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The Language of Golf is Absolutely Bonkers

By: | Fri 09 Feb 2024

The English language is both peculiar and highly idiosyncratic. 

Just stop and think about it for a moment…’tough”, “enough”, “physics”. Why not “tuff”, “enuff’, “fisiks"?

But if you think that is strange, have you ever thought how odd the language of golf is? All of us who play the game don’t ever give it a second thought, but imagine trying to explain our sport to a layman.

Language of Golf

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Golfer: “I am going to play 18 holes today.”

Layman: “You are going to do WHAT?”

Golfer: “I will start on the first hole.”

Layman: “So you play a sport that involves you standing in 18 different holes”

Golfer: “No. I start off by standing on an area called a tee and then I get my driver.”

Layman: “You play this game with a chauffeur?”

Golfer: “A driver is a golf club.”

Layman: “No, it isn’t.”

Golfer: “Trust me, it is.”

Golfer: “So I try to find the fairway with my driver.”

Layman: “There is a fair way to play this sport? Presumably that means there is also an unfair way to play.”

Golfer: “The fairway is the short grass that leads to the green.”

Layman: “Hang on, isn’t all grass green?”

Golfer: “The green is the shortest grass on the course. It is smooth and it features a small hole into which is inserted a stick with a flag on the end.”

Layman: “How long are these so-called holes?”

Golfer:  “They can be anything up to 600 yards long.”

Layman: “And what size is the hole you are trying to get the ball into?”

Golfer: “It is 4.25 inches.”

Layman: “And what size is the golf ball?”

Golfer: “1.68 inches.”

Layman: “So you are telling me that you stand on that thing called a tee, hit the ball, hit the ball again, hit it again and try to get it into a hole that measures 4.25 inches?"

Golfer: “The greens are also surrounded by bunkers.”

Layman: “Bunkers? As in the second world war?”

Golfer: “No, a bunker is a neatly shaped hole filled with sand.”

Layman: “Why?’

Golfer: “A very good question. And when your golf ball lands in the bunker you play an explosion shot.”

Layman: “Whoah, hang on a minute, so you use dynamite to get the ball out of the bunker? That’s just crazy.”

Golfer: “The idea is to find the fairway but if you miss it then you will end up in the rough.”

Layman: “What the hell is rough”

Golfer: “It is long grass.”

Layman: “So why don’t you call it long grass?”

Golfer: “Another very good question."

Golfer: “Let me tell you about some of the clubs we use. A par five is the longest hole on the course - you start off with your driver and then you use a three wood.”

Layman: “What sort of wood is that made from?”

Golfer: “Titanium.”

Layman: “Of course it is!”

Golfer: “You should then be close enough to the green to use your wedge?”

Layman: “You use a door wedge to hit a golf shot?”

Golfer: “A wedge is a club with lots of loft that makes the golf ball fly high.”

Layman: “Makes perfect sense to me.”

Golfer: “Most greens on par fives are completely surrounded by bunkers, and we need a special club to escape - it is called a sand wedge. Escaping from bunkers can be difficult and in certain circumstances if you fail to get the ball out you can have a Mulligan.”

Layman: “If you fail to hit a shot properly you go to an Irish bar? Can we go there now please?"

Golfer: “If you hit a par five in two shots and then hole the putt you get an eagle.”

Layman: “Somebody appears from nowhere and hands you a bird of prey? Next you will be telling me that if you play the hole it two shots you get an albatross?”

Golfer: “Erm….”

Golfer: “One of the most common bad shots in golf is called a top.”

Layman: “Why isn’t it called a bottom?"

Golfer: “If you are a very good golfer you will have a caddy.”

Layman: “Why on earth would a good golfer want a tea caddy?”

Golfer: “Let’s talk a bit more about the scoring system. If a hole should be played in four shots and you need five strokes that is a bogey.”

Layman: “Like the guy I saw in my car mirror at traffic lights today picking his nose? Disgusting!"

Golfer: “There is also a scoring format known as Stableford.”

Layman: “Ah, right. You don’t need to explain that to me. I have a Focus, a Ford that is very stable.”

Golfer: “Hmmm. Yes, I am sure you have but the Stableford system is points based….”

Layman: “I tell you what, can you just explain the offside rule to me instead please because you are doing my head in.”

And if you think all of that is bonkers, think about these….

A wild shot that goes to the right is called a slice, as in a slice of luck. When did you ever hit a slice and feel lucky with the result?

The perfect drive is called a draw. I always thought that was something that involved a piece of paper and a pencil.

One of the shots we all hate is a duck hook. Have you ever seen an actual hook?

The shot of choice for almost all leading professionals is a fade. Look up the dictionary definitions of the word ‘fade” and then tell me it makes sense as a golfing term.

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