.
* '''Punch or Knock-Down Shots'''-- Very low-loft shots. Can vary with distance. Used when there are trees overhead or when hitting into a strong wind. Keeps the ball from climbing too high.
* '''Lay-up'''-- Made from the fairway, usually after a drive or when in a rough. The ball is intended to move a shorter distance than normal and have a higher degree of accuracy. Lay-ups are used to avoid hitting the ball into a hazard, like water or a sand trap. The player evaluates it being more important to avoid such traps than to hit the ball far, and thus uses a lay-up in his or her strategy. '''''''
* '''Flop Shot'''-- Height is most important here. Flop shots are used to get the ball over an obstacle or to ensure that it stops quickly when it hits the ground and does not roll. The player uses a very open club like the Lob Wedge.
* '''Draw'''-- A player shapes the shot so that it curves. The shot curves right to left if the player is right-handed, and vice versa for a left-handed player. The clubface is closed relative to its swingpath.
* '''Hook'''-- A draw that is unintentional or uncontrolled.
* '''Fade'''-- The opposite of a draw. The shot curves left to right for a right-handed player and vice versa for a left-handed player. The clubface is open relative to its swingpath.
* '''Slice'''-- When a shot fades too much or is unintentional or uncontrolled.
* '''Shank'''-- When a ball is hit by the club close to the joint between the club's shaft and the club head and flies to the right at a sharp angle (or to the left if the player is left-handed).
* '''Topped/Bladed Shot'''-- When the forward edge of the club strikes the ball too high (in the center or on the top instead of underneath), and the ball does not get high off the ground (if it gets off the ground at all).
* '''Duffed Shot/Hitting Fat'''-- When the club hits the ground behind the ball rather than cleanly hitting the ball. Alters the quality of the shot in various ways.
* '''Chunked/Turfed Shot'''-- An extreme version of a duffed shot. The club hits the ground behind the ball, but a such a steep angle that turf is pulled up and the velocity of the club is nearly stopped. The ball falls extremely short of the intended target.
The golf swing is the hardest part to master. It will take lots of practice, so be patient. The basic full golf swing for a right-handed player (very few players play left-handed) consists of a backswing to the right, a downswing to the left (making contact with the ball), and a follow through. The full swing is used primarily in tee and fairway shots. Each shot and situation requires an alteration to a swing so the ball accelerates at the proper speed, at the right height and in the correct direction. If you have any friends who are seasoned golfers, don't be afraid to ask them for tips on improving your swing. Most golfers take pride in their swing and are happy to give beginners some helpful pointers.