Monday, 15 March 2010

Golf Language

The Lingo of Golf....

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Pull up a chair, today we look at 'golf terminology' (CLUB TYPES, DISTANCE, HANDICAP, BIRDS.....)

Golf can be an intimidating sport and one particular barrier is the lingo. I have a theory which can be applied to both golf and cricket. Golf and cricket are terrific sports, yet quite often those who dislike both or perhaps one or the other, when asked, do not fully understand the rules/principles. It is only when the lingo is explained and the core basics explored they begin to understand/like the sport.

In the words of Tom Jones 'its not unusual' to fall in love........with golf. It is also.....'not unusual' for folk to view golf and cricket as 'boring' or 'weird'. If folk were not introduced to such sports from an early age, or were in fact badly instructed (perhaps putting them off the sport altogether), it reduces the probability of them actually 'liking' the sport. With that view, I think there are far more people out there who have the potential to actually like the sport, enjoy it and try it. One of the founding pillars of this blog is to introduce more folk to golf and show what it has to offer. If one more person tries or begins to appreciate the world of golf due to this blog, then it has been worth the journey. Before we get all emotional…let us continue….

Back to basics is the message of today. Here I have attempted to mention the key terms, using them in the context of actual play. Let us begin….

Ok, you start the day at the golf club. You have your bag of clubs, quite often half a set. The rules state you can only have 14 golf clubs at one time.

You put the tee in the ground at the 'tee box', if you are to 'tee-off' with a wood or an iron, the tee height is adjusted accordingly. A 'wood' is a name given to a golf club and has a wider club face when compared to an iron. The first clubs I used were from from my father and yes the woods were in fact wood, there were some strange looks at the driving range. Since the 70's, 'golf clubs' have come along way, many of the 'woods' are now made with the latest technology and best metals with different 'sweet spots'. A 'sweet spot' is an area/zone on the club face, when on contact with the ball will produce the most power 'umph'. Where the ball will actually end up, will largely depend on your 'grip/clasp' of the club, swing style and general posture. Golf is a game of many variables, different variable ratios will ultimately determine if you have a good round. Golf lessons are a great way to influence such variables and in fact improve the outcomes.

Before hitting the ball, you will have decided the club type. How? This is usually based on the distance from the tee to the pin (i.e. hole). Generally you will face a combination of Par 3, Par 4 and Par 5 holes. The higher the 'Par', the lower the club number needed. The lower the club number, the further the ball should in theory go. On a Par 4 or Par 5 you would use the driver from the tee (also known as a 1 wood). The closer you get to the tee, the higher the golf club number used, until you get so close a PW or SW are required for a cheeky chip onto the green.
The 'Par' refers to the number of strokes it should take you to get the ball into the blasted hole. How you fair, under or over par, will decide your score. A PW is known as a 'pitcher wedge' usually used around the pin or on the approach. A SW is known as the 'sand wedge' and used in the sand bunker, or again around the pin/on approach.

The score is recorded in the score card. Your score is decided on your handicap. Handicap, what is a handicap? A handicap allows players of mixed ability to play against one another and truly makes golf a game all can play. Handicap is basically the number of strokes it takes you over 18 holes. A scratch golfer would have a handicap of 0, whereas a beginner like myself would play off 28, the highest (i.e. worst) handicap used. Over 18 holes, you would have 28 strokes more than a scratch golfer. So for example on a par 5 hole, you would have 7 strokes to get a 'level' par. A par 5 hole, would in fact be a par 7 for the 28 handicapper.

According to the Stableford scoring system:
2+ par=0 points
1+ par=1 point
par= 2 points
-1 par=3 points
-2 par=4 points
-3 par=5 points

If you got the ball in the hole in 6 strokes, according to your handicap you would score 3 points, as in theory it was -1 par (7 being the par due to your handicap). Whereas a scratch golfer would only get 2 points if they got the ball in 5 strokes. Over 18 holes, the points snowball, but are dependent on the ability of the given golfer. The better the golfer you are, the lower the handicap. To establish the net score, you total the number of points gained per hole.

Generally over 18 holes, the total par can range between 69 and 73 par depending on the combination of par 3,4,5's on the course. Thus on a 73 par course, a 28 handicap player will in theory be playing a 101 par course (due to the allowance of an additional 28 strokes). Clear as mud? We will come back to the above in future editions.

How do you get a handicap? Well you can not buy them on Amazon or Tesco. Many golfers have an 'unofficial' handicap (an average over courses played todate), but to play in competitions you need an 'official' handicap. You get one of these from a golf club or a national golf association.

Some courses are restricted to golfers with certain handicap levels. Why? Perhaps elitist, but guarantees a fast game of golf. If there are too many 28 handicappers on a round, it will take longer for the hole to be cleared and will create a back log. If you are new to the game and others are waiting or catching your round, keep your cool. Everyone started somewhere, and they probably hit much worse! Instead the form is to wave such golfers on and let them overtake you.

A round of golf usually involves two pairings. Two teams will be formed and the points totals tallied after the 9th and the 18th to see which team are the winning pair. Its then back at the 19th hole (the 'pub') you relive the journey, the good times and the bad.

Ok…you have teed off. You have hooked it, this means you hit the ball out to the right. On your second stroke you hook the ball again and see the ball heading for another group of golfers on a parallel hole. Golf insurance would be handy. The standard procedure is to yell 'fore', and with a bit of luck the golfers in danger will 'dive' to safety (away from the ball not towards it).

Birds….This is another gem of confusion. Albertross, Birdie....

3 under par= Albertross
2 under par= Eagle
1 under par= Birdie
Level par=Par
1 Over par= Bogey
2 Over par= Double Bogey
3 over par= Triple Bogey

An 'ace' is a hole in one, if you get one of these bad boys it will be a great achievement. Although the wallet will hurt, general form is buy everyone in the club house a cheeky pint.

Ok to wrap up. Here we have looked at clubs, type of club, handicap, types of shots and names of given birds (the golf variety). In future editions we will look at further terminology and progress.

Next Blog Entry
The next entry will look at how you become a pro, how do you get on the top tours. What are the steps/procedures?

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You can contact captaingolf at with any wise words/tips.

You can also catch up on the blogs from last month by clicking the given link on the right,

See you soon



1 comment:

  1. While golf is not played everywhere (yet), there are many wonderful golf courses around the world to visit - many offering truly unique golfing experiences for the adventurous golfer as well as some breathtaking views for travelers.

    St George Golf


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