Golf terminology: 19 golf terms every beginner needs to know

If you are relatively new to the sport of golf, whether a first-timer or a budding hobbyist, chances are you are unfamiliar with much of the lingo thrown around on the green. The golf lexicon is more extensive that most beginners realize and can be somewhat daunting, especially if your friends already have a leg up on you.

With this in mind, the sooner you learn the fundamental golf terminology, the better. In this article, we present you with 19 golf terms every beginner should know.

Golf terminology: the basics

Playing golf is one thing, talking golf is quite another. You may have all the golf etiquette down pat, but is your banter up to par? If not, there’s no better place to start than with the basics – the golf terms that are most commonly overheard on the course.


Par often refers to the suggested number of strokes it takes a golfer to complete a hole. Most holes are designated as par-3, par-4 or par-5. Each number here represents two putts added to the number of strokes it should take to reach the green. Par can also refer to the total number of strokes expected to finish an entire course.


Developed in England in the late nineteenth century, the first stroke system was known as the bogey. Today, a bogey refers to a score that is one above par. That is, it takes one more shot to complete than the recommended strokes for a given hole(for example, 5 strokes on a par-4). The more a player goes over par, the higher the bogeys will go (double bogey, triple bogey, etc.).

Birdie, eagle, albatross and hole-in-one

These are the scores you want! These three shots refer to scores under par. A birdie is one under, an eagle two under and a hole-in-one speaks for itself. An albatross is much rarer and refers to three under par.


A caddie carries your golf clubs and equipment around the course. Depending on the nature of the event, he may also keep a close eye on the beer and cigars.

Wood, iron, hybrid, wedge and putter

As you can probably guess, these terms refer to different types of golf clubs. Woods are often used for the longest shots, irons are usually reserved for fairway shots, hybrids often function as a replacement for an iron, wedges are high-lofted clubs used for short approaches and putters are self-explanatory (hint: they tend to work best when putting).

Putting-related golf terms

As you may know, MSOP is all about the art of putting. As such, it makes sense to include some putting-specific terminology that might overhear at the MSOP Championships at the end of this month.

Pin placement

Pin placement refers to the hole’s location on the putting green. The pin is the flagstick that indicates where the cup (or hole) is fixed.

Pre-shot routine

A pre-shot routine is a mental and/or physical “ritual” performed before a golfer takes a putt. This often involves visualizing the putting line and taking a practice swing, which helps the player stay mentally focused.


The setup refers to the putter’s posture, stance, ball position, knee flex and club grip before taking a shot. A good setup is necessary for accurate putting.


A tap-in is a super short putt that only needs to be tapped into the hole. These putts are harder than they sound since too much power can land you ten feet away from where you started.

More advanced golf terms

Now that you know the very basic golf terms, you can move on to less well-known terminology that will impress your friends.

Chip shot

If your ball lands just outside the putting green, you may be forced to take a chip shot, since the alternative would very likely lead to a putting mistake. In this shot, you ‘chip’ the ball into the air with the hopes it lands on the green and rolls as close to the hole as possible.


While not formally allowed in the rules, a mulligan can be a good thing for beginners. This refers to retaking a bad shot.

Punch shot

If your friends aren’t generous enough to allow you a mulligan, you could find yourself in a punch shot situation. This refers to a low-trajectory shot often intended to avoid hanging tree branches when hitting from off the fairway.

Keep practicing your golf terminology

While we’ve covered some of the basics, there is still a ton of golf terminology out there for beginners to discover. Nevertheless, you now have a solid foundation of golf vernacular that you can use to make your friends think you’re more seasoned that you actually are.

If you’re interested in playing high-stakes golf no matter your skill level, you still have time to register for the MSOP Championships in Las Vegas. Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions about the biggest putting tournament in history.

You will be redirected to our tournament website on BlueGolf where you can view and register for all MSOP events.