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Golfing Terms Explained – Learn the Language of Golf

If you’re new to the greens and fairways, some of the lingo out on the course can get a little bit confusing. There’s plenty of mentions of birds and metals and actions that don’t always seem to relate to what is happening with the players. Let’s take a look at the terms that you need to know to make it from the first hole through to the nineteenth (the club house after a round).

Albatross, Eagle And Birdie

Golfers love their birds. These three terms are all used to describe how you finish a hole. Birdie is the least impressive, but still good. This is when you complete the hole in one less stroke than par (the expected score for that hole – professional average result). An eagle is next up, when you finish two strokes under par. Finally, an albatross is an impressive three strokes less that the average. Essentially, any kind of avian result is a good one.


On the other side of the bird references is the bogey. This is a less than ideal result. It’s when you finish a hole one shot over par. It’s not impossible to come back from this in one round, but just try not to get more than one bogey so that you don’t end up too far off from the rest of your group.

Iron And Wood

This refers to your clubs and the materials that they’re made out of. Your irons are your metal clubs and used for a range of hits, including chipping. Most golf bags will have up to nine iron clubs in them and the lower the number on the club, the further you’ll be able to hit the ball with it.

Your woods are the big hitters and are so named because the heads used to be made of wood. These days, they’re usually completely metal but the name has stuck around. Most golfers will pick one of these to hit their ball of the tee and to get themselves down to the putting green.

The only other club in a golfing bag is the putter. This doesn’t fall into either category, but is an essential piece of kit because they’re used to finish off almost every hole.


This may sound like a bad thing but it’s actually a great idea. Handicaps level the playing field in a very fair way and allow you to play against the very best and the very worst – making golf a very inclusive and fair sport. In most other sports, an average weekend player can’t safely or believably pit themselves against a professional player. With handicaps, you can.

This is a mathematical calculation that works out how many shots above or below par you would usually shoot on a round of golf. It takes into account if you play here and now and the averages based on previous scores. The better you are, the lower your handicap will be. Once your round is completed, your handicap is subtracted from the score – meaning a better player will have less taken off than a less experienced one.

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