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Golf Glossary S-Z

Glossary A-C | Glossary D-H | Glossary I-R | Glossary S-Z 


Sand Trap - "Sand trap" is the vernacular term for a bunker filled with sand. The term actually does not exist in the Rules of Golf, where "bunker" is always used.

Scratch Golfer - In common usage, a golfer who shoots par or better or has a handicap of 0 or better i.e +1, +2 and would be on the verge of being a pro.

Shank - A shank is a mis-hit that is so bad the golfer makes contact with the ball with a part of the club other than the clubface. A shank results in a ball that shoots out to the right (for a right-hander) at a severe angle.

Shotgun Start - A way to start a tournament in which all groups of players tee off simultaneously from different holes. If there are 18 groups of foursomes in a tournament, then each hole on the course will serve as the starting hole for a different group.

Signature Hole - The term "signature hole" is nothing more than a marketing term, although it's now been adopted by golf media and fans. The "signature hole" at a golf course is the one hole that the course has decided is most aesthetically pleasing and most photogenic.

Skyball - A mis-hit in which the teed ball contacts the driver (or other club) on its crown or just at the very top of its face as a result of the clubhead slipping underneath the teed ball.

When a skyball occurs, the ball pops way up into the air and travels only a very short distance forward.

Slice - A type of shot in which the ball curves in the shape of a banana - starting out to the left of the target and then bending dramatically back to the right of the target (for a right-handed golfer; reverse for left-handed golfers). Because of the shape of the slice trajectory, the slice is sometimes colloquially called the "banana ball." A slice is rarely played intentionally, and is the most common miss hit of amateur golfers.

Snap Hook - Term for a very severe hook. A snap hook might start curving hard from right to left (for a right-handed player) almost as soon as it leaves the clubface.

Spikes - What a player has underneath his/her's golf shoe. Could be metal or moulded. Some golf courses only allow moulded to preserve the course.

Split Fairway - A fairway that is split, natch. That is, the fairway branches into two separate fairways each approaching the same green. The fairway may be split by a natural feature, such as a creek or ravine. Or the feature that splits the fairway may be manmade, such as a waste bunker, mounding, or simply a long patch of rough. When faced with a split fairway, the golfer much assess which presents the best path to the hole.

Stadium Course - A "stadium course," or stadium golf course, is one that is constructed with one its goals being to provide great vantage points for fans. A stadium course will incorporate mounding and hillsides around greens, in particular, where spectators can sit and get a great view. So many greens at stadium courses have something of an amphitheater effect. The TPC at Sawgrass is the most famous of the stadium courses.

Stance - The setting of the feet just prior to making a stroke. A stance is not the same as "being at address." At address, a player has set his feet and grounded the club (unless in a hazard, where grounding is not permitted). Stance refers only to the setting of the feet preparatory to the stroke.

Stimpmeter - A device used to measure the speed of greens. It's very low-tech, essentially just a small metal ramp that is angled down to a flat part of a putting green. A golf ball is released down the ramp. How far the ball rolls determines the "stimp" or stimp rating of the green, which is a measurement of green speed. The farther the ball rolls, the faster the greens.

The Stimpmeter was invented by a fellow named Eddie Stimpson, but it wasn't until the USGA adopted and modified the device in 1978 that it was accepted as a universal method for measuring green speed.

Stroke - Any swing which is completed with the intent to strike the ball, putting it into play. A swing that is voluntarily stopped prior to making contact with the ball is not a stroke. A swing that is completed with the intention of hitting the ball, but in which the ball is not struck, counts as a stroke.


Takeway - The "takeaway" is the initial movement of the golf club away from the golf ball in the golf swing; the start of the backswing.

Tee Time - The pre-arranged, specified time for you or your group to begin your round. Tee times are allotted throughout the day, usually in increments of 7-15 minutes depending on the expected pace of play.

Thin - A shot in which the clubhead strikes the ball too high (near its midpoint or slighly lower), often resulting in a low, sometimes slicing shot that can travel a long distance.

Through the Green - Refers to a player overshooting the green or being 'through the back'.

Tight Lie - Any lie in which your ball is sitting on bare dirt, very short grass or similar position in which there is very little grass beneath the ball.

Topped Shot - A topped shot - often just called a "top" - is one in which the golfer very nearly swings over the ball, with impact between club and ball occurring near the crown of the golf ball. How severe the top is determines how far the ball will go, with more severe tops (nearly missing the ball completely) sending the ball only few yards forward.

TPC - "TPC" stands for "Tournament Players Club." Golf courses with a TPC designation are owned by the PGA Tour.

Trap - Another name for a "bunker," although the governing bodies of the game prefer the term "bunker" in all uses.


Up and Down - To get the ball into the hole in two strokes when starting from off the green or in a greenside hazard. Say your second shot on a par-4 is just short of the green. If you make par, you've made an up-and-down.



Water Hazard - A pond, lake, river, stream, sea, bay, ocean or any other open water on the course, including ditches and drainage ditches.

Winter Rules - "Winter rules" (also called "preferred lies") is a condition that exists by local rule only and under which golfers are, on certain parts of a golf course, allowed to improve their lies without penalty.

Generally, winter rules are put into place during, of course, the winter, when adverse weather conditions can impact the golf course itself. Under the most common winter rules, a player whose ball is in the fairway would be allowed to improve the lie if that ball was, for example, on a bare patch of ground.



Yips - An nervous affliction in which the person putting cannot make short putts due to the inability to create a smooth putting stroke.






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