Golf Lingo: Talking the Talk

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Learning the Lingo of Golf          

If you are new to the game, the language of golf can seem well…  just like another language.  As if the thought of playing isn’t intimidating enough, all of a sudden people are talking about laying up, fades and mulligans.

Here are some of the top “terms” you may hear on – or near the golf course that you will want to understand.

Who’s Away?

The term “away” refers to who gets to hit next on a hole.

Usually the person furthest away from the hole hits their shot.  If you are playing ready-golf in a casual round and you can hit safely  – even if you are not the furthest “away”, you should do that to save time.

Tend the flag

One would tend the flag if the player putting is far away from the hole and needs the flag left in to see where the hole is. Once they have made their stroke you should pull out the flag – be careful to not step in anyone’s line!


A mulligan is a do -over. While not accepted in tournament play on the professional tour, it is a commonly used concept in casual or charity golf.  Establish with your group before you play whether you have a mulligan rule. In some charity events you can “buy a mulligan” which allows you to “pay for a do-over shot”.  I buy as many as they will let me!

Par, Bogey Double Bogey

Every hole has an established PAR stated on the scorecard. Par is the score a professional would have on that hole.  So if it states a hole is par 4, that means a pro would complete the hole in 4 strokes.

If you shoot a 5 (1 over par) it’s a bogey, 6 (2 over par ) is a double bogey, etc. Don’t stress yourself with shooting par unless you are a pro! I like to use a double par rule. If it’s a par 3 and you have hit 6 shots, pick it up and move on!

If you shoot 1 stroke BELOW par then it’s a BIRDIE. Two shots below par is an EAGLE.

Up & Down

An “up and down” is a situation when a player makes one chip and then one putt to complete the hole. So if your playing partner does that you can say: “Nice up and down!”


Don’t be afraid to ask!  If you don’t know what a term means or you aren’t sure of the rules your group is playing by, be sure to clarify.  Most golfers love to share their knowledge of the game – especially with rookies.  Want to learn more about the basics of the game?  Check out my book SMASHING THE GRASS CEILING: A Women’s Guide to Mastering Golf for Business Success