If you just started playing golf then you probably realized that golf has a lot of different phrases and terms. Here are the basic golf terms for beginners or phrases that you will need to know to be a golfer.

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General Golf Terms For Beginners

Tee Time- This refers to the start time of your golf round.

Tee- The area where everyone hits their first shot for each hole. Each has different colored tee’s depending on skill level.

Foursome- The max amount of golfers allowed to play in 1 group. If you have less than 4 people, you will be joined up with other golfers. The only time courses will allow groups less than 4 people is in the afternoon or whenever the course is least busy.

Threesome- 3 players

Twosome- 2 players

Single- 1 player

Blue- Professional (longest distance)

White- Standard

Yellow- Senior’s

Red- Ladies/Beginner’s (shortest distance)

Round of Golf- 1 round of golf is 18 Holes

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Basic Course Terms

Front 9- The first 9 holes of a round of golf (1-9)

Back 9- The second 9 holes of a round of golf (10-18)

Green- The area of each hole with the flagstick, where you take your last shot. This is the part of the hole meant for putting. (Shortest cut of grass)

Flagstick “Pin”- A long pole with a flag on the top that is kept in the cup of each hole. This is pulled from the cup when putting, but also lets players know where to aim.

Putting- A type of shot meant for rolling the ball into the hole anywhere from 1-15ft on the green.

Fringe- A “collar” of cut grass between the green and rough. Length is longer than green but shorter than rough.

Rough- The longest cut and the thickest section of grass on a hole that surrounds the green and fairway of each hole.

Fairway- The “runway” of each hole and the area where you want to land your tee shot. This cut of grass is shorter than the rough but longer than the fringe.

Dog Leg Right or Left- A type of hole based on how the fairway is shaped and direction you need to hit your second shot.

Basic Course Terms

Basic Scoring Terms

Par- The number of strokes or number of shots it should take you to get the ball into the hole.

The 18 holes on a golf course can be a variety of Par 3, Par 4, or Par 5 holes. The entire course will also have a par number of strokes for all 18 holes (usually 72or 73).

Birdie- When you get the ball into the cup, 1 shot under par. Ex: 2 shots on a par-3.

Bogey- When you get the ball into the cup, 1 shot over par. Ex: 4 shots on a par-3.

Double Bogey- When you get the ball into the cup, 2 shots over par. Ex: 5 shots on a par-3.

Triple Bogey- When you get the ball into the cup, 3 shots over par. Ex: 6 shots on a par-3.

golf terms for beginners

Basic Hazard Terms

Sandbunker- A type of golf hazard that is filled with sand and is a pain in the butt to get out of. Get ready for some swearing. These hazards mostly surround the green, but can also be found along fairways as well.

Water Hazard- A type of hazard on a course that costs you a stroke. Meaning if you hit your ball into the water on a hole, you have to take a drop in the area where the ball first entered the water or re-hit from where you are.

Out of Bounds (OB)- The area on a course that is not playable from. If you hit your ball out of bounds, you can take a drop where it entered or hit a new ball from the tee.

Taking a drop- 1 stroke penalty for hitting your ball into a hazard. So, if I were to hit my 2nd shot into a water hazard, taking a drop would be my 3rd shot, and then I would be hitting a new ball as my 4th shot. Taking a drop is also you reaching out and dropping your ball from shoulder height. However, you do have to hit your ball from where it lies.

Lie- The position of the ball on the ground after being hit. Players are not allowed to improv lie in any way unless the ball is on an obstruction or within an area marked unplayable.

Obstruction- Any path, sprinkler head, or foreign object on a golf course. A player may take a drop and not incur a penalty.

Mulligan- The same as taking a drop, except not counting the 1 stroke penalty. You won’t hear this term on a professional level, but beginner players definitely know this term.

Fore- A term yelled after you hit your ball and you think it may hit someone or if it looks like your ball is about to land in an area close to another group.


golf terms for beginners

Always Carry The USGA Handbook

We’ll stop for now. It can be a lot, but these are just a few common golf terms for beginners. Golf has its own language, but the best thing to do is grab a copy of the USGA Rules Book. This is also the best way to read up on scoring as well. When starting out on a full 18 hole golf course, I actually recommend playing the best ball with some friends. You will have a much more enjoyable experience.