MGI’s Beginners Guide to Golf: Terminology

MGI’s Beginners Guide to Golf: Terminology

So, you have finally made it to the course after striping it at the driving range for the last month or so? You feel confident that your first swing from the tee will connect with the ball, so you decide to play a friendly round with a friend who has some experience. Except, unbeknownst to them, this is your first round, and the last thing you want is to be exposed during all the chitchat. Don’t worry, we have your back, because the friendly team at MGI Golf is here to help you understand the most important golf terminology to get you ready for your first round.


A Par represents the number of shots or strokes a professional golfer should be making on each hole. This becomes a numerical value for each hole determining the difficulty of the hole and as a result overall the course. A hole will present as either a Par 3, a Par 4 or a Par 5. Most Par 3 holes will only require an Iron to be used off the tee whereas majority of Par 5’s will require the strength of the driver to deliver the ball towards the direction of the hole. Making Par then means making the exact number of hits on the hole/course as the Par value of the hole/course.


A phrase essential to every golfer but also feared from use or hearing. If you hear the term ‘fore’, firstly run and duck, and secondly understand that it is a warning from a golfer that the ball is heading or landing in the direction of a playing group. It is common courtesy to yell if you do hit in the direction of another playing group.


A handicap is the measurement of the average number of strokes a golfer will make over par, calculated over several rounds. This allows fairness in competition between players of different skill levels, as someone with a handicap of 10 scoring 82 (when playing a course with a Par of 72) will make Par, whilst someone who is ‘scratch’ will need to shoot 72 to make par.


As terrifying as ‘fore’, a ‘shank’ often refers to a terrible shot that hits the wrong point on the club and shoots off target as soon as the club makes contact. It is almost seen as bad luck to any playing group, so try to avoid letting your playing partners shank get in your head.


A friendly term for new golfers, a ‘mulligan’ refers to a second chance to hit the ball due to not liking the outcome of the previous shot. If the playing group is feeling generous, they may allow ‘first hole mulligans’ to build good momentum into your round.

Bogey, Double Bogey, Triple Bogey

An undesirable result for a hole, a bogey or higher means completing a hole with a stroke or more above the Par score. +1 on a hole will result in a Bogey, +2 a double bogey and +3 the dreaded Triple Bogey. Achieving multiple Triple Bogey’s might see your day done, there is not much chance coming back from there.

Birdie, Eagle, Albatross, Ace

The desired result for any hole, this collection of results occurs when completing a hole below the number of strokes required for Par. For Birdie, you will complete the hole with one stroke under Par, Eagle two strokes under Par, Albatross three strokes under Par and an Ace is getting that shot in straight from the tee, a ‘hole in one’. There is no better term in golf than an Ace


This final term you may not hear on your first round. To be ‘scratch’ is to have a handicap of 0, as they are used to making Par or better across an average of 18 holes. Now that’s a goal to strive for.

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