Golf Terms S thru Z



sandbagger: A golfer who lies about his or her ability/handicap to gain an advantage, carry an higher handicap than they should.
sand trap: A bunker.
sandy: Making par after being in a bunker.
scorecard: Where the length, par, and rating of each hole is recorded. Also, your score.
scoring: The grooves on the clubface.
scramble: To play erratic golf but still score well. Or a game where a team of, say, four all tee off and then pick the best shot. All then play their balls from that spot; continues with each set of shots.
scratch play: No handicaps used in this type of game.
scratch player: One with a 0 handicap.
second cut: Second level of rough, higher than first cut. Some courses have three cuts of rough.
semiprivate: A course with members that is also open to the public.
setup: See address.
shaft: The part of the club that holds the clubhead.
shag: To retrieve practice balls.
shag bag: To carry practice balls.
shank: Shot struck from the club’s hosel; flies far to the right of the intended target.
shooting the lights out: To play very well.
short cut: Cut of grass on the fairway or green.
short game: Shots played on and around the green.
sidehill lie: Ball either above or below your feet.
sink: To make a putt.
sit down (full flaps, pull a hamstring, develop a limp): A polite request for the ball to stop.
skins: Betting game where the lowest score on a hole wins the pot. If the hole is tied, the money carries over to the next hole.
skull (hit it in the forehead): See blade or thin.
skyball: Ball flies off the top of the clubface — very high and short.
sleeve of balls: Box of three golf balls.
slice: Shot that curves sharply from left to right.
smile: Cut in a ball caused by a mis-hit.
smother: To hit the ball with a closed clubface, resulting in a horrible, low, hooky shot.
snake: Long putt.
sole: Bottom of the clubhead.
sole plate: Piece of metal attached to the bottom of a wooden club.
spade-mashie: Old term for a 6-iron.
spike mark: Mark on the green made by a golf shoe.
spin-out: Legs moving too fast in relation to the upper body on the downswing.
spoon: Old term for a 3-wood.
square: Score of a match is even. Or the clubface and stance are aligned perfectly with the target.
square face: Clubface looking directly at the hole at address/impact.
St. Andrews: Located in Fife, Scotland, the home of golf.
stableford: Method of scoring by using points rather than strokes.
stance: Position of the feet before the swing.
starter: Person running the order of play (who plays when) from the first tee.
starting time: When you tee off at the first tee.
stick: The pin in the hole.
stiff flex: A shaft with reduced flex.
stimpmeter: Device used to measure the speed of greens. The higher the number the faster the green. The speed at which a ball travels a certain distance from the device to a point on the green.
stroke: Movement of club with the intent to hit the ball.
stroke hole: Hole at which one either gives or receives a shot, according to the handicap of your playing.
stymie: Ball obstructing your route to the hole — now obsolete.
sudden-death: Form of playoff whereby the first player to win a hole wins the match.
superintendent: Person responsible for the upkeep of the course.
surlyn: Material from which most balls are made.
swale: Depression or dip in terrain.
sway: To move excessively to the right on the backswing without turning the body. Lack of proper weight shift.
sweet spot: Perfect point on the clubface with which to strike the ball.
swing plane: Angle at which the club shaft travels around the body during a swing.
swing weight: Measure of a club’s weight to its length.


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takeaway: Early part of the backswing.
tap-in: Very short putt.
tee: Wooden peg on which the ball is set for the first shot on a hole. Also, the area from which that initial shot is hit.
teeing ground: Area in which you must tee your ball, between the tee markers and neither in front of them nor more than two club lengths behind them.
tee it up: To start play.
tempo: The rhythm of your swing.
temporary green: Used in winter to save the permanent green.
Texas wedge: Putter when used from off the green.
that’ll play: A kind reference to mediocre shot.
thin: To hit the ball around its equator — don’t expect much height.
three-putt: Undesired number of strokes on a green.
through the green: The whole course except hazards, tees, and greens.
tight: Narrow fairway.
tight lie: The ball on bare ground or very short grass.
timing: The pace and sequence of movement in your swing.
titanium: Metal used in lightweight shafts and in golf balls.
top: Ball is struck on or above the equator. See thin.
torque: Twisting of the shaft at impact.
tour: Series of tournaments for professionals.
trajectory: Flight of the ball.
trap: See bunker.
triple bogey: Three over par on one hole.
turn: To make your way to the back nine holes. Or the rotation of the upper body during the backswing and forward swing.


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uncock: See release.
underclub: To take at least one club less than needed for distance.
unplayable lie: You can’t hit the ball. One stroke penalty is your reward.
up: Ahead in the match. Or the person next to play. Or reaching the hole with a putt.
up and down: To get the ball into the hole in two strokes from somewhere off the green.
upright: To swing with a steep vertical plane.
USGA: United States Golf Association. The ruling body for golf in the United States.
U.S. Open: National men’s golf championship of America.
U.S. Women’s Open: National women’s golf championship of America.


waggle: Movement of the clubhead prior to the swing.
water hazard: Body of water that costs you a shot to leave.
wedge: Lofted club (iron) used for pitching.
whiff: Missing the ball when taking a full swing with the intention of striking it.
whipping: The string around the shaft/head of a wooden club.
whippy: A shaft more flexible than normal.
Window shopping: Putt just going slowly passed the hole.
windcheater: Low drive.
winter rules: See preferred lies.
wood: Material that long clubs used to be made of.
wormburner: Low mis-hit.

(the)yips: When a golfer misses short putts because of bad nerves, which reduces the afflicted unfortunate to jerky little snatches at the ball.


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