Golfing Slang! Tee off for the Ryder Cup with our Top Golfing Terms

Golf fan? Know the golf jargon? Make sure you know all these golfing terms before the Ryder Cup tees off!

Golf as we know it is of Scottish origin, with the first known rules of the sport put down in writing in Edinburgh in 1744.

Even before this, in the mid-15th century, the Scottish passion for golf was strong enough to prompt a royal response – the game was first banned by King James II of Scotland, then by James III in 1471, and James IV in 1491, as they complained it was keeping archers from their practice.

However, despite the Scottish fervour for the sport, golf in its most basic sense was brought to Scotland by the Dutch, who were playing games using a ball and curved club or ‘kolf’ one hundred years earlier.

Through trade between the medieval Dutch and Scots, ‘kolf’ became the Older Scots ‘golve’ and ‘goff’, which eventually transformed into ‘golf.’ Although the Scottish name (and the wooden balls they once used) derive from Holland, this is not to say that golf was a Dutch invention; more the product of stick-and-ball games played all over Europe.

Golf continues to have its own language, with some terms known internationally and some invented and used exclusively by small village golf clubs. Read on for a few of our favourites, and keep up with the scoring during this year’s tournament!


Hitting the ball directly from the tee into the hole with one swing of the club, also known as a ‘Hole-In-One’.

Afraid of the Dark

A putted ball which refuses to fall into the hole or cup.

Air mail

When a golf shot flies much further than planned.

Albatross or Double Eagle

A hole played in three strokes under par.

Army Golf

Originating from the famous Army marching cadence, left-right-left, and meaning to hit the ball out-of-bounds to the left then to the right and so on.

Bag rat

A derogatory comment referring to the caddie.

To let the big dog eat

When a golfer finally decides to use the driver instead of a shorter club.


Playing two strokes over par on any individual golf hole, also a ‘Double Bogey.’

Chicken Stick

A play-it-safe club.

Chili Dip, Fat Shot, or Chunk

To hit the turf before making impact with the ball.

Dew Sweepers

Players in a professional tournament who, in the third or fourth round, have the earliest tee times, whilst the morning dew is still on the course!

Fan or Whiff

To miss the ball completely.

Fried Egg

A ball which is half buried in a bunker and looks like a ‘sunny-side up’ egg.

Grow teeth

When a golfer begs the ball to stop!


Out-of-bounds – definitely a place to avoid!


A shot so high that it seems to reach the clouds!

To Reload or take a Sunday Lunch, Lunch Ball, or Mulligan

This is to replay a stroke from the spot of the previous stroke without penalty after a poor first shot.


A golfer who has a handicap of zero.

Short grass

The fairway. Just outside of this is the ‘first cut’ and further yet is the ‘rough’. If your ball falls into the ‘rough’, it may be considered within the ‘cabbage’, ‘spinach’, or ‘with the squirrels!

Skank or Flub

A disastrous shot.


A score of eight on any particular golf hole.


As part of their Pre-Shot Routine, some golfers will ‘waggle’ the club head back and forth above the ball before beginning the takeaway.

Watery Grave

The final resting place for any shot caught by a water hazard.

Wormburner or Quail

A poorly hit shot that never gets but a few feet off the ground.


A nervous disorder that affects some players.

Do you have any other golf terms to add to our list? Get in touch!

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